Logan Watkins, 2B
Age 24 (8/29/1989)
2013 Teams: Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast League, (AAA); Chicago Cubs, National League (MLB)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 32
How acquired—Drafted in the 21st round in 2008, #641 overall
Prior to Cubs
A two-sport star at Goddard High School in Kansas, Watkins had already signed a letter of intent to Wichita State when the Cubs selected him in the 21st round. The Cubs used a reported $500,00 bonus to convince him to turn pro.
He played in 27 games in his first pro season in Mesa hitting .325/.462/.363 and walked (20) more than he fanned (19). After extended spring training in 2009, Watkins had a solid season at Boise hitting .326/.389/.391 with 14 steals. In his first full season, Watkins turned in another good year in the Midwest League, batting .261 but had an OBP of .351, smacked his first pro homer, and earned mid-season all-star honors. He continued his steady rise through the Cubs system with a slash line of .281/.352/.404 for Daytona with 12 3B and 21 SB. Watkins improved his game at the plate in 2012 at Tennessee with career-highs in doubles, homers and RBI while hitting .281/.383/.422; and was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year for his season.
The highlight of Watkins' season was his big league debut on Aug. 4 as he went 1-4 Aug. 4 vs. Dodgers at Wrigley. Despite the early August call-up, Watkins didn't see much playing time as he only made five starts, much to the chagrin of the front office as they revealed after the season. Getting 42 plate appearances, Watkins batted .211/.268/.237 with a double, 3 BB bad 14 K. The Kansas native hit leadoff most of the season for the I-Cubs and ended the year with a .333 OBP as he only hit .243, the lowest average of his career. In 107 games at Iowa, he didn't have the same success as his first five minor league seasons, as his numbers dropped in most categories.
Watkins is battling for a spot in spring training but will likely return to Iowa for another season. He las needs to improve his walk and strikeout rates as they both went in the wrong direction in '13. While Watkins may not be the Cubs future at second, he does provide the Cubs depth and flexibility as a smart, middle infielder with a left-handed bat.
Ben Wells, P
Age: 21 (9/10/1992)
2013 Team: Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, (A+)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—#44
How acquired—Drafted in the 7th round in 2010
Prior to Cubs
Wells pitched out of bullpen to start his senior year at Bryant High School in Arkansas and was headed to Crowder Junior College to try to earn a D-1 scholarship. That all changed during the season as he tossed a five-inning perfect game in the 7A state championship as the right-hander. Achieving the feat at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, he earned a scholarship to the University of Arkansas a few days after the title. Instead of heading to college, Wells signed as a 17-year-old with Chicago for a reported $530,000.
Wells didn't make his pro debut until 2011 as he attended his first spring training and made 15 starts for Boise (4-4 4.66 ERA). He logged 77.1 innings with 53 K and 18 BB as he got his feet wet in pro ball. Wells was part of the rotation for Peoria to begin 2012 and he also worked out of the pen, recording two wins and a save. He went on the DL with a blister in early May and was removed from a game at Kane County with an elbow problem. He threw 40.1 innings before the injury, going 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA, 36 K, and a save. He rehabbed the right-elbow stain in in Mesa and finally got back on the mound in late August and returned to the Chiefs for two starts (4.1 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 1 K).
With the injuries behind him, Wells had a solid season and led Daytona with 21 starts and 112.1 innings, and finished fifth in the FSL with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP among qualified starters. Wells put his name in the record books as part of a combined no-hitter against Dunedin pitching the only inning at Dunedin as the game was finished in Daytona, with Kyler Burke and Zach Cates finishing off the Blue Jays. He ended the year 9-6 with 69 strikeouts but had a 3.2 BB/9, a career-high. He tied his career high with seven strikeout effort against Tampa, getting the win after allowing a run on six hits.
When your teammates are C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro its easy to see how Wells flew under the radar like so many talented Cub prospects in 2013. He returned from the injury reaching his innings limit and held his own in the FLS as a 20-year-old pitcher. Wells has a fastball in the low 90s and also features a slider and change. He's at his best when he's a ground ball pitcher and isn't afraid of contact but does a good job keeping the ball down as FLS hitters had a .341 slugging average against. He could be part of the rotation in Tennessee and quietly pile up numbers in the Southern League.
Yao-Lin Wang, P
Age 23 (2/5/1991)
2013 Team: Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, (A+)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated
How acquired—Signed as free agent June 12, 2009
The Cubs signed several players from 2007-09 from the Pacific Rim including the Taiwanese right-hander who inked a bonus for a reported $300,000. Wang made his debut in 2010 in the Arizona Rookie League and was promoted to Boise to finish his first pro season (1-3, 4.06 ERA, 31 IP, 13 BB 29 K). After starting 2011 at extended spring training, Wang made 14 starts at Boise, recording 77 K in 67 IP with a 4-4 mark and a 3.22 ERA. With a new front office in place, Wang made the switch to the bullpen in 2012, notching 12 saves at Peoria in 37 appearances (4-5 3.92). He also made nine starts and finished with a career-high 78 innings and 82 strikeouts.
The right-hander was exactly what the Daytona pitching staff needed in 2013 with all the rainouts—a pitcher that could take the ball on a moments notice on short rest. "He would pitch every day if we let him," pitching coach Storm Davis said of Wang. He made eight starts and saved four games, working 71 innings (3rd on team) in 24 games. Wang was 3-5 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Still only 22, he had a BAA of .222 and fanned a season-high eight in 5.1 innings on Aug. 7. He ended the year with 8.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.
Wang should advance to AA and be a key part part of the pen in Tennessee. His best pitch is his fastball and without a repertoire of secondary stuff, projects as a bullpen arm.
Rest of the W's
Michael Wagner, RHP—The Cubs 15th round pick in June out of San Diego, Wagner was not only the roommate of Cubs # 1 pick Kris Bryant at San Diego, he was also drafted by Theo Epstein and the Red Sox in 2010. No pitcher drafted in 2013 earned more mound time than Wagner as the right-hander tossed 28.2 innings, going 0-3 with a 4.38 ERA. Wagner, 21, recorded 22 strikeouts in 24.2 frames but had a WHIP of 1.62 with a BAA of .310. The right-hander earned all WCC honors as a freshman with a 2.97 ERA in 15 games and became the Toreros closer as a sophomore, nailing down 19 saves as he earned All-American honors posting a 2.58 ERA in 59.1 IP with 53 punchouts. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder moved into the Friday night role in 2013, making 11 starts with a 2-5 record and 4.55 ERA (89 IP, 94H, 32BB, 84K, .263 BAA).
Sam Wilson, LHP—Selected in the eighth round in 2013, Wilson was a two-way player at Lamar Community College but was drafted as a pitcher, although he did find himself playing centerfield in the NWL championship series at Vancouver. Making his pro debut on July 7 in the Arizona Rookie League, Wilson was promoted to Boise the following day and made his NWL debut on July 11. Wilson, 22, made 12 relief appearances for the Hawks going 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA and a .283 BAA. He fanned 25 in 24.1 innings with 13 walks. Drafted by the Rangers in the 20th round in 2010, Wilson attended the University of New Mexico playing in 52 games, including six on the mound, before transferring to Lamar. Wilson should start the year at Kane County and could move up the system quickly as a quality lefty reliever.