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).

  • roughriider

    Matt Szczur was invited to the Senior Bowl and has accepted.

    In case you don’t know about Szczur, He was drafted as an outfielder in the 5th round by the Cubs in the 2010 draft. He played in 25 games before returning to Villanova for football. He hit a combined .347 with 35 hits. He had a 21 game hitting streak. He also missed part of the 2010 Villanova Baseball season to donate bone marrow. By all indications a class act with real talent.

    He is to recieve a $500.00 bonus if he gives up Football to play baseball and has until the NFL scouting combine in Febuary to decide. Apparently Football is his first choice.
    He has suggested that if he could be drafted in the first 5 rounds by the NFL he will play football.

    I hate to admit it and I’m being selfish but I’m hoping that he doesn’t do well in the senior bowl. He’s the type of person and player I would love to see play for the Cubs.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    All the ratings I’ve seen so far this offseason have one thing in common. Everyone seems to agree that the Cubs’ system has ZERO 5-star, can’t miss prospects.

  • roughriider

    No, the Cubs probably don’t have any (what the so called experts call) “5-star, can’t miss prospects”. There have been many many of those “5-star, can’t miss prospects” that missed. I would take a good, hard working, willing to listen and learn, with good character prospect any day. The can’t miss prospects seem to believe that they can get by on God given talent alone. Just because talent got you drafted or signed doesn’t mean you will make it to the Majors. It’s takes hard work to get there and harder yet to stay there.

    You never know where talent can come from. Mark Grace was a 24th round pick. Mark Pawaleck was a 1st round pick.

    • Bric

      Ditto for Vitters and Samardjia. The question I always have is even though the Yankees and RedSox are always drafting dead last every year they never seem to run out of 5 star prospects that they don’t hesitate to trade. Hendry on the other hand takes the “quantity of quality” approach. Apparently he thinks having nine useless youngers relievers is better than five. More guys to blow a game in the seventh inning. Also, apparently eight utility infielders who’ll bat .217 is better than three, even though there’s no spot for them on the team anyway. Sheesh.

  • roughriider

    I like DJ LeMahieu.

  • BT

    That list is hilarious. Not the order, but the descriptions. I’m fairly certain “Matt Hagan” is the pen name of Tony LaRussa.

    • Ace

      I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be alone.

      • KB

        I’m kind of surprised to hear 2 thoughtful, intelligent guys say that.
        I thought the review was quite even-handed…the Cubs DON”T have any 5-star prospects, so it’s not going to make it any better for some writer to say we do.
        The bits about Vitters’s egregious lack of plate discipline, and Brett Jackson’s “toolsy approach perhaps not translating to MLB” are old hat, and are mentioned by EVERY scouting report. He’s not Cub-bashing, he’s being honest.

        Seemed like a good article, to me.

        • Ace

          I’m not saying he’s wrong in his evaluation of the Cubs’ players (overly harsh? maybe, but not necessarily wrong). I’m saying when you compare how each description is written for the Cubs players to how they are written for the Cardinals players, something really jumps out at you.

          • Bric

            I agree the wording was a little overly negative but the question marks he brings up are valid. I often wonder if Hendry’s rhetoric about the prospects is more for us fans than the other GMs. Especially guys like McNutt and Guyer. Neither will ever do anything in the bigs but Hendry makes a point to tell the media McNutt’s “untouchable”. The only guys laughing are the Rays. They’re probably thinking “Who the hell are you talking to?- we don’t want and didn’t ask for him anyway.” We have a politician/ used cars salesman for a GM.