Cubs Post Deadline Top 20 Prospects List

Cubs Post Deadline Top 20 Prospects List
Javier Baez

Making a top prospects list isn’t easy. You have to weigh performance and potential. You have to project what players will be like based on their tools and statistics. It’s easy when you have both, as we do for the top prospect on this list but, of course, that’s not always the case.

Other things taken into consideration include age, positional value, and where they are at on the organization level. The top 4 prospects are pretty set in stone for me, but it gets a little bit tougher to forecast from about #5 on.  You could rearrange many of these prospects in different ways and make a solid argument.

Keep in mind two that the Cubs graduated former top prospect Anthony Rizzo, who no longer qualifies, as well as C Welington Castillo and closer prospect Alberto Cabrera.  The latter two would have made this top 20 list but I excluded them because I believe they are with the Cubs for the foreseeable future.

For statistics, click on player's name...

1. Javier Baez, SS, 19, Class A: Baez is young for his level, and plays a premium position. Some, including one scout I spoke to, think he can stick there. Most, however, think he’ll move to 3B where he has the ability to be a Gold Glove caliber defender. His bat will play anywhere. Baez has elite bat speed and consistently makes hard contact. The ball jumps off his bat and he should hit for both average and power at the major league level. He’s also stolen 19 bases but that is due more to his great instincts than raw speed. If there is one thing he needs to work on, it’s taking more pitches as he has just 9 walks. At this level, however, there aren’t many pitches that he can’t drive.

2. Jorge Soler, RF, 20, AZ Rookie League: Soler hasn’t played much but he’s made an impression already with his tools with one scout reportedly saying, "He's going to be a monster". He’s hit a couple of bombs, stolen 3 bases, and has played well defensively. The Cubs are letting him get his feet on the ground and his timing back for now, but he’ll likely be moving up in the near future, probably to Boise, and then they’ll go from there.

3. Albert Almora, 18, CF, AZ Rookie League: Almora hasn’t lit it up, but he’s done enough to show some of his vast skill set early on. Almora doesn’t have the raw tools that the first two players have but he’s a good athlete who plays them up with great instincts and tremendous mental makeup. He should eventually contribute in all phases of the game and be a solid all-around player at a premium position, perhaps at an all-star level.

4. Arodys Vizcaino, 21, RHP, AAA: Vizcaino will be on the DL for the rest of the year as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. If he were healthy, he may well be at the top of the list. He’s that good. He has two plus pitches in his mid 90s fastball and a sharp breaking curve to go with a solid change as his third offering. One scout I spoke with called him “a stud” and “a special arm”. There are some who doubt he can be a starter because of his slight build and his injury history, but he has the command and stuff to be a frontline starter if he does.  If not, he can be a dominant closer.

5. Brett Jackson, 23, CF, AAA: Everyone seems to want to talk about the strikeouts and they are a big concern, but we don’t seem to talk enough about what Jackson does do well – which is everything else. In 150 AAA games he has 25 HRs and 30 SBs to go with a .352 OBP – and he does it while playing above average defense at a premium position. The contact issues though, do limit his upside considerably and it may eventually relegate him to the bottom 3rd of the order, but he still has a chance to be a solid player based on his all-around skill set.  I still have hopes for Jackson, but there's a dropoff here after the top 4.

6. Josh Vitters, 22, 3B, AAA:  Like Jackson, Vitters is another player with some warts, most notably his defense and his plate discipline.  The defense is still shaky but the discipline is improving.  Vitters walk rates have gone up every month: 5 in April, 6 in May, 8 in June, and 10 in July and he has 30 on the year, 8 more than his career high with another month to play.  So it's not out of the question that Vitters may end up with 40+ walks this year.  Nothing to go gaga about, but considering Vitters should hit for average and some power (31 doubles, 16 HRs), it'll be enough to put him at around a .350 OBP and an OPS north of .800.  That would make him a legit starting caliber 3B if he can become at least an adequate 3B defensively.

7. Christian Villanueva, 21, 3B, Advanced A: The Cubs have quite a few 3B prospects right now and of the ones currently playing the position, he is easily the best defender.  Only Baez will be better once he switches.  Villanueva is not a standout in anyone area but he should hit for average and provide gap power and double digit HRs.  He's not fast, but he's a smart, instinctual baserunner who can be an asset on the bases as well.  Villanueva was considered a sleeper by the Rangers people and it's easy to see why.  He doesn't do one particular thing that grabs your attention, but he's a perfect example of a sum being greater than it's parts.

8. Matt Szczur, 23, CF, AA: Szczur is having a breakout season in terms of improving his defense, baserunning, and plate discipline. Those were the 3 major areas of concern before the season.  Detractors have now turned their focus to a lack of power and a less than picturesque swing.  He's extremely athletic and has excellent speed, but as someone who played a lot of football and grew up in a cold weather state, he currently lacks the experience and the instincts of some players who focused strictly on baseball (i.e. Albert Almora).  What he does have is tremendous mental makeup so he'll work hard to continue to fill in those gaps.  For now, he may be more of a grinder with tools type, but he wouldn't be the first MLB player to succeed with that profile.

9. Jeimer Candelario, 18, 3B, Short-Season A: The switch-hitting Candelario has a smooth stroke from both sides of the plate and has begun to show some flashes of power.  He's not very athletic or quick, and that limits his range in the field.  He does have soft hands and a good arm, so the hope his he can stick at 3B, where he'd have the most value.  Calendario's ticket, though, is his bat.  He has the potential to hit for both average and power with good plate discipline thrown in.  After adjusting to a more advanced level of pitching, Calendario has begun to draw some walks again.  What limits his ranking here is that he's doing it at such a low level and he'll lose value if he can't stick at 3B.

