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Cubs 2014 Mid-Season Top Prospect List, Part 1: The Top 6

Cubs 2014 Mid-Season Top Prospect List, Part 1:  The Top 6
It's been a tough year for Almora, but he is still a big part of the Cubs future.

As we head into July, it's time to check in on our top Cubs prospect list.  I am not going to do a top 35 again, well, not until this winter or next spring, but we'll take a quick look at the Cubs top 15 prospects and then a bonus of 10 prospects who are on the rise this year.  I will break it up into 3 parts with the top 6 prospects going today, the next 9 tomorrow, and then the 10 risers on Wednesday.

I am not going to count down this time since we all know who the top 6 prospects are.  It's just a matter of the specific order.

One thing to note, I didn't include any 2014 draftees with the exception of Schwarber because he has had some time already at Boise and Kane County, but you can expect to see some of them when we do our big list in the offseason.

Click on player's name for link to statistics.

1. Kris Bryant, 22, 3B, AAA, Iowa

Based on his approach and the increasing ability he may stick at 3B, not to mention the ridiculous season he is having, he moves up one spot to #1.  Bryant is an advanced hitter who has shown he can quickly adapt to all levels of pitching.  He's not just a power and plate discipline guy either.  He can take the ball the other way with ease and will probably hit for a pretty good average to go with his HRs and walks.  The defense can be average at 3B with his best tool being a strong arm.  Considering the offense, the Cubs will gladly take that.

Bryant is a different hitter than Baez and it goes beyond approach.  He creates power with leverage and great natural strength rather than with raw bat speed.  He is going to hit for power.  There isn't much question there.  He also has the makeup to handle what lies ahead.  The ceiling may not be as high as Baez, but it's close enough.  Ultimately, it;s his floor that ultimately has him ranked 1st on this list.

ETA: 2015

2. Javier Baez, 21, SS, AAA, Iowa

The last time I dropped Baez off of #1, he proceeded to go on a terrifying streak of crushing baseballs.  I did not drop him based on performance even though he has struggled.  The potential is still there, the bat speed still borders on unholy, and the athleticism remains to stick in the middle infield.  Baez has shown that he is adapting to the more advanced pitchers in AAA and has walked 7 times in the 11 games since Bryant joined him at Iowa, upping his rate to a solid 7.5%.  He's already going to be a good ballplayer, but if he continues to mature at the plate, he will still be the best player to come out of this group.  No player has a higher offensive ceiling in this system.

As far as defense goes, Baez has the athleticism and instincts to play anywhere in the field but he prefers the infield.  With Starlin Castro entrenched at SS, Baez's favored alternative position is 2B, where he can provide plus defense to go with uncommon power numbers for the position.

ETA: 2015

3. Arismendy Alcantara, 22, AAA, Iowa

We have always been intrigued with Alcantara, from the first days we started writing recaps back in 2011, but he was anything but a sure thing back then: skinny, unable to stay healthy for a full season, erratic in the field, aggressive at the plate -- yet his athleticism and ability to make plays has always been evident.  It has only been a matter of maturity and consistency.  We often hear about the great makeup of players like Bryant, Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber but I would put Alcantara in that group as well.  As for the physical skills, they are undeniable.  Alcantara is still skinny but he has dynamite in those wrists, he doesn't just use speed to amass the 42 extra base hits he has in half a season, he puts a charge into the baseball.  We have seen him hit it into the upper deck and CitiField and I personally have seen him flick his bat out and drive it just foul on a line over the LF wall.  I was almost impressed as with that as I was the upper deck shot.  Alcantara won't have one standout skill, he will just be good at everything.  If you keep score, make sure you right legibly and leave enough room or he will completely mess up your scorecard.  Alcantara has no significant holes to his game.  His splits are surprisingly consistent and his biggest weakness last year, his performance against lefties, has turned into a strength,  He is hitting .379/.478/.617 against them this year.

On defense, Alcantara can play 2B but with Baez looming, a position change could be in order.  Alcantara has started to log some innings in CF where he has become increasingly comfortable after a rather cautious approach in the first couple of games.  He has the athleticism and instincts to be an above average defender at either CF or 2B.

