Well the minors recaps are done except for Boise, but there continues to be increasing interest in Cubs prospects, particularly those at the lower levels. The Cubs don't have much at AA and AAA, but the good news is that there is talent in the A leagues and below.
- CSN's David Kaplan wrote an excellent article on Jorge Soler. The Cubs are pleased with Soler's progress considering how raw he is and that he knew nothing of English or MLB baseball. Kaplan says scouts look at Soler as a player with tremendous athleticism and a very bright future, but that he is raw with much to learn. Said his hitting coach and Cuban ex-MLB ballplayer Barbaro Garbey, "Soler is a 20 year old kid. He is not a 20-year-old mature guy, he is a 20-year-old kid. He has the power, he has the talent and he has the time because he is only 20 years old. Like him, I came from Cuba and it takes time to make adjustments especially when you don’t speak English and he doesn’t yet understand how hard you have to play every single day." Garbey believes Soler will be a superstar one day. His manager Casey Kopitzke had this to say, "He’s been a great pleasure to have. Watching him go about his work the way he has is real exciting. He has outstanding power and he is playing very well defensively for us and he has an excellent arm in right field."
- There will be a full report on Soler on CSN"s SportsCentral tonight after the game.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America held a chat and fielded a few questions on Cubs prospects. Interestingly, Callis rates Albert Almora ahead of Soler because of his better all-around skills and the position value of CF.
- When asked if Dan Vogelbach can play LF, Callis responded, "I'll put it this way: I've never talked to a scout who thought Vogelbach had a chance to play left field. There's a better chance that he's a DH only than he's a left fielder. That said, kudos to him on a great year with the bat." I have had the same experience in my conversations. Vogelbach is considered a 1B at best and possibly just a DH, but I was also told that he had "80 power", which is at the very top of the scouting scale.
- Callis was also asked if Juan Carlos Paniagua was the Cubs second best pitching prospect. Coincidentally, that came up in the comments today as well. Callis said he may well be their 2nd best prospect, especially considering the dearth of pitching prospects in the system. He also mentioned that Pierce Johnson, Duane Underwood, and Dillon Maples would also be in the discussion. We heard Keith Law chime in earlier on Paniagua, calling him a sleeper who showed easy mid 90s heat and a good, hard slider. Law told me it was too early to ding Paniagua for his change-up because of the long layoff. In my opinion, if he can regain the change-up he reportedly showed in the Dominican, it could be a breakout year in 2013 for Paniagua, who may be advanced enough to skip a few levels. If he shows well in instructs, it wouldn't surprise me to see him start in Daytona next season given his relative polish and age (22).
- Ben Badler has been answering questions from numerous people on Twitter regarding Cubs prospects. Badler responded that Jeimer Candelario was more impressive to him than Gioskar Amaya and that Candelario was "impressive for skipping a level" and should develop plenty of pop. I like both players and while Candelario may end up being the better hitter, Amaya may have the clearer path to the majors. Even if Candelario can stay at 3B, he may find Javier Baez entrenched there. However, Baez may be athletic enough to play 2B, so it may come down to which of the the two Boise products forces their way into the lineup.
- When asked if Logan Watkins has a chance to be a starting 2B, Badler responded, "Certainly has a chance. Development took a nice step forward this year." That should be no surprise to readers here, who have been tracking Watkins all year long, but it is different than what we heard from Kevin Goldstein earlier on Twitter, who considers him a utility infielder. Frankly, many considered Watkins a utility infielder at the start of the season but Watkins showed marked improvement as far as power and approach at the plate. Watkins has always had a good approach, but he did take it to a different level this year. It's the improvement in his extra base power, however, that gives him a shot at starting down the road. He also offers good speed and solid defense at 2B.