Prospects in Peoria


Over the past two weeks I have gone through the roster for Iowa, Tennessee, and the Florida State League Champions Daytona. Today I hit the last of the full season leagues, Peoria.

2011 was not kind to the Chiefs. The team hung around on the edges of the postseason race for awhile, but by the last quarter of the year they were effectively out of it. Despite the sometimes prolonged losing streaks, Chiefs fans got to see some very intriguing players. There were some top prospects on this roster, and there were a number of players who raised their stock significantly with some solid performances. Many of the most productive Chiefs for the first three quarters of the year moved on to Daytona or Tennessee, but in their place the final roster includes a number very interesting prospects who will be exciting to watch in 2012.

Here is the final roster for the 2011 Peoria Chiefs.


Dallas Beeler – The 2010 41st rounder had a nice year. He spent some time with Tennessee and pitched pretty well at both stops. He gets ground balls and doesn’t walk many batters, but he was prone to the long ball with the Smokies. We might be able to chalk that up to experience. To me, his numbers show every sign of shooting up the minors quickly. He should not start next season any lower than Daytona, and could finish as high as Iowa.
Manolin De Leon – De Leon missed the season due to injuries. In the past he has been a somewhat effective reliever in the low minors, and if he recovers successfully that is probably where he will return.
Ramon Garcia – Garcia is a tall right hander who the Cubs used in relieve at three different levels. He put up some good numbers no matter where he pitched. When you consider that he just turned twenty in August, that becomes even more impressive. Keep an eye on this kid.
Yohan Gonzalez – Gonzalez did not have such a great year. He worked in 40 games as a reliever, finishing with ERA over 5.00. His ground out ratio and his opponents batting average are good enough that I would not be surprised to see a rapid turn around next season. Given that he is 6’4″, 210lbs, I’d not be surprised to see the Cubs try him as a starter in the next year or two.
Ryan Hartman – Not much I can say about Hartman. He appeared in just 16 games this season, and only two for Peoria. His walk rate is too high for comfort, but the sample size is not large enough to say anything with confidence. He should be back in Peoria next season.
Graham Hicks – The forgotten man in the Tom Gorzelanny trade, Hicks is a very tall lefty who started in Peoria for much of the season. The results were good, not great. If he can bring the walks down a little he should have plenty of success in Daytona next season.
Dylan Johnston – Johnston is the disabled list for Peoria. He did not play this season.
Austin Kirk – Kirk pitched a no-hitter this season, but he pitched a number of pretty bad games as well. I like the strike outs he can put up and that he doesn’t walk many batters, but there was a lack of consistency late in the season. Some of that may have been fatigue. Now that he has a full season under his belt, I think we will some improvement when he heads to Daytona.
Pete Levitt – In his first season in the minors, Levitt got off to a good start. The Cubs worked him in relief, and like a good reliever should he avoided walks, home runs, and induced plenty of ground balls. I think he will return to Peoria next season, but he could rise quickly.
Luis Liria – With Boise, he was dominant. With Peoria, he was only slightly less dominant. I would not be surprised if he finished the season in Daytona… if not higher.
Robinson Lopez – Lopez only got into 26 games this season, 22 in relief, due to injuries. Even so, he showed flashes of becoming a pretty good pitcher. His control needs work, but I think he could work on that in Daytona. If health permits, I’d like to see him promoted aggressively.
Starling Peralta – After three seasons in the Dominican League, Peralta was brought into the States and showed some promise. The Cubs challenged him with a late season promotion to Peoria, and Peralta responded fairly well, although he started walking far more than he should. It is tough to put a ceiling on this kid, but there is no mistaking the potential. Keep track of him.
Roderik Pichardo – Another product of the Dominican League, Pichard pitched very well in relief at three different levels. His size may keep him out of the rotation, but that in turn could mean he accelerates up the system. I would have no problems with letting him open the season in Daytona.
Alvaro Sosa – At this stage, I think we have to call Sosa a minor league veteran. He was solid but not spectacular in relief for Peoria.
Charles Thomas – The Cubs took Thomas in the 10th round in 2009, and some of his numbers are encouraging. He has only pitched 26 innings as a professional for the Cubs, but despite that I would like to see what he can do as a starter. His biggest problem seems to be his control, but he also shows signs of becoming a strikeout artist. I’d like to see him in the rotation for Peoria next season, hopefully with a mid-season promotion. If his arm is not up to that workload yet, maybe it will be by 2013.
Brett Wallach – At times Wallach looks like a future big league starter, and at times he looks like a guy who posted a WHIP of 1.640 in A-ball. His control needs work, but there is enough promise here that the Cubs should make sure he gets that work. I’d like to see him start again next season. He spent much of this year in Daytona; that might be where he opens up the 2012 campaign.


