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Cubs farm system on the rise

Cubs farm system on the rise

At some point I'm going to have to re-rank my Cubs top prospects.  Anthony Rizzo is obviously going to be high on the list while Ronald Torreyes, Dave Sappelt, and Zach Cates would probably crack the top 20 somewhere.  The offseason isn't done so I'm holding off on that list for now but, until then, Jim Callis of Baseball America gives us a sneak peek at how much the Cubs farm system has risen overall in the past year.

After a trade for Matt Garza last season, the Cubs really gutted their system and had fallen to the lower half of baseball's organizational rankings.  But according to Callis, the Cubs are on the rise again.  In their preliminary rankings for the 2012 Prospect Handbook, the Cubs ranked 14th, presumably due to a strong 2011 draft, but Callis believes with the Cubs latest moves, it will move them up another spot or two.

Additionally, Callis ranks three Cubs in his top 50 prospects overall: Brett Jackson at 28, Javier Baez at 31, and Anthony Rizzo at 42.

It's a remarkable turnaround for a farm system that was headed in the wrong direction at this time last season after trading 4 prospects for Matt Garza.  It's a testament to the hard work put in by Tim Wilken with the much needed financcial support of owner Tom Ricketts.  The additional moves by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have moved the Cubs even further up the ladder -- and they're probably not done yet.  The Cubs still have a few more moves left in them.  A Garza trade would potentially bring in a couple of top 10 prospects, maybe as many as 3.

It isn't inconceivable that if Epstein is able to pull off a Garza trade to their liking, the Cubs will have one of the top 10 farm systems in baseball, a lofty status the Cubs haven't held since the early days of Andy McPhail and Jim Hendry.

Potential trades of Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, and Geovanny Soto could bring in even more prospects.  Four of the first 76 picks should also add to the organizational strength and depth by this time next year, although some of it will go toward offsetting the probable graduation of players like Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.

All told, it wouldn't at all be surprising if the Cubs had a top 10 system by April.  It'll be up to the Cubs front office to keep it that way for the long haul.

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  • Excellent article, John. It is exciting to see how much depth and talent the Cubs are starting to gather in the minors. I was thinking just the other day about the huge amount of talent that has been added this off-season. When was the last time that the Cubs had 3 players listed in the top 50? I really wish one of them was a pitcher, but if all three pan out and become the impact bats that they profile to be, this could become a very dangerous offense in the next few years.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Thanks supercapo. It is strange to see that many Cubs in the top 50, they usually have one -- and the exciting thing is that two of them are about 2 months away from the majors.

    I remember the Corey Patterson/Mark Prior/Carlos Zambrano/Angel Guzman days where they were considered a top system, but that's obviously been awhile.

  • Having four out of the first 76 picks should get that Cubs into the Top 10 status next off season, even with the graduation of Jackson and Rizzo.

    I think keeping Garza and signing him to an extension should be a priority. I'm sure AA thought it was going to be much easier to get a front line starter when he traded away Halliday. It just goes to show you that getting front of the rotation starters is a lot harder than you would think. Even if Cain and Hammels make it to FA next off season, they are going to break the bank, because teams need for top starters exceeds the supply.

    The Cubs will get to the Top 10 prospect lists soon enough. I just don't think it needs to be this off season.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I hope Kaplan is wrong about the Garza/Tigers talks.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I missed it, what is Kaplan saying?

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Here is his blog entry.

    http://www.csnchicago.com/blog/cubs-talk/post/Tigers-Cubs-talking-Garza-trade?blockID=627864&feedID=661

    He is saying that the teams are down the road in talks for Garza.

    Take it for what it is though. Still just a rumor.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Thanks for sharing, Alex.

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    In reply to Alex:

    Kaplan hasn't been very accurate since Theo/Jed took over. I don't know if his sources have changed/are getting wrong info, or what, but I wouldn't blindly trust what he says anymore.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    One guy he's believed to be close to, though, is Ricketts himself. So he might have an "in" for quite some time.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I found it funny the first night Hoyer was on Kaplan's radio show. Near the end of the interview Kap asked if it were OK if he called Hoyer at home if he heard a trade rumor at midnight. Hoyer said, "No." And added he doesn't talk about rumors, period, and doesn't take calls from reporters.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That doesn't surprise me. Those guys play things very close to the vest, and their trades have come out of nowhere.

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    In reply to Alex:

    I wouldn't have that much heartburn if the cubbies were to get some package of prospects from the tigers for garza. Turner has great upside but I have yet to hear any other names mentioned.

  • In reply to Rich Cap:

    I've heard Porcello as a possibility.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I don't think re-signing him is a priority Alex. Most of what I've been hearing is that a deal will eventually get done. I'm thinking the Cubs believe that 2014 is their target year for contention and by that time Garza will become a pretty expensive FA. He'll be good, but he won't be great value anymore. The Cubs are probably hoping they get a younger pitcher who can take Garza's place at the top of the rotation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope you're right John.

