PHOTO GALLERY: Prospects in Big League Camp
Andrew Cashner (PHOTO/LARRY WOOLIS)
Andrew Cashner (PHOTO/LARRY WOOLIS)

Posted Mar 20, 2009


A handful of the Chicago Cubs’ top prospects and minor leaguers earned their first career invitations to big league spring training this year, while others made return trips.

Photos copyright ©2009 Larry Woolis. All rights reserved.


Outfielder Jim Adduci bats in a game against the Seattle Mariners, March 13, at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Adduci, 23, batted .290 with 19 doubles and 26 stolen bases in 123 games for Advanced Class-A Daytona in 2008 and was a Florida State League All-Star.


Right-hander Mitch Atkins, February 25. Atkins, 22, was the Cubs' 2008 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He made 28 starts this season between Class AAA Iowa and Class AA Tennessee.


Atkins led the Cubs’ farm system in wins (17) for the second time in the past three years in 2008 and recorded 132 strikeouts over 164 1/3 innings, finishing with a 4.00 ERA.


Atkins is 44-27 with a 3.84 ERA in 105 games (546 2/3 innings) over five minor league seasons.


The Cubs drafted Atkins in the seventh round in 2004 from Northeast Guilford High School in North Carolina.


Shortstop Darwin Barney, February 26. Barney, 23, played in 123 games for Daytona in 2008 and batted .262 with 22 doubles. He went on to play in 23 games in the Arizona Fall League, batting .302.


Barney was a fourth-round Cubs draft pick from Oregon State in 2007.


Right-hander Esmailin Caridad pitches in a game, March 3. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, Caridad, 25, was 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 28 starts (27 starts) a season ago between Daytona and Tennessee.


Caridad struck out 88 batters and walked 38 in 152 innings in 2008.


Caridad pitched for the Hiroshim Carp's Dominican club prior to being signed by the Cubs.


Right-hander Andrew Cashner pitches March 3. Cashner, 22, was the Cubs' first round pick in the 2008 draft from TCU. He was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Cubs system entering 2009 by InsideTheIvy.com.


Cashner was 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in eight appearances (20 innings) between Daytona and Class Low-A Boise in 2008.


While pitching at TCU in 2008, Cashner topped out at 100 mph according to one New York Yankees scout in attendance. He showed no dip in velocity after joining the Cubs, hitting 98 mph in a post-season start with Daytona.


Cashner signed for $1.54 million and received an additional $75,000 to finish his degree at TCU.


Catcher Welington Castillo crouches behind the plate in a game, March 3. The Cubs' top catching prospect, Castillo batted .298 in 57 games at Tennessee after being promoted from Daytona, where he hit .273 in 33 games. He threw out 43 percent of opposing runners in 49 games behind the plate at Tennessee. He was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Cubs' farm system entering 2009 by InsideTheIvy.com.


Outfielder Doug Deeds leads away from first base, February 28. Deeds, 27, found new life with the Cubs after being traded to Chicago from Minnesota in April, 2008. He batted .325 with 12 HR and 37 doubles in 122 games for the Smokies.


Deeds was a ninth-round Twins draft pick in 2002.


Cubs coaches Bobby Dickerson (left) and Ryne Sandberg, February 28. Dickerson will return to managing for the first time since 2005 with Iowa this season. Sandberg begins his third year as manager in the Cubs' system and his first at Tennessee.


INF/OF Jake Fox bats, February 26. Fox, 26, is looking to get noticed this spring after batting .307 with 25 home runs in 105 games at Tennessee in 2008. He led the Southern League in slugging percentage (.580) and was second in home runs and fourth in extra-base hits (55). Chicago drafted Fox as a catcher from Michigan in the third round of 2002.


OF Sam Fuld, February 25. Fuld, 27, played in 105 games a season ago, primarily at Tennessee. He batted .271 with 16 doubles and 50 walks in 85 games with Tennessee.