ETA: 2014

4. Albert Almora, 20, A+, Daytona

I really debated whether to rank Almora.  I had him anywhere from 3rd to 5th but in the end we want to make sure we don't put too much stake in half a season worth of statistics.  Yet I could not overlook the progress of Alcantara, so the drop to #4 is more of a reflection of Alcantara than it is of Almora.  In all honesty, if Almora is producing the way Alcantara is in 2 years at AAA, we will all be very happy.  At the same time, he is a much better player at the same age and he sill has the higher ceiling.  Like Baez, Almora has struggled but also like Baez, he hasn't suddenly lost any of his tremendous ability.  Almora has begun to pick it up in the second half and my bet is that we will all be singing his praises again by the end of the season.  Almora had some distractions early in the year but you won't hear Almora use them as an excuse.  It was the first time Almora has struggled in his career and thus the first time he has had to make real adjustments in his approach.  He also has a rather high leg kick and it may be the first time that was exploited, causing Almora to fall out of rhythm and lose his great timing.  He still has the sweetest swing and is the best pure bat in the system.  He still plays top-notch MLB caliber CF.  Those two skills alone give him a high floor, but Almora's ceiling will hinge on improving his plate discipline and developing more power.  I think he has a great chance to develop both of those skills.  Once Almora figures it out, he'll be back on the fast track.

ETA: 2017

5. Kyle Schwarber, 21, C/LF, A, Kane County

I know a lot of you will be disappointed in Schwarber being this "low" but it speaks to the strength of this system.  Schwarber is an advanced bat, but we should remember he is still in low A ball where he has yet to be challenged.  All of the players ahead of him, with the exception of the relatively late blooming Alcantara, have destroyed the MWL (or in  Bryant's case the FSL).  Almora also thrived in this league when he was 2 years younger and just one year out of high school.  I'm not saying Schwarber won't go on to tear up the FSL, AA, and then AAA too, I'm just pumping the brakes a bit.

There is no doubt Schwarber can hit, though.  He has a patient, disciplined approach and the ability to hit for power to all fields.  One scout said at the very least you have a left fielder who hits .280 with 25 HRs and a good OBP.  That is a pretty nice floor and the ceiling, of course, is much better than that.

There is still the question about his ultimate position but the feeling is he will end up in LF.  Considering how quickly he has moved so far, the Cubs may move him there sooner rather than later to avoid delaying his ascent through the system.  No matter where he plays however, almost all of his value will be tied to his bat and that also played a role in this ranking, but that bat has a chance to be pretty special.

ETA: 2017

6. Jorge Soler, 22, OF, AA, Tennessee

Soler has as much talent as anyone on this list and that includes Baez.  The problem for him has been staying healthy.  When he has been on the field this year, he has hit as if he has never had a day off at all.  The approach is good, the power is 70 grade at it's ceiling and he can play a decent enough corner OF.  The Cubs think they have figured out Soler's problems and have created an appropriate regimen that they believe will limit his hamstring injuries in the future.  I wonder now when I look back now when I commented early in his career on his awkward gait as a runner -- could that have been a symptom of the muscle strength imbalance and lack of good posture the Cubs have talked about?  If they get him healthy, he could move quickly and be in the majors sooner than we think.

If healthy, Soler should hit for average and power while playing an average to above average corner OF, with a strong arm being his best asset in the field.

ETA: 2016

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I might disagree on the ETA for Schwarber. He's an advanced bat, he's still killing the ball after his promotion. I don't see him more than a year behind Bryant. The only thing keeping Bryant from a september call-up this year - the year after being drafted - is service time, and so far I haven't seen anything that puts Schwarber on a slower track (that may change of course as he climbs up).

    On a different note, this from MLBTR just shouts Samardzija + Barney/Valbuena:

    The Blue Jays haven’t shown any interest in Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks since they’re looking to land a better defender at the keystone, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. (Similar defensive concerns were also the reason for Toronto’s lack of interest in Daniel Murphy, as Heyman reported over the weekend.) Weeks is hitting .263/.344/.463 in 90 PA against left-handed pitching this season, and would make sense on paper for a Jays team that is need of both second base help and a right-handed bat.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I hope so, but Bryant's ascent is the exception, not the rule for hitters. If Schwarber matches Bryant that is great, but I don't think we should expect that to happen every year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I love your stuff and check it out every day.

