This week the Cubs had a bunch of their top prospects in Chicago for an “acclamation program” and two speakers brought in to speak to them were Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Both were amazing prospects and neither had the career many people expected, although Wood and to a lesser extent Prior certainly weren’t total busts.
“Who better to know and understand having all the hype, having all the pressure, being the young guy coming up and then performing in his environment?” senior vice-president of scouting/player development Jason McLeod told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “Who better than those two guys? Those had to have been two of the most hyped Cubs prospects of the last 15-20 years.”
Wood retired in May of last season following a 14-year career in the majors that included a Rookie of the Year award and two All-Star appearances. Prior made the All-Star team and finished third in the Cy Young award voting during his first full season at age 22, but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2006 and made various comeback attempts while pitching in the minors since then.
Meanwhile, the Cubs didn’t invite Sammy Sosa to their annual Cubs Convention.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.