Top 50 Prospects: The best of the rest -- The Position Players

Top 50 Prospects: The best of the rest -- The Position Players
Zeke DeVoss

I've been thinking how I want to end the prospect series and I think, rather than a straight list, which gets pretty speculative at this point.  I also thought of what that veteran scout told me last summer: "Everybody has a chance" -- so I felt like I was leaving some pretty good players off the list (and still probably am), so instead I'll end it with a Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus type depth chart -- which is similar to what a reader suggested for the end of this series, so I'm going to roll with it.

Here go prospects from #31 to 50...or 75 or so.  Actually, we'll have named around 85 prospects in all when this is finished. We'll start with the hitters today and do the pitchers tomorrow.


  1. Mark Malave
  2. Rafael Lopez
  3. Chadd Krist
  4. Will Remillard

Malave has the best bat and the strongest arm of all the catchers but needs to work on his catch and throw skills.  He's a bit tall for a catcher but showed quick enough feet to play all 4 infield positions in Arizona.  Lopez is the most advanced of all the Cubs catching prospects but projects as a backup at best.  Krist is the best catch and throw guy in the bunch but his bat has cooled off after a hot start.  Remillard has yet to play a professional inning but he has a solid bat and has the best chance to stick out of the catcher the Cubs drafted this year. The Cubs have plenty of conversion candidates including Ben Carhart, Guiseppe Papaccio, and Jordan Hankins but it's too early to tell which if any will stick at the position.  Any one of them could become legit catching prospects.  The same goes for draft picks Tyler Alamo and Cael Brockemeyer.  Brockemeyer showed some encouraging ability with the bat in his stint with Boise.

First Base

  1. Dustin Geiger
  2. Rock Shoulders
  3. Justin Bour

Geiger really improved his approach this year, improving his plate discipline and walking in nearly 10% of his PAs.  He also cut down his strikeouts and improved his situational hitting by improving his 2 strike approach.  He sacrificed a bit of his power, but Geiger still hit 17 HRs in the tough FSL.    Rock Shoulders has big time power but he's a bit of an all-or-nothing guy.  He works deep counts and it results in a lot of walks (13.1%) and a lot of strikeouts (28.1%).  He also gets good pitches to hit, resulting in a team high 18 HRs.  Justin Bour is a big kid with power and a knack for driving in runs, but he repeated AA and is 25 years old.

Second Base

  1. Stephen Bruno
  2. Wes Darvill
  3. Daniel Lockhart

Stephen Bruno has one of the best bats in the system but an elbow injury early in the year required TJS and sidelined him for the season.  He's a good athlete who can play multiple positions so he has future value as a utility man.  Wes Darvill was selected as a raw, but intriguing athletic SS out of Canada.  This year he put on around 30 pounds of muscle and his improvement, combined with good instincts, gives him solid utility player type potential.   Daniel Lockhart is another player who can put the bat on the ball consistently and has the athleticism and instincts to play multiple positions.


  1. Carlos Penalver
  2. Marco Hernandez
  3. Tim Saunders

Penalver is a slick, athletic fielder who has a chance to be the best defensive SS in the system -- and maybe already is.  He shows potential for a solid approach and some doubles power at the plate.  Marco Hernandez has all the tools but they don't show up consistently.  He may need to mature a bit but this is his second consecutive subpar year and he has dropped down the SS depth chart.  Tim Saunders is another athletic player who can play SS and multiple positions in both the infield and outfield.  After a surprising debut, he struggled this year after sustaining an injury colliding with the outfield wall, then never was quite the same.

Third Base

  1. David Bote

Bote is more of a utility prospect but lacks the defensive skills of some of the 2Bs we mentioned earlier.  He has good instincts and a solid bat with some pop, but was a bit error prone this year and wound up playing a lot in the OF.

Left Field

  1. Josh Vitters
  2. John Andreoli
  3. Brett Jackson

Once two of the Cubs most heralded prospects, both Vitters and Jackson look relegated to LF, with Vitters now having the more realistic shot to make the club in 2014 as the short side of a platoon with either Ryan Sweeney or Bryan Bogusevic.  Vitters can still hit and in a short sample showed an improved approach, but he has struggled vs. RHP at the upper levels and may have to make his living as a bat first platoon left fielder.  It was a lost year for Brett Jackson, who struggled to make contact last year, made some adjustments, and now has taken a step back.  His roster status could be in jeopardy.  He has 4 solid tools, but needs to make better contact to put them to use. Andreoli projects as more of a 4th OF'er.  He's a bit of a tweener in that, while he can hit, run, and get on base, he won't hit enough for enough power to be a corner outfielder and doesn't have classic CF skills.  I'm calling him a left fielder, but he's a 4th OF'er, Reed Johnson type, albeit with better size and speed.