10: Pierce Johnson, 21, RHP, Rookie League: The Cubs were pleasantly surprised to see Pierce Johnson still available by the time their first supplemental pick rolled around.  According to prospect guru Keith Law, he has the ability to be a #2 starter, a distinction that only one three other Cubs SP prospects have: Vizcaino, who is 4th on this list, Dillon Maples, who has been injured, and Duane Underwood, who is much too raw to crack this top 10.  Johnson works with a fastball that reaches 96 mph and sits at 92-94, a power curve ball, a cutter which is rapidly improving, and a solid change considering his stage of development.  Law has some worries about his delivery, but the Cubs don't share those concerns - at least not to the same degree. The key to Johnson, like Vizcaino, is to stay healthy.

11. Dillon Maples, 20, RHP, Rookie League: Similar ceiling and concerns with Johnson. He's a power pitcher who also features a 92-96 mph fastball and a power curve, but he's not as advanced as Johnson, particularly when it comes to command.

12. Gioskar Amaya, 19, 2B, Short Season A:  Amaya can flat-out rake.  He has an excellent approach at the plate, both in terms of working the count and spreading the ball to all fields.  This year he has added power to his game, posting a .223 ISO and a .541 slugging percentage. His size may limit him to average power in the bigs, but more than adequate if he stays at 2B.  Defensively he has the skills to stay at 2B though he's been inconsistent in the field so far.  Amaya is an intelligent, instinctual player with strong mental makeup.  He's a confident kid who plays hard.  One of my personal favorites, this kid has the "it" factor, in my opinion, to be an MLB ballplayer.  Could shoot up this list next year.

13. Junior Lake, 22, SS, AA: Tremendous physical tools but questionable defense and approach. My concern is he won't hit well enough to start anywhere but SS -- but his defense won't cut it there.  I view him as a potential super-sub who can use his athleticism and tremendous arm to play anywhere on the field while contributing some power and speed off the bench.

14. Dan Vogelbach, 19, 1B, Short Season A: Vogelbach is basically a one tool player, but that one tool is light tower power.  He may also hit for a decent average and has a solid approach at the plate. His bat could be a big time asset, but unless the NL comes up with a DH, Vogelbach may have limited options with the Cubs.

15. Trey McNutt, 22, RHP, AA: McNutt has had a disappointing season thus far, but I can't give up on him completely.  Moving to the bullpen really hurt his stock, however, and so far he hasn't shown the big uptick in velocity that you would like to see from that switch.  When right, McNutt has two plus power pitches in a mid 90s fastball and a power curve that can move and act like a slider.  He has the athleticism to repeat his delivery and develop better command but thus far it hasn't happened.  If he does, he could find himself a starter again down the road.

16. Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Advanced A: Alcantara has always been something of a sleeper in the Cubs system.  Players with true SS skills simply don't grow on trees and the Cubs have at least 3 under the age of 22 (Castro, Alcantara, Marco Hernandez) and possibly 4 since more and more people think Baez has a chance to stick.  What's made the difference for the switch-hitting Alcantara is that he has added offense to his game this season, hitting for average and extra base power (.302/.339/.447).  He has good speed (25 steals in 29 attempts). Biggest weaknesses are a an aggressive approach (19 walks, though he has 7 walks in his last 10 games) and a tendency to get sloppy with his throws (34 errors in 71 games).

17. Ronald Torreyes, 19, 2B, Advanced A: Listed at 5'9", Torreyes is probably at least 3 inches shorter than that, but he wields a pretty big bat.  Off to a horrendous (and unlucky) start that saw him hit .137 in May, Torreyes has been on fire since the calendar flipped to June, hitting .338 and slugging just under .500 in a noted pitcher's league.  Defensively he has average range and an average arm but his excellent instincts make him an above average defender.  Throw out the measurables here, this kid is a ballplayer.  It will be interesting to see him and Amaya vying for that 2B job down the road.

18. Duane Underwood, 18, RHP, Rookie Level:  While he has yet to pitch in a professional game, Underwood may have the best raw stuff  of all the Cubs pitching prospects... when he's on.  He can throw a high 90s fastball and a knee-buckling curve at his best. The problem is he hasn't consistently pitched at that level.  Underwood does have excellent makeup and is considered to be very coachable, so if the Cubs can find a way to unlock that extreme potential, watch out.

19. Tony Zych, 21, RHP, AA: Zych hails from Monee, IL and is a power pitching prospect with surprisingly good control (2.5 walks per 9 IP) and the ability to miss bats (9.8 Ks per 9 IP).  That helped translate to a 1.97 FIP at Daytona.  He throws a mid 90s fastball that can touch 99 and plays up even more because of a deceptive delivery.  His slider is solid at times, but so far it's not on par with his fastball.   He's a lesser prospect than Cabrera, but could give the Cubs a power combo at the end of games as soon as next season.

20 (tie). Marco Hernandez, 19, SS, Short Season A: I know what the numbers say, but I was impressed with this kid when I saw him and I'm giving him a mulligan.  He was rushed to Peoria this year and hasn't quite recovered, but he has shown signs recently of righting the ship. He has average tools across the board and considering that he's a legit SS defensively,that makes him a potential solid MLB starter.

20 (tie). Logan Watkins, 21 2B, AA:  Watkins is a very different type of player than Hernandez.  Although both are athletic, he's less fluid and more of a grinder.  It has hard deciding between the two because Watkins has a far greater chance to get to the majors but Hernandez has the raw potential to be a true MLB SS with a solid bat, which as I've said, is uncommon.  What Watkins does is get on base (.368 OBP), run well (20 of 26 in SBs), and play 3 key defensive positions with varying degrees of competence (2B, SS, CF).  2B is his best position and best shot to make it as a starter, but Watkins ultimate role may be a valuable utility man who provides some speed, defense and on-base skills off the bench.

Filed under: Analysis, prospects

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Always happy to see you post these kinds of things--thanks.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Your welcome, Svaz!

  • Great write-up John.

