John Sickels releases top 20 Cubs Prospects List

John Sickels releases top 20 Cubs Prospects List


For those of you itching for your prospect lists, I will count down from 50 starting next week. There will be a podcast on MiCubs where I will summarize 5 prospects at a time from here until spring training.

Until then, Minor League Ball's John Sickels has come out with his preseason top 20. For full summaries and explanation of grades, click here.

The list is as follows...

A Grade Prospects

1. Javier Baez

2. Kris Bryant

3. Albert Almora (A-)

B Grade Prospects

4. Jorge Soler (+)

5. CJ Edwards

6. Arismendy Alcantara

7. Pierce Johnson

8. Jeimer Candelario

9. Dan Vogelbach

10. Christian Villanueva (-)

C+ Grade Prospects

11. Arodys Vizcaino

12. Mike Olt

13. Neil Ramirez

14. Matt Szczur

15. Josh Vitters

16. Kyle Hendricks

17. Corey Black

18. Rob Zastryzny

19. Ivan Pineyro

20. Paul Blackburn

21. Kevin Encarnacion

It's encouraging to see three Cubs graded as A prospects and 7 more at the B level.  Sickels is high on Baez, comparing him to a Giancarlo Stanton type offensive player.  He likened Kris Bryant to a Ryan Braun/Troy Glaus mix.  I'll take both of those comps but I will go so far as to say that I think Bryant is a better athlete than either of those two players.

He views Albert Almora in a similar light as I do and I was happy to see Jeimer Candelario make the list at #8.  It seems he's beginning to get some recognition nationally.  I think the best is yet to come for him.  Vogelbach is at #9.

I'm not as high on Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Ivan Pineyro, Corey Black, and Kevin Encarnacion, though I do like them.  I believe they are probably extra outfielders and relief pitchers.

I'm also higher on Paul Blackburn and even ranked him in my top 10.  All in all, it's a solid list.  I tend to lean a little more toward upside, but I think Sickels' list has more players that will likely make it to the majors.

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  • fb_avatar

    No WAY Villanueva is ranked that low. I guess Sickels is as dumb as I am :)

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    You think Villanueva should be higher.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    Other than shuffling around 8-10, I don't see how he gets much higher...

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    In addition to what you mentioned John, he also seems to like Christian Villanueva. He gets lost sometimes in all the prospect hype, but who knows....he might be our 3B. Or, maybe he hits and becomes trade bait. Either works for me.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I like Villanueva. He's in the 10-15 range for me, which is pretty good considering the Cubs system. He'd be in a lot of top 10s.

  • I believe in my heart of hearts, that at some time, that list will include 7 "A" players including this years pick! I hope I am right!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    That would be incredible. This is about as good as it gets, though, with Sickels.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I think there is a chance this is Baez's last year of being a prospect. Much less worried about having a bunch of A prospects than having a couple more all star major leaguers.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    "IF" - Arodys Vizcaino can stay healthy, and project as a starter, which I believe the FO wants to do if possible, then I think he will join the "A".
    "IF" - CJ Edwards can stay healthy, as he has done so far, gain some weight, and project as a starter, which I believe the FO wants to do, then I think he will join the "A" team.
    I think Alcantara or one of the other signings will elevate themselves by the beginning of next year to the "A" list.
    I think their pick this year in the draft will make the "A" list.

    I have confidence in this FO. I know they make mistakes, I know they are cautious at times. But over-all I think they make fewer mistakes than those of the past.

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    love all that 3b depth

  • Even if all the Big 4 doesnt pan out, alot of those B level guys can definitely fill in where necessary. And the fact that we will have them under cheap control, plus depth in trade; i am liking having a farm system finally!

  • of the 21 guys listed, I think Theo & Co have brought
    in 14 or 15. Thats pretty good in such a short time
    period. We will see in the next couple years how
    good this list is.

  • Could it be that Blackburn ranked lower after his "dead arm period" where we're not sure yet if he lost some velocity during that period? Although, as far as I remember, he was over it with his velocity at 100% during the playoffs.

    I'm surprised to still see Vitters in these rankings and I would have Blackburn higher as well... The thing that I like about some of the C+ prospects is that in the cases of Olt and Vizcaino it is not because of their low ceiling, it is because of health issues... If they are past those issues, they can pan out just like any other B+ prospects... Vizcaino was throwing 96 mph during Instructs, according to Theo.