Center Field

  1. Shawon Dunston, Jr.
  2. Jae-Hoon Ha
  3. Trey Martin
  4. Zeke DeVoss
  5. Jeffrey Baez
  6. Charcer Burks
  7. Rashad Crawford

Dunston, Jr. is a wiry athlete with a very good approach at the plate and speed on the basepaths.  He has a bit of a hitch in his swing but has quick wrists and the potential for some pop.  Jae-Hoon Ha is an instinctive player and one of the better defensive outfielders in the system.  He has a solid approach and works counts, though it doesn't always lead to walks.  The question for him is whether he will have enough bat to be more than a 5th OF'er.  Trey Martin is an athletic, long-limbed player who eats up ground in CF.  At the plate he shows some extra base power but a long swing that good pitchers can exploit by busting him inside.  He's fast but not a basestealer.  Zeke DeVoss is an intelligent player who also happens to be an incredible athlete.  He's blessed not just with speed, but with uncanny acrobatic ability and is capable of highlight plays.  DeVoss struggles at the plate but has the best plate discipline in the system and is a heady, instinctual baserunner to go with his good speed.  Charcer Burks was an overslot 9th round pick who slipped through the cracks, then drew scouts attention with some impressive tryouts in which he showed speed, quick hand, and a knack for squaring up the ball.  Crawford may be the fastest player in the system but his baseball skills lag behind right now.

Right Fielder

  1. Kelvin Encarnacion
  2. Reggie Golden
  3. Jose Dore

Encarnacion had a huge year at Boise and while he played some CF, I don't expect him to stay there.  He has a good arm and can play RF if he can show some consistent pop at the plate.  As he has filled out, he may need to change his approach to one where he drives to drive more in the gaps and perhaps a few over the fence.  Reggie Golden is built like an NFL fulback and is truly an all or nothing player.  He struck out in 31% of his PAs and hit 9 tape measure HRs that, when added together and stretched end to end, would reach the end of the solar system and back.  Jose Dore looks the part.  He's athletic and toolsy but doesn't play up to that.  He can play a very good RF but doesn't make enough hard contact despite his size and strength.


Filed under: Top Prospects Lists

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Filed under: Top Prospects Lists



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  • Great series, John.

    Barring a miraculous turnaround, it doesn't look good for Brett Jackson. Too bad, given his potential. I was really hoping he would figure things out.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Thanks DK. Feel the same way on Jackson. Still a player I like and hoping he comes out of nowhere.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A four tool guy, unfortunately the one tool he is missing is the most important one.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    The one tool that could render all the others irrelevant, unfortunately.

  • Nice. There's going to be a chance for one of those catchers to step up and fight for the third spot. Looking forward to seeing that little battle. Also looking forward to /really hoping for a big year from Dunston in 2014.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    It was fun doing the end of the list this way. Gives more room to add a few interesting guys -- and tomorrow, for some relief pitchers as well.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Looking forward to that!

  • In reply to Ben20:


  • Or we can just sign Robinson Cano for 10 years, $305 Million.

    Any takers?

    We have seen Ellsbury is looking for $100 Million + so that leaves Choo. If he waits for the first two to sign, that could raise his perceived value in both years and dollars, eliminating the Cubs.

    I think the Cubs are best suited to throw the money at Tanaka. Sets up a pretty strong rotation to go along with a developing bullpen. Get some guys to play better (Rizzo, Castro, Castillo) and bring up a couple of young guys in summer, and this team could be competitive.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Some now saying Choo may now be looking at $100M. That's insane. No way, no how.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    M. Bourn was also looking for $100M at the start of FA.

    Will be interesting if what Choo or Ellisbury get ?

    I would not pay either one anything close to that. 4/55 to 4/60 is probably more realistic in what they get.

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    I don't think Choo gets close. Ellsbury maybe a little closer but probably not. Maybe he gets Michael Bourn money.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But thats the problem with the new FA model - everyone gets overpaid. Imagine what it will be like once the Yankees reset their luxury tax window. With the Dodgers buying FA and trading for monster contracts and the dramatic turnover with the Yankees (Arod, Jeter, Mo, Petite, maybe Cano...,etc.) the Yankees are going to NEED to spend money on FA.