    Doesn't seem like we have many impact SP outside of the 2012 draftees and Maples and the newly acquired Viscaino. It's really too bad Ben Wells had to sustain an injury and require TJS because he looked like he was really on to something and probably could've risen up a few prospect sheets.

    Also given some project Blackburn as a mid-rotation guy a little surprised to not see him crack the top 20. KLaw mentioned his velo's been off but it's gotten better going from 86-88 in one start to 89-91 in the next.

    Also Duane Underwood will be making his first start for AZL Cubs on August 5th..

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Thanks Furious Jeff!

    It really hurt not to put Wells on that list. He was my favorite SP prospect last season.

    Blackburn is definitely a top 30 guy. If he gets to 92-93 like some project, he'll shoot up the list.

    Thanks for the word on Underwood!

  • fb_avatar

    Great article. I have to say that I am in that boat that just does not like Brett Jackson. More and more I am seeing him as a 4th outfielder. Yes he can do everything well, but he does nothing great. The biggest fear is the strikeouts which I believe is a huge deal. He strikes out almost ever 2 and a half at bats, IN TRIPLE A. In the majors he could potentially not hit over 220.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    Thanks Demarrer. That's a strong argument for bumping BJax way down the list. I was thinking him at 5 and Lake at 13 might cause the strongest arguments.

    Jackson could well be a bust. He's really at a crossroads right now. I just have a feeling something will click for him and he'll be solid -- but the idea of him being a star is probably out the window.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    It is probably just my inner "Cubs fan" coming out. You know, that feature of a lifelong fan in which everything that can possibly go wrong will?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    Oh, I've had that feeling many times!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Like the fear that when Javier Baez sees a major league curveball his lightning fast hands will disappear and he'll be flailing at it like a little girl trying to catch a butterfly in a net? At the moment, that's the one that haunts me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's so quick with his hands that he can wait until that thing breaks right into his kitchen. I think he'll hit breaking balls well as long as they're in the strike zone. And lord help the pitcher if they hang one.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    Right ... Murphy's Law ... Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time.

    Little known .. O'Brien's Law: "Murphy was an optimist."

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    O'Brien must have been a fun guy to hang out with.

  • Thanks, John. Lots to ponder. Only two active guys on your list are on AAA roster, so the golden years may be a bit longer coming.
    I really like Watkins's look on the field and at the plate. He's got that something.
    How close would the following guys be to your top 20? :
    Eric Jokisch (AA)
    Jae-Hoon Ha (AA)
    Justin Bour (AA)
    Greg Rohan (now AAA)
    Juan Apodaca (AA)
    The Daytona catcher (Lopez?)

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Jokisch and maybe Ha would make my top 30. Bour is a good hitter and a productive bat, but he's somewhat limited by his position, a bad body, and the fact that he hasn't hit as many HRs as you would like from a 1B.

    Rohan is a nice story but more of an organizational guy to me. He's the kind of guy you root for, but history says guys like him are a longshot.

    Apodaca and Lopez are backup C prospects. Both are good catch and throw guys with a decent bat, but not enough punch to make them starters.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks !

  • Would it be possible to rank these players where they stand among all teams' prospects as well, John?

  • The top 4 are top 100 prospects. In fact, they'd all be top 50 to me if Vizcaino was healthy - still might be. As I said, though, big drop after that, but lots of guys with potential to climb in next couple of years like Candelario, Amaya, Johnson, Underwood, Maples, for example.

  • John, I know Lendy Castillo isn't technically a prospect anymore, but if he was would he have made the list?

  • In reply to CubsML:

    Good question. As a reliever, I'd say no. As a SP, which it seems they are stretching him out to be, it's intriguing. Admittedly, I don't know enough about how he's developed other pitches down there in AZ. If he has 3 pitches, he has the poise and command to be a starter, with a fresh arm to boot. If that's the case, he could well have been a top 20 guy.

  • Excellent work.

    Sickels recently mentioned Brooks Raley, Nicholas Struck, Matt Loosen, and Michael Jensen as prospects. Any of them close to making the list?

  • In reply to CubsML:

    I like those guys a lot, particularly Raley and Jensen. They definitely got consideration. All are probably back end guys at best, but they could surprise. They've all put up good peripherals, which is why Sickels probably likes them. He's more of a numbers guy than tools, but I don't take numbers too much into account until they are at the upper levels, which is probably why I put Raley at the top of the list and then Jensen because he may have the best stuff of the bunch.

  • I see some trade potential in some of these guys. Lake for one. A super-sub with the CUBS, with the abundance of SS, 2B and 3B, this guy will probably be more than a Super-sub for another team.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Lake is hard to pin down because he is just so toolsy. If he ever figures it out as far as approach, he would be much better than where I have him ranked.

    And that is a great thing about having depth. Prospects aren't just for your roster, you can use depth to pick up MLB ready players when you're ready to contend.

  • For those who have asked, RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua was next on my list, but I'll put out a bigger list at the end of the year -- and, of course, things could change by then.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, what is Juan Carlos Paniagua's status? Is he in Arizona? Any sense of when he'll see game action?

  • I read a story by Bleacher Report that ranked teams' minor league systems after the draft and first trade deadline. They were ranked as follows, SD, Toronto, Arizona, Texas, Seattle, St. Louis, Oakland, KC, Pittsburgh, Houston, the Yankees, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa, Boston, Cincinnati, Colorado, Minnesota, Milwaukee, the Cubs, the Angels, the Mets, the Dodgers, Washington, Cleveland, the White Sox, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and SF.

  • For me, rating teams systems from 1-30 is really hard to do accurately unless you do a ton of work and consult with a lot of people. I don't have the kind of connections that guys like Callis, Law, and Goldstein has, so I'll let them make those kinds of lists.

