Cubs land 6 on Baseball America's NWL Top 20

The Cubs landed 6 players on Baseball America’s Northwest League Top 20 List.  The Cubs affiliate in that league is Boise, which made the finals but lost 2 games to 1 for the second straight year.  The players who qualified are:

1. Kris Bryant

7. Paul Blackburn

9. Yasiel Balaguert

10. Dillon Maples

12. Shawon Dunston, Jr.

17. Kevin Encarnacion

That is roughly the order I had them in when I did my original top 50 (which I later morphed into a top 75 depth chart).   I actually had Maples slightly ahead of Balaguert.

Among the interesting notes is that Encarnacion spent 3 years in the DSL because of visa issues.  Many of us had wondered why he stayed there so long despite performing extremely well.

Yasiel Balaguert was compared to a young Pedro Guerrero and I saw another comparison earlier to Edwin Encarnacion.

Blackburn projects as a 3 pitch, #3 type starter and said Bryant was still a “puppy” who will get bigger and stronger — not that is a scary thought for opposing pitchers.


Filed under: Top Prospects Lists


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  • John, what's the background on Balaguert, this is the one guy I'm not at all familiar with. I assume he was one of Hendry's Cuban signees? And two other names I have similar background questions on, each seems to be rising on yours and others prospect lists: Frendy (?) Delarosa and Carlos Penalver. Thanks...

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    He was one of the first of Theo/Jed signees. Signed him and Carlos Martinez. Played alongside Jorge Soler on the Cuban junior national team. Cubs really pushed him last year up to Peoria, wasn't ready. Kind of a thickly built guy but a good athlete and good bat speed, crushes line drives and started to show power this past season. I think I had him in the 21-25 range on my list if memory serves and I was being conservative.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I do remember him seeming out of shape in Peoria two seasons ago. One of my friends pointed out he had a "Pre-MMA training Big-Z" build. Not good for a corner OF.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Have a picture of him from a game when he was with Peoria. He's pretty thick. He can clear some house in the paint with that backside. Heard he came in to this season in better shape though.

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    Six guys from a team that isn't close to our biggest or best. That's a nice thing to hear. Even if the best guy on that list only made a brief stop there.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    True. Although prospect depth/strength of the league comes into play too.

  • This prospect news is all so exciting! I just got done watching a Mayo/Callis video about the Cubs future and Callis threw out there that all 4 of the big 4 could be ready by the end of next year if not 2015. Obviously not news to us other than Almora potentially being ready. Unlikely I know but he's a sleeper to me. A good fall, good winter, good spring, and another first half flirting with .350 and you have a sleeper. I only say this because of the significant defensive upgrade he would present. He's my favorite one of the big 4. This would be a good winter to hit the weight room a little bit.

  • Also like Ryan Sweeney on a 2yr 3.75 MM deal. He'll probably take that and he'll at least be a good 4th OF still in 2015. One of the keys to me is bringing in guys who you can bench if you have to when someone more talented comes up. Choo would be hard to bench 2 and a half years into a four or five year deal. Ellsbury, same thing. That was a huge part of moving Sori. He wasn't benchable. I would make exceptions if it were Stanton or CarGo. Sweeney really looks the part though, doesn't he? I like his approach a lot. Bat and Glove.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I can see him getting a 3 year deal at 5 million a year. Outfield crop is weak this year. 2yr. at 3.75 is not in the ballpark.

  • He's worth more than that on the open market perhaps. Keep in mind though this is a guy who's never had a multi year contract and its a raise from his 2013 salary for two years. Its pretty rare for a guy who's only played in 560 games in 8 years to get 3 guaranteed years. Very rare, actually. This is not a guy who's had big arb raises, he's a guy who's only made 4 and a half million in 8 years. 2.75/3MM per is a lot of money for him. Definitely in the ballpark.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    My point was that he would probably sign that. Schierholtz got 2.25. That's the same ballpark Sweeney will find himself in.

  • Frandy Delarosa was our most expensive international free agent signing in 2012. In 45 plate appearances in the DSL this year, he posted a .213 OPS. Presumably he had injury issues.

    Carlos Penalver was an IFA signed by the Hendry team the same year they signed Candelario. Possibly the best defensive SS in the Cubs' system. He OPS'ed .449 in June, .642 in July and .904 in August, so his bat appears to be progressing nicely. I'm somewhat surprised he didn't make the NWL Top 20,

  • In reply to cubsin:

    I've been a big fan of Penalver and I would think that a true SS would get strong consideration. Not too many of those in all of baseball.

  • I'm a big fan of Balaguert, but he has to keep his conditioning up and continue to mash. I hope he gets better as he moves up, because I don't see him playing anywhere other than corner OF & DH.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed he has to stay fit, but despite a body that will take work to maintain, he's a pretty good athlete. I think he can easily be an OF'er and a pretty good one. Remember that he played CF for the Cuban junior national team.

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