    Front line pitching is the one thing thing I would hesitate to give up if I were a GM. But since I'm not a GM, I'll leave it up to those in the know like Theo and Jed.

    I just hope they're not stuck for a number 1 pitcher when they need one.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I hope I'm right too. It's definitely a risk to take.

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    In reply to Alex:

    I wouldn't be surprised if there is a lot of turnover on the team's minor league managers and coaches for the 2013 season, with Theo/Jed bringing in several of their own guys. I don't think there was much turnover for this season, but that could be because some of those guys were already under contract and it's probably frowned upon around the league to fire a bunch of minor lg coaches this late in the offseason, and it's not like a bunch of great minor league instructors are out of work waiting for a call.

    I think the level of a team's minor league coaching is also a huge part of building a system. You don't draft and pay huge sums of money to top prospects and then let two-bit coaches instruct them. Coaching is a gigantic part of the game, even more so in the minors. Spending big money on the draft (or whatever the CBA now allows), without improving the minor league staff doesn't make sense. I just haven't heard of many changes.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    Other than Buckner going to Boise as the hitting coach, I don't see a single change from last year's entire minor league coaching staffs. Interesting. Does Theoyer feel that who we already have are very good? Do they feel they can't make moves right away until they get a feel for their abilities? Etc, Etc.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    The one thing Theo said early on is that there will be a Cubs Way of doing things. The organization will teach the same fundamentals throughout their system. So when the prospects reach the Cubs, they will be well versed in the Cubs Way and will be ready to go.

    That really resonated to me. No more willy nilly instruction in the farm system

  • I think trading Garza is a very important step in the right direction
    in (re)building the farm system. Add a few other prospects from other trades and next years draft and we are set for the next generation of Cub fans.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    If the Cubs had a solid number 2 starter for the 2013 season, I would be in total agreement with you.

    Getting another front of the rotation starter is much easier said than done. Like I said before, the demand is much greater than the supply when it comes to front of the rotation starters.

    If the Cubs were a bottom 5 farm system, I would probably be in favor of trading Garza as well. But if the Cubs are in the top 12 after the Rizzo trade, then the urgency isn't as great.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I think he should be traded if teams think he is the one pitcher
    that can put them in the playoffs and they over pay. Can't
    let this chance pass them if its a very great deal.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Okay..

    Lets see what the Cubs get first. I'm sure they will be good players. I just hope that Theo and Jed aren't stuck without an ace when the Cubs start to contend.

    If the Mariners make Felix available, I can't wait to see what AA offers up for him. I'll bet he didn't think replacing Halladay would be this difficult when he traded him in that 3 team deal. He will need to give up so many top prospects, it will make the Halladay deal look silly.

    I just don't want to see the Cubs be in that position in 2 years.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Worth doing only if it's on Theo/Jed terms, though.

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    I am excited about the rise in the cubs minor league system because of the possibilities it opens up. As cubs fans we all know that not every top prospect will pan out (see almost the entire 80's minor league system) but with a great system we can promote within, trade surplus abd just generally root for home grown players.

  • In reply to Rich Cap:

    I think that's going to be the key, building depth so that you're covered when guys don't pan out and/or assets to deal for proven talent later.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Speaking of prospects, on a side note John. What do you think about having a Meetup (without creating a Meetup group) when the Chiefs come up to play Kane County one day this season?

    I think it would be a great way to put faces to the names and talk about the Cubs prospects over a beer (or pop, if anyone doesn't drink alcoholic beverages). I'm looking forward to seeing some of the lower level prospects and think it would be a blast to discuss them with other passionate Cub Fans.

  • In reply to Alex:

    That's a pretty good idea. I'm game for something like that. Peoria should be loaded this year...Vogelbach, Baez, DeVoss, Golden....has their schedule come out yet?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here you go sir..

    http://www.kccougars.com/schedule.html

    First visit is May 2 - 4.

    That would be great if these 4 players are with the Chiefs this season.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I'm thinking maybe the June series on a weekend day? That Saturday night or the next Sunday afternoon (June 2nd or 3rd)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm up for the June series.

    How can we go about doing this? I guess the first step is seeing who is up for going first and then determine the day and seats.

    What do you think?

    I'm out in the West Suburbs, so I'm going to probably go on both days anyways.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I'll put it on the next news and notes section and see if we get some feedback.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A mere 118 miles from me.....maybe I could ride up with the Chiefs.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    I usually go to a Chiefs game every year. Went to school in Peoria, so I know the area well.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Lets keep the game in mind and revisit it when the season starts. We can start working out the details as soon as we know who is interested.

  • In reply to Alex:

    I think this would be a great idea. I would definitely be down for that. I usually hit 2-3 Cougar games a year.

  • In reply to Alex:

    "to put faces to the names".....I'm thinkin' this could get me kicked off the blog.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    That's where you can use an alias. Just don't go with "jhendry".