    Maybe someday I'll get to that level :)

  • Thanks John, that was a really good read, I really wanted to see this list too. Id think Vitters has probably passed Jackson as a prospect by now and should be #5, but thats nitpicking. One of these days I might check out a minor league game, reminds me of the Blackhawks a few years back where they were so bad it was more fun to follow the prospects and drafts then th emajor league club.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Nitpick away...doesn't bother me at all. Though I like to get as much info as I can gather, there is still a lot of subjectivity in all of this.

    And I hope our prospects turn out as well as the Blackhawks guys did a few years ago!

  • Good list, John. The top of the list matches mine pretty well, but I have no idea where to rank pitchers like Johnson, Blackburn, Underwood, Maples and Paniagua. Hendricks is intriguing, too. Might he be a right-handed Jaime Moyer or a latter-days Greg Maddux someday?

  • In reply to cubsin:

    Thanks Cubsin! Hendricks and Jokisch are guys who just get it done and you just can't rule them out. I was really tempted to put Hendricks much higher but I'll reserve judgement. He could easily climb that list.

  • fb_avatar

    This really is good work, and I have a hard time objectively disagreeing with anything you say here. Having said that, I absolutely love Torreyes. If he can keep an OBP anywhere near .400 with decent defense and surprising (doubles) power as he ages and fills out, I think he's a huge asset to Theo's organization. Right now, he's a born #2 hitter, doesn't give up outs easily, and he's doing all this as one of the younger guys in his league.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

    I'm a huge Torreyes fan. Some may knock him for his height, but we've seen Jose Altuve thrive against MLB pitchers. Some guys just have a knack for barreling up the ball and Torreyes is one of them.

  • Thanks for the glimpse into the future. With respect to the not so distant future, any thoughts on the Cubs possibly signing Derek Lowe to eat some innings for the rest of the season? After Garza, Shark, and Wood the rotation is looking pretty questionable.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    I just saw that. I'm all for it. He won't be blocking anyone and nobody is excited to see guys like Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman, or Chris Volstad right now.

    My favorite guy at AAA is Raley, but hes not on the 40 man and he's probably not ready.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's my thought too. He'll be cheap for the rest of the year and may even bounce back a little pitching in the NL.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    Not to mention him working a little on the side with that minor league knuckleballer we have, what's his name - Keller or something like that?

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    I thought the same thing, better than Coleman (but who isnt) but I like that top draft pick option that Coleman will help Maybe we should hire that Chinese badminton coach to run the Cubs. .

  • An infield of Baez - Castro - Barney - Rizzo looks like it could be a nice long term future for the Cubs. If Vitters keeps hitting and advancing, he might be a future outfielder for the Cubs if Baez passes him by at some point.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Vitters has nice arm and that would be an asset for him. Perhaps his best long term fit is the OF, though he won't have a lot of range and it would put more pressure on his bat.

  • I think with the sabre metricpeople are overvaluing walks and OBP nowadays. I think its good to have a few free swingers in the lineup myself.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Meant to put this in response to the plate disciplne questions, whoops

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    Will say though that OBP is a good thing. It's the guys who value walks above all else that I have a problem with. You have to hit too. Nobody will walk you if you're not a threat at the plate at the big league level. They'll just throw you strikes and let you get yourself out.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    I think people who understand sabermetrics very well don't overvalue them. I think it's some of the guys who dabble in those kinds of stats that put too much stock in it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. Overuse of these stats can be annoing. Personally I could care less if someone has a decent OBP but cant hit. I dont like .250 singles hitters with no power that get walks like Dejesus and Fukudome etc. Im just not a fan of that type of player. Dejesus would be fine as a backp but I dont consider him starting outfielder quality.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    That's the Zeke DeVoss argument. I don't take too much stock in how much someone walks at the low A ball level and below. More advanced pitchers will throw more strikes and they'll have to prove they can hit it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Behn Wilson:

    You do realize that avoiding outs is probably the #1 goal if you're going to score a lot of runs right?

  • With so many infielder what is there pure position. Who is the
    best 2nd & 3rd baseman of the future?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    My picks are Amaya and Baez. But Torreyes is right there with Amaya. I could almost flip a coin there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Do you think Baez's lack of plate discipline will be a big issue as he progresses through the system?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I don't think so because he seems to recognize pitches very well. Hes just too good a hitter right now and there isn't much he can't hit. As he moves up, I hope to see progress.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Do you see him at Daytona or Tennessee next year?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Probably Daytona but I wonder if the Cubs will try to get him some time in the fall league and speed up his development. Maybe he gets to AA sometime midseason.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yea, if he's 1/2 as good as everyone says he is. He should be AA knocking on AAA by this time next year. Not just on this site, pretty much everyone likes him. He reminds me of what scouts said about Trout/Harper that they were men among boys and you didn't even have to look at the numbers to see it. Could we really be so lucky and he's our Mike Trout/Bryce Harper? We don't expect to be in majors at 19-20, but maybe 21-22 ? We can dream

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Agreed! I'm not sure if you're able to catch any MWL games but that is exactly it with Baez. You don't have to be a scout to know who the best player is on the field with that kind of talent. I haven't seen him on the same field with Sano or Lindor, but I've seen him against three different teams and he was by far the best player on either team each time.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe if he can stick at SS, we can flip Starlin to Seattle for King Felix. With an extension for Garza, imagine a 1-2-3 of Felix, Matty, Samardzija. That's a staff that can compete anywhere with anyone.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    I would really hate to see Starlin go, but that would be exactly what I would be willing to let him go for. It will probably take a couple more hitters(unless Starlin signs an extension/becomes more of a power hitter), but who cares. King Felix would become a national icon here. Seattle is further away from us in competing because of how good, Texas, Anaheim, and Oakland are. They have so much young pitching its sick, so it's just a matter of time til King Felix gets tired of losing games 2-1, 1-0. Hopefully Jed and company have the balls to make that kind of move if the opportunity arises. An Ackley/Castro/Montero middle of the lineup isn't the worst place to begin for the M's

  • I can't help be intrigued by Vogelbach.There's a logjam at first. Do you see the cubs trying to develop him at another positon? He seems to be too good a batter to just be limited to DH. I know if you go back quite a ways, Babe Ruth was once a pitcher but put in the outfield. Is there any way that Vogelbach could develop into a catcher or be placed somewhere else? I've also heard he's fairly quick on his feet for someone his size.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    I missed this comment...sorry I missed your question. He's more nimble than you would think give his build, but he's just not athletic enough to play 3b or LF.

