We're nearing the end of prospect rating season -- the only major announcement left is MLB.com's organizational Top 20s in March -- but the Cubs went out with a bang last night. They placed 7 prospects in Baseball America's Top 100 list, including 5 in the top 50 and 2 in the Top 10. The Cubs tied the Pirates for the second most prospects in the Top 100, one behind the Red Sox with 8. The Cubs who placed, along with free comments, are:
- #100 Arismendy Alcantara: With a crowd ahead of him at shortstop, Alcantara’s best path to the majors is as an everyday second baseman. Honing his skills on the right side of the infield is job one.
- #87 Pierce Johnson: Durability is at the top of the list for the slender Johnson, who could beat the similarly built C.J. Edwards to Chicago if he can repeat his 2013 production at higher levels.
- #41 Jorge Soler: It’s easy to be satisfied when you’ve already signed a $30 million contract. If Soler plays with an edge, he’ll be a big league right fielder sooner than later.
- #36 Albert Almora: Almora is another prospect who just needs to show he can stay healthy. Evaluators love his bat and defense in center—when he’s on the field.
- #28 CJ Edwards: Edwards can’t post better results than he did last year, when he moved from the Rangers to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal. He’ll aim to reach 150 innings while maintaining his high-quality stuff and control.
- #8 Kris Bryant: Bryant could have a successful season even if he doesn’t match his 31-homer season in college; a move to the outfield could be in the offing.
- #5 Javier Baez: Slow down—not his bat, the minors’ fastest, but the rest of the game, especially at shortstop. Otherwise, Baez’s task will be learning to play another position.
Overall, this is a very strong showing. North Side Irish and I were discussing Albert Almora on Twitter yesterday. The ranking seems a bit low -- heavy bias admitted -- but it appears that injury concerns are holding him down. They praise his hit tool and defense, which are the loudest in a sum-is-greater-than-its-parts type player.
At this point, we can evaluate some trends in the lists.
- The Cubs Top 7 have been very consistent.
- The Cubs are starting to build some prospect depth behind the Big 4. Solid seasons by some of Vogelbach, Candelario, Blackburn, Zastryzny, Conway, Penalver, Tseng, Jimenez, and Torres could put a lot more cubs on Top 100 lists next year.
- Speaking of Mr. Vogelbach, he missed every Top 100 list this year. Judging by his Twitter account, he is taking that personally. My hope is that he uses this as motivation to become a clear impact bat by this time next season.
- Evaluators seem to have very similar views on Javier Baez. Some (BP) are clearly higher on him than others (Keith Law), but everyone has him as a Top 10 prospect in the game after his monster season last year.
- Bryant has also shown up very high on all the lists. Significantly, BA placed him four slots ahead of Jonathan Gray and 31 spots ahead of Mark Appel. In very early returns, a combination of a very comprehensive evaluation process (going all the way back to Bryant's high school teachers) and pure dumb luck (the Astros choosing Appel) gave the Cubs the best pick of the 2013 draft.
- There seems to be more difficulty projecting guys like Almora (injury concerns) and Edwards (durability concerns). We want to believe the best on both of them, but it may be a good idea to take the ranks as a slight caution on both players.