Cubs place 4 players in Law's top 100: Baez, Almora, Soler, and Vizcaino

Yesterday we learned that Law had ranked the Cubs as the 5th best farm system in baseball.  Today we get a peek at his top 100 and there are 4 Cubs on the list.  They're the guys we pretty much expected:

  • #31 Javier Baez
  • #33 Albert Almora
  • #42 Jorge Soler
  • #64 Arodys Vizcaino

Some may have expected Baez to be higher on the list but Law has him roughly on par with CF Albert Almora.  The top 3 prospects once again cracked the top 50 overall but Law, as we did expect, still had Vizcaino rated highly despite the injury, ranking him #64 overall.  He had him at #12 last year.

Edit (10:58 AM): Jeimer Candelario made Law's list of 10 who just missed. (h/t North Side Irish)

Here are a few key points on each of the players...

Javier Baez

  • May have the best bat speed in the minors but needs to improve his plate discipline.
  • Plus-plus raw power
  • Has the arm, agility, and instincts to stay at SS.  The only question is whether he outgrows the position.
  • Thinks he could be a 30 HR SS or stall out at AA but Law would bet on the former

Albert Almora

  • Natural CF with outstanding instincts and above average arm
  • Has plenty of hip rotation for power without having to sacrifice ability to make contact
  • Needs to show more patienc
  • His ceiling is as a high-average hitter with plus defense in center and 20 home runs

Jorge Soler

  • Not a typical looking power hitter. He's a wiry, athletic outfielder with explosive hands at the plate, starting them high and deep but getting them moving so quickly that he has no trouble catching up to good velocity.
  • Notes he struck out only 19 times in 34 games despite long layoff before signing
  • Should get to AA this year
  • Peak is as above average everyday RF who should hit 25-30

Arodys Vizcaino

  •  Electric stuff, a top-of-the-rotation arsenal with a lightning-quick arm. 92-96 mph FB (peak 98), with hard, 2-plane break curveball with slider velocity.
  • Needs work on command of his change-up but shows good arm speed.  Needs reps to develop good feel for it.
  • Needs to stay healthy
  • Could pitch relief in 2013 with joining the starting rotation by mid 2014 as a realistic goal.

Jeimer Candelario (Edit 10:58 am)

  • Has chance to stay at 3B but won't be a plus there, so he has to hit.
  • Great rhythm and a smooth swing at the plate.
  • Loosely compares to Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval

Other notables:

  • The top 5 are Jurickson Profar, Oscar Tavares, Dylan Bundy, Wil Myers, and Xander Bogaerts.
  • Law ranked Francisco Lindor, whom I did a comparison/contrast with Javier Baez at #7.   That is a much bigger significant gap between the two than we're used to seeing.
  • Mike Olt ranks #71 and so would be the Cubs 5th rated prospect if they were able to acquire him.  LHP Martin Perez was #93.  Those were the two players rumored to have been heading for Garza before the deadline last year.
  • Hak-Ju Lee who ranked #7 just two years ago, a ranking which I ripped right here on this blog, is back to a more plausible #78.  Chris Archer is #53.

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  • Since the much maligned Jim Hendry traded for Matt Garza, I have been a believer in that trade. I always though Lee was a tad bit overrated and Archer may turn out to be a serviceable SP, but has a lot of work still to do.

    Despite the injury, Garza is still considered a strong #2 SP and those guys are real valuable. That is why I would lean toward re-signing him and make him, along with JS and Vizcaino the core of the staff moving forward into 2015.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Irwin, Hendry sometimes gets the blame for poor ownership. The Tribs financial mess led to poor drafts, not enough front office personnel, and an unwillingness to commit to a strong farm system. Many folks rightly praise Hendry for the Baez/Vogelbach/Maples draft of 2011, that wouldn't have happened w/o Ricketts, neither would we have signed Soler. Lets give Ricketts some credit.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Archer and Lee were the only two to really worry about at the time and it appears neither will be a star, though they could both be useful-cost efficient regulars at important positions.

