Former Chicago Cubs prospect Josh Vitters has signed a free agent contract with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League, the club announced this week. The Bluefish also signed former San Francisco Giants prospect and independent baseball veteran Jose Cuevas.
Vitters was one of the top prospects in baseball a few years ago. In 2007, Vitters was drafted by the Cubs in the first round (third overall) from high school in Cypress, California. He hit very well at the lower levels but struggled on reaching Double-A for the first time in 2010. He rebounded and posted solid seasons in Double-A for 2011 (.283/.322/.448) and Triple-A in 2012 (.304/.355/.513), but was totally over-matched during a major league trial (.121/.193/.202 in 99 at-bats).
He lost most of 2013 to injuries then hit very poorly in 2014 (.218/.268/.339 in Triple-A). Pushed aside by younger and more promising players, he had no future in Chicago. Vitters signed with the Rockies as a free agent for 2015 but was released in spring training and sat out the regular season.
A combination of defensive limitations, an over-aggressive hitting approach, and poorly-timed injuries sapped his early promise but he is still just 26 years old. Vitters is a solid signing for an independent team and if he hits well, another opportunity in affiliated ball is quite possible. If he is going to mount a comeback, this is a good place for him to start.