Sergio Burruel – In his first full-season league, Burrell’s bat disappeared. His strike out and walk numbers look good, but a batting average of .203 won’t cut it in the Cubs system at any position, let alone catcher. Still, there is reason to think he is a better hitter than what he showed us. Hopefully that faith will be validated in Daytona next season.
Micah Gibbs – Coming into the year, this switch hitter was one of the top catching prospects in the Cubs system. He got off to a hot start and got our hopes up, then vanished for three months. He did manage to finish strong, but his final OPS of .672 is not what I was expecting from a college catcher. He should open next season in Daytona, but that has as much to do with the catchers coming up behind him as it does with his own performance. Gibbs could be the Cubs catcher of the future; hopefully he takes a step in that direction next season.


Arismendy Alcantara – A smallish switch hitting infielder, Alcantara shows a fair amount of speed and more power than you might expect. He wont’ turn twenty until the end of October, so he has all kinds of time to figure things out. If the OBP comes up (and there is reason to think it will), he will start to attract some attention in the organization. I think he should get some time in Daytona next year.
Dustin Geiger – Another young infielder, Geiger has a shot to claim the title of “Third Baseman of the Future” from the list of candidates in Iowa and Tennessee. I think he will develop more power as he progresses, but if he doesn’t cut back on the strikeouts a bit and up his OBP, that power will go nowhere. Geiger is likely to be the everyday third baseman for Peoria next season. We will be watching this kid closely.
Richard Jones – As a 2009 draftee out of college, it is a little concerning to see Jones still in Peoria. He put up an OPS of .900 this year to go with his 24 home runs, so I think it is safe to say that he will move on to Daytona next season. That Jones has a left handed swing helps his status, but his horrific left/right splits make him look like a dedicated platoon player. That said, he is showing enough power to potentially crack the majors as a left handed bat and corner infield bench guy. Given his very good season this year, I’d like to see the Cubs challenge him with a rapid promotion to Tennessee.
Pierre LePage – Le Page is a second baseman in a system crowded with infielders, and his 5’8″ frame is not going to help him any. The fact that he almost never strikes out will keep him moving up the system, but I am not sure how high it will take him. If he can learn to draw more walks, he could have value in the majors as a contact hitter / OBP type hitter at the bottom of the order, but it does not look like he is going to emerge as much of a threat on the base paths. That said, I like this guy. He may not have a great major league career, but I think he has a good chance to enjoy a long one.
Brandon May – May plays first, and that could be a problem for him. If he had turned in a very good season with the Chiefs this year he would have an easier time weathering the tide of first baseman coming out of the 2011 draft… but he didn’t. Appearing in just 32 games due to injuries, May only managed an OPS of .542. That won’t cut it at first base. I think he will return to Peoria next season where he may get a month or two to establish himself, but college hitters like Rock Shoulders and Paul Hoilman will be trying to take those at bats before the season is out.
Kenny Socorro – Another undersized infielder, Socorro got off to a great start in his first season as a professional. It looks like he will be tough to strike out, but he is showing less power and speed than LePage. His path to the majors will look a lot like Darwin Barney.
Rafael Valdes – Valdes is definitely old for Low-A ball, but for good reason; he is in his first season with the Cubs after leaving Cuba. He shows more power than most of the Cubs other infield prospects, but he will have to climb much higher in the system before we know if he has significant major league potential. I hope to see him spend some time in Tennessee next season.


John Andreoli – Andreoli was drafted out of Connecticut and played briefly with Arizona and Peoria before landing on the DL. His combined 34 ABs are not enough to draw any conclusions from. We will get a better idea of what Andreoli might have to offer next season.
Smaily Borges – Borges spent 2010 with Daytona, but was sent down to Peoria this year. He signed out of Cuba few seasons ago, but so far the American leagues have not been kind to him. He probably played well enough to come off the bench for Daytona next season, but he will have a tough time finding at bats in what should be a crowded outfield.
Anthony Giansanti – Giansanti put up some decent numbers for the Chiefs, but nothing to get excited about. He has some power and some speed, but not a lot of either. He walks a fair amount, but strikes out a little too much to be considered a contact hitter. If the Cubs move him to Daytona he will have a tough time finding at bats, but I don’t see much point in sending him back to Peoria for another season. He did sign out of college, so it is not impossible that he could handle a bench role in Tennessee.
Ben Klafczynski – Klafczynski’s numbers are not what I’d expect from a 6’3″ left handed outfielder, but his numbers are not exactly consistent either. He had a rough July, but if his August numbers are the real thing this guy could be worth watching. He is likely to split next season between Peoria and Daytona.
Jesus Morelli – Morelli spent some time at three levels last season, but he did not spend enough time at one level for me get a read on him from his numbers. His game looks like it will revolve around power, and his power is still developing. He should start next season in Peoria, but if he plays well he could finish up the year in Daytona.
Rubi Silva – Silva signed in the offseason out of Cuba and played very well at times for Peoria. Daytona caused him some problems, but nothing worrisome. Silva has some power and some speed, but he isn’t exactly a threat in either department. I think he could have a nice future as a major league fourth outfielder. He should return to Daytona for a full season next year.