The Chicago Cubs have re-called outfielder Sam Fuld from Triple-A. At 27 years old, Fuld’s prospect status is dwindling. Except for a brief stint with the Cubs in 2007, he has spent parts of the last three seasons with Chicago’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates and has been successful at every level of his professional career since his debut in 2003. I believe that Fuld is one of the more undervalued players around.
Fuld has spent 17 games with the Cubs this season hitting .292 with six runs and four walks (just one strikeout) in 24 official at bats. His defense has been spectacular during his brief stay in the majors. His UZR was 3.8 despite playing just 51.1 innings in the outfield. All told his play was worth 4.6 Runs Above Replacement (RAR) according to FanGraphs.
Fuld has an excellent track record in the minor leagues. He has maintained a walk to strikeout ratio of 1.09 meaning he has walked more than he has struck out. His career walk rate is a solid 12.4 percent. His minor league batting line in his four and a half seasons is .287/.369/.407. While his power numbers are well below average (20 homeruns in 1,913 at bats) he does have above average speed and great range in the outfield. His arm and instincts make him a particularly strong centerfielder.
Unfortunately for Fuld the Cubs outfield is pretty much set through 2011. Milton Bradley is owed $9 million in 2010 and $12 million in 2011. Kosuke Fukudome is signed for $13 million in 2010 and $13.5 in 2011. Alfonso Soriano signed a monster 8-year $136 million deal through 2014.
For now it appears Fuld will remain nothing more than a utility outfielder in Chicago. Fuld could become a valuable contributor if given everyday playing time. He is only signed through 2009, so another lucky team could pick him up on the cheap during the offseason.