    I've got to disagree with you on the Bryant timeline being the exception. After watching Kris completely overwhelm FSL pitching last September, I took a look at how long the top collegiate hitter drafted from 2003-2012 took to reach the Majors (you can read the full post here: http://huffonsports.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-kris-bryant-timeline.html). The list:

    Mike Zunino: 505
    Anthony Rendon: 420
    Christian Colon: 2,017 (and counting - ugh, KC)
    Dustin Ackley: 1,012
    Pedro Alvarez: 820
    Matt Wieters: 693
    Evan Longoria: 881
    Alex Gordon: 577
    Billy Butler: 791
    Rickie Weeks: 909

    If you exclude Colon from that list, the average number of MiLB and Arizona Fall League plate appearances from the top collegiate position player drafted over the last decade before making it to the Majors was just 734. Bryant is currently at 585. Were service time and the extra year of control not a driving factor, Bryant could come up in 3-4 weeks and fit right in the middle of this group.

    It's entirely reasonable to think that Schwarber could do the same, even though the same concerns will likely lead our front office to let him develop more slowly in the minors.

    Basic point: a rapid timeline actually is the rule for top collegiate bats. The Cubs will manage the service time clock to make sure they get their 6.9 years of control instead of 6.4, as well they should. Just don't think that this rapid development is terribly out of the ordinary.

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    thank you for doing the leg work. now, please allow me to use this information as if i acquired it myself...

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    Thanks for finding and sharing this. Had someone said the average was 734 I would've thought that they had their facts wrong. This actually makes me much more excited for Schwarber and his quick rise. It's always nice to have some added optimism when you are stuck watching this pathetic Cubs lineup in the majors. (Obviously outside of Castro and Rizzo; man could you imagine how painful this season would be if they both played as poorly as last season?)

  • In reply to nukee:

    sure can...it'd be as painful as...last season?

  • In reply to Rob Huff:

    man, what timing! KC calls up Colon just a few hours after this was posted. Maybe they are reading this blog...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    My first reaction on reading this was: "Don't saddle Schwarber with Bryant comparisons" but, upon looking at their numbers, I have trouble discounting what you say. I do have to caution about small sample size--I like having at least a couple hundred professional plate appearances before I start making any substantive judgments--but what he has done has been spectacular. Apparently no one told him at new employee orientation that it is assumed that he will not get on base more than half the time and this will not be held against him in his evaluation.

  • fb_avatar

    I understand the ETA of 2016 from your point of but Soler will have to be up next year. In 2016 he is out of options and will either be on the ML roster or a FA. Team Theo will at some point next year give him a taste of the majors if at all possible just to see if they need to try and pass him through waivers in 2016.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Soler has 2 options left. May well be up by next year if he stays healthy, though, but he doesn't need to be up.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I had asked around on that question the other day and must have gotten some bad information back. So there is still no rush that is good.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This is wrong. Jorge Soler's last option year is next year, 2015, because he was given a 4th option year.

    Per The Cub Reporter...

    Justin Grimm, Jorge Soler, and Matt Szczur have each used two minor league options through the 2013 season, but all three will be eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2015.

    http://www.thecubreporter.com/cubs-40-man-roster

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    But to John's point he doesn't have to be up next year. He would have to be on the 2016 opening day roster though, correct? If so, I hope for a late 2015 promotion to get his feet wet. Everything hinges on his health though.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Yes, John's ETA of 2016 is right on schedule. I'm hoping he comes back mashing at AA, gets some more ab's in the AFL, then starts at AAA next year, get's called up with the expanded rosters in Sept. for a cup of coffee, and then starts with the big league team in 2016 out of Spring Training. Anyways that's ideal, as he has to be with the big league team to start the year in 2016 as he will have no options left.

  • Pierce Johnson promoted?

    Tyler Skulina ‏@tskully31 2h

    Great having my buddy @Flowbro33 in Kane for a bit, time for him to kill it in Tennessee #cubs #flowfordays

    Pierce Johnson ‏@Flowbro33 7m

    @tskully31 thanks man I had a blast there with you! Now to win a ring!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Now if we can just get Edwards and Soler back in the lineup the Tennessee team is ready to go.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The just got Black back, now they need Pineyro and Edwards to recreate that Daytona rotation from last season's championship run.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    It's nice to see that team coming together as it was really the gaping hole in the system for a while. I do hope they don't immediately lose Black. He went on an ill-advised Twitter rant yesterday which will almost certainly have consequences.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    He hasn't deleted it, though, so maybe Theo accepts that it was all good natured.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah...it wasn't real smart, but it's not in the Ian Stewart/Matt Garza category either. I saw him and Spencer go back and forth about it when he really should have just dropped it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I saw that. His only problem is responding to the idiots.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    "If you are getting paid in the US you support the US if not go back home"

    I don't understand how anything of what he said was a "joke". I thought jokes were supposed to be funny.

