MY 2012 TOP 10 PITCHING PROSPECTS

Okay, the other day I posted my personal top 10 hitting prospects in the Cubs system for 2012.  Some of my choices were obvious and a couple were not.  Logan Watkins is a young kid that is steadily progress and I think has the potential to be a valuable utility player in the major leagues someday.  Anyway, I have prepared my top 10 pitching prospects for the Cubs and that was a little bit harder to do.  In case you are interested, here is a link to the list I made last off-season.

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/2010/11/24/my-top-10-cubs-pitching-prospects/

Please remember, these are just my personal picks.  I combine some stats, experience, age(try to keep them under 25) and make my own list.  Hope you enjoy!

1.  Trey McNutt 22 RHP-SP  McNutt is still young and pitched in AA Tennessee in 2011.  He still has some progress to make, but I think he’s the best, young and experienced pitcher we have in our system.

2.  Rafael Dolis  24 RHP-SP/RP  Dolis is a big kid that converted from starter to reliever last season at AA Tennessee and had decent success.  He posted a 3.22 ERA with 17 saves in 72.2 innings pitched.  I ranked Dolis 6th last year when he was a full time starter.  With his move to the bullpen I think he may have a better chance of getting called up sooner.

3.  Jay Jackson  24 RHP-SP I ranked Jackson 2nd last year but he disappointed me with his performance at AAA Iowa.  He pitched 146.2 innings but posted a 5.34 ERA.  This was his second full season at Iowa and I anticipated he would have a much better season.  If he can turn things around this year I think he can still make the big leagues.

4.  Dillon Maples 19 RHP  This kid was drafted last year and the Cubs were fortunate he signed.  He had the chance to play football for the University of North Carolina, but instead opted to sign with the Cubs.  He has a real high ceiling, but I anticipate him starting the season in A ball at Peoria or Boise.

5.  Hayden Simpson 22 RHP-SP  Simpson was drafted in 2010 and struggled in his first year of professional ball last season.  25 of his 27 appearances last year were starts so I think he will continue to work as a starter.  I hope he improves this year.

6.  Alberto Cabrera 23 RHP-SP  The Cubs kept Cabrera on the 40 man roster for a reason.  Cabrera pitched in AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa last season as a starter but struggled with a combined ERA of 6.16.  I’m hoping he can turn things around in 2012 or make a successful switch to the bullpen.  I had Cabrera ranked 7th last year and I still think he is young enough to become a solid pitcher.

7.  Dae-Eun Rhee  22 RHP-SP/RP  He had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and is finally turning into the pitcher I hope he can be.  He pitched at high A Daytona last year and finished with a 4.02 ERA in 127.2 innings. I think he will start the year at AA Tennessee.  I had him ranked 9th last year so I am hoping that he keeps improving.

8.  Ben Wells  19 RHP-SP  Wells was drafted in 2010 and pitched 77.1 innings at low A Boise in 2011.  With his size and fastball I can see him being a front of the rotation pitcher or even a closer.

9.  Austin Kirk  21 LHP-SP  Drafted in 2009, Kirk is slowly working his way up the minor leagues.  He started off in rookie ball, then low A Boise and A ball in  Peoria.  He spent all of 2011 in Peoria posting 4.29 ERA in 151 innings.

10.  Jeffry Antigua  21 LHP-SP/RP  I ranked Antigua 10th last year and decided to keep him in that position despite having other players equally worthy.  He had decent success in 2011 at high A Daytona posting 2.92 ERA in 83.1 innings.  I anticipate he will start the season in Daytona or Tennessee.

That’s my top 10.  I left off several players based on age, experience and production.  The guys that have me really excited are Wells, Kirk and Maples.  I look for these guys to have great success in 2012.

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