Cubs Prospect Rankings: 30-26

Each week, we release the list of our annual post-season top prospect rankings in the Cubs' farm system, counting down to No. 1.

30. Matt Camp
Pos: OF/INF. HT: 6'0". WT: 175.

2006 Totals: .289 AVG, 74 G, 15 XBH, 37 RBI, .702 OPS.

It didn't take long for the four-year college product of North Carolina State to impress the Cubs.

"Of the type of players I worked with in Instructs, the base-stealer types, he was the one that stood out," said Cubs Outfield/Baserunning Instructor Bob Dernier.

Primarily the starting center fielder for Class Low A Boise, Camp led the Northwest League with 87 hits and later went to the annual Instructional League camp in Arizona, where he got some work in at second base.

The 22-year-old was drafted as an outfielder, but spent parts of his college career with the Wolfpack as a shortstop and second baseman. Along the way, injuries and errors helped lead to his transition to the outfield, he said.

Camp strikes us as a gritty, hard-nosed player that runs the bases well and will sacrifice his body on every ball hit his way. He showcased a keen eye for the strike zone at Boise, drawing 27 walks and whiffing only 32 times atop the Hawks' lineup for a .350 on-base percentage.

With his speed, if Camp can continue on that pace as he progresses, he will most certainly be a force to reckon with once on the base pads.


29. Steve Clevenger
Pos: INF. HT: 6'0". WT: 185.

2006 Totals: .286 AVG, 63 G, 11 XBH, 21 RBI, .722 OPS.

Like Camp, the seventh-round pick from this past year's draft did not disappoint in short-season A ball, and Clevenger's coach at Chipola Junior College in Florida, Jeff Johnson, believes the 20-year-old is as well-polished of a hitter as you'll find anywhere.

"He's got gap-to-gap power and occasional home run power," Johnson told us this past June. "He can really swing the bat. He's very sound and fundamental. He's just a very polished hitter."

Playing against talent that mostly exceeded his age in Junior College, Clevenger batted .389 in his final season with Chipola and maintains a smooth, gap-to-gap approach at the plate. After arriving in Boise for his first taste of pro ball, he would lead the team with a .363 on-base percentage.

Despite hitting only two home runs at Boise, don't be surprised if the left-handed bat adds some power to his swing — especially if he makes the move to third base, where he garnered some looks during Instructs.

Speaking of defense, Clevenger has the versatility to take on a number of infield positions. He struggled with 11 errors at second base (second highest in the league at his position) at Boise, but was primarily a shortstop in college. Thus, it's likely those numbers were part of a learning curve.


28. Michael Cooper
Pos: RHP. HT: 6'6". WT: 230.

2006 Totals: 2-0, 1.23 ERA, 22 IP, 13 K, 11 BB, .185 .AVG AGAINST.

A right-hander with a fastball that reaches in the low 90s, the 26th-round pick from the University of California took the Northwest League by storm this past season.

Cooper spent most of his college career in the Pac 10 as both a starter and reliever, but found his niche from the Hawks' bullpen early on before succumbing to shoulder tendonitis late in the year.

When he was healthy, the 6'6", 22-year-old finished 18 games in relief and allowed just 15 hits to 92 batters faced.

Despite being a late-round pick, the Cubs believe Cooper has top-round potential.

"Cooper's a guy with a good arm and good stuff," said Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita. "He'll throw up to 93, 94 miles per hour with real good movement and a real good breaking ball. He's very experienced for where he's at."


27. Mark Reed
Pos: C. HT: 5'11. WT: 175.

2006 Totals: .252 .AVG, 101 G, 14 XBH, 30 RBI, .617 OPS.

The 2006 season started off well enough for the 20-year-old Reed, considered by most to be the Cubs' top catching prospect at the lower levels of the farm system. He batted .353 through the first month of the season before closing with a .166 average over the final two-plus months.

So, what happened?

What happened was Reed started seeing more playing time behind the plate once Jake Muyco was summoned to Daytona midway through the season.

"He was catching five out of six days and it was 100 degrees," Peoria broadcaster Nathan Baliva said. "That takes its toll on catchers. I think (Chiefs manager) Jody Davis did a good job by telling him that playing all those days in Chicago as a catcher, his average went through the same thing in the second half and that he'd lose 30 pounds in a season."

Baliva also said that Reed briefly changed his approach at the plate in the second half.

"There was a stretch where he hit a couple of home runs and doubles off the wall, and he may have started to try and pull the ball more and hit for power instead of going the other way," Baliva said. "Slapping it to left field and getting the ball into the gap is really his way. I think after they saw him doing that, they sat down with him and really straightened him out."

At 5'11" and 175 pounds, there are some concerns that Reed is too small to play catcher. That, he says, only serves as a motivating factor.

"Going into the off-season, I'm going to work hard in the weight room and try to put some weight on so that I can handle catching 120 games," Reed told us just before instructs at the end of the season. "It's a goal for me to get stronger and to be able to be an everyday catcher."

Reed still fields his position well. He committed just four errors for the Midwest League's best fielding percentage among all catchers at .993, throwing out 42 percent of opposing runners.


26. Michael Phelps
Pos: RHP. HT: 6'4". WT: 195.
2006 Totals: 2-2, 2.99 ERA, 33.1 IP, 31 K, 14 BB, .258 AVG. AGAINST.

Phelps began the year at Peoria, where he made only three appearances from the Chiefs' bullpen before getting the call-up to Class High-A Daytona. There, he battled through a shoulder injury that would require him to spend over two months in Arizona on rehab.

His numbers didn't take much of a hit upon returning. The right-hander allowed equally as many hits as innings pitched, but generally stayed out of trouble by allowing only one home run all season.

A Division II product of Central Missouri State, Phelps overcame a frightening injury in his college career when he was struck in the temple by a throw from catcher Brent Lacy. None of that has affected his makeup.

Phelps features a fastball in the low 90's and combines it with a slider and a changeup that he says has become his best pitch.

Photo attribution: Camp, Clevenger – Boise Hawks Baseball Club; Cooper – Cal Sports Information/Michael Pimental; Reed – Chicago Cubs; Phelps – Inside The Ivy/Jerry Hale.


Northsiders Report Top Stories