Sickels releases his Cub top 20 prospects list. Javier Baez rated an "A"

Sickels releases his Cub top 20 prospects list. Javier Baez rated an "A"
Javier Baez

3 down, 1 to go.  Of the 4 most known national prospect gurus, only Baseball America has yet to release it's Cubs top prospect list.

Sickels hasn't always been very high on the Cubs, and rightfully so, but this year his list gives cause for optimism.  He rates Javier Baez as an "A" prospect, Soler and Almora as "B+" prospects, Vogelbach is a "B", and Vizcaino an admittedly conservative "B-" because of the injury.  Seven other Cubs received a B-

Here is Sickel's own explanation of his grading system for those not familiar with him,

Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.

Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.

Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.

Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.

Click here to see the rest of the list and grades.

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  • fb_avatar

    Gotta love this: "[T]he star-quality talents and deep depth coming up ... is exciting, and I don't use that word lightly."

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Very nice.

  • Was pleasantly surprised to see Vogelbach so high...glad to see people are starting to see he's more than just a power guy. A little disappointed to see Paniagua so low at #16, but liked seeing Loux at #20.

    Also worth noting that Logan Watkins doesn't make the Top 20...maybe not really ready to step in for Barney next year if DB is traded.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Sickels relies on stats a lot, even for lower level guys (which is where I disagree with him, puts too much emphasis on lower level stats), so I don't think he was comfortable going with Paniagua given the lack of info.

    Though Watkins could have been higher.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you can drive yourself crazy on these things if you look at grades for individual prospects -- the writeups are usually more telling there. Javy Baez's future isn't going to be determined based on whether John Sickels gives him an A or an A- (or A+++ or a D, for that matter), it's going to be determined based on whether or not he can learn to be patient and wait for his pitch.

    What is nice to see in these is the general quality of prospects improving and the high grades in general for the lower level prospects. That's indicative of a system that will pump out major league quality players, even if we can't identify them by name yet.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh, I'm definitely into the writeups, so much so that I don't even use a grading system or the scouting scale (which I prefer, were I to use something like that) for my own rankings.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That was meant to be a response to North Side. And also not as condescending as it came off. Sorry.

    My essential point: don't sweat the rating on Logan Watkins or Paniagua. They'll be what they are.

  • It was highly noticeable the Cubs have an absence of high level pitching prospects. I can see them trying to get some the next week if they can shed Soriano and Marmol, and possibly Garza by opening day. #2 pick this summer will easily be a SP...as well as #32, 64, etc...

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Have a mega winter league preview already written, will publish late tonight.

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    Sickels mentioned Michael Jensen at the end, and I realized I know almost nothing about him. What can you tell me, John?

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    In reply to João Lucas:

    Here's a snippet. Taken in the 26th round of the 2011 draft. (It's really staggering how good that draft is looking for us.) Appears to be a genuine sleeper, so not much is known about him. But -- and this ties in with what John said above -- his numbers in Peoria last year were pretty good.

    http://prepnation.blogspot.com/2011/07/michael-jensen.html

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks, Mike.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I've talked about him a few times. Solid 92-93 mph fastball and a big 12-6 curveball. Pitched at Peoria and will move up to at least Daytona next year.

    He actually sits in the stands a lot and charts pitches when he's not pitching so have talked to him a few times.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks. I remember you mentioning him in the minors recaps, but he just got registered in my memory as one of the tons of back-of-the-rotation prospects the Cubs have. Not easy to find scouting reports on him either.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Probably is more back of the rotation type, but has some upside left. He's certainly a sleeper.

  • Seems like you and Keith Law are the only ones bullish on Paniagua. (fangraphs, sickels, BP all down on him) Personally I think given his age and stuff he can move pretty fast. Love how KLaw classified his fastball and delivery "easy like sunday morning."

    Also seems like mostly everyone is high on Vogelbach. Which is good to see, could be a nice problem to have.

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    In reply to Furiousjeff:

    If they both develop, we could be in position where we either trade a Prince Fielder clone when he's 22 or an All-Star first baseman moving into his prime. This is the stuff that always happens to teams that aren't the Cubs.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Dealing from depth for pieces of need. Yup things are (so far) looking up Mike!