    I'm also happy to see Kyle Hendricks recognized here, he deserves to be mentioned, though I don't think he'll be a TOR, maybe an innings eater bottom of the rotation starter, he has done better than anyone in the minors and performance should be noted.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It's possible. I saw one particular scouting report that observed him during this time and ended up giving him a lukewarm review. I think Blackburn showed flashes of what he can be at the beginning and end of the season.

    I'll be interested to follow Kendricks this year.

  • I count 8 players acquired via trade including numbers 5, 12 and 13 for 2 months of Matt Garza. Only 6 guys from the old regime.

  • In reply to ruby2626:

    A fine sign of one of the biggest things that the new management has done right,.... AND the player development seems to be much more advanced as well among this crop.

  • So much talent where to put them. Very good problem

  • Is Vizcaino really considered a C prospect? He might be ranked properly amongst the Cubs players but he could still has potential to be an impact pitcher

  • In reply to Cuyler:

    I think Vizcaino's low ranking is based soley on the fact he hasn't pitched in 2 years. I think he would rise to a B level prospect by June if he is pitching regularly, though likely out of the bullpen.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Exactly. There is a potential for this list to get better (or, yes, worse) because vizcaino and olt are complete unknowns as of right now.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I'm a huge Vizcaino fan. If healthy, he is a stud. He'll put himself back on the map and back into Top 100 lists this year.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think if healthy he will end up in the bullpen in Chicago. That will take him off the prospect lists which is an even better outcome.

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    We may have an insane list next year, partly because most of our top prospects don't figure to log alot of ML time this year.

    So, who from this list will potentially graduate this year?

    I don't see ANY in the top 10 getting alot of time, as none of them have cleared AAA. Only Villanueva is on the 40-man, and service time concerns may push some back anyway.

    Beyond that, I think it's likely we'll see Vizcaino, Olt, and Vitters. Szczur has a remote shot if he hits at Iowa and someone gets hurt. Hendricks is probably close to ready, but he isn't on the 40-man

    If you walk through it, it's very possible we have an even deeper list next year. And don't forget, we have the 4th pick in draft, that figures to be an instant B prospect.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Alcantara and Soler are on the 40 man as well, no?

  • Seems like sickels values level much more than ceiling. On another note, would a healthy Lots bat compares with rizzo? A guy who won't hit for big average, but has good power and will draw a walk?

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    Very nice to see that the Cubs have 3 "A" prospects and 7 "B" prospects. I would like to see a couple more of the young pitchers push themselves into the B category this year, and would absolutely love to see one push up to "A." To me the biggest storyline for this upcoming year is how all this pitching depth develops and which pitcher or two will make significant progress and possibly suprise everyone.

  • Olt not lot. Autocorrect

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Been there, done that lol.

  • I guess I'm Kyle Hendricks biggest fan and defender, but can you believe he ranks as a less impressive prospect on this list than Josh Vitters? In Hendrick's 3 professional seasons of minor league ball, his highest WHIP was 1.070 and highest ERA was 2.99 -- not to mention a 2.00 ERA at AA and AAA last year. Control pitchers (not named Maddux) sometimes just can't get any respect.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I like Hendricks, but if you want to see why scouts are not sold on him despite performance, look no further than Liam Hendriks, the guy from the Twins who was on our roster for about 5 minutes

    Statistically, Liam is nearly a twin. Great minor league record, didn't walk anybody, performed at all levels, used deception rather than velocity to get outs.

    That worked for Liam in the minors, but in the majors the deception didn't work, and his middling stuff was launched (30 HRs in 150_ IP)

    This is why scouts are skeptical oin Hendricks, because he doesn't have a clear "out" pitch, a pitch he can get past a major league hitter. Apparently, his cutter does have that potential, so we'll see

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Liam Hendriks? First, Kyle Hendricks numbers are better than Liam's. Kyle posted a WHIP under 1.100 in each of his first three pro seasons. Liam did it once in his first 4 season. But of course if one wants to play the simple comparison game, one can find negative comparisons readily, as only 1 in 6 drafted players will ever make it to the majors, and most won't meet there projected ceilings. So is Albert Almora the next Carlos Beltran or Cory Patterson? What seems to be true is there is a major market inefficiency for over-valuing straight-forward power arms without empirical evidence that they are better bets to "make it" as SPs than control pitchers. When one realizes that one in two HOF pitchers have been control pitchers and roughly half of Cy Young SP candidates are control pitchers, it doesn't take long to realize that prospect rankings are skewed inefficiently when always 4 out of the first 5 top pitching prospects are power arms (especially in a farm system like the Cubs that is supposedly thin on power arms).

