Cubs Top 30 Prospects

Worried about who the Cubs might give up for compensation? This is the summary of all the prospect lists I have done so far and will give you an idea of the prospects in the Cubs system.  I'm not a big fan of ranking prospects, but I do understand that it gives people some idea.  Please understand, though, that while Ben Wells is 7th and Chris Rusin is 25th, Rusin has a far better chance of reaching his potential than Wells does.  It's just that his potential is much less.

Some pitchers, Dae Un Rhee or Jeffrey Antigua, are ranked lower because of their high risk factor but they each have the potential to be at least a #3 starter -- the same as Trey McNutt who ranks 6th.  The same goes for a position player like Junior Lake, who has a lot of natural ability but is much less likely to be a solid regular than say, Josh Vitters.  Prospects who still have big questions to answer were generally ranked lower but could move up quickly once those questions are answered.

Pitchers with starting potential are generally valued higher than relievers, since relief is always a fall back for prospects that don't make it as starters.

So, for all those reasons, lists are difficult to make.  There are so many variables. This list is compiled from a combination of personal observations, research, and outside opinions. In the end, though, lists are made to be up for debate away.

  1. Brett Jackson, CF (AAA):  All-around skills, Good OBP, strikes out too a bit too much
  2. Javier Baez, SS-3B (A-): Tremendous bat speed,  power potential,  good defense despite throwing yips
  3. Matt Szczur, CF (A+):  Among fastest in system, developing power and defense, needs more patience
  4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B-1B (DSL): Ranks with Baez among the top hitters in the system, defense a concern
  5. Reggie Golden, RF (A-): Ron Gant type potential, good power, arm for RF, contact an issue.
  6. Trey McNutt, SP (AA): Righty, Mid 90s fastball, hard breaking ball, needs to regain command
  7. Ben Wells SP (A-): Righty, A heavy 93-94 mph sinker is legit out pitch, rest of repertoire still raw
  8. Josh Vitters, 3B, IB, OF? (AA): Natural hitter but relative lack of defense, power, and discipline hold him back.  Has the arm to play RF if Cubs decide to try him there.
  9. Rafael Dolis, RP (AA): Upper 90s fastball, filthy slider, mediocre command
  10. Chris Carpenter, RP (AAA): See above, though Carpenter throws even harder.
  11. Dan Vogelbach, 1B, (A-):  Top power potential in system, short stroke, weight a concern
  12. Dillon Maples, SP (hasn't played) :  Righty, potental power front line starter but needs to work on delivery and command before he gets rated higher.
  13. Marco Hernandez, SS, (A-): Athletic SS with good bat, good speed and 15 HR potential
  14. Logan Watkins, SS-2B-OF (A+): Gritty, athletic player who may stick at SS, Good OBP skills with speed.
  15. DJ LeMahieu, 3B-2B (AAA): Contact hitter with improving defense.  Needs to develop OBP skills and/or power
  16. Ryan Flaherty, IF-OF (AAA): Intelligent, super-sub type with decent OBP skills  Long swing could be an issue.  Already 25 years old.
  17. Welington Castillo, C (AAA): Solid defensive skills, excellent arm and improving offense
  18. Zeke DeVoss, 2B-OF, ( A-): Extremely fast player with outstanding OBP skills and potential for some gap power.  May stick at 2B.
  19. Gioskar Amaya, 3B-2B (A-): Outstanding hitting prospect, one of the top 5 pure hitters in the organization, has gap power, defense needs work, possible tweener
  20. Pin-Chieh Chen, CF(A-): Another very fast player and hitter who makes hard contact, small frame, no power potential.  Lots of range in CF.
  21. Jeffrey Beliveau, RP (AA): Tough lefty reliever with good chance to make team this spring
  22. Dae Un Rhee, SP (AA): TJ survivor with great change who’s throwing in the mid 90s again.  Has been inconsistent with command.  Breakout candidate for 2012.
  23. Junior Lake, SS-3B (AA): Toolsy player with less discipline than Vitters.  Has boom or bust potential.
  24. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF (AA): Excellent arm and solid tools across the board, lacks plate discipline
  25. Chris Rusin, SP (AAA): Finesse lefty with great command, more of a 4th, 5th starter.
  26. Nick Struck, SP (AAA): Bulldog mentality, average to above average stuff but locates well
  27. Eric Jokisch: SP (AA) Another finesse lefty, similar to Rusin in size and command
  28. Jeffrey Antigua: SP (A+)  Young lefty with better stuff than Rusin or Jokisch, plagued by inconsistency
  29. Steve Clevenger: C (AAA)  Solid contact hitter.  Lefty bat likely ensures him a long career as backup.
  30. Dustin Geiger: 3B (A) Good bat and has power potential. Very solid defense at 3B.   Still growing, will need more discipline at higher levels

Filed under: Minor Leagues, prospects


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  • The lists looks promising. Lets hope the very talented ones
    do pan out for the Cubs.

  • Great list John!

    I didn't see Whitenack or Jay Jackson's names on the list. I'm guessing Whitenack isn't on the list due to injury. Do you feel that Jackson fell out of the top 30?