    Kid sounds like an idiot.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What was the rant about?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Black doesn't understand why US citizens may cheer for another country in the World Cup... That brought about the quote listed above.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Saw that, he seems like a hothead. And yes HE will be a reliever! Neil Ramirez and Black are similar to me.

  • In reply to Melancubby:

    Black actually tweeted about that too:

    Corey Black ‏@CblackCHC
    I still don't get why I'm a "reliever". Hahaha I get it I'm short. Jeez one inch would go a long way for me

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I had enough of his cry baby tweet yesterday. It was enough that he was tweeting before the game but he just kept it up during the game so I sorta laid into him.

    Corey Black ‏@CblackCHC 20h

    Twitter equals life apparently

    BocaBobby ‏@Boca_Bobby 19h

    @CblackCHC Less Twitter.... More baseball..... You might have better things to be concerned about! #CubsWay

    Corey Black ‏@CblackCHC 19h

    @Boca_Bobby how many times do you honestly see me on twitter? This is why

    BocaBobby ‏@Boca_Bobby 19h

    @CblackCHC Then let it go. You've been more concerned tonight on meaningless BS. Go throw a baseball or two! #WorkToDo

    Of course I was attacked by other idiots on Twitter but I think Corey got the message because he stopped until after the game was over.

    I was happy that we got something out of the Soriano trade but it looks like we just got a "head case." Just my opinion of course and we have to remember that these guys are just kids and will have little fits once in a while.

    Let's just hope he starts to understand what his priorities are!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It's also weird a grown man is tweeting and reprimanding a kid he has no relationship with.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    It would make sense, he should be at AA when healthy. Sounds like he is.

  • fb_avatar

    I think we'd all be happy if Almora turns out to be David DeJesus and Schwarber ends up as Jason Kubel at this point.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Those are probably good comparisons for their floors.

  • In reply to Phil James:

    DeJesus draws walks. A better floor comp would be Reed Johnson, which is somewhat pessimistic, I know. Offensive ceiling would be something like a Hunter Pence.

  • How much longer would it take Schwarber to advance if he stays at catcher?

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I think it would take him at least an extra year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    If it means an extra year in the minors to have a well above average offensive catcher (LH no less) I would make that deal We have a crowded field everywhere else.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I wouldn't, just get his bat in the lineup, especially since it is no guarantee he sticks at catcher even if you take that extra year. Get Alcantara, Bryant, Baez, Schwarber, Rizzo, and Castro in some order and it really won't matter who else is in the lineup. They can get away with a defensive catcher with those guys, especially if they add a veteran or two in the other spots.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Even if Schwarber doesn't stick at catcher and ends up in LF, wouldn't it be a nice situation to have him on the roster as an emergency catcher, adding flexibility at the C position?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    An extra year IF HE CAN BE A CATCHER AT ALL.

    It is quite possible that 20 years wouldn't turn him into an adequate catcher. The jury is still far out on that subject. However, I agree that IF an extra year would turn him into an adequate catcher, they should do it. A good hitting catcher is much, much more valuable that an equally good hitting left fielder. You could be talking about the difference between an All Star and a Hall of Famer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think an extra year is very generous. I think people don't realize how many at bats catchers lose because they need to spend time on their catching skills. Being a good major league catcher requires a tremendous amount of work that goes unnoticed by 90% of fans. I think Wellington Castillo's struggles with framing pitches is a great example. Framing pitches seems so easy. You just catch the ball right? Unless you have played catcher before. Then you realize how incredibly difficult it really can be. Not to mention blocking pitches.

    Even the ideas of having a primary and secondary receiving stance/position for the game situation go unnoticed. A catcher has to be a student of the game. A good ML catcher needs to understand how to manage pitchers and get them to throw pitches they are comfortable and successful with, while making sure that those are the pitches that the opposing batters are NOT comfortable and successful with. All of these skills require countless hours of work. A left fielder can use those hours to focus on hitting.

    I say let him play left. He will never be a defensive stud behind the plate. Let him focus on improving the skills that will contribute to our 2018 WS championship.