    Also think back the last 20-25 years here in Chicago. Who were the top winning pitchers in town? Mark Buerle and Maddux, followed by Zambrano. The White Sox won one WS with Buerhle, and Maddux won one and a lot of pennants with the Braves. The Cubs also shipped Jamie Moyer out of town for a hard-throwing, close-but-no-cigar Mitch Williams. Moyer won a World Series and 269 games in his career. Meanwhile the Cubs with their power-arm philosophy pinned all their hopes on the Priors and Woods of the world to not be the next Mark Fidrych or David Clyde. Seems like a quality farm system should try to develop an equal number of control and power SP prospects. It would make sense to invest equal resources to find the next Maddux, Moyer or even Liriano as to find the next Clemens, Ryan or Schilling.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Great post, very interesting thoughts... and I'm a huge fan of Kyle Hendricks as well.

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    I have to say, I never really understood all the love Jeimer Candelario gets (among Cubs fans, that is). I know about the stuff he has going for him: he's been younger than everybody else on the levels he has played, he's supposed to have a promising hit tool, and he takes a lot of walks. Still, he's a 3B who no one seems to believe will ever hit for a lot of power or play good defense. Even if he reaches his ceiling and puts on great OBP numbers, I'm not sure he'll ever be all that valuable as a corner infielder with probably average power and below average defense.

    Am I missing something?

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    If he reaches his ceiling he could be 300/400/450+ with average defense. You should absolutely take that at 3B. A lot of teams would take that in LF or even 1B. The offensive profile for a starting 3B is not as high as you would think. The Beltre/Wright/Longoria types are extremely rare.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Looking around the league nowadays, I concede you're right: Candelario's ceiling is that of an above average 3B. I guess I'd like a prospect's ceiling to be much more clearly above average than that for me to grade him as a "B", which means he should look more like a Beltre/Wright/Longory type (again, if he reaches his absolute ceiling) than like most 3Bs nowadays, who look pretty mediocre offensively. Besides, what troubles me about Candelario is that he has exactly one bullet in the chamber, which is OBP. If that doesn't pan out like we expect, it's safe to say he won't be a starter.

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    In reply to João Lucas:

    Longory is not a 3B. Longoria is.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Candelerio has a very good swing and is actually plenty strong to hit 20+ HRs. His "issue" is his swing plane is pretty flat so he doesn't get a lot of loft and so he projects to hit more of a doubles machine instead of a HR hitter. But swings can be tweaked if needed.

    And lefthanded hitting 3B do not grow on trees. If everything goes right for Candelerio he projects to be someone like Panda rather than the great trio of offensive and defensive players listed above. But that is still a hell of a player. Candelerio also has a pretty high floor in my opinion. If his body or defense turn out to be below average he still has a good chance to be a Eric Hinske type player. To me a "B" fits him rather well.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Lefthanded hitting 3B do not grow on trees... Imagine Switch hitting 3B's like Candelario or Panda... BTW, good examples with Panda and Hinske... Panda being the best case scenario and Hinske being someone I can settle for.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Alright, you've made a pretty strong case for him. I mean, I have always liked Candelario as well, I just thought he was a little overrated. Now I may have to reassess my own Top 20! Thanks, mjvz.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    You're welcome.

    I'm actually not as big of a believer in Candelerio as some people. I tend to lean more toward the Hinske end of the spectrum rather than Panda side, but the upside is there. I was encouraged by his improved athleticsm on defense last year, but I worry about his body long term. I think he is a guy that may "age" rapidly. Even if he pans out and has a good start to his career, I would be very wary of ever signing him past his arb years. I think he is a guy that could fall off the cliff very rapidly.

    I do believe he possesses more power than given credit for though. The MWL is a difficult league to hit for power and then you add that on top of his age/physical maturation and the fact that being a switch hitter is quite difficult to keep both sides locked in and I think Candelerio is going to be a guy that is always going to have better scouting reports than numbers in the low minors.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Well, basically Choo has the same bullet in his chamber and signed for a lot of money... In fact, it is fair to say Candelario has the tools to put similar numbers than Choo (minus the stolen bases), if he ever reaches his ceiling.

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    In reply to Caps:

    As long as bullets in the chamber go, OBP is definitely the best one you can have. I was just saying that's pretty much the one area where Candelario could stand out, which means that he'll probably never make it as a starter if he can't put up very solid OBP numbers like we all expect.

