Last year Tyler Colvin and James Russell came into camp without much of a shot of making the 25 man roster and had incredible springs and earned themselves a spot on the 25-man. So who has the best chances this year of making the big league club coming out of camp?
5. Chris Carpenter: Chris Carpenter comes in as the extreme dark horse for the number 5 spot. Carpenter pitched very well last year in AA, posting a 3.08 ERA over 120 innings. Chris struck out 7.52 batters per nine innings but struggled in the control department by walking 3.61 batters per nine. He also struggled after being called up to AAA posting a 5.40 ERA and walking that identical number per nine innings. The odds of him making the rotation is nearly zero, but he does have the chance of making the bullpen. He definitely needs to work on the walks and those walks reared their ugly head during his opening appearance by walking two in his only inning. He didn’t give up any runs or hits, but you can’t give up two free bases and get away with it every time.
4. Scott Moore: This is Scott Moore’s second stint with the Cubs. He was sent over to the Orioles with Rocky Cherry in exchange for Steve Trachsel. Some people were upset at the time of the trade, but it really hasn’t hurt us. Moore signed a MLC over the winter and is back at spring training hoping to make it back into the majors. Moore hasn’t fared well in the majors posting a .278 wOBA over 202 PA, but the Cubs are short on backup infielders, and Moore has played 1B, 2B, 3B and LF in his time in the majors, and did play a couple games at SS last year in AAA. With a good spring Moore could easily beat out Darwin Barney.
3. Welington Castillo: Castillo may almost make the team by default. Koyie Hill was absolutely pathetic last year with the bat and Castillo put up pretty good numbers last year in AAA for a 23 year old catcher. Welly (yeah I am gonna call him Welly) posted a .343 wOBA last year in AAA and did even better in limited playing time last year in September putting up a .415 wOBA. Now he won’t hit like Albert Pujols for the entire year, but he will most likely hit better than Koyie Hill. Tango projects him to put up a .345 wOBA this year while Koyie only putting up a .273. Castillo might be the better catcher right now, but I think the Cubs are comfortable with Hill and would like to see Welly getting one more year in Iowa.
2. Jay Gaub: I love Jay Gaub. I think he is a legit LOOGY and is ready for the majors right now. On the surface Gaub really struggled last year with a 6.52 ERA in AAA, but his FIP was a 3.82 which isn’t terrible in the PCL. Gaub like Carpenter really struggled with his control walking 7.76 last year per nine, but he also struck out 11.79 as well. Gaub has posted K/9’s of at least 11.49 at each one of his stops, and until 2009 had never had an ERA above 3.38. The Cubs bullpen when you get past Sean Marshall is really weak from the left side, and I think Gaub can really strengthen that weakness with a solid spring. Russell started to crumble near the end and we all know how bad Grabow was last year. This is definitely a spot for a surprise player to make the team.
1. Brett Jackson: Could we have Tyler Colvin version 2.0? Probably not. Jackson has hit fantastically in his time in the minors, but I think he is still a long shot to break camp with the Cubbies. I do think he will be up here at some point this year, but I do not think it will be on opening day. One surprising thing I found was that CHONE actually thinks that Jackson will outplay Colvin this year. I am not sure Jackson is ready. A player doing what Colvin did isn’t all that common, but it’s not something that can’t be repeated. I do think it will take a 2010 Colvin-esque spring to make the team, but if he has one I think Quade has to take him to Chicago with him, perhaps at the cost of Tyler Colvin?