  • It's that time of year...

    Rob Zastryzny ‏@RobZastryzny_8 2m

    Congratulations to @A_McKirahanJr on his promotion to Tennessee! No one deserves it more. #flow #stud

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Awesome. Great news!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to North Side Irish:

    Z is right, it's well-deserved. We could really use a bullpen power lefty

  • With the potential depth at C now in the system, it seems more likely that Schwarber moves to LF in order to advance quick. I can see him in Wrigley in 25 months.

  • fb_avatar

    Alcantara is kind of an odd guy right now. In the dream scenario (IF: Bryant-Castro-Baez-Rizzo OF: Schwarber-Almora-Soler) he's left without a position. But in the more likely event that one of those prospects doesn't make it, he can really slot into any lineup. He's not a great corner outfielder by any stretch of the imagination but, if you have that infield, you're getting corner outfield production from second and short so you might prefer a table setter with plus speed in a corner.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well he definitely would have a couple of years to prove it before Almora is even close. Almora could be part of a package to bring in a TOR starter. Also could see Alcantara being traded for the same type of thing or even if Alcantara struggles some and loses to Almora that he becomes more of a super sub where he backs up multiple positions. Seems like Cubs just about win no matter what unless he falls flat on his face or injured over a long period of time. Options are always a good thing.

  • In reply to Cubs Future:

    Agreed. Everyone could still play 5-6 games a week with Alcantara being the super sub that gives a lot of our regulars an extra day of rest during the week. Our players would be well rested every week in this scenario, but like mike said it is more likely that not all of our prospects make it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I disagree that Alcantara is the "odd guy" right now. The guys who make it are the guys who earn it, and he is earning it. I don't find that odd at all.

    What's to prevent him from taking the second base job in one or two months? Nothing. Except maybe his range and reflexes. I think that might dictate a move to CF as much as anything else. That, and the approaching promotion of Baez in 2015 - Baez's instincts and prowess as a middle infielder will push Alcantara to the outfield anyway. But then and only then might Alcantara lose second base. So after that, does he have Almora to worry about? Why? If he hits, he'll play. Somewhere. And when we run out of spots for huge bats, then glory hallelujah, we'll make a giant jenga game out of all the bats.

    So, "odd guy"? I dunno about that - his bat will find a place at Wrigley for sure.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    How is 42 extra base hits at this point in the season not corner OF production? I know we have had this exchange before, but Alcantara just keeps hitting, and there is really nothing at this point in terms of his production that wouldn't hold up in LF assuming he reaches something close to his ceiling in the majors.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Could be a Bip Roberts type that fills in everywhere. It is fun to think of the possibilities!

  • Another guy who generated tremendous power from his wrists was a fella named Banks, as I recall.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Yes, also kind of a skinny guy.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I can see those fingers playing a tune right now on this bat.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    For a time, as a kid, I used to play that tune on my bat just like EB. I was there when he hit his 500th HR too!!!! Line drive that barely got over the wall at the 368 mark.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Kids. I was there for Bank's first (or second, I don't remember which) home run. A line drive so low that the shortstop actually jumped for it. It looked like the pulled version of the one Stanton hit to right field a week ago.

  • If they all pan out, Castro or Baez could be moved for pitching in a couple years.

  • Based on the names that are being bandied about as trade candidates for Shark and Hammel, would any of those names cause you to revise this list if they were to be traded to the Cubs? Also, should we be concerned that there is no pitching in the Top 6?

  • John, of these 6 who I feel will all play in MLB someday, who do you think has the most chance to fail? They all can't be winners can they? We can hope!

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Soler has the greatest chance to fail simply because he has been hurt, hasn't had time to develop and his roster time is running short. I still think he plays and has enough talent to make an impact.

  • fb_avatar

    One thing that stands out on this list is the POWER. This is important, because power hitting is becoming more and more rare; a scarcity around baseball. Every team is looking for it.

    Rizzo and Castro are a good start to a power lineup, but add a few of these guys, and look out......

  • This is a fantastic list, but I'll be honest, I kinda wish you'd started with the 10 risers or 7-15 of the top prospects. These top 6 are the consensus guys. The ones everyone figures are the superstars in bloom and thus we follow their every move. It's the next batch of players that I really want to hear analysis about. I have my dark horse favorites in the Cubs system and want to see if they pop up on your lists and what your evaluations are on them. That said, love reading about Alcantara. He's quickly become my favorite of the "Sexy Six".

