Recently, the Baltimore Orioles have showed a peaked interest in Chicago Cubs Starter Jeff Samardzija. This is an interesting suitor for the Cubs big righty, especially since the New York Yankees have also shown interest. Baltimore is a better trade partner than they Yanks because of their deeper farm system, but what could the Cubs expect to get in return?
The Orioles have a pitching-heavy system with six of their top ten prospects being pitchers, and three of those pitchers are on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list for 2014. In all likelihood the Cubs will ask for a package that is headlined by the Orioles top prospect, RHP Dylan Bundy. Bundy, 21, projects to be a top-of-the-rotation starter and has four pitches that grade above average. There’s really not a whole lot about Bundy that doesn’t get general managers excited, but I’m not sold on him quite yet. Bundy had Tommy John Surgery almost a year ago and hasn’t pitched since. There are two things that are troublesome about that. 1) Bundy was only 20 when he had the surgery. Having the surgery when a pitcher is in his late 20’s or 30’s indicates, to some degree, that it is an injury of attrition. Guys throw a lot of pitches over the course of their careers and their elbow wears out; nothing you can do about that. But when a young kid has Tommy John it is usually because of dangerous over use as a teenager, which is very common now a days, and/or mildly serious mechanical issues that put unnecessary strain on a pitcher’s elbow. And if history has shown us anything, pitchers don’t always return to the mound, good as new, after 12-14 months like they are “supposed to”. Example A: Cubs prospect, Arodys Vizcaino. Vizcaino is projected to be a big part of the Cubs bullpen some day, but he is well into year two of his recovery from Tommy John and no one seems to be sure that he is out of the woods quite yet. The point is that the Cubs do not need to trade Jeff Samardzija for a package solely built around a question mark, be it big or small.
However, the Orioles have intriguing prospects beyond Bundy that the Cubs should consider. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez and RHP Hunter Harvey are two names that could fit in nicely at the Friendly Confines. Rodriguez, the Orioles number two prospect, is ranked sixth among all left-handed pitching prospects. Rodriguez would be a good fit for Wrigley because he has made his mark as a control pitcher (although his velocity is now up into the low 90’s). We all know that as soon as summer rolls around, Wrigley Field becomes a launching pad for any and all hitters. Rodriguez’s ability to paint the corners and outsmart hitters figures to give him an advantage over a power pitcher who is forced to challenge hitters more often. Also, at 21 years old, Rodriguez is on track to be in Baltimore by September.
Hunter Harvey, 19, is still a few years away from making it to the show, but he has electric stuff. So far at single A affiliate, Delmarva, Harvey has posted a sub two ERA and an opponent batting average of .189 through nine starts. But, arguably, Harvey’s most impressive quality is his mound presence. Scouts rave about his poise, which is crucial because so many young pitchers with good stuff washout because they just can’t handle the mental side of the game.
A haul consisting of two of these three prospects is probably where Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will open negotiations, but if the Yankees interest persists it’s not unthinkable to think that the Cubs could work out a deal that could land all three. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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