    Its why I'm so focused on the development of our prospects. Developing them in to cheap talent that we can (hopefully) sign to Castro / Rizzo deals is critical.

  • The scout I watch games with in Beloit is really high on Hernandez. That's only one opinion, but sitting at the game I started to ask the question, "Besides Almora and Vogelbach, who would you-"
    "Hernandez." Before I could even get the rest of the sentence out. This was early in the season, and he went on to say he needs to pull his head out of his (expletive) and start working harder, because he's got the instincts in the field and makes hard line-drive contact with alley pop for a little guy at the plate. Guess that plays right into your comment about his consistency, John.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    That's cool! Always room for the slick fielding, switch hitting infielder! Always.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    From a pure talent standpoint, I think Hernandez is far and away the best on this list. The reports regarding his work ethic are discouraging. Hope he matures.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Some guys just don't realize that all they have to do is work a little harder than the average guy and they'll have a chance to have the game make them a millionaire. Right there with you on hoping that he matures! Maybe he's a late bloomer!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    How old is Hernandez anyway, 21?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Yes. no more time for repeats

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Well, that's not true, but it would be nice to see steady progress.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I want to say one scout thought he just need to mature, he didn't specify work ethic. I will also note that Marco Hernandez runs out everything hard, so I don't know if he's lazy -- but I do remember Willson Contreras chewing him out for being lackadaisical on a practice throw on a steal when they were warming up for the game. If he needs to put in effort, maybe it's during the times when a game isnt' being played.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I heard similar stuff from a scout -- though he put it much more politely ;)

  • Also no Oliver Zapata, unfortunately. He never got talked about but it seemed like every game I was at the last couple years he played a very solid outfield and made a couple fantastic plays on balls I though nobody was getting to. He is probably one of if not the fastest players to first in our system as well. I thought he would end up at least a 4th OF type projection. I heard hints of attitude and work ethic problems with him too, sadly.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I love watching him play. His speed and hustle always make things interesting, especially since his body type doesn't look like that of a guy that should be fast or hustle much. I just don't think there is much bat there, and with his body type I worry he wouldn't be able to maintain that same speed as he continues to develop. I've never heard about makeup issues with him, but if so, then he really shouldn't be included because he isn't talented enough to overcome a bad work ethic.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I like Zapata and I think he makes a great 4th OF'er at the minor league level. He's just a good ballplayer. I look him a bit like Chen and wonder if he can project enough at the upper levels. He's stronger than Chen, though, and according to our times last year, he's faster too. If Zapata can maintain what he's doing now all the way up through the upper levels, I can see him being an extra outfielder, but that's asking a lot.

  • John, I notice you didn't mention Marra among the catchers, even though he seems to have a pretty good bat, and being a cold weather guy from Canada, he could still have a lot of development left. I'd like to hear your perspective on him--is it just a lack of talent or a particular flaw that led you to exclude him?

    Also, regarding the catchers--I was a bit surprised by the Cubs' decision to convert Papaccio. By all accounts he's already a strong defender in the infield, and not likely to hit much. So why have him start over completely at a new defensive position, when defense is arguably his strong suit? Is there really that much to gain from moving him from short or 2B to catcher? Even with the move, it would seem that his ceiling would be that of a backup because of his bat.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I thought his main tool was his hit tool and high on base skills. Could be wrong though. He was a 365/410/900+ out of seton hall then 280/330 in his first taste of full season at KC.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Marra is a guy I probably could have added -- at least at the end of the list where I mention the question marks to stick at catcher. I'll probably go ahead and do that. That was a bit of an oversight. He deserves mention as much as any of those guys at the end.

  • Today Cubs Win, Minnesota Loses ....

    Records tied up with 3 games each remaining and Cubs own the tie breaker. Who will end up with the 4th pick ??

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    We need to start Scott Baker all three games.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    LOL! Either that or offer a batting tee in lieu of a pitcher. Either approach would likely work.

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Cubs likely but 3 games is a lot at this point with that small lead.

  • Anyone else having issues seeing the comments?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yeah, its been messed up since yesterday.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Something weird is going on. I published this earlier yesterday and it didn't show up anywhere. Luckily had a copy and republished.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Me too. The right side is not formatted properly (somehow) and so we have one long column w/ comments at the very end.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    Yeah, I apologize for that. Not sure what's going on.

  • BA released their Top 20 Northwest League prospects today and the Cubs had six players on the list, including Kris Bryant at #1. Of course they also posted the Top 20 from five years ago and Josh Vitters was #1, so obviously making the list offers no guarantees…

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