So it turned out Felix Pie was the second coming of Corey Patterson after all.

Even if Pie turns out to be a solid major leaguer someday, it won’t be as a member of the Chicago Cubs. The overly hyped prospect was traded to the Baltimore Orioles today in exchange for a couple of pitchers, one of which probably will never pan out and the other full of unproven potential like Pie is. Essentially, the Cubs and the Orioles swapped once-hot prospects who haven’t done much at the major-league level.

Regardless, the Cubs had to get rid of Pie because he is out of minor league options and wasn’t likely to crack the team’s crowded outfield. The Cubs also have three other players who were once highly touted prospects but are now out of minor league options – infielder Ronny Cedeno and pitchers Rich Hill and Angel Guzman. In all likelihood, they also will be traded or released before the end of spring training.

With those four prospects getting flushed out of the Cubs’ system, it is time to start touting new ones. At the Cubs Caravan stop in Peoria last week, Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita named five prospects who are poised to have breakout seasons this year. They are third baseman Josh Vitters, shortstop Ryan Flaherty, catcher Michael Brenly (son of Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly) and starting pitchers Aaron Shafer and Chris Carpenter. It will be interesting to see how many of them actually become solid major-leaguers.

One other note from the Cubs Caravan in Peoria: Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild said Sean Marshall is the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation. Of course, the Cubs still might trade for Jake Peavy or get another starting pitcher who would join Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and Ryan Dempster in the rotation instead of Marshall.

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