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I think the other sites put more emphasis on numbers at the lower levels than Law does, or I do. I think people like to use numbers as a reinforcement of what they see, and without them, they don't want to say with much confidence, so they hedge their bets.

  • Just thinking how bad the Cubs will be this year and next, expect a few more high draft choices to come our way in the draft....plus Theo might pick up a young player in the Rule 5 draft that might have been protected in the Cubs system.....like all prospects, several of our guys who are "C' range, will end up in the "B" range by the end of the season.

    If we have future first baseman who is a "Prince 2.0", could Rizzo handle an outfield corner spot?

    Rizzo in LF, Almora in CF, Soler in RF ?

    What a 2015 Cubs lineup could look like.....

    Almora - CF
    Castro - SS
    Baez - 3B
    Rizzo - LF
    Soler - RF
    Vogelbach - 1B
    Watkins - 2B
    Castillo - C

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Rizzo has already been tried in the OF in the minors. The verdict? He's at 1B.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    OT again John, but relative to Rule 5, do which, if any, Cub might be most susceptible to being picked by another team in your opinion?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I think the Cubs have a chance of getting by unscathed because GMs are looking for "upside". Nick Struck was great in AA, but upside limited. Their higher upside guys like Peralta and Rosario are too far away, even further away than Lendy Castillo was. One guy who has great stuff and got to AAA is Marcus Hatley, so he could be a sleeper to get picked.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    ....and Vogelbach will never be an OF, either. And projects as an average 1B at best, unlike Rizzo who can field the position well.

    The Cubs will never have Rizzo and Vogelbach on the same team

    That's OK, because alot can happen between now and then. The best problem to have is that they are both studs; we can always trade one to fill a hole elsewhere

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    This question is asked all the time and the answer is always no. Rizzo is a first baseman and nothing else. Good thing is Vogelbomb could give you a Rizzo, Alonso type package one day if he's the real deal.

  • fb_avatar

    Fellas......we've come a long way. Been a long time since our farm system received such national attention.

    Good to see Baseball people still high on Bjax unlike most unforgiving fans. The guy is a very talented ballplayer and with one fix could still be in this team's long term plans.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'm not sure I read that high on Jackson as you do. To me it sounds like Sickels giving an old favorite one last chance to clean up.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's still pretty high on his skillset which most of us are and implies if he gets the K under control he'll be fine.

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    Rizzo probably isn't the 4 there, either. Both Soler and Vogelbomb, if they fully develop, have better cleanup bats than Rizzo.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I see Rizzo fitting in a 5 with Soler at 4. Who fits in the 3 spot is interesting. My guess is its eventually Baez at 3. Almora at 1 Watkins at 2. And then theres Castro Castillo and Jackson to think about.

    To think our potential lineup is so deep you could have Castro batting 6th is scary.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Let's assume everyone develops and we trade Vogelbomb. (I'm not particularly comfortable with that assumption, but it works here.)

    I'd see a lineup like this:

    2B: Watkins/Amaya/Hernandez
    CF: Almora
    SS: Baez
    RF: Soler
    3B: Castro
    LF: Free agent/trade/whatever -- could hit 5th, too
    1B: Rizzo
    C: Castillo/FA

    Another option would be a free-agent leadoff guy in left, Barney at second, and Rizzo and Castillo move up one.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I don't need my top two in the line up to have much power. I like very high OBP in 1 and 2 and let the 3, 4 and 5 knock them in. Last year Watkins and Szczur had good OBP (.380 to .390 range) in AA and A+ respectively. Here's my line up, Oh and the NL adopts the DH (I can dream)

    LF: Szczur
    2B: Watkins
    3B: Baez

  • In reply to John57:

    Sorry the rest of my post got chopped. Here it is again.