    Then again, I think most scouts would say he's more likely than most low-level prospects to reach that ceiling, since his approach at the plate is already pretty advanced.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Well, yeah, you're definitely right, especially with this regime.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Let's say he reaches his ceiling and pans out... Wouldn't you take a .280/.350/.450 3B capable of hitting 35-40 doubles and 15-18 hr's? That's good production basically for any position... Especially with the lack of 3B's in the league... That said, like most prospects, the chances of him panning out are slim.

  • In reply to Caps:

    The left handed side bat could be very important for balance in the lineup.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed and being a SW takes 1 position away from platooning, so you can save the extra spot to platoon somewhere else.... Candelario already hits LHP very well.

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    Villanueva over Olt is a bit of a surprise. To me, Villanueva's best bet was to be to become Mark Grace at third, high average, high walks, and hit a ton of doubles. (In fact, that appears to be Jeimer Candelario's ticket to the bigs.) I just don't see how Villanueva gets there at this point. Hitting .261 with low walks and high strikeouts as a 22-year old in AA figures to make him about a .240 hitter in the majors. Without huge home run totals, I don't see how that translates into anything but Luis Valbuena.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would be overjoyed to have a Mark Grace at third base. Grace was probably the most underrated Cubs player in the last three decades.

  • I think my favorite part was the comparison of Baez to Brandon Wood. Sickels joined in and said he thought Wood's issue were mental and that he was over-thinking. Then, Sickels said about Baez (excuse the language):

    "Baez is a different sort of person. I get the impression that when Baez fails at something, he says “f@#k this s%&t,” makes an adjustment, and takes it out on the pitcher. Wood strikes me as more introspective, which is good in many ways but can also lead someone to internalize problems and lose confidence."

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    There is no comparison between Baez and Wood. Baez is better in every facet of the game. Wood had holes in his swing, couldn't play SS and wasn't anywhere near the baserunner and instinctive baseball player that Baez is. It is a lazy comp that tries to draw a parrallel between their position and high K and HR totals.

    And Sickels is right, Baez's attitude and approach are much more conducive to success as well.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I think the comparison is to the raw talent, not specific abilities. No matter how he panned out, Woods was consider a huge prospect. I think Sickels was dead on that with the reasoning on Woods struggles and hopefully he is dead on with way Baez will succeed.

    The mental aspect of baseball is maybe the most challenging in major sports. I think some of the best players just have a complete ignorance for failure that allows them to succeed.

  • between; olt,baez,bryant,villanueva & candelario we should
    have a future stud at 3B. If not we are in trouble!

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    RotoWorld reporting that Tanaka is in Chicago.

  • John - this is a really nice palate cleanser, because even though your Position by Position Spring Training primers are well written (as usual) they are fairly depressing in terms of # of 2014 impact players. However, if I go to my 2015-16 "happy place" and think of some of the guys at the top of Sickels' list I get in a much better mood! :)

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    We'll do our own soon too, so there will be more optimism. I plan to count down from 50.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    50 would be great. I was thinking of who was not on Sickles top 20 and I came up with quite a few. In fact our 20 to 40 list may have more talent than the White Sox's top 20 list.

  • Out of that C+ list, I would like to see Olt, Vitters, and Szczur get a block of time with the Cubs in Wrigley because after 2014 the footsteps from the A and B list could be running them down.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed 44 - IF we are going to see whether Olt, Vitters, Szcuzur, or even Brett Jackson are going to have any value (either to the club, or in trade to somebody else) - we are going to have to see it soon. Each of those guys has multiple prospects breathing down his neck by at least 2015.

  • I said this in the comments to the article, but I think he's low on Blackburn too...and I think Amaya belongs on the list too. I also liked seeing Neil Ramirez so high on the list because I feel like many people overlook him in that trade since he was the PTBNL.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I don't get the inclusion of Encarnacion and exclusion of Amaya. I'm a Gioskar fanboy though. I know the ceiling is low, but his floor is very high to me. He is going to play in the majors, I have no doubt. It may be in a backup/utility role as a 2B/3B/LF Ryan Roberts type of player, but Amaya is a future big leaguer.

  • Sickels on Candelario:

    Jeimer Candelario: Solid in Low-A at age 19, hit .256/.346/.396 for Kane County, although scouting reports were more enthusiastic than the pure numbers. Stands out for youth, switch-hitting power potential, a good measure of strike zone judgment, and a good arm.

