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by Alex Ciepley
A whole batch of minor leaguers have just discovered that the juice doesn't taste so sweet when you're caught sipping from the bottle. 38 players were suspended yesterday for violating baseball's steroids policy. Seven of them were Cubs:
Medrano and Reinking have been released.
I asked Baseball Analyst and Cub Prospect Maven Bryan Smith for his take on the Cubs that were tattooed with the Scarlet "S".
Of the Cubs players caught in the steroid scandal, there are really only two that have big league potential: Matt Craig and Carlos Vasquez.
Craig is a very polished hitter the Cubs drafted from the University of Richmond in 2002. After a horrendous struggle in Boise to finish his 2002 and then a power struggle in 2003, Craig was one of the better Southern League hitters last year. A third basemen with a good eye and gap power, the largest knock on him is his defense, as his problems at the hot corner could push him across the diamond. His power is not enough to stick at first. I've compared him to Greg Norton in the past, and the switch-hitting bench player label still sticks.
Vasquez was put on the 40-man roster instead of Andy Sisco and Luke Hagerty, which of course in hindsight looks like the wrong decision. The combination of a southpaw and a power sinker was apparently too much to risk, and the Cubs will send Carlos to West Tenn this year. I don't think he will succeed as a starter unless his K/9 goes from the mid-fives to the sevens, a move unlikely to happen. But his HR/9 is good, and the Cubs won't wait long to see if there is a boost in his stuff when he moves to the bullpen.
What drying out from steroids will due to these players is simply unknown by me, or anyone. I stand in the camp where I don't think it is going to significantly help you hit for power, and given Craig's advanced technique, shouldn't affect his stock much. Vasquez throws a pitch (power sinker) that demands control (low in zone) more than velocity, so the same is true for him. If I'm wrong and Craig loses power and Vasquez loses significant velocity, neither player is a prospect. If I'm right and their stock is virtually unchanged, neither will be much more than a role player anyway.
Both Craig (a favorite of mine) and Vasquez are linked in the "2005 Cubs" section over at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar, so you can follow their progress all season and determine for yourself the results of being de-juiced.