Prospect Notes, March 24, 2012
**The Chicago Cubs are demoting prospect Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A, and will be using Brian LaHair as their regular first baseman in April. Rizzo was having a strong spring, 12-for-33 (.364) with two homers, three walks, and nine strikeouts thus far. LaHair has been less effective (11-for-43, .256, with zero homers, one walk, 14 strikeouts) but the Cubs are going to stick with the pre-season script here. I expect Rizzo will tear up the PCL again, and my guess is that LaHair will get about a month of slack to prove he belongs.
**Another Cub performer of note this spring is outfielder Joe Mather, who is 17-for-39 (.436) with three homers, three walks, four strikeouts, and three steals. The 29-year-old is a career .228/.283/.364 hitter in 268 at-bats spread over three seasons with the Braves and Cardinals. He's got tools but strike zone issues have prevented consistent success in the majors. Nevertheless, he is the type of guy who could make a few adjustments and have a nice hot streak under the right conditions. I don't know if that will be in Chicago.
**The Arizona Diamondbacks sent top prospect Trevor Bauer down to the minors yesterday, although manager Kirk Gibson praised his performance and there was certainly nothing wrong with Bauer's spring numbers (10 innings, 9/1 K/BB, 11 hits, four runs). He'll be back by mid-season I wager.
**Buzz from Toronto Blue Jays camp is that Eric Thames has the edge over Travis Snider in the competition for the regular left field job. Both are hitting well (Thames 13-for-40, .325/.378/.500, Snider 13-for-43, .302/.375/.698) but Thames is reportedly impressing more with his defense and athleticism, which looks like the deciding factor since both are hitting. Thames is also making better contact, with eight whiffs against Snider's 14.
**Los Angeles Angels outfield prospect Kole Calhoun is having an excellent camp: 13-for-37 (.351/.400/.568) with three walks and eight strikeouts. He hit .324/.410/.542 with 22 homers, 73 walks, 96 strikeouts, and 20 steals in 133 games for Inland Empire in the California League last year. An eighth round pick in 2010 from Arizona State, he's short and stocky at 5-10, 200 and doesn't have the best tools in the universe, but he's a technically sound player with excellent makeup. He's destined for Double-A but my guess is that he continues to exceed expectations.