In case you haven’t already received your fill of Chicago Cubs prospects lists, Fangraphs is at the ready with another – this one post-Garza, but pre-Gorzelanny trade.
1. Brett Jackson, OF
2. Trey McNutt, RHP
3. Chris Carpenter, RHP
4. Josh Vitters, 3B
5. Jay Jackson, RHP
6. Rafael Dolis, RHP
7. Hayden Simpson, RHP
8. Robinson Lopez, RHP
9. Reggie Golden, OF
10. Austin Reed, RHP
The list is obviously pitcher-heavy, with Fangraphs like guys like Dolis and Reed more than other rankings services, and ranking guys like Carpenter and Jackson higher than most others. The nice thing about Fangraphs’ list is they offer a healthy discussion/projection for each player. Here are a couple, though they’re all worth reading:
Jackson, 22, has the potential to be an All-Star outfielder and a 20-20 threat. He split the year between high-A and double-A and hit .297/.395/.493 in 491 at-bats. His success in pro ball has been aided by high BABIPs, never posting a rate below .352. The former No. 1 draft pick used his plus bat speed to post ISO rates of .202 in high-A and .189 in double-A. Jackson strikes out a ton (27.6 K% at the senior level) but gets on base at a solid clip (11.2 BB%). He definitely had a pull-oriented approach when I saw him. Jackson showed a nice, quiet stance – there is not much going on, which means there is less of a chance for something to go wrong and cause him to fall into a prolonged slump based on mechanical issues. Lowering his hands a bit might help eliminate some of the loop in his swing. Defensively, he can handle center field but may end up in left field. He’s still improving his reads and routes, and his arm strength is just average.
Like a number of the club’s top prospects, Vitters split the 2010 season between high-A and double-A. A .341 BABIP helped him hit .291/.350/.445 in 110 at-bats at the lower level before moving up to double-A where he hit just .223/.292/.383 in 206 at-bats. Vitters almost doubled his walk rate from ’09 to 5.7 BB% in 2010 but it’s still low. He has good power potential, thanks to solid bat speed; his ISO rate was .160 in double-A. Vitters has a pretty basic stance. He does a nice job of staying quiet and he looