Examining potential return for Red Sox
Four Cubs players have been talked up as compensation
Several names of Cubs prospects have been mentioned in the discussion about compensation for Theo Epstein's reported move from the Red Sox to Chicago. Here's some more information on the Minor Leaguers that Boston might choose from, should their general manager head to Wrigley Field.
Brett Jackson is the Cubs' No. 1 prospect and is coming off of a very solid 2011 season. Ranked No. 29 in the overall Top 50, Jackson showed off his power-speed combination by going 20-20 across two levels, actually hitting better in Triple-A than he did down a level. He does swing and miss quite a bit (138 strikeouts), but he'll also draw some walks (73), which led to a .379 on-base percentage in 2011. The 2009 first-round pick was playing for Team USA in the World Cup this fall in Panama, and hit .400 over his first nine games.
Matt Szczur was taken by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft, signed away from what could have been an NFL career. Szczur, a Futures Game participant in July, is a tremendous athlete with plus-plus speed. The No. 2 prospect in the Cubs' organization, Szczur showed a good amount of baseball acumen in his first full season. After hitting .314 with 17 steals for Class A Peoria, he got promoted up to Daytona after 66 games. Up a level, he hit .260 and stole another seven bases. He only struck out 48 times in 447 at-bats, and while he drew just 26 walks, he could be a very good leadoff hitter in the future.
Following the Matt Garza trade, Trey McNutt was the best starting pitching prospect in the Cubs' system. The 2009 32nd-round pick had a huge first full season, pitching at three levels and finishing second in the system in both ERA and strikeouts. The 2011 season was not as successful. The 22-year-old right-hander, No. 4 on the Cubs' Top 10 spent all season in Double-A, finishing with a 4.55 ERA and .319 batting average against. He does have a plus fastball and power breaking ball, so he could end up being a very good short reliever, though it might be too soon to give up on him as a starter. McNutt, 22, is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
Another pitcher the Red Sox might be looking at is Jeff Beliveau, a 24-year-old reliever who also pitched for Double-A Tennessee in 2011. An 18th-rounder in 2008, Beliveau became a full-time reliever in 2010 and pitched at two levels that season. This past year, he went 6-1 with three saves and a 1.89 ERA over 57 innings pitched, striking out 69 and walking just 13 for Tennessee. He doesn't have short-reliever stuff, with a fastball up to about 91 mph, a curve and a changeup which grade out as average.