I'm so impatient…

I couldn’t even wait until I had my own screen name set up so just for the record, this is Lisa, not Jonathan posting here!!!

I know the minor league season doesn’t officially get under way for another two weeks (well, the stateside season, anyway) but as I’m sure you can tell, Jonathan and I are ready to roll! I just want to peek my cyberhead in here to introduce myself to everyone that’s been reading the ATM blog (which means saying “hi” to myself as well, since I have been a regular reader of this site for awhile now).

There are no words to express how excited I am to become a part of this team and how much I’m looking forward to the ’06 season and many more to come! But I suspect that somehow I’ll find some …

Those of you that might be familiar with my writing over the last 14 years (17 if you count the Washington, D.C. folks who might have occasionally seen my stories when I was covering the Prince William Cannons in the Carolina League!) know that I am a devoted and dedicated fan of just about every aspect of Minor League Baseball, from analyzing the up-and-coming prospects to sussing out the sleepers, to telling the often compelling stories of the journeymen.

I’ll also occasionally slip into a Zooperstars costume to do the “Tootsie Roll” as Tiger Woodchuck or belt out a National Anthem just for the sake of journalism. (OK, so I’m an overaged American Idol wannabe as well).

I’ve rarely been at a loss for the written word (or the spoken one, as my daughter will be the first to tell you and Jonathan will be a quick second), but with the prospect of regular blogging on the horizon, I hope you as fans and readers will help us make this really proactive by sending in questions, ideas and thoughts …

With the two-week countdown in progress, one topic that Jonathan and I have been debating has been those positional battles that seem to have come down to a few prospects.

If you caught Tuesday’s “Around the Minors” radio show, you might have heard the two of us share our thoughts on who we thought might win the Cubs’ No. 5 rotation slot with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood both slated to start the season on the DL (quel shock!).

Hill_2The last official word we’d heard was that Cubs manager Dusty Baker had narrowed it down to a quartet of four rookies: Rich Hill (pictured), Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall and Jae Kuk Ryu. Of that group, only Hill has seen any major league time.

But, really, I think, we’re looking at Hill and Guzman.

So, who will it be? Whoever it is won’t be needed until mid-April, so the likelihood is both will start the year at Triple-A Iowa in the I-Cubs’ rotation … Baker won’t anoint a favorite, saying that it’s like picking a favorite child (I only have one, so I wouldn’t know about that).

I’ve gotta be leaning towards Hill at this point, though I think Guzzie has by far the best upside IF he can stay healthy.

Just the fact that it’s late March and he is still in the mix is a great sign for the Cubs. He’s been their top pitching prospect for the last few years, but has logged a grand total of just over 150 innings over the last three seasons. Last year he saw just 18 innings of work before heading to Arizona Fall League where he got in a few more starts.

Hill, on the other hand, pitched more than 150 innings last year and struck out 194 batters in 130 minor league innings, leading the minors in strikeouts per nine innings. His potential upside isn’t quite as high as that of Guzman but there isn’t quite as much of a need to be overly cautious with him at this point either.

Neither has been lights out this spring, not enough to lock up the job. In fact, Marshall has been the most consistent and impressive of the quartet but with just four games in his career over Class A, he’s got to be a real longshot for the job.

I think the Cubs will only go with Guzman as their No. 5 if they are sure he’s 100 percent. If he is, that will be great news for them … and for Cubs fans (rumor has it that there are a few of you out there), who will be treated to the long-overdue debut of a promising pitcher and a kid with a ton of charisma.

Otherwise, Hill would be the safest bet barring a late trade for free agent signing.

Jonathan, on the other hand, may disagree with this assessment …

1 Comment

Jonathan and Lisa,

What do you guys think about Nick Markakis making the Orioles roster out of spring training? Do you think it would be smart to throw him into the Major Leagues having only played 33 games above Class-A? Former top prospect Brandon Phillips comes to mind as a player whose future was probably hindered by going to the big leagues too early. What’s your take? Thanks.

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