Fuld averaged only one strikeout per 9.9 at-bats a season ago at Tennessee, good for fifth best in the Southern League. Chicago drafted Fuld in the 10th round of the 2004 draft from Stanford.


RHP Kevin Hart, February 26. Hart, 26, was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2007 and made 26 appearances a season ago at Iowa and was 4-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 57 2/3 innings. He made 21 appearances with Chicago. Hart was ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in the Cubs' system entering 2009 by InsideTheIvy.com.


The Cubs acquired Hart from Baltimore following the 2006 season for Freddie Byrum.


INF Micah Hoffpauir, February 26. Hoffpauir, 29, is making a strong bid for a big league roster spot this spring after batting .362 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI in only 71 games a season ago at Iowa -- "Nintendo-like numbers," said Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita.


Hoffpauir saw action in 33 games with Chicago in 2008, batting .342 with eight doubles.


The Cubs drafted Hoffpauir in the 13th round of the 2002 draft from Lamar University. He entered the 2009 season ranked as the No. 10 overall prospect in the Cubs' system by InsideTheIvy.com.


In seven minor league seasons with Chicago, Hoffpauir has a career .290 average with 96 home runs in 675 games.


Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason, March 9. Mason is entering his second season as Iowa pitching coach after guiding the team's pitching staff to a 4.51 ERA in 2008 -- fourth best in the Pacific Coast League.


RHP David Patton, February 28. Patton, 24, was a Rule 5 Draft pick from Colorado last December.


Patton pitched in 50 games for Class A Modesto in 2008, and was 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 73 2/3 innings. He struck out 87 batters and walked 28.


Patton was a 12th round Rockies draft pick in 2004. Through five minor league seasons, he had a 4.46 ERA, 316 strikeouts and 139 walks in 321 innings.


OF Richie Robnett, March 13. Robnett, 25, played in 82 games a season ago between Triple-A Sacramento and Double-A Midland for Oakland after being sidelined with early season surgery to remove a stomach tumor. He batted .236 with three home runs and 15 doubles in 58 games with Sacramento.


Robnett was a first-round draft pick by the A's in 2004. In five minor league seasons, he batted .256 with 58 home runs.


RHP Jeff Samardzija, February 25. Samardzija, 24, pitched in 22 games a season ago between Iowa and Tennessee and was promoted to Chicago in July. He made 26 appearances with the big league team and was 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA from the bullpen in 27 2/3 innings.


Samardzija was a fifth-round Cubs draft pick in 2005 from Notre Dame, where he was a two-sport athlete and set school records as an elite wide receiver.


Samardzija was ranked the No. 2 overall prospect in the Cubs' farm system at the start of 2009 by InsideTheIvy.com.


INF Nate Spears bats, March 13. Spears, 23, batted a career-best .299 with 22 doubles in 115 games at Tennessee a season ago.


Through six minor league seasons, Spears batted .280 with 160 extra-base hits. The Cubs acquired him from Baltimore as part of the trade for OF Corey Patterson in 2006. Spears was a fifth-round Orioles draft pick in 2003.


RHP Randy Wells, March 9. Wells, 26, pitched in 27 games for Iowa in 2008, making 19 starts. He was 10-4 with a 4.02 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings before being recalled by Chicago in September.


Wells joined the Cubs from the 2002 draft class, initially as a catcher. He was converted to pitcher in 2004 and has since appeared in 179 minor league games to date, going 40-26 with a 3.79 ERA in 567 1/3 innings.


Related Stories
Spears Starting to Get Noticed
 -by NorthsidersReport.com  Mar 24, 2009
Scout.com Unveils Top Prospect Rankings
 -by NorthsidersReport.com  Mar 24, 2009
Cubs Will Again Have High Expectations
 -by NorthsidersReport.com  Mar 29, 2009

PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION INCLUDES
> Members-only Forums
> Insider Information
> MiLB &
   MLB Draft News
> Expert Chats

Sign Up Today!

Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from NorthsidersReport.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.