    I can see Junior Lake moving up the list quickly. I look forward to watching him progress through the minors.

    I can't wait to see where BA ranks the Cubs in their organizational rankings in a couple months. If the Cubs crack the top 10, I'll bet Theo will be VERY happy.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I would agree with John in that it's impossible to rank him on a top prospect list without knowing how he's responding post-surgery and with that many healthy arms on the edge of being in the majors.

    Jay Jackson far as I'm concerned, he's a nonprospect. Just a combination of his history and the fact that he hasn't been given a chance yet, I doubt he'll ever be ready if he hasn't been yet.

    I view Lake as a great piece to be moved in a trade at some point this season. I wouldn't say that he fits into the long term plans of this team, but you gotta think that another team would drool over his potential tools.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Alex, Cameron...

    I originally made a list of 45 players and pared it down. Whitenack and Jackson were both on that list. Cameron is correct in that injury played a big factor with Whitenack. It's usually a year or less to come back but another year to regain command (see Dae Un Rhee). Even though I expect him to come back, he may be about 24 by then. I also think he was more of a back of the rotation guy to start with, so because of the injury., I ranked him behind Rusin and Struck, and it was enough to bump him off the list. He's right around the 31 or 32 mark.

    Jackson is an enigma. He did pitch better at the end of the season but he's no longer the guy who throws mid 90s with a sharp slider. Both pitches seem to have regressed. I think he's a middle reliever at this point and the Cubs may just lose him in the Rule 5 draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I didn't mean to sound like I was speaking for you, I was just guessing what you would say about Whitenack, and the Jackson bit was my own.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    No worries Cameron! It was pretty acurate too

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Jay Jackson's conditioning has been an issue, if that tells you anything.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think it says a lot as to why the Cubs have soured on him, even before this season.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    He is listed at 195lbs, but I've heard he is closer to 250.

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    Great work per the usual John!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Michael!

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    Here's my top 50, plus rookies:

    1. Brett Jackson CF AAA 1, 09 23 L/R
    2. Javier Baez SS SS 1, 11 18 R/R
    3. Matt Szczur CF A 5, 10 22 R/R
    4. Josh Vitters 3B AA 1, 07 22 R/R
    5. Trey McNutt RHP AA 32, 09 22 6’4”
    6. Dan Vogelbach 1B AZL 2, 11 18 L/R
    R. Darwin Barney 2B MLB 4, 07 25 R/R
    7. Dillon Maples RHP TBD 14, 11 19 6’2”
    8. Jae-Hoon Ha CF AA ND, 09 20 R/R
    9. DJ LeMahieu 2B/3B MLB 2, 09 22 R/R
    10. Ryan Flaherty 3B/2B AAA 2, 08 25 L/R
    11. Junior Lake SS/3B AA ND, 07 21 R/R
    12. Welington Castillo C AAA ND, 04 24 R/R
    13. Jeimer Candelario 3B DSL2 ND, 10 17 S/R
    R. Casey Coleman RHP MLB 16, 08 24 6’0”
    14. Reggie Golden OF SS 2, 10 19 R/R
    15. Chris Carpenter RHP AAA 4, 08 25 6’4”
    16. Jay Jackson RHP AAA 10, 08 23 6’1”
    17. Chris Rusin LHP AAA 4, 09 24 6’2”
    18. Nicholas Struck RHP AAA 39, 09 21 5’11”
    19. Eric Jokisch LHP AA 11, 10 22 6’2”
    20. Logan Watkins SS/2B A 22, 08 22 L/R
    21. Jeffry Antigua LHP A ND, 06 21 6’1”
    22. Austin Kirk LHP a 3, 09 21 6’1”
    23. Zeke DeVoss 2B/CF SS 3, 11 21 S/R
    24. Marco Hernandez SS/3B AZL ND, 10 18 L/R
    25. Gioskar Amaya SS/2B AZL ND, 10 18 R/R
    26. Brooks Raley LHP AA 6, 09 23 6’3”
    27. Dae-Eun Rhee RHP A ND, 08 21 6’2”
    28. Jeffrey Beliveau LHP AA 19, 08 24 6’1”
    R*. Tony Campana OF MLB 14, 08 25 L/L
    29. Rafael Dolis RHP MLB ND, 04 23 6’4”
    30. Ben Wells RHP SS 7, 10 19 6’2”
    31. Steve Clevenger C MLB 7, 06 25 L/R
    32. Yao-Lin Wang RHP SS ND, 09 20 6’0”
    33. Neftali Rosario C AZL 6, 11 18 R/R
    34. Kevin Rhoderick RHP AA 9, 10 23 6’1”
    35. Aaron Kurcz RHP A 10, 10 21 6’0”
    36. Richard Jones 1B a 9, 09 22 L/R
    37. Justin Bour 1B A 25, 09 23 L/R
    38. Frank del Valle LHP A ND, 11 21 5’11”
    39. Luis Liria RHP a ND, 08 20 6’2”
    40. Evan Crawford OF A T, 10 23 R/R
    41. Scott Maine RHP AAA T, 10 26 L/L
    42. Matt Cerda 3B A 4, 08 21 L/R
    43. Pin-Chieh Chen CF SS ND, 10 20 L/R
    44. Kyung-Min Na OF SS ND, 10 19 L/L
    45. Willengton Cruz LHP SS ND, 10 21 6’2”
    46. Hayden Simpson RHP AZL 1, 10 22 6’0”
    47. Austin Reed RHP SS 12, 10 19 6’3”
    48. Hunter Ackerman LHP AZL 4, 10 20 6’1”
    49. John Gaub LHP MLB T, 09 26 6’2”
    50. James Adduci OF AA T, 06 25 L/L

