WTNYOctober 09, 2003
This Millenium Is Ours
By Bryan Smith

What I'm thinking after a day of Championship Series viewing:

- Why doesn't Dusty pitch-hit for Mark Prior in the bottom of the 6th inning, in an 11-2 game, after he had thrown 94 pitches? A nine-run lead is a great time for Juan Cruz to get some work, and Prior would be much better rested for Game 6 (or Game 5 on 3 days rest?). Dusty took the Cubs to the NLCS, but he also might take them out of the playoffs (don't think Zambrano's bad pitching isn't his doing).
- I really hope the Cubs don't confuse Alex Gonzalez with a good player and don't pursue Tejada as a result.
- David Ortiz MUST be re-signed by the Red Sox. There hasn't been a player that plays with more heart in recent memory.
- Will Carroll suggested it, and I've been thinking: is Mike Lowell better to trade than Derrek Lee. I've always said the team should deal Lee, and put Cabrera in left. But, trading Lowell (Dodgers?) would be a good move, and would free up a lot of money. This team must start keeping core players, whom currently include Pudge, Castillo, Urbina, and Dontrelle. Don't take the ability to pack 70,000 into one stadium lightly.

Organization #5- Chicago Cubs

Organizational Record- 324-360 (.474)
AAA Iowa- 70-72
AA West Tennessee- 65-73
A+ Daytona- 66-71
A- Lansing- 69-66
R Boise- 27-49
AZL Cubs- 27-29

Top 5 Draft Pick Performance
1. Ryan Harvey- .235/.339/.431 6XBH in 51 AZL AB (OF)
2. Jake Fox- .240/.321/.400 in 50AZL AB AND .260/.330/.490 in 100 A- AB (C)
3. Tony Richie-.175/.266/.211 in 57 A- AB (C)
4. Darin Downs- 0-2 6.57 48H/38.1IP 32K/17BB in 13 AZL Appearances (LHP)
5. Sean Marshall- 5-6 2.57 66H/73.2IP 88K/23BB in 14 NWL starts (LHP)

Organizational Report

While injuries and underperformance played a key role in a subpar 2003, the Chicago Cubs farm system still ranks among the elite. The Cubs are backloaded with pitchers that have high ceilings, allowing each pitcher to be taken slow.

Almost every pitcher in this system missed time at some point, giving worry to the way in which the team is handling pitchers. Angel Guzman, the top prospect, missed most of the season after arm surgery in early June. Andy Sisco missed time, Bobby Brownlie was shut down early, and Justin Jones had shoulder soreness.

But, they can pitch. Guzman was one of the best pitchers in the Southern League before his injury, and may have been a September call-up this season. Instead, Guzman will eye the 2005 season to debut in the Cubs rotation. The effects of surgery aren't supposed to make him any less of a pitcher, as that 70 slider (on a scouting scale), will still be there next season.

Andy Sisco has yet to touch his potential on the field, but his body still awes scouts. Built like Randy Johnson, Sisco didn't dominate Midwest League hitters as he was expected to. He'll move to Daytona next year, where he'll spend the full season in the Florida State League. Bobby Brownlie, the team's 2002 first-round pick, was signed and played in Daytona this season. He pitched extremely well, even despite his velocity being down. The team made a good decision shutting him down early, and there isn't a minor league pitcher whom should break out more than Brownlie in 2004.

Chadd Blasko held the breakout role this season, keeping an ERA below 2.00 in twenty-six starts. For some reason the FSL gave the Pitcher of the Year to Florida's Nick Ungs, while it was the former-Purdue grad that deserved it. He'll be in an all-star rotation in West Tennessee next season, and he must better the whole team to figure in the Chicago picture.

While all the aforementioned players look great, the two highest ceilings in the organization are Justin Jones and Felix Pie. Jones is a southpaw whom had only 16 low-A starts, before complaining of shoulder soreness. His H/9 is always under 9, while the K/9 is over 10. He needs to put together a healthy season, and then will be mentioned in the top-five prospect debates. Pie is a Dominican outfielder looking to follow similar paths of Sosa and Vladimir Guerrrero. He showed a little plate discipline and a lot of speed this season, but not quite the power that is expected to develop. He plays a great outfield, and will be more than capable in center or right.

The Cubs are breeding arms like no one else in the Majors, yet the stress must be to keep these players healthy. If Kerry Wood escapes Chicago after 2004, the Cubs are more than ready to throw someone into the fire. And when Sosa leaves in a few seasons, Felix Pie will continue the Dominican trend. Cubs fans: this millenium is ours.

Top 12 Prospects
1. Angel Guzman- SP
2. Felix Pie- OF
3. Justin Jones- SP
4. Andy Sisco- SP
5. Bobby Brownlie- SP
6. Chadd Blasko- SP
7. Ryan Harvey- OF
8. Jae-Kuk Ryu- SP
9. Brendan Harris- 3B
10. Sean Marshall- SP
11. David Kelton- OF
12. Ron Bay- SP

Check back tomorrow, for a Double Dish of organizational reports. I'm 2-1 so far in the playoffs, and quite happy about it. Derek Lowe will be a little tired tomorrow, as the Yankees will even up this series. Yes, Cubs and Yankees are still the right WS picks.
9. Sean Ma