    The one unknown we have about Garza is how much he wants to sign here and for how much. If he's looking for big money, big years, some kind of NT protection...they may not have a choice but to deal him. In general, I think trading SPs are a losing proposition as far as the talent exchange -- but so is overpaying a guy to keep him, as we saw in the Hendry era. The Cubs and Garza need to strike a balance if they're to have any chance of re-signing him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're right on Garza, and I would anticipate this being a hot topic into the season, particularly if he starts strong and pitches well. I wonder if we'll get to July with an edict of "sign an extension, or we'll trade you". But even then, it's in Garza's best interest to get traded, because if he stays with the Cubs and hits FA, he'll be tied to draft pick comp. I think Garza is good enough anyway, but that comp does reduce $$ value.

    I think if he pitches well, he's gone. Because if he pitches well, why would he sign an extension with us? It is in his best interest to get traded away and hit FA.

    I think the only way he stays is he finishes season with us, and re-signs in offseason. I can see that, and that presumes he has draft pick comp on him from Cubs.

  • Jeimer Candelario also showed in up in Law's just missed list...basically #106 overall.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Thanks. Missed that. I'll edit the piece.

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    In reply to North Side Irish:

    There seems to be a very wide range of opinion on Candelario. Sickles and BA rate him much lower. If you asked me to guess who would "just miss" from the Cubs, I would have guessed Vogelbach, and so probably would everyone else here.

    Hard to say who's right until we all see both guys play a full season in A-ball or higher...which we'll see this year

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Sickles is explainable on Candelario -- he pays a lot more attention to stats than Law does, and Candelario was just okay last year. But IIRC, he was the second youngest player in the Northern League, which is important. Law looks at his tools and thinks he will develop into something special.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Position value a huge key here. Law believes Candelario can stick at 3B and thus less burden on bat.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Same with Vogelboomer. If he had a defensive position, hed likely be in the bottom quarter of most top 100s. Right now, hes likely at best a 1stbase/DH type, which doesn't play well on prospect lists except if your like Rizzo, where your considered an above-average fielder.

  • John, I can imagine Lindor as #7, but Baez #31? Law himself says hed bet Baez will be a 30HR SS at the big league level. I haven't heard ANY scout say that about Lindor, they mostly praise his glove and rate his bat just above average.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Scouts love true shortstops, which is why you see guys like Marco Hernandez get love within the Cubs system even though he struggled a bit last year. Baez may stick at SS, but he won't be in Lindor's class. That certainty gives him defensive value and if he hits .280/.350/.400 with 25 SBs then you've pretty much got yourself an all-star SS. I don't know if there is that much of a gap, but Law fell in love with the similarly tooled Hak Ju Lee 2 years ago too. Let's see if this turns out to be a short term infatuation as well.

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    That's about as much distance as we've seen between Profar and Olt all off-season, too. I am starting to wonder who else the Rangers would include in that deal as Garza isn't the only one whose stock has taken a hit -- Perez's has, too. I wonder if we could get Alfaro in that deal as a downpayment on restocking the minors with catchers. So something like this:
    Cubs trade: Garza, Villaneuva
    Rangers trade: Olt, Perez, Alfaro, and perhaps one more prospect in the lower levels.

  • John, one question-what would you think Vizcianos innings pitched limit might be not in 2013, but 2014? Since the Cubs don't want him going beyond 100-125 innings this year, what would be a limit for 2014? 150-160?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    150-160 sounds right and would give them a 4/5 starter type, which is all we should expect from him in 2014, but they may be willing to go as high as 170 or so, which would be great news for them. It would mean he's pitching very well.

  • Theo made the rounds on sports radio this morning. It was a lot of the stuff we're used to hearing at this point. He used the phrase "Individual Development Plan" again, and it's clear that that concept is coming from the top, and being mandated to every level of the Cubs' player development system.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    The individualized portion is very progressive, stuff you'd see at some of the better run schools and corporate training programs. These guys are pretty hip.

