The tops of these Cubs prospect lists are beginning to look very much the same, but it nevertheless remains interesting to see what outsiders think of the Cubs’ farm system. Up now, the Hardball Times:
1. Brett Jackson / OF / Jackson had a terrific first full season, but I stand firm with my cautiousness toward his future. His power and speed are playing in the minors, but he will have to show more before I start to believe that he can be an impact major leaguer.
2. Chris Archer / SP / From a command standpoint, Archer has good games and bad games, but he possesses tenacity and an above-average three-pitch mix that has Cub fans excited.
3. Trey McNutt / SP / Where did McNutt come from? He burst onto the scene this year with his mid-90s fastball and terrific breaking ball. His command looks merely average, however. We’re all waiting to see how he handles Double-A and if his change-up develops.
4. Hak-Ju Lee / SS / Lee had a fine full-season debut, posting a stellar batting average and proving to be a peskier out than most thought possible. His defense isn’t as advertised yet and he hasn’t shown any power upside, which are two problems holding back his stock.
5. Jay Jackson / SP/RP / Jackson started to use his full repertoire more this season, which had negative effects on his numbers. He has solid control of his fastball and curveball, but no out pitch to speak of. It’s hard to tell if he will start or relieve full-time.
6. Brandon Guyer / OF / Guyer posted a breakout campaign in 2010, and was even able to showoff the power potential that some thought was fading. His power and speed are playing now, but like Brett Jackson, I have doubts about it translating.
7. Hayden Simpson / SP / The selection of Simpson in the middle of the first round raised eyebrows, as he wasn’t on a lot of radar screens. He has polish across the board and four useful pitches but doesn’t seem to possess much upside. Still, let’s give him a chance.
8. Josh Vitters / 3B / Having youth on his side will only get Vitters so far; he needs to improve. As it stands now, his plate approach is terrible and won’t get the job done where he’s hoping to go.
9. Chris Carpenter / RP/SP / Carpenter’s command has improved since his college days, but is no better than average on a good day. He seems to project better as a reliever, where his exciting fastball and slider can stand out.
10. DJ LeMahieu / 2B / If nothing else, LeMahieu proved to be a tough out in 2010, contributing to his .314 batting average. He has a solid line-drive swing and some are projecting a bit of power, but he hasn’t shown any evidence yet.
Those descriptions are actually on the negative side for what you read about these guys, but it’s good to see the concerns together with all the adulation that we’ve already seen. Interestingly, the Cubs’ list is paired with the Cardinals’ list – a system roundly believed to be well below the Cubs – and, yet, the Cardinals does not contain the consistent – shall we say – even-handedness seen in the Cubs’ list. I’m not calling it a conspiracy, just pointing it out (the Cubs players’ descriptions generally all follow the “there are some good things about him, but he’s also got big flaws” formula, while the Cardinals players’ descriptions generally all follow the “some people don’t like some things about this player, but he’s got a lot of potential and could break out” formula).