  • hendricks doesnt get a lot of respect but if he has a
    similiar start to the season I think they will flip Jackson
    at trade deadline and Hendricks will get his chance

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    I'm not saying it won't happen, but for that scenario to take place two other things would have to happen as well. 1) Jackson would have to get off to a solid start 2) The Cubs would have to be willing to eat some of his remaining salary.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I agree with ya, Mike. I could see Edwin Jackson getting flipped in a couple of years when he has a little less money and has put together a couple of solid years like his second half of 2013. Hopefully that will mean that a lot of our prospects have panned out and we have an influx of guys in the pen vying for the back of the rotation. That is some wishful thinking.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Cant argue with his numbers. A sub 3 ERA and a whip of under 1.2 in the hitters paradise of the PCL is very impressive. Who knows, maybe Hendricks might turn into a solid 15 game winner in the NL. One guy similair to him just got elected to the HOF.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Let's be clear that Maddux is a once in a generation type player. We can expect that out of Hendricks. There's been a lot of Greg Maddux clones out there but most are lucky if they turn out to be the next Jeff Suppan.

  • So I asked this earlier and I didn't get any responses, probably because autocorrect made my post confusing.
    Would a Rizzo be a good comp (although left handed) or a realistic comp on what a healthy Mike Olt might give as a hitter?
    Some legit power, lower BA, but a lot of walks.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I don't think Olt is as good of a hitter as Rizzo, but it's a similar skillset. Better defender obviously. Not a bad comp, assuming he can see the baseball.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I always though Rizzo was considered a very good defensive first baseman, maybe even a gold glover if he continued to improve.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Anthony is a GG caliber 1B already. I think he came in 2nd in 2013 and it was very close. He could have won if he had a better offensive year. I know that last statement sounds strange but it is true. Olt is good defensively but I can't see him being better than Rizzo.

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    In reply to John57:

    Yes John, as strange as that sounds, you are correct. GG is supposed to be all about defense, but when guys make the espn highlight reel every other day for their offense, their fresh in the minds of the voters, and sometimes perceived as better players. Rafael palmeiro once won the AL Gold Glove for first base despite appearing in just 28 games at 1B and 128 as a DH.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:


  • In reply to John57:

    Rizzo will likley win a GG someday. He saved Castro 10 errors or better last year.

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    In reply to Eddie:

    Eddie, I'm not trying to be argumentative, but what do you mean by "...better defender, obviously."?

    Olt is said to be a good 3B, but I don't think any of us commenters have seen enough of him to know exactly what his D is going to be. I have heard scouts say everything from "above average" to "GG potential."

    The exact same can be said for Rizzo, who received GG consideration last year. Rizzo is a fine first baseman. his biggest defensive flaw is that he tends to stray too far from the bag sometimes.

    I think a better statement may have been "They are both good defensively, although Olt obviously provides it at a more premium position

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    "I think a better statement may have been "They are both good defensively, although Olt obviously provides it at a more premium position."

    I won't disagree with that, but I would argue that your statement implies that Olt is the better defender because he plays a more difficult position on the field. I'm not slinging mud at Rizzo. He fields his position very well, but he's a 1B for a reason.

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    In reply to Eddie:

    Eddie, I think the reason he's a 1B is because he's lefthanded. lol All kidding aside, there aren't a lot of defensive options for a lefty. Rizzo is fairly tall too, which plays well at 1B. Exploring the options, Rizzo is a fine 1b, a position far more difficult, important and involved than LF. I think it's safe to say he doesn't have the speed for CF or the arm for RF, thus leaving 1B as the only viable option.
    As we agreed, Olt provides good defense at a premium position and I suppose, if we want to really split hairs, he has the better arm too.
    That said, Rizzo could have the arm strength of the fabled Sidd Finch and he would never play 3B because he lefthanded.
    Anyway, it's nice to have a civilized exchange of ideas here, unlike what you get on some other sites. Thanks Eddie.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:


  • I went looking through some of sickle's other lists and the Cubs are by far the most top heavy, which is great to see. The only other system, so far, with two players listed as A prospects are the Twins with Buxton and Sano.

    My only concern, as I mentioned before, is that the Cubs really don't have anyone there that has a future as an A pitcher. There are a ton of B guys, but very few A's. Pierce Johnson seems to have the best chance, but I still really see him as a middle of the rotation guy (at best) on a very good staff. Hopefully, we can get a very solid pitcher at the top of the next draft that can fill that slot because I don't see us flipping any more assets for an A prospect. Okay, maybe Shark at the deadline if he dominates most of the year.