  • Hmm, we will be an offense in need of the final pieces by 2016. Sans poor performances I think all these guys will be up by sometime that year at the latest. Sorry but my optimism is just taking control right now.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I don't see Almora making it before 2017. Possibly a Sept 2016 cup of coffee... but even that's debatable right now... The others, yes... Though Schwarber still hasn't seen anything above low A ball yet so...

  • All I can say is that is one Spectacular Six. Thanks for the list John.

  • In reply to John57:

    Indeed! And you are welcome!

  • fb_avatar

    I've learned my lesson (hopefully) about getting too excited too fast about prospects, so I'm going to wait a year before I start dreaming about Schwarber in the middle of the Cubs' lineup. And I certainly agree that any thought of him being in the majors by 2016 is optimistic. So I'm definitely with John there, though it would be nice to be wrong.

    Hard to quibble with the rest of the rankings. I'd be curious to read what others think Alcantrara's ceiling is. I like the speed. Seems like he brings a lot to the table, especially if he is able to hit for some power.

    Is .270/.330/.450 30 SBs unrealistic? Obviously you take that from a 2B or CF.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I think that is a realistic line for him.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    His (AA) Ceiling could be Joe Morgan as far as I'm concerned.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Joe Morgan was the best second baseman in the past 60 years (yes, better than Sandberg). I doubt that that is a reasonable ceiling.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I think you take that at 2B but not CF.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I would if it came with very good defense, though we don't know if that will be the case yet.

  • I don't follow other teams' farm systems like I do the Cubs, so how does this "Top 6" compare to other systems around baseball? Seems awfully hard to beat. (However, it's at least a little disappointing that there are no pitchers on the list. Though, I'm sure they will be well represented tomorrow.)

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I'd rather they all be position players.... A SP only has the ability to make an impact in 30-35 games annually.... A position Player can make an impact in 150+ games annually.

    Some of those fliers will develop, giving us a supply of capable SP's. We'll trade our surplus position players for others... Either way, we end up with 5 capable SP's, a solid BP, and a Murderers Row for a line-up every day. It has all the makings of a potential Dynasty for the next decade or so....

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I would say it's the best 6 in baseball and certainly the best in terms of bats.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd say with the pitching prospects we're likely to acquire in exchange for Samardzija and Hammel, the farm system will be in the top 3 of everyone's rankings even after the 2015 call-ups. We'll finally have a steady pipeline.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect. The Cubs had a pitching staff in the early 2000s that had 4 former top 10 prospects in all of baseball (Prior, Wood, Clement, Cruz) and other highly rated guys like Zambrano, and that group brought a window of a couple of years. Pitchers get hurt.

    This group of hitters has a much better chance of sustaining success.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    i get that. i do. however, it'd be nice to have someone at aaa with top of the rotation projection. not to mention that that early 2000s pitching staff just about carried the cubs to a world series in 2003 - when only two regulars played over 150 games (alex gonzalez - that mother fd;lauiopwq; and moises alou), and our big 4 starters all threw over 200 ip (zambrano, clement, prior, wood).

    "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect" is a cute saying, but not entirely true. elite pitchers come from somewhere, and unless we are anticipating letting other teams draft and develop them before we sign them at the age of 29/30/31, i would love to see some a pitching prospects develop.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    and it appears that theo et al would agree with me, as they're reportedly looking for arms for hammel and samardzija.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    I have no problem with stockpiling a bunch of arms via trade or middle of the draft and crossing my fingers. But the top of the draft should be for bats.

    I'm of the opinion that teams should trade for TOR pitching once they need it, not before. By the time the future lineup is producing in the majors several pitching prospects will probably have blown their arms out. Pick up the starter once the window is open.

  • My Top 6 ETA dream scenario: The super six all stay healthy and have good 2nd halves. After this season I think Almora, Schwarber and Soler will be good fall league candidates. At the start of next year I would hope that Schwarber and Almora are in Tennessee while Soler will be in Iowa. That would mean that AA, Javy and Bryant would all be in the majors by April next year. The Cubs will then get off to a good start next year and will be in playoff contention come the all-star break. At this point, the FO decides to make a run for the playoffs and calls up Soler and Schwarber. These promotions will get the Cubs to go on a streak and clinch a wildcard birth. Then the Cubs will beat the Cardinals in the NLDS and then... Ok I know I'm dreaming, but I do think that a good amount of my dream is reasonable, especially if Soler can get healthy and if Schwarber can keep hitting. Hopefully Almora can come sometime in 2016.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    but wait, what happens after the nlds? i don't want to wake up yet!

