Cubs Prospects—Masek, Mejia, Moreno

The Cubs have emphasized adding young pitchers to the minors and these three right-handers were all acquired in 2013. They grabbed Trey Masek in the fifth round and then signed Jefferson Mejia and Erling Moreno as part of their international haul.

Trey Masek, P
Age: 22 (1/9/92)
Throws: Right
Bats: RIght
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 175

2013 Teams: Boise Hawks, Northwest League, (SS); Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League, (R)

Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—#42

How acquired—Drafted in the 5th round in 2013, #138 overall

Prior to Cubs

A four-year letter winner at Giddings High School, Masek was named Louisville Slugger Texas High School Player of the Year and Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association 1A-5A Player of the Year. He went 14-0 with 143 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA , leading Giddings to a second straight 3A state tournament as a senior.

Despite the high school accolades, Masek went undrafted and headed to Texas Tech. As a freshman he pitched in 16 games (5-4 , 67 IP, 4.70 ERA) and earned Big 12 All-Freshman honors. Masek worked out of the bullpen as a sophomore, making 12 relief appearances with two saves and also made six starts finishing at 2-4 with a 3.40 ERA. After his sophomore season, Masek pitched in the Cape Cod League for the second straight summer and impressed scouts, going 3-3 with a 3.17 ERA in seven starts with 47 K in 39.2 innigs. His final year at Texas Tech he tossed 79 innings (5-2 1.82 ERA) in 11 starts with 69 punchouts and 22 walks but missed a month with an injury. He earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors and didn't allow a homer his final two seasons.

Here's Kiley McDaniel's break down of the right-hander (ranked 94th) before the 2013 draft: "Smallish righty shows ability to start with above average fastball that's hit 95 mph and four pitch mix, but size, health and delivery issues have contributed to questions about durability. He's a likely relief fit long-term with power stuff that a club will give a chance to see if he can start but he fits more in the late 2nd to 3rd round now rather than the sandwich round potential he showed as a starter on the Cape."

2013 Season

After signing with the Cubs, Masek made his pro debut on June 29 in the Northwest League, working a scoreless inning against Eugene. Masek was sent to Mesa while the Hawks traveled to Canada in early July pitching two games in Arizona. He returned to Boise earning his first career win on July 16 with two scoreless relief innings and three strikeouts. He ended his first pro season at 1-0, 2.16 ERA, 16.2 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 8 BB, 19 K.

2014 Outlook
The Texas native should start the year in Kane County and may be part of a "piggy-back" rotation. While several scouts think Masek will end up in the bullpen, the Cubs will give him every chance to make it as a starter. Despite his size, he's not a max effort guy, and delivers his tailing fastball (usually 93-94) with a smooth, easy motion. He also commands a hard slider, curve, and an occasional change-up. Add in his athletic ability and Masek could be a steal for a fifth-round pick.

Jefferson Mejia, P
Age 19 (8/2/1994)
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Height: 6-foot-7

2013 Team: Dominican Cubs, Dominican Summer League, (R)

Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated

How acquired—Signed as a free agent July 2, 2013

Prior to Cubs
Major League Baseball suspended Mejia for a year after he claimed a 1996 birth year, which would have made him eligible in 2012. He is now using a Aug. 2, 1994 birth date. He could have signed this spring but many teams didn't have the money available so he waited until July 2. Mejia didn't appear on many 2013 International lists because he was actually eligible the previous year.

2013 Season
The Cubs inked Mejia for $850,000 and the 18-year-old made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League on Aug. 12, allowing two runs on two hits with a strikeout. The 6-foot-7 right-hander displays a fastball in the low 90s and made three starts with a line of 9IP, 6H 3ER, 3BB, 6K. He participated in the Fall Instructional League in Mesa.

2014 Outlook
Mejia was involved in a car accident with four other Cubs prospects in the Dominican on Jan. 6 but escaped serious injury and was treated and released following the accident. Mejia's an imposing athletic figure on the mound and features a fast ball in the low 90s with an above average change-up and curveball. He should start 2014 in the states and if successful in his development, could spend in the summer in the Arizona Rookie League for Mesa.

Erling Moreno, P
Age: 17 (1/13/1997)
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 190

2013 Team: None

Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated

How acquired—Signed as a free agent July 2, 2013

2014 Outlook
The 17-year-old Columbian will make his pro debut in 2014, most likely in the Dominican Summer League but he could come stateside for spring training. One of the top international pitchers in 2013, the Cubs paid Moreno a reported $650,000 bonus and the right-hander was ranked #25 by heading into the signing period. Here's what's Kiley McDaniel had to say about the Cubs prospect, "Moreno is a projectable righty with broad shoulders and long limbs, likely adding a few ticks to his high 80's fastball that will get into the low 90's at times. He has a smooth delivery and arm action so the velocity is easy to project and Moreno will show three pitches with a big-breaking mid-70's curveball and change-up that both flash average to above potential, enough to project as a starter."

Rest of the Ms

Angel Mejias, LHP—The 20-year-old started the season at Mesa (4 IP, 0-0 0.00 ERA, 4BB, 3K) in the Arizona Rookie League but was sent back to the Venezuelan Summer League (3-0 2.45 ERA, 11 IP, 3 BB, 8 K). Mejias pitched his first two seasons in the DSL after signing in 2010 for a reported $100,000.

Ricardo Marcano, OF—Signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela for a reported $400,000, Marcano hit .279/.339/450 with 4 homers and 45 RBI in 68 games in the VSL. He spent his first pro season in the DSL, hitting .245/.350/.332.

Enderson Mercedes, RHP—The 21-year-old threw 12 innings in his third pro season after spending the first two as an outfielder. He issued 20 walks and only four hits with 11 strikeouts.

Jose Morel, RHP—Signed in 2012 for a reported $80,000, the 19-year-old appeared in two games in the DSL, fanning seven in five innings while allowing three hits and no runs. At 6-foot-6, Morel is a young Dominican arm to keep an eye on in 2014.

Yomar Morel, RHP—Signed as a free agent in 2010, Morel appeared in 10 games in the DSL, logging 27.2 innings with a 1.63 ERA. The 19-year-old fanned 26 and only walked four.

Alberto Mineo, C—Signed in 2010 for a reported $225,000 out of Italy, Mineo has spent both of his pro seasons with Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. The 19-year-old appeared in 16 games in 2013, hitting .222/.300/.278.

Justin Marra, C—A 2011 15th round pick out of high school in Toronto, Marra spent 2013 in Boise, appearing in 25 games. The 21-year-old hit .224/.313/.482 with six homers in just 85 at-bats.

Trey McNutt, RHP—Rated as the Cubs 4th best prospect heading into 2012 by Baseball America, McNutt, 24, has struggled through three tough seasons as the right-hander has not been able to get out of AA. He spent part of 2013 on the disabled list and appeared in 27 games out of the bullpen for the Smokies (2-5 4.60 ERA, 31.1 IP, 14 BB, 23 K).

Jonathan Mota, IF—Mota spent his 9th minor league season with the Cubs organization in AA Tennessee and the 26-year-old utility player had a solid season for the Smokies, hitting, .276/.348/.409 with 7 HR and 40 RBI in 109 games. Mota spent the winter playing in the Puerto Rican League, hitting .262/.349/.400 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 37 games for Ponce.

Andrew McKirahan, LHP—The 2011 21st round draft pick from Texas, returned from an injury that limited the left-hander to just 10 innings in 2012. After rehab stints in Mesa and Boise, the 24-year-old made 14 relief appearances in the Midwest League as he fanned 22 in 19.2 innings.

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