As the 2012 season approaches, Cubbies Crib is profiling each and every member of the Cubs forty man roster. Today, we are talking about Dave Sappelt.
The term prospect is used generically for nearly all the players in the minor leagues at some time or other, and that often causes problems. We use the same term to describe potential future stars like Bryce Harper as we do to describe potential middle relievers like Alberto Cabrera, and that often causes confusion and raises fan expectations unreasonably high for some players. Take Dave Sappelt, for instance. The outfield prospect came over from the Reds in the Marshall trade, bringing his minor league career BA of .309 and OPS of .821 with him. That sounds like a player who could be a part of the Cubs future. Unfortunately, that is likely not the case. Sappelt projects as a very good hitting fourth outfielder, but he lacks the power or the speed to establish himself as a regular.
What Sappelt does do well is hit. He is a legitimate .300+ hitter who has the ability to drive the ball into the gaps. He is a patient hitter who is not prone to strike outs, and his career OBP of .362 suggests he could fit at the top of a lineup. However, that is the extent of his game. He stole just 5 bases in 9 tries last season, and his career high in home runs is only 10. He earned a his first taste of the majors with the Reds in 2011, so he knows what he needs to do to stick with the Cubs.
I love high average hitters, and Sappelt fits that description. While I do not see him lasting as a starting outfielder, I can easily see him taking a bench position in spring training. The battle for the fifth outfielder slot may very well come down to Tony Campana and Dave Sappelt. Campana is the fastest player in baseball, but he has a hard time getting on base. Sappelt is a high average hitter who can get on base, but does not have any other offensive tools. The Cubs could go either way. If Sappelt does miss in the spring, he should have another very good Triple A campaign in Iowa while waiting for an opportunity to open up in Chicago.