    I haven't considered whether he could catch. I haven't heard of anything like that being brought up by the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    His arm is weak. Have you seen him throw?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Not a serious throw, no. I haven't seen him throw to try and get someone out.

  • pretty sure He would have to get past evert AL team before a nl team could put in a claim, cant see that happening .

  • fb_avatar

    Guys, this is off subject, but I just heard thru one of my friends here in AZ that the D'Backs plan on trying to get Garza in a waiver deal here, if I hear anything I will let you know., it makes sense since the D Backs have a worse record thn LA, SF, ST Louis, Pittsburgh,Cincy ..I'll find out where he heard it and fill you in...I wouldn't put it past Theo..It goes NL first from worst to best records in regards to waivers right?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    If I were the Astros I'd claim him to flip in the offseason, so I don't see how he gets to the Diamondbacks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    The Cubs would pull hm back first before they let him go there for nothing.....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    No doubt. I'm just saying there is zero chance he goes to the Diamondbacks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Even if they offered Skaggs, Bradley, and a couple midlevel prospects? I might have to reconsider.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    I think Theo and Jed would love that deal. My point is if someone with a lower record than the Diamondbacks puts in a waiver wire claim, we can't negotiate that deal. So, if I'm the Astros GM, I'd love to claim Garza off of waivers and spin him for prospects this offseason. As soon as he goes on waivers, I put in the claim, Theo pulls him off waivers, end of story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I believe it goes to all the AL teams first, but would be great for the Dbacks and for us if we could get a package of 1 of skaggs/bauer/corbin + some other small pieces

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Agreed Jim!!!

  • fb_avatar

    I think you're overly optimistic on both Jackson and Vitters. You realize that Jackson is hitting .258 at AAA with a .373 BABIP right? A more realistic line with a .330 BABIP (possible with his speed) is .234/.314/.404. With good defense in center, that's a #7 or #8 hitter on a contending club.

    I also don't see Vitters having close to a .350 OBP. With his 6% BB rate and a .315 BABIP, its more like a .320 OBP. I calculated a line for Vitters of .274/.321/.434 to go along with below avg defense at 3B. That's a 2nd division starter in my opinion.

    I think in their prime, maybe they'll put up a couple 3+ WARP seasons. 1-2 WARP a year is the much more likely expectation for both players though.

  • In reply to Peter Ottoson:

    The thing is you can calculate these statistics but you're projecting careers over a snapshot at a particular moment in time.

    I am optimistic because one thing that statistics cannot account for is individual improvement. That's why they all missed the boat on Samardzija and why the pre-season forecasts for Anthony Rizzo were far too pessimistic.

    Stats are great, but even forward thinking front offices only think of them as 50% of the equation at the upper levels. They just don't tell us the whole story.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure how you call 450 PAs a snapshot in time. That's a considerable amount of evidence to draw some conclusions. And the scouting report on Jackson has always been a ton of swing and miss in his game. He was that way at Cal, and 3 years later it's still an issue. Improvement may come, but at this point this point I wouldn't bet on it.

    Only 3 qualified hitters this year at the big league level have a K rate above 30%. Adam Dunn, Pedro Alvarez, and Carlos Pena. I think that's probably a pretty good snapshot right there.

  • In reply to Peter Ottoson:

    I'm saying it because players evolve, not because of the current sample size of statistics. If you based a projection on Rizzo's performance last year or Samardzijas for his entire career, they'd be much different than the ones you'd project now. I remember Dave Cameron projected Matt Garza as Aaron Harang...nobody would do that now. Players sometimes improve...or regress. They don't necessarily retain the same skill level.

    I use numbers, but to think that it any given year you can predict what a player is going to be overstates the reliability of statistical projection. Like I said, that's why no front office uses statistics as it's only way of projecting. That philosophy died with Jack Zduriencik and is becoming as out-dated as strictly using only old-school scouting.

    I'm more optimistic with Jackson and Vitters to become average starters than I am with Junior Lake or, to a lesser degree, Matt Szczur. And part of that optimism stems from the 50% of the projection that is outside the statistical realm.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you're misusing the stats vs scouting argument here. For a few select players a light might come on and show tools they've never shown before, but not the majority. Jackson has had contact issues since before he was drafted. You have to have some sort of evidence to project that he will hit, or else you're just guessing. I haven't seen nor heard of many scouts with a lot of optimism for him is all.

  • In reply to Peter Ottoson:

    I'm not misusing anything. I considered many things here...statistics, scouting reports, and conversations I've had. What I see is an assumption here because I used information other than just statistics, that is it somehow "guessing". Well, guess what? Projecting players always involves some guessing! My guess, however, is an educated one based on a lot of information that I've gathered. You can disagree with it, but don't question the work I put into this and dismiss it as some off-the-cuff guess.

    What I find to be one of the great fallacies in projecting performance is that people who use a strictly statistical analysis are being 100% objective. What a crock. Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous There is always subjectivity. Subjectivity in the stats chosen and how they are interpreted. Yet invariably, using numbers gives the illusion of dispassionate objectivity. Then it's often followed with "scouting" based on conclusions already drawn from this statistic analysis.

    And, lastly, nobody is making Jackson out to be a star or that he will be a good hitter, so don't try and re-frame things in that way. What I said was this,

    "The contact issues though, do limit his upside considerably and it may eventually relegate him to the bottom 3rd of the order, but he still has a chance to be a solid player based on his all-around skill set."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    The problem is, you haven't stated any reasons why you think he's going to evolve. His swing isn't conducive to making a lot of contact, and seems to have problems hitting strikes. Has he made swing adjustments? Is there something in his approach? I haven't heard anything like that.

