After a bit of a hiatus, our top prospect countdown concludes with the final 10 over the next 2 days. As I've said, I think you can make a good argument for the 11-15 prospects grabbing some of these spots, but there isn't a whole lot of doubt about who the Cubs top 7 prospects are at this point.
Today we have prospects 6-10 and tomorrow we'll wrap up the countdown with the top 5. As always we have video from Tim Sheridan of the great blog Boys of Spring.
In case you missed it, you can see the rest of the list here...
10. Paul Blackburn, RHP
- 6'2", 185 lbs.
- Age: 20
- 2014 Level: Kane County (A)
- 2013 Key Stats: 3.33 ERA (4.35 FIP), 7.43 K/9 IP; 5.67 BB/9 IP
If you go by the numbers there isn't a lot to get excited about Blackburn's last season, but it's always been about projection with the now 20 year old supplemental first round pick. Blackburn was a skinny but athletic kid out of high school. He had a polished delivery and showed an aptitude for pitching. Last year Blackburn worked hard to put on about 30 lbs., so he's well above the listed weight of 185. With the added strength came a bit more oomph in his fastball, reaching 95 early in the season before developing a tired arm. I think some scouts saw Blackburn at the wrong time last year because he was really dominant at the beginning and end of the year, but struggled in between as he lost some velo and command. What you have with Blackburn is an athletic, pitchability type guy who has the potential for average to above average stuff across the board. Right now there isn't one particular thing that stands out, but he's a well-rounded pitcher who has a chance to be a #3 pitcher in a good rotation.
9. Dan Vogelbach, 1B, L/R
- 6'0", 250 lbs.
- Age: 21
- 2014 Level: Daytona (High A)
- 2013 Key Stats: 11.4% BB Rate/15.2% K rate; .364 OBP; 17 HRs, .450 slugging pct.
While Blackburn has put on weight, Vogelbach has done a remarkable job of shedding it. The hope with Vogelbach is that it gives him more mobility on defense, something that is considered his weakness. Vogelbach's game, however, is offense. He has tremendous raw power and a surprisingly advanced approach for a young player. He knows the strike zone well, will work counts and draw walks -- and he's improved his approach with 2 strikes. I noticed Vogelbach working more to LF last year and an improved ability to stay alive with 2 strikes, sometimes fouling off good pitcher's pitches. The weight loss isn't expected to affect his power numbers as Vogelbach will make up for the loss in mass with more flexibility/fluidity. Even at his reported 220 lbs., Vogelbach is still as strong as a bull.
8. Mike Olt, 3B, R/R
- 6'2", 210 lbs.
- Age: 25
- 2014 Level: Cubs (MLB)
- 2013 Key Stats: .209 ISO, 13.1% BB rate, 33.2% K rate (with TX)
Olt suffered through a nightmarish 2013 after getting hit by a pitch in the offseason, suffering a concussion, and then getting those symptoms exacerbated by recurring eye allergies. The Cubs think they have the vision issue straightened out and Olt responded with an excellent spring, beating the odds and making the Opening Day roster. The ranking assumes he's healthy and when that is the case, Olt has big time power, a good approach at the plate, and above average defense. He has a long swing and good vision or not, he's always going to strikeout and more than likely won't be better than a .270 hitter, but the other skills can more than make him an above average regular at the hot corner.
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
- 6'3", 175 lbs.
- Age: 22
- 2014 Level: Tennessee (AA)
- Key 2013 Stats: 6-1, 2.22 ERA (2.95 FIP), 9.25/3.88 K/BB ratio at Daytona; 2.98 FIP, 9.56/.284 at Kane Cunty
Johnson was the supplemental 1st round pick the Cubs were given when they lost Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs had him on their top 25 board and were surprised he was still available. Johnson had some forearm issues that scared some teams off but for now it appears it as just a minor injury. Johnson is a power pitcher who adds and subtracts to his fastball, mostly working in the low 90s but reaching 96 when needed. He supplements that fastball with a plus power curve that is a swing and miss pitch and what projects to be at least a solid average change. The stuff is worthy of a #2 starter but Johnson's command is just average, so he may just profile as a #3 when all is said and done. Johnson has yet to pitch in 2014 due to a minor hamstring issue but he's working his way back and should be starting at Tennessee in the very near future.
>6. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, S/R
- 5'10", 170 lbs.
- Age: 22
- 2014 Level: Iowa (AAA)
- 2013 Key Stats: 10.9% walk rate; .352 OBP; .180 ISO; .803 OPS; 31 for 37 SBs
As you can see from the stat summary above, Alcantara is a dynamic, all-around offensive player with excellent speed, a solid approach, and surprising strength. He's a quick-twitched athlete and that manifests itself with his range, foot speed, and fast hands. Adding to his all-around skills, Alcantara is a capable switch-hitter who is more proficient from the left side right now, but that is due in part to having a lot more reps from the left side. He'll strike out a bit but not enough to be a huge issue -- but it may also mean he won't hit for a high average. Additionally, he's an aggressive hitter despite the good walk rates and while I see him drawing some walks at the big league level, I don't think he'll be an OBP machine. What I think he'll be is a guy who contributes in all facets of the game -- but without one dominant skill. Need a stolen base, a HR, a baserunner, a great play in the field? Alcantara will do it all but I don't think he'll do any one thing at a plus-plus level. I think what you'll have is an exciting, all-around player who can find a way to help you win in multiple ways.
Filed under: 2014 Top Cubs Prospects