  • I realize the Scwarber part is being extremely optimistic.

  • John, is this list just positional prospects or does it include pitchers? I was wondering about Edwards.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Edwards will be on the next list. Cubs top 6 prospects are all position players.

  • Great prospects that gets me excited. Now we just need some pitching...

  • For everyone dreaming about seeing Almora, Schwarber, Hanneman, VogelBomb, etc in the AFL this year... keep in mind that only one non AA/AAA rostered player can participate. So unless they are promoted before 8/1, not all of them will go.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'd leave Scwarber off. By the time the season ends he will have a lot of games under his belt. Maybe more than he has ever played in a season. I'd like to see Almora get into a groove in the AFL.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I tend to agree there. I'd like to see Almora get a shot. Hannemann could use the reps if you want to get a guy from Kane.

    I'd choose Paniagua and as long as they are healthy, maybe concentrate on some of the pitchers who missed time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I wouldn't be surprised if Paniagua is on the Tennessee roster by the end of the year, just to get him into the AFL.

    I suspect that they would rather have Schwarber in the Instructional League to get a better feel on if he could stick as a catcher. Either Hannemann or Almora could be rostered in Tennessee to allow them both to play in the AFL, but if not, I would hope that Hanneman is the one in the AFL, since he probably needs the experience more than Almora.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Paniagua has barely pitched the last couple of years. I imagine he is going to hit his innings cap long before the fall league starts. I would be shocked if he goes.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Weren't Almora, Soler and Bryant on the team last year? None played above A-Ball last year.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I think you are right.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Almora was a taxi squad/injury replacement guy if I remember.

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    For a ceiling for Alcantara at least as a hitter, what about Jose Reyes? Switch hitter slashing swing surprising extra base power in the wrists.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I think AA has more power, but less speed than Reyes.

  • Would anyone have access to a MLE equivalent calculation for Alcantara's AAA stats as of right now? I'd like to see his slash line results to compare to my blind throw at the dart board.

  • I love this list John and I agree with you. Although I think I would have Bryant/Baez 1A/1B but that's just semantics, and I would have Soler-Almora-Schwarber at 4-5-6 but I'm higher than most on Soler. The best thing is that the top 3 are all in AAA and knocking on the door of Wrigley by next year. Also the Cubs 4th/5th prospect would probably be the number 1 prospect in 20+ other organizations....that's quality depth.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Thanks. I think it depend on how you feel about floor and ceiling. I know that Jason Parks will rate Almora higher than Alcantara -- and my guess is it he likes the ceiling better.

    Soler and Baez have two of the highest ceilings in the game.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw the other day he's putting Alcantara in the top 30. That's fairly elite.

  • The only things that this list (and the Cubs Farm) is missing is a true sure-fire Ace prospect, which could be rectified with a good 10 game losing streak down the stretch. (I'm hoping for a bunch of 1 run losses)
    Of course when I'm watching the games I can't actually root for the Cubs to lose but, I'd love for the "core" players to do well, but end up with some hard luck losses. I'll quickly get over it if the Cubs get #1 overall and draft Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke...

    "Matuella burst onto the scene earlier this year, thanks in part to Frankie Piliere at Perfect Game, who tweeted out that Matuella was a potential 1.1 for next year. The 6’-6”, 225 pound right-hander proceeded to make Piliere look like a genius as he showed everything you want in a first-overall pick. Obviously, he has the ideal size you want in an ace. He also showed the stuff, headlined by fastball that can touch 97 mph and sits 93-96. He adds two potential plus off-speed pitches in a 79-82 mph, 12-6 curveball with great depth and an 83-86 mph slider with tight spin. His change-up sits 87-89 and is a decent offering already. He has great command of his pitches and finished the season with a 2.78 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 69 K/15 BB over 58.1 innings. Opponents hit just .190 against him, he allowed just one home run and only hit two batters — pretty good for a power arm like his. All eyes will be on him next year and the upside is silly."

    http://throughthefencebaseball.com/2015-mlb-draft-early-30-college-prospects/43327#IQxYIl8AceORuKoe.99

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    True but Cubs FO has gone bat in rd 1 even when a top arm is avaliable

  • In reply to nkniacc13:

    True, but McLeod's draft-talk suggests that they would have taken Aiken if available over Schwarber (but apparently not Kolek and Rodon), so perhaps there are exceptions.