    I'm saying that a player who hits .230 is very rarely an everyday player, unless he's slugging .500. I don't think Jackson has that kind of power, and although he's good in center, he's no Austin Jackson.

    In my opinion, I think Jackson is probably closer to the low teens on this list as to who will have the most productive big league career.

  • In reply to Peter Ottoson:

    I'm not sure why I should give you the info that I have when all you've done is parrot Kevin Goldstein;s words and calculate statistics, things that I can do on my own.

    How many times have you seen Jackson play? Have you personally spoken to people who are more specific about things like mechanics and approach? Have you observed them yourself? Or are you just going off of your calculations and third-hand info?

    You're asking me to prove myself because you still want to believe I'm making an off-the-cuff guess. I can tell you what I know, but I don't think it'll make a difference.

    I'll tell you what. You say his "swing isn't conducive to making contact", which is pretty vague. If you can explain to me why this is true, (and not, "because he has had contact issues since before he was drafted", that doesn't tell me why) then I'll know that the info I have may actually make a difference in your thinking.

  • John,
    Has the thinking on Whitenack completely changed after his surgery? I know he has been mostly bad since he has come back but I had hoped with a little time he would again pitch like his pre-surgery days.

  • In reply to Dave S:

    I'm still hopeful on Whitenack, but he just has to much to prove right now to put him on this list, He was a so-so prospect before taking a leap in velocity and command last year. That to me is the difference between him and someone like Vizcaino or example. Vizcaino was pretty good for a long time and did it at the upper levels.

    Think of it more as a wait and see approach more than a change in thinking.

  • Just a few thoughts...
    1. Hard to argue with your top 4.
    2. I think Jackson is too high. He's 23 at AAA and still not productive enough to start in the big leagues. He just seems like a 4th outfielder to me. At this point, you almost have to rate Vitters higher, with him being a year younger and with the improvements he has made this year. One thing that stuck out to me was the fact that they were trying to trade Jackson at the deadline. I don't think the front office is that confident in Jackson's abilities.
    3. Szczur seems to be too high. Being 23 at AA is unimpressive to say the least. While his walks and stolen bases are nice, I don't think he has the bat to be a everyday starter.
    4. It's tough to put Villanueva above Candelario. Yes his defense is better, but he is also 3 years older than Candelario and still only in High A. Candelario has shown he can skip a level and could be in High A at some point next season. Candelario has shown this year that he can adjust to a higher talent league. He hit a rough patch for a few weeks, but like you said his average and walks are on the rise like last year. Villanueva's strikeouts worry me, with almost 4X as many strikeouts to walks.
    5. Love that you have Amaya that high. He has flat out raked this year and could very well be the 2nd baseman of the future.
    6. I agree with the ranking of Lake. He's athletic, but ultimately I don't think he will be good enough to be a productive big leaguer.
    7. With all the 3B prospects in the organization (Vitters, Baez, Villanueva, Candelario, Lake), I think there's a chance Vitters will be called up and maybe dealt at some point in the next year or two. Baez's future is at 3B and while the odds are against all prospects being productive major leaguers, Baez has as good of a shot as anyone. Even if he fails, the team still has several other possible options. While Vitters may be able to play the outfield, I think he is more valuable to the team as a trade chip to get more pitching. These days, it is much easier to find a productive outfielder in free agency than a pitcher. Even now with Vizcaino, Maples, and Johnson, odds are only one will a big part of our rotation. With Samardzija and Wood, the Cubs will have a middle of the rotation talent and a 5th starter. Even if they can get a number #1 starter through free agency, the farm system will have to produce two top of the rotation talents if they want to win. In all reality, the team isn't going to win until Baez, Solar, or Almora are on the Cubs. Castro, Rizzo, Barney, and Samardzija need a lot of help. I think the Cubs should consider signing them all long term with the lack of payroll they have right now. The more I watch Barney play, I begin to feel like he will be the leader in clubhouse that the team needs when they begin to compete. Free agency will allow the Cubs to fill a couple of gaps, but until they get a few more talented home grown players, they won't win. 2015 and 2016 will be exciting with all these top talents potentially coming to the big leagues at once. Until then, I pray for the number one draft pick.

  • In reply to gocubsgo:

    Thanks for your thoughts, gocubsgo.

    You can definitely make an argument and rankings are subjective.

    I'll try to answer some of those concerns using one example: Matt Szczur.

    Szczur gets a solid ranking because he will almost certainly be a major leaguer barring injury or regression. The bigger question to me is whether he can be a starter and have an impact in that role.

    He's rated over guys have those same concerns over the latter two questions -- whether they can be starters and have an impact once they get there...yet they are far less likely to make the majors at all.

    There is something to be said for risk factor when you rate guys. Other guys lower on the least have a higher ceiling than Szczur, but they are far less likely to reach that. ceiling. The exceptions being guys who are more high-level talents like Baez, Soler, and Almora

  • In reply to gocubsgo:

    i think Villenueva is a 2B just waiting to happen, and a darn good one too. He will be Barney plus if He progresses and stays away from injury.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    With that plus being power..but don't know about the defense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From every scouting report Ive read his defense is rated ahead of his bat. His bat isnt bad. At 2nd base His bat rates way above average.. I like having the Cubs having multiple prospects who project , nice problem to have. Not used to it . Now for more pitching in the next couple of years and we have winner winner chicken dinner .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    At 3rd yes, but I don't know much about his defense at 2B.

  • I'm intrigued with Vogelbach. My hope is that Rizzo becomes the stud we all hope/think he will, and Vogelbach mashes in the minors like Prince Fielder. If that pans out and the Cubs are contending but needing that #1 starter they can flip Vogelbach and a couple mid level prospects to get the missing piece they'll need. Vogelbach's value to the organization may very well be that of a trading chip.