  • In reply to Alex:

    I'm toying with EBroglio........maybe Glenn Hobby---note crafty alternate spelling.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    IMBroglio

  • One thing about the Tigers rumor coming out is that it will/should force the Blue Jays and Yankees to decide if they are going to make one big push to try and get Garza. They backed off because they were trying to get the Cubs to lower their asking price, but if they are serious about winning next season, and they see that Detroit is willing to part will Turner plus other strong prospects, this could drive the price up a little bit more.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I think the Yankees are afraid to deal and won't up their price. It's kind of been their pattern the last couple of years. Only got Granderson because Arizona was willing to help out and pitch in Scherzer. Maybe Toronto, but they don't seem to want to deal prospect all of the sudden.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    ITA John, the Yankees are timid and would rather go cheap. Cashman went cheap last year with Garcia and Colon, which paid off, so I'm thinking he will do the same this year. I can see the Yankees sniffing around Roy Oswalt or kicking the tires of Gavin Floyd. Cashman won't have to give up too much for Floyd . The Yankees are overly cautious , IMO, and I think it's going to catch up with them, especially if a AL rival like the Tigers trade for Garza.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I'm getting that feeling as well. Not to say the Yankees need Garza, but they need something.

  • I'm not good at poker, lets hope Theo/Jed are very good.

  • John,

    Any news on Kerry Wood? He needs to return, the bull pen needs a veteran arm like his to help out. Plus he is such a great Cub, i hate to see him pitching somewhere else. (That being said, He has been the ultimate Cub that I wouldn't begrudge him the chance to earn a ring before he is ready to hang them up.)

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I haven't heard anything on Wood yet. Cubs seem to have to do a couple of moves if they want to bring in both Wood and Maholm.

  • Great stuff John! Long time reader-first time poster. I think if they can get Castellanos & Turner plus maybe 2 lower-level prospects, the Cubs should make the deal. The minors are coming along, but I wouldn't write off the 2012 season so fast. Putting together a young, coachable team of good all-around players who have multiple skills (vs. only power) is exciting. The importance of chemistry can't be underestimated. Minus the superstar attitudes and the addition of Svuem and his fundamental approach, this club could surprise and keep us interested. If the growing pains keep this team under .500, it will still be fun watching kids develop and improve. So far, Theo & Co. get an A+ in my book!

  • In reply to K2me:

    Thanks K2Me! I'd love to get Castelanos, but I don't think they get both him and Turner, but I think they will get Turner and another good arm, whether it's a the major league level like Porcello, or one of the good lefty arms, probably Crosby or Oliver.

    My gut tells me the Cubs backed off on Castellanos and that's how the talks moved forward. I think it's going to be Turner, another MLB ready arm, and 2 other prospects for Garza and a young player off the 40 man roster.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Even without Castelanos, that is still a huge haul. I would be ecstatic over a deal like this.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Let's not give up on Castelanos yet! :)

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Hopefully. Detroit doesn't have a deep system, so after that group of lefties it really starts to drop off a bit. I've seen Avisail Garcia mentioned and he's a toolsy guy, but raw.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I didn't realize Porcello was available..that would be a great deal with Turner plus a couple more prospects! Wonder if the team adding Vitters to the deal could get Castellano and more? Since 3B seems unlikely for Vitters long-term, his value in LF would be diminished. Any bites on Byrd or are they waiting until ST?

  • In reply to K2me:

    A source of mine mentioned Porcello as a possibility. Keep in mind though that there has been some progress made, so maybe some names have been taken off the table. Obtaining Porcello would be a big help as far as replacing Garza's innings.

    As far as Byrd is concerned, I haven't heard anything other than the same rumors everyone else has heard. That one could be a little further down the road.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would love to get Turner and Porcello as the main pieces. Turner looks like a potential ace, and Porcello to me is underrated. He's done a lot at an early age, and I could see him taking another step forward in the NL. Gotta feeling our minor league system ranking would go up more than a spot or two if we snag Turner = )

  • In reply to dgedz27:

    It might. I would have to think that with Turner and another prospect or two from Detroit, it would have to vault into the top 10 somewhere. Turner could well make it 4 top 50 prospects...when's the last time the Cubs could say that?

  • MLBTraderumors reporting....Cubs To Sign Paul Maholm

  • Paul Mahol's Twitter feed.... https://twitter.com/#!/paul_maholm/status/156582269207851008

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    Nice find, Go Cubs! Looks like Maholm coming to the Cubs is just a formality at this point.

  • Again...John stepped away from his computer and Cubs made a move! :)

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    True! And I'm going to be gone all morning tomorrow ;)

  • So, I expect the other shoe to drop pretty soon.... :)

  • Two left handers and three right handers in the starting rotation give Cubs balance in the starting pitching as well...Another good move. Keep moving in the right direction.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    Agreed. Lots more balance in both the lineup and the rotation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great job again by Theo and Jed. Man, we have really improved both the quality and depth of our rotation.

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