For the past two Sundays, I've been taking a look back at the "future Cubs " featured in 2010 Topps Pro Debut to see where they stand.
Part One - Ryan Flaherty and Brett Jackson.
Part Two - DJ LeMahieu and Brooks Raley
The two players featured today will share a bond beyond just being in this set together. Back in January 2011, both Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee were involved in the 8-player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that brought Matt Garza to the Cubs. Here is what they've been up to since.
Chris Archer's Pro Debut card shows him on the Peoria Chiefs. This was his first team with the Cubs organization although he was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 5th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He spent three season in the Rookie League and Single-A before being traded to the Cubs along with John Gaub and Jeff Stevens for Mark DeRosa in 2009. So, I know I've said it before, I have no idea how Topps selects the players they do since many have made their "Pro Debut" long before their card came out.
Anyway, after going 5-18 over the three seasons in the Indians organization, 2009 was Archer's first year with a winning record, going 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 27 games. He followed that up in 2010 by going 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA in High Single-A (Daytona Cubs) and 8-2 in Double-A (Tennessee Smokies).
I guess the Cubs thought they were selling high when they traded Archer to Tampa Bay. I think they may have just been high. But hindsight is 20/20, I guess. He leveled out over the next few seasons, mostly with Triple-A (Durham Bulls) for the Rays but made his Major League debut last season as a late season call up. He finished 2012 with a 1-3 record in six appearances but after a little more time with the Bulls this season, Archer seems to have turned it around again. He is currently 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA. Over a four game span in July, in which he won all four games, Archer gave up just one earned run, one unearned run and threw two shutouts.
I don't follow much of the American League so this may a huge stretch, but I'd be curious to see where he falls in the ROY discussions. (I think he is still eligible based on the limited playing time from last season but I could be wrong...)
Alright, on to Hak-Ju Lee. Originally from South Korea, Lee played for the Boise Hawks (low Single-A) in 2009 as seen on his Pro Debut card and the Peoria Chiefs in 2010. As I mentioned, Lee was involved with the Garza trade prior to the 2011 season, which compared to Archer above, makes a little more sense. Despite Lee being a top ranked prospect at shortstop by both Baseball America and MLB.com for the past three seasons, back in 2010-2011, the Cubs thought they had the shortstop position locked up for many years in young phenom Starlin Castro. And while they still do have Castro under contract for a while, this past season has certainly seen many Cubs fans change their tune on him.
But back to Lee. He's risen through the ranks since joining the Rays, with stops in High Single-A (Charlotte Stone Crabs), two seasons in Double-A (Montgomery Biscuits) and started this season with the Rays Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls.
In his first 15 games this year, Lee was batting .422 with 6 stolen bases and 11 walks before blowing out his knee in a collision at second base. He's been on the disabled list since and will likely miss the rest of the year too. Again, I don't follow much of the American league and I couldn't name the Rays middle infield off the top of my head. That said, after looking them up (and I had heard of them, just know very little about them), I don't see why Lee couldn't be the shortstop or second baseman of the future for the Rays. Provided his rehab is going well and is ready to start 2014 healthy.
Six down, ten more to go! Looking ahead to next week's post, we have two of the more interesting names in this team set.