    LF: Szczur
    2B: Watkins
    3B: Baez
    1B: Rizzo
    RF: Soler
    DH: Vogelbach
    CF: Almora
    SS: Castro
    C: Castillo

    Don't tell Starlin I put him in the 8 hole.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    I really have no faith left in Szczur, otherwise that mostly works for me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You probably are right but he has good make up and works very hard. You never know. But even if he doesn't make it, that lineup is fun to dream about.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yea I don't see Szczur as more than a fifth outfielder unless he develops more power.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John57:

    You would have Szczur over B Jackson in LF? Not very high on Jackson I see.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I do like Jackson but I think Szczur is a better lead off hitter. Szczur's Daytona stats this year were .295/.394/.801. I like the OBP of .394 and he stole 38 bases out of 50 attempts. Also he had only 1 error. He sounds like a very good lead off hitter. I don't think it is necessary to have the lead off hitter have power. If he avoids making outs and is on base a lot and stealing bases, causing havoc distracting the pitcher, what else do you need. The line up I listed had plenty of HR power.

  • Here's my dream lineup:

    CF: Almora
    SS: Castro
    3B: Baez
    1B: Rizzo
    DH: Vogelbach
    RF: Soler
    LF: Jackson
    2B: Amaya
    C: Castillo

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to cubsin:

    I have a real hard time seeing Jackson's bat play in left.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    If he reaches his potential his bat type can play in all 3 spots. As long as he gives you power(which he does) he can suffice in LF. Though his bat grades as above average in center so he has more value there.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think at the very least, this would make for a very good defensive team, especially in the OF. With the skillsets of Baez, Amaya and Castillo the IF has a ton of potential to be strong too since Rizzo and Castro both seem like potential gold glovers already.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to cubsin:

    Does the National League have a DH now?

  • Maybe Beef or Rizzo can guard the left field line and Almora and Soler can cover left center, center, and right. Vogelback and Rizzo may both be better than Prince. Hell Adam Dunn played left and Holiday still does.

  • That was definitely some pretty high praise from Sickels. I'm curious to see where the Cubs start to land with Organizational rankings. Of course the critique is that we don't much pitching in AA or AAA. Does anybody know when the org. rankings come out? Maybe we'll crack the top 10 after all. That would be an incredible leap from low 20s to the top 10 in 12 months.

  • fb_avatar

    Here's a thought folks. What if the Cubs draft Meadows or Frazier this year as the #1 pick. How scary would our outfield be then?

    Almora
    Soler
    Jackson
    Szczur
    Meadows

    Then you have the Rizzo/ Vogelbach problem to add to your headaches.

    Do you think we would have some bargaining chips then?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I like Frazier better then Meadows.

  • Did the DH come to the N.L.?

    Maybe when 2016 comes around, it might happen with Selig....then we can keep Rizzo at 1B and have Vogelbach ......

    Just looking at these lineups......Rizzo batting 7th ?......can't put him there when you are looking at an open F/A spot above.....M.M., tell us who is that F/A in LF.....can anyone remember who was the last 1B who batted 7th in a lineup?......

    I also wonder if Castillo would still be catching for us by 2015........A catcher my be a draft requirement in 2013 after pitching....

    I believe that Baez, Soler, & Almora are more the core of the Cubs than Castro, Rizzo & Samardzija.

  • There is a rumor that Dee Gordon is being shopped. I think he would look really go at 2B or CF.

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    In reply to WickitCub:

    His slash line last year was .220/.280/.281. That's bad. Why he is better than Darwin Barney or Sappelt or whomever?

    I think there are other players who can address our needs more directly

  • In reply to Zonk:

    What did Rizzo hit the year before he came to the Cubs. He has some talent and speed. He has more raw talent then any of the players you mentioned. At the very least he could be a super sub who could play MIF and OF.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WickitCub:

    I honestly don't know much about him, but looking at his major and minor league numbers I don't see a whole lot to get excited about. He looks like he has very good speed but, much like Campana, doesn't get one enough to take take advantage of it. I'd pass for now.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    similar but more value because he can play more positions.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I also don't think he will cost all that much.

  • At the end of the day, Rizzo and Vogelbach will not be in the same lineup. It would be nice to be able to able to eventually deal one for a top of the rotation talent. I'm glad to see the system is doing well.

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