Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
There's no better time than early January to post a wishlist for the upcoming season. As you might guess, there might be a bit of a minor-league slant to my list.
Here are a list of things I'd like to see happen in 2013 for the Cubs pipeline. I'm trying to write them in a fashion that each can get a check mark: Yes or No. Among the unlisted general topics will be the success of minor-league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson. I hope he challenges the Cubs prospects to pitch aggressively. If a hurler's top fastball on the outer third isn't good enough to succeed in Kane County, it's really doubtful that he will enjoy much success at Double-A, much less in the National League Central. Yeah, there will be outliers, but I'd prefer to see a Cougars (or Smokies or I-Cubs, D-Cubs, or Hawks) pitcher get pounded throwing strikes than have illusory success working outside the black.
Starlin Castro earns a spot in the All-Star Game. Each team has to be represented. Castro getting a default call would be a negative. I'd prefer his offensive numbers to creep up, but his defense will be more important.
Anthony Rizzo garners a long-term deal in 2013. It might be too early to talk about it, but if he continues to earn the third or fourth slot in the daily lineup, even against lefties, it would be nice to have first base covered for most of the next decade.
Jeff Samardzija gets re-upped. Easy peezie. I don't want to get wound up in if he's a No. 2 or a No. 3. Do what's needed (Cubs and Samardzija) to do it.
Javier Baez learns that opposite field hits on curve balls count as hits just like pulled hits. While I want Baez' money earned in left and left-center, going opposite field sets up long blasts.
Jorge Soler avoids any semblance of a sophomore slump.
Albert Almora stays healthy, and draws walks over eight percent of the time.
Pierce Johnson forces a call-up to Daytona, and has a WHIP under 1.2 in the Florida State League. I really enjoy his game, He might end up a closer type, or a starter. If you've never seen him pick someone off, check him out in Kane County this year. His A move is probably an A-plus. Yes, he is a righty.
Kane County ends up in the top two offensive teams in the Midwest League, by runs per game. They should be loaded on offense. If they get any pitching, they should qualify for the post-season.
Tayler Scott has a WHIP under 1.3 in over 110 innings in Kane County. I prefer him to Jose Arias long-term, and it would help get him off to a decent start.
Juan Paniagua gets at least two wins in Tennessee. I know pitching wins are an old-school stat. The point is, getting two wins for the Smokies means he's good enough to be promotes Double-A.
Theo Epstein makes at least two more trades that position the club with more waves of talent.
Arodys Vizcaino has a nice year getting back in game shape, representing either a mid-rotation starter or a solid closer.
A difference-making talent has a day in early July as the first Cubs international selection in the slotted-by-preceding-year's-record first go-round.
Feel free to add yours below.