  • In reply to Larry H:

    Agreed. Rizzo sure looks like the real deal and Vogelbach has been doing well in the minors. It's a good problem to have if he makes it to the majors :)

  • In reply to Larry H:

    Either that or the NL adopts the DH!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that has to happen with the way they are going to have to schedule next year. The DH has to come to the NL.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I hope you're right. Would love to see it. I love the NL, but don't love the pitcher batting.

  • fb_avatar

    Great job on this list! I noticed that at least seven of your top 20 weren't even around when Theo was hired. If they can maintain that rate of acquiring prospects, it won't be long before the Cubs have the farm system that other teams will be trying to raid at the deadline!
    A thought on Jackson. I read somewhere (might have been right here) that BJ was trying so hard to improve his plate discipline that he finds himself in full counts way more than average. The theory is that constantly being in 2-strike counts was leading to more K's.
    Is it possible they need to tell BJ to be more aggressive & jump on some FB's early in the count? I know this is contrary to what the "Cub Way" is, but some great MLB hitters make a living that way.
    I really think Svuem is dead-on when he suggested that BJax skills could play up in the MLB atmosphere. Hopefully we'll get to see him in Wrigley very soon!

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips66:

    Thanks...and nice observation. I didn't even realize that when I was making the list.

    I've said something similar about Jackson and I've also heard either Brian or Jordan from MiCubs say something like that too.

  • John nice job on the list. This really speaks to how well the new FO has done in acquiring assets. Add Castillo, Cabrera and Rizzo into the mix and the new FO has 9 of the top 24. Amazing given they have only been in place for 7 months. Not sure where you would have Cabrera or Castillo in the order, but without those and Rizzo, the new FO has 5 of the top 10.

    Another glaring stat is the paucity of SP on this list and where they are in terms of their level within the organization. Still lots of work to do, but this FO has really begun to build a sustainable future.

  • In reply to Indy57:

    Thanks Indy...and you're right. I think what really makes it remarkable is that they've done it despite being somewhat handcuffed by the new CBA.

  • Is it totally crazy of me to wonder if Junior Lake would make a better Catcher than SS/3B? He has a cannon arm, but doesn't seem to have the defensive ability to stick at SS nor the offensive ability to stick at 3B or OF....

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    He's a big kid. Few catchers with that kind of size, with Matt Wieters being a very good example

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Junior Lake is 6' 2" 215 lbs. Barry Foote played at 6' 3", 205.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He's listed as 6'2, but he's 2 to 3 inches taller than that. He is a big man.

  • fb_avatar

    Just throwing this out there Villeanuava is having a great day so far.. 2 for 2 with a solo shot and an RBI double..

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    Saw that...but I thought it was 2 HRs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Colman Conneely:

    I'm seeing 2 HRs in the box score.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yep sorry about that read it wrong

  • fb_avatar

    Anyone looking for x-Cub game should see the Angels/Tex game. Geo with a bullet hit to left and calling the game for Dempster who has looked good in spots, especially blowing one past Trout swinging.
    Geo may fit in well there and have a resurgence with the bat.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips66:

    I think Geo needed a change in scenery. He gets too comfortable after a while...my guess is he'll play for a lot of teams.

  • fb_avatar

    Christian Villanueva apparently really likes being a Cub. His first two at bats: two solo shots.

    Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, has given up two home runs in his first start.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Okay...that's what I saw too as far as Villanueva. As for Dempster, I'm not rooting against him so much as I really, really want Maholm to do well and lead the Braves to the playoffs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Reed Johnson is actually 3-6 with a HBP for them so far. I'm always happy when that guy does well. Of all the people we lost, he's the one I most hope signs another deal with the Cubs over the off-season. (Unless he'd be taking playing time away from Sappelt/Jackson, in which case I'll cheer for him on another team.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. Hard not to like having a player like that off of your bench.

  • fb_avatar

    Good stuff John!!!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Michael!

  • Dempster getting lit up in his first start for the Dodgers, I mean Rangers.

  • fb_avatar

    CJ Wilson is matching him pitch-for-pitch, though.

  • LOL...

    I'm so glad the Dodgers lost out on this. They played a game of chicken and blew it. If there's one reason I want Dempster to do well, it's so the Dodgers regret not trading for him.

  • fb_avatar

    John, beginning to wonder what the Cubs see in Justin Berg. I believe he's just back from injury, but every time I look up I see him getting bombed. I was never impressed with his stuff when he was on the Cub roster, and now I'm surprised he's even still around. With the influx of pitching from the draft and trades, I would have to think his stock is dropping quickly.
    What do you see in him that I don't?

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips66:

    I don't either. He was never that great to begin with and now he's struggling to regain even that modest level.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I guess Berg's a prime example of Hendry's trades. I remember getting him from the Yankees? I'm sure he was a prospect then and Cubs got him for a veteran. He's 28 and in A ball? Release and move on!

  • fb_avatar

    John, Great stuff as always...My only question is at number 4. Did Vizcaino start throwing yet? Coming off of TJS you just never know. Then that's usually followed by shoulder problems. Is he ranked so high based on projection of what he might be like Soler, or becuz cubs lack of frontline pitchers? Overall I like our system

  • In reply to Barry Bij:

    Thanks Barry. I've heard that his recovery is going very well. Optimism abounds for a full recovery...but yeah, you never know. If I thought he was coming back as good as he was before, he'd get consideration for the top spot.

  • John, a couple of questions. Why haven't we heard anything about Esmailin Caridad lately? I almost forgot that he ever existed until felzz mentioned him in his recap the other day, but looking at his Iowa stats, he is having a pretty good year, at least according to conventional ones.

    He is walking people, but he still has a very solid WHIP of 1.17. Add that to 2.96 ERA, more than a strikeout per inning (9.1K/9IP), and less than one HR per nine. Are there red flags in the peripherals? If not, he could be a solid option for the bullpen.

