This post was originally going to be entitled “The Pie’s the Limit”, but considering that it’s purpose is to educate the world about Felix Pie, I thought it better to avoid a pun that relies upon a mispronunciation of his name.
Either way, the Cubs’ Felix Pie has gone from being an overrated prospect to an overlooked one. This has mainly to do with the deterioration in his raw numbers — Pie hit an untranslated .304/.349/.554 at West Tennessee in 2005 but fell to .283/.341/.451 in Iowa last year. That, coupled with the lingering memory of Corey Patterson, was enough for many Cubs fans to write him off.
In actuality, Pie is probably a better prospect than he was a year ago. Iowa is a much more difficult hitting environment than West Tennessee, and so the fall in his EqA was just 12 points — from .273 in 2005 to .261 in 2006. A big change in park factors is a sure-fire way for a prospect to become underrated — see also Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
There are other positives too. Pie played a full season in 2006 after missing about half of ‘05 with an ankle injury. His defense in center field went from -2 FRAA to +8. And he did all of this while getting one step closer to the majors, something that should never be overlooked.
PECOTA sees Pie developing into a .290/.350/.500 player within a couple of years, with plus defense in center field. This might sound a little Pie in the Sky — oops — but that’s basically a Vernon Wells skills set. It’s good enough, in fact, that it ought to affect the Cubs’ planning for the rest of the winter. There’s absolutely no reason to bring in an outfielder along the lines of Cliff Floyd, for instance, and while it’s probably a bit premature to trade Jacque Jones to make room for Pie, you could make a strong case for it. One wonders if the Cubs will be tempted to overcompensate for their handling of Patterson by keeping Pie buried in the minors until Jones’ contract expires after 2008 — but he should force the issue sooner than that.