Most of us know who the Cub top 4 prospects are. There's not much gray area at the top. Even Theo Epstein will talk about it openly,
Epstein is hoping his top prospects — namely outfielders Jorge Soler (a Cuban defector), Brett Jackson, and Albert Almora , shortstop Javier Baez , and pitcher Arodys Vizcaino — will all be in the majors together by 2015. First baseman Rizzo is already there.
Where opinions differ are the next 6. Here's the Cubs top 10 per BA with a little snippet on each. I can't give you everything or the details. For that you'll need a subscription. I also recommend their Prospects Handbook, which is excellent and comes out sometime next month.
- Javier Baez: You know about the bat and Sheffield comps, BA rates him as Cubs best defensive IF too.
- Albert Almora: Rated the best pure hitter and best defensive OF'er in the system. Scouts say he's the most polished high school player in recent memory and could be in the big leagues in 2 years.
- Jorge Soler: Tools, ceiling rival Baez in the system. Rated best OF arm in the system.
- Arodys Vizcaino: His fastball and curve rate as best in the organization. BA projects him as Cubs 3rd starter behind Samardzija and Garza by 2016.
- Brett Jackson: Can still be a 20-20 player if he makes proper adjustments
- Pierce Johnson: 2 plus pitches (FB, CB). Cubs rave about his work ethic and character.
- Dan Vogelbach: Top power hitter in system and feel for hitter. Glove is question.
- Jeimer Candelario: Fluid swing, 20 HR power, needs to improve defense
- Kyuji Fujikawa: Good FB but splitter is out pitch. Possible closer if Marmol traded.
- Arismendy Alcantara: Scouts compare him to Jimmy Rollins, but may move to 2B
A Few Thoughts
The top 8 should be no surprise to anyone. Some may have them in a different order. But it's hard to argue that none of them belong there. Some may have issue with Fujikawa at #9 simply because he's not really a prospect in the classic sense. Arismendy Alcantara is perhaps the biggest surprise to me, though it's not hard to see why he made the list, considering he had success as a 20 year old true SS at the high Class A level.
I'm a little surprised at the love for Baez defense and they have Starlin Castro moving to 2B eventually. I thought he was good but his range is not as great as Castro's was at the same stage. I do think he has better instincts and plays more under control at SS, so that makes up for some of it. It's close, but I'd still give the edge to Castro right now defensively. The Cubs have the luxury of waiting since Baez will be at Class A Daytona. Having just turned 20, he could still outgrow the position, which would save the Cubs from having to make a decision but for now there's no need to move him off SS.
- Matt Szczur is rated as the system's best athlete and it's fastest runner.
- To nobody's surprise Junior Lake is rated as having the best infield arm.
- Juan Paniagua is projected to be the team's closer by 2016.
- Logan Watkins has the best plate discipline. It's nice to see a good prospect in this spot, previously this wasn't a strength in the Cubs system among their prospects. It still isn't, but there has been some improvement.
- Chadd Krist rates as the system's best defensive catcher which should come as no surprise. Despite his great start with the bat, it's his catch and throw skills that will likely get him to the big leagues.
- Alberto Cabrera rated as having the best slider in the organization, Brooks Raley has the best changeup, and Kyle Hendricks the best control
- BA thinks Jorge Soler may be allowed to dominate at Kane County this year as he acclimates to US culture. I think this is possible too. It's worth noting that during instructs, he was always teamed with Albert Almora and Dan Vogelbach, both of whom are expected to start at Kane County.
- The Cubs consider Arodys Vizcaino's ceiling to be that of a #2 starter and his floor as a closer.
- The Kane County lineup is going to be stacked. 4 of the organizations top offensive players (Almora, Soler, Vogelbach, and Candelario) project to be there according to BA. Wow. Hope to see some of you there again next season!
- Scouts love Juan Paniagua's fastball but feel his slingy arm action may translate better to the bullpen. Not much is known about Paniagua, so that seems to have affected his ranking as well but he would have come in at #10 had they not included Fujikawa.
- Christian Villanueva just missed the cut, according to Callis.
- Callis also likes Gioskar Amaya but feels he's too far away from the majors right now. He does rank Logan Watkins and Marco Hernandez ahead of him on his overall list. He also likes Tim Saunders but wants to wait and see. Rony Torreyes doesn't appear to be in the top 20.
- It'll be interesting to see where the top 3 guys rank in the to 100 overall. Callis would put Baez #11 overall and he has said on numerous occasions that the top 3 are pretty close -- almost interchangeable. Callis thinks the system is in the top 12 in all of baseball now.
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