    The other question regards Gerardo Concepcion. Should the Cubs really be giving a 40-man spot to someone outside the top 20? I know it's a part of the deal in signing him, but is it worth tying the FO's hands somewhat to hold a spot for a guy with #3-starter-upside at best who is severely underperforming?

    Finally, I last asked about James Adduci when he was doing solidly at Tennessee; now he is tearing up AAA. Would it make sense for him to join the Cubs before Dave Sappelt, who would occupy a similar role but who probably needs more seasoning to even out his lefty/righty splits?

    Thanks for considering this, and sorry for potentially causing confusion with another "gocubsgo" in the discussion.

  • In reply to gocubsgo25:

    Baseball is a tough game and Caridad didn't seize that opportunity when he had it. The unfortunate thing is that what hurt him then is still the issue he's having now,which is the ability to throw strikes consistently.

    He may get a shot at extended spring training but my gut with Caridad is that he'll need to go to another team to get a better shot.

    As far as Concepcion, ideally he shouldn't have a spot on the 40 man but they needed to do it to get him signed. They'll have to deal with it now, unfortunately. I can't help think that signing Concepcion helped pave the way to getting Soler, so whether that's true or not, I'm clinging to that until Concepcion starts to show that he's something more than an organizational arm.

    As for Adduci, I think he can have a role on a MLB team, but he isn't on the roster so there's an uphill battle there. Perhaps if there is some room created (maybe by moving Baker or Mather) they can find a spot for him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    ...meant to say he'll get an invite to spring training....

  • fb_avatar

    Non-thread Related: Gordon Wittenmeyer is reporting that Soriano used his 10-5 rights to reject a trade to the Giants.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    We, or rather Tom, heard differently on this one. Heard from a very good source Giants didn't pursue him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Wittenmeyer is claiming that Soriano actually told him this. He also says that no list was ever given to the Cubs by Soriano, but that Soriano did waive his rights to go to the Dodgers if a deal could've been worked out.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Tom has a great source that debunked this. I just can't buy it. Makes for a good story, but I think it's BS.

  • Where would a guy like De La Rosa fall on the Cubs' Top Prospects list? From what I've read, he is a big time prospect. Although only 16 years old, he could turn out to be the real deal. Then again, he could be a complete let down as well. Thoughts on him and his future? Thanks.

  • In reply to Brent Anderson:

    For me, it's just too early on someone like De La Rosa but he is someone to watch. Sounds like he has a real good bat and if he can stay in the middle infield it would really add to his value.

  • Bet Dempster wishes he accepted that trade to Atlanta! Oh wait he never rejected it. It's nice to see 2 homers by Villanueva. I hope the cubs get the last laugh, and Jed and theo show that they are always the hammer!

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    That choice doesn't look so great right now, does it? On the other hand, maybe the Dodgers are feeling vindicated for not giving up a top prospect.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    And Frank Wren has been on bended knee for the last three hours thanking God for the way things played out.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Really rooting for those guys. I've always liked them and their collapse last year was painful, but they were cool about dealing quality and I hope their risk pays off...and Dempster will have another reason to regret not going there.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree on all points.

    Also, with Chipper retiring and McCann nearing his payday, this may be their last run with this team.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    And, also, Paul Maholm has been nothing but class his 6 months in Chicago. I'd love for him to finally get a chance to contribute to a winning team.

  • John,

    Rosscup looks really good in his comeback--had a nice 5 inning, 59 pitch outing with the only damage a solo HR. He now has 36 Ks and 10 hits allowed in 23 total innings with all the levels combined, and most of it in AA. Do you think they'll add him to the 40-man, and is there any chance we could see him in September if he keeps this up? What are your thoughts on his future?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I actually wrote a bit about him in the minor league recap. He's always been something of a finesse pitcher so those strikeout rates are catching me off guard. And he's done almost have of it at the AA level, so this isn't a case of an older pitcher toying with kids.

    Before he got hurt he was a high 80s FB guy who occasionally hit 90-91. I'm wondering if he's had an uptick in that velo. He's always known how to pitch, so perhaps if he combines that with better velo, he can take a leap forward.

  • Nice to see Szczur crack the top ten. Nice to see Gioskar close to doing it too. Loved this read, thanks for doing it. I probably would have had Hendricks on my top 20 somewhere though. Where'd you have him, 25 to 30?

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Thanks! I'd probably have him 22-25, actually.

  • Gotta say John, I love your list as well..Jim Callis watch out !! Maybe it's just me but I believe Candelario is going to be neck and neck with Baez and Soler next year for the best prospect. I really think he has "superstar" written all over him.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks Steve! Candelario is exciting but to me he's more bat-dependent than the other two, so I knocked him down some.

  • With 5 of the top ten new since the draft and six overall, and a good draft class with some younger players making strides. Where do u think the cubs farm system stands nationally?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to MyersTech:

    Somebody posted on another thread that one national writer (I forget who) had the Cubs at 20 out of 30. Still work to do! I'll bet on position players we're top 10 (or close to it), but probably bottom 10 for pitching.

  • In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    That was me. I found the article at Bleacher Report.

  • In reply to MyersTech:

    That Bleacher Report notwithstanding, I'll say somewhere in the top half, between 10-15. Lack of SP prospects will knock them down. Position prospect wise they're up there with anyone.

  • fb_avatar

    Maybe I missed it but in your write up of Zych you mention he's less of a prospect than Cabrera but I don't see him listed anywhere. I assume you mean Alberto Cabrera and do you see him as Marmol's replacement? Two questions I've also pondered: with the hole at 3B do you think the Cubs would trade for Headley? Anyone but Vitters is at least 2 years away. Also, why hasn't anyone freed Anthony Slama from his AAA prison (i.e. the Cubs)?

Leave a comment