  • As a skeptic re: Olt, I'd like to see what Law said about him. Also about any other 3B prospects in the top 100. Thanks.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Much of same stuff. Plus defense, 20-25 HR power but contact issues will keep the average down -- some of which he'll make up for by walking 60-70 times. He is optimistic his contact rate could get better with reps though.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't agree with Law a lot but I do about Olt. I think he will get better contact wise.

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    So Keith Law thinks Baez will either be a true MLB superstar, or he'll never get out of AA? That seems a bit ridiculous.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    Not really when you think about it. Baez is one of those swim or sink type prospects. Extremely high ceiling-very low floor whereas Almora for example, has a high ceiling + high floor. It's not likely, but Baez could easily flame out at AA and never be heard from again. We see it all the time.

    "This guy is the next Mark Texiera and will dominate in boston for years, so its okay they didn't get Tex because they have this guy in waiting." - Buster Olney on Lars Anderson after the Yankees signed Tex. We all see how that turned out. It happens.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Haha. Great quote by Olney. I'm sure he wishes that one would have stayed buried.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Turned out Lars Anderson was more like the next Lars Thorwald.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Lars Anderson is projecting to be a star as a Pale Hoser: 1) He already has a part of town named for him (Andersonville). 2) He can load up on lutefisk, Swedish pancakes, and lingonberries so much that MLB will investigate PESFs (performance-enhancing Scandinavian foodstuffs. 3) He will bask in the positive tutelage and balanced observations of Hack Horrorson.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    :=) I wish there were like buttons on this site!

  • Great article as usual.

    By the way, is that Vogelbomb in the right of that picture? That is one big dude!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Thanks! It is Vogelbach but he's smaller now. That pick is from late spring/early summer.

  • Off topic: They are starting to put up steel at the new facility in Mesa:

  • Off topic, but the Cardinals have a press conference scheduled for 1:30 and it is rumored to be about the health of Chris Carpenter...and not in a good way.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Been that way with Carpenter his entire career. Excellent when healthy(even in Toronto), but health is always a question. How many TJs has Carp had? 2, 3 ? One TJ usually isn't a major career setback. 2 are, which is why Ive said also watch Wainwright this year, I have doubts he can keep throwing 50% CB/slider and not again develop arm problems. Carp is an example of what happens when you overthrow the amount of breaking pitches.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I've always found it "interesting" when players went to St. Louis and their performances became enhanced.

  • St. Juice Us claims another victim. Nice to see.

  • When the St Louis coach came over to the Cubs last year, the performance of Soriano certainly became enhanced.

    I doubt that he brought steroids with him.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    My sources tell me it's not his shoulder, but his neck. The neck beard is apparently going to limit his mobility this year. A thing of beauty, it ain't.

  • This 3013 team will not be in the hunt as it looks like another player development and evaluation at all levels year, but if you are reading John Argeullo commentary and his commentators this is an exciting year indeed.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Anyone can have a bad millennium.

  • In reply to SFToby:


  • In reply to 44slug:

    Methinks 3015 has a chance to be pretty special though!

  • I hope to be dead by 3013.

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    LOL. these last few comments are gold.

  • Looking at these rankings, just imagine how many Cubs will be in the top 100 next year!....Baez, Soler and Almora will be in the top 25 no, Vogelbach, Mapels, Villanueva, Underwood and a few more pitchers ..... not to mention any prospects we get for Garza or Feldman and who we draft with the #2 pick 2015, Cubs should have the top farm system.

    A "Dynasty" is in the making.

  • If you had to guess, John, who would you say has a better chance of staying healthy and sticking in the rotation, Arodys Vizcaino or Andrew Cashner?

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    That's a good question. Similar situation. Cashner has the size built for durability but I'm giving the edge to Vizcaino. i think his superior athleticism and cleaner delivery will make up for it.

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