    * Don't believe Campana hit the minimum to qualify as a "rookie", but close enough

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Nice list. A lot of those names in your 50 were the same that I had in my overall list as well-- most notably Wang, Cerda, Reed, Simpson, and Del Valle.

    I really like Matt Cerda a lot. I wanted to squeeze him on the list. He's a little guy, but i think he makes it as a utility infielder in the bigs. In fact, he's got a better chance to make it then a lot of guys I listed. He's probably #31 on the list for me.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Kirk and Raley are also guys I considered for this list, by the way...may post list of guys who missed the cut tonight for extreme prospect junkies like myself.

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    Player, Position, Level, Draft/Signing, Age, Height or B/T

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    #Cubs in #AFL (10/22): Lake (SS): 4-for-5, 3RBI, 2B, SB; LeMahieu (1B): 0-for-3, 2BB, SB; Vitters (RF): 1-for-5; Carpenter: 0R, 0H, BB,K,1IP

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Lake is just absolutely raking. I really want to root for him to make it, especially since he's got some big time detractors. People who don't like him don't like his approach. People who do like him like his tools and athleticism. If Lake doesn't end up a starter, it's easy to envision him as a player who can play 3b, SS, 2B, and even the OF while providing some power and speed off the bench. I'm willing to bet the Cubs have him ranked higher than I do.

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    According to multiple reports, Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington have 10 days to work out Boston's compensation package. CBS Sports reported if the two sides cannot agree on the compensation in a timely manner then Bud Selig will step in and serve as an arbiter.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks for the update, Michael. Hard for me to believe that it will come to Selig...unless Henry or Lucchino are vetoing deals, which isn't too hard to imagine.

  • Thank you for this John. I appreciate the effort and know many others do as well.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Thanks Hubbs16!

  • Excellent list John, I am very impressed. I also don't really think Selig will get involved now either. I think with now Theo and Ben Cherrington dealing with each other , things will be much smoother.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks Steve. Of course, I follow Cubs prospects year round, but I never thought I'd have a hard time narrowing it down to 30. It's what I would call a bottom heavy system in that the Cubs best prospects are at the lower level and there is more depth than 5 star prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would say that you have Carpenter too high, based on your own criteria. I would argue that Vogelbach and Maples, at the very least have higher potential than Carpenter. As well, he's projecting as a RP, as well as being 25, 26, which should lower his valuation.

    To counter this, I did like what I saw in his very limited duty. It's disappointing that at his age he still needs polish, but the stuff is there to be a major league reliever.

    however, the continuing growth of the number of major league RP who can hit 100mph does hurt his value I think. It has been shown that ML batters can hit that speed, and with it becoming more common, they'll see it much better. I'd rather see a reliever with 3 pitches which all break and be able to control them.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    I rated both Carpenter and Dolis high because of their likelihood of reaching their potential as high leverage relievers.

    I don't think most major leaguers can hit a high 90s-100 mph fastball consistently. When I see Carpenter get hit, it's his command that hurts him. When you throw a letter high, 99 mph on the outside corner that is simply unhittable, but if you come back with a 94 mph fastball right over the middle on the next pitch, that pitch suddenly doesn't look so overpowering. That's the kind of thing that frustrates me with him, that and the walks, falling behind the count, etc.

    But as we've seen in the AZ fall league, when he's commanding his stuff, he can be dominant.

    I disagree that a reliever needs 3 pitches, although Carpenter does. He has a passable change-up. Pitchers who can control and command 3 solid or better pitches generally become starters.

  • Hayden Simpson isn't even a top 25 prospect in the system? That selection is going to hurt.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Of course I just fangraph'd him, and he's got a pro career K/BB of about 1.5/1. Which is awful. Is he already bust?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    That could change in a hurry, though. I think if you're optimistic, you write this off as a lost year and give him a clean slate for next year. I'm willing to do that, but I can't get a good read on someone that way, so I'm not touching him as far as a top prospect ranking right now.

    Simpson, because of a protracted case with mono, lost a ton of weight and strength last season. With that he also lost 10 mph off his fastball. You can't even get Class A hitters out with a low 80s fastball and below average command. I have no idea what he's going to look like next year. He could struggle again or he could completely bounce back when he regains his strength. If he doesn't rebound,it could be the Cubs worst pick since the Ryan Harvey/Mark Pawelek debacles.

    I think he'll bounce what degree, however, remains to be seen but right now there are more interesting prospects, in my opinion. Hopefully I'll eat my words. Simpson will be on the 10 (or 15) prospects who missed the cut.

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