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    In reply to nkniacc13:

    I was actually having this conversation with some long-time Denizens earlier. The Cubs MO is starting to come into focus. They put a huge premium on getting major league players in their first picks and feel that elite college bats gives them the surest things.

    Next year, the guy that describes is FSU outfielder DJ Stewart. That doesn't mean they'll absolutely take Stewart. (His makeup is still an unknown, for one thing.) But it does suggest they will have to like the upside/floor combination of the guys ahead of him to bite. It's early, but it seems likely that Matuella, Kirby, and Cameron, at least, will clear that hurdle.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If a pitcher like Matuella is available with everything you look for in an Ace, i.e. size, stuff, velocity, plus control, good command, no injury history, a history of production, and a plus 4 pitch mix (plus-plus FB, plus Slider, plus Curve, & an above average changeup) then I don't think the Cubs would pass. In fact I'm quite sure they would take him, none of the pitchers available in the last 3 years had that combination. Appel, Grey, Rondon, Aiken all had a wart or two and still their's a good chance (by their own admission) that the Cubs would have taken Appel, Aiken, Rondon had they been given the chance. Matuella has a very good chance of being better than all of them in my opinion and he has all the physical and intangible characteristics that this FO looks for.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    They were pretty clear that Schwarber was ahead of Rodon on their boards. I believe that's the case. I've heard two decidedly different stories on where Appel and Bryant sat.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I would hope that they improve the farms pitching at the deadline this year. There are a lot of possibilities out there to do so. Adding Sachez & Norris from Toronto for Shark and Paxton from Seattle for Hammel would be a pretty awesome scenario and force John to redo this list.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    That would be great.

  • And then take into account John hasn't gotten to Pierce Johnson or CJ Edwards, 2 guys that landed in most top 100s last year. Now estimate 2 top 100 prospects for Shark (in addition to other pieces) and maybe 1 for Hammel.

    Hell of a top to this system, could have 10 guys challenging for top 100 status next year.

  • Hey John - love your stuff. Thanks so much for all the great work!

    Wondering if you knew what was going on with Eloy Jiminez? He had 1 AB in AZL and haven't seen anything since.

    Thanks!

  • In reply to PenFoe:

    He is apparently not injured, but just getting work on the side. There are a number of OFs on the AZ roster, including a couple of recent draftees from the college ranks. I'm assuming once those guys thin out as they get filtered up to Boise then Eloy will start to get more PT.

  • With Alcantara, Baez & Bryant occupying the top 3 spots, somebody is going to have to change positions and soon. Either Bryant of Alcantara will need to move to the OF, then Baez will need to move to take either Bryant or Alcantara's place in the IF.
    These guys should be in Wrigley by this time next year, so let's get busy and start getting their playing positions ironed out.

  • So can we now assume the "core four" has become a "sinister six"?

  • I prefer "Spectacular Six"

  • John, I'm hoping we can start to measure Alcantara's ETA in minutes.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I think we can.

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    Side note, Orioles DFA Nolan Reimold. He was a good power hitter when healthy, but has dealt with injuries. Think we should bite?

    In the long run we probably don't need him, but I can't imaging him being much worse than Coghlan or Nate...

  • this is my aggressive and hopeful callup schedule

    Alcantera july/august 2014
    Bryant september 2014
    Baez september 2014
    Bruno july/august 2015
    schwarber september 2015
    soler (if healthy) september 2015
    almora july 2016
    vogelbach september 2016

  • I forgot Lopez september 2014 at the latest.

    obviously for this many guys to be promoted some will have to fail or be traded. add that to young list of player like, rizzo,castro,castillo and to a lesser degree Lake & Olt and thats 14 guys around 25 or younger who have legitimate upside.

  • man how good can arrietta be?

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    And two years after the fact, I'm still trying to find out where Marcelo Carreno (acquired for Jeff Baker) is. #HealthyOrganizations

  • I think it is time to stop talking about the "Core Four". It might be more like the "Core Seven".

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    the svelte seven?

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    How about the obvious? The Magnificent Seven.

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