    I really am reminded of the Royals system back in 2011 where they had a ton of position talent coming through the system (Hosmer, Escobar, Moustakas, Perez, Cain and Myers), but they had very little pitching talent. Unfortunately, they traded maybe the best of the bunch to get an iffy no. 1 guy.

    One more thought, I really like the old fishing analogy and how it compares to prospects: 'if fishing were easy, it would be called catching.' I just can't come up with the prospect equivalent to 'catching.' Either way, we seem to be fishing in a stocked pond.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    "we seem to be fishing in a stocked pond"

    It does seem that way doesn't it. Nice comment.

  • First thing that jumps out at me on this list is how the top 3 prospects are the last 3 first round picks. Can't wait till the current FO's IFA signings and latter round picks have time to develop.
    Secondly, how the top two "C" rated prospects were former A/B prospect but dropped due to injury-which is why the Cubs were able to acquire them, but still its impressive.

  • I hope this list is wrong and Olt grabs the 3B position, runs away and hides it.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I don't think the list would be wrong per se in that scenario. The grade and ranking I think accurately reflect the health issues facing Mike Olt. If they are gone then he becomes a huge positive outcome for the Cubs, but that seems as likely to happen as him continuing to suffer from the eye/concussion issues that plagued him in 2013. I am hopeful that Olt is past that and develops into a low average, solid OBP, good power and glove 3B, but I think the grade/rankings correctly reflect that is far from a high probability outcome at this point in time.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I absolutely love your handle. Micah Hoff-Power's last Chicago fan.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I'm actually related to Micah (distant cousin), but I've never met him. I got his road jersey too!

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Me too. Olt is a tough one to rank because of the eye issues. On talent alone, he's a top 5 prospect on this list.

  • Sickles top 25 Prospects:

    Baez - #9
    Bryant - #20
    Almora - #23
    Soler - #25

    The average for all teams if all organizations were equal would be <1. It shows how far the system has come in this FO tenure.

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    While positive, comparing last year's list to this year's, a few drops:

    Arodys Vizcaino B- to C+
    Brett Jackson B- to C
    Dillon Maples B- to C
    Matt Szczur B- to C+
    Duane Underwood B- to C
    Gioskar Amaya B- to C

    I understand most of these guys, but Underwood is interesting. B- to C is a big drop. He didn't pitch well at Boise, but he was young for that league, and the stuff is still there.

    John, any thoughts on Underwood?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I think Underwood was working on a few things, such as FB command, and so the Cubs weren't worried about the numbers so much as they hoped to see development in that area. i think they did, but it came in spurts.

  • I think we look too much at where people will fit in for the next decade. It hardly ever works like that. The A-level guys sure, butt guys like Olt, Villanueva, or even Lake; if we get two good years of above average production itwill be a success.

    For example, say Olt has a good 2014, then flames out. We call Villanueva up and he has two good years, and then Candelario takes over. Obviously that pry wont happen, but that is still good production from a generally weak position; not to mention at league minimum pay.

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    Just for fun, I took a little walk down memory lane, and looked-up what John Sickels wrote about us before 2008. Here are some rankings:

    B+: Josh Vitters, Geo Soto
    B: Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson,Tyler Colvin, Josh Donaldson
    B-: Donnie Veal, Jeff Samardzija, Jose Ceda, Tony Thomas

    Kind of depressing when you look at it really; 3 out of 10 Bs turned into good ML players, hope we beat that average (and 1 of the 10 probably will never play in the majors)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Ha! That is a sobering dose of reality there. I really liked Soto and Gallagher, but it appears Samardzija outperformed them all and might the only one worthy of his grade.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Josh Donaldson played like it last year.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good point. I missed that name. I remember when the Cubs picked him in the draft and was thinking "now that's unusual, the Cubs just picked a guy with a good plate approach". Tony Thomas from that list did too. Of course, they trade Donaldson and Thomas didn't pan out. Cubs couldn't get it right even when they stumbled into a good pick.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It does hurt a bit seeing Donaldson kill in another uniform. But I can't argue with that trade; Harden was lights-out down the stretch in 2008, and still pretty good in 2009. The other players we gave up in that trade amounted to nothing.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I agree. Harden was a monster. Problem was he threw too many pitches and was a little fragile, but I loved watching him pitch every 5th day.

    I really like that type of pitcher and which the Cubs had more guys like him. ( although just a little less injury prone)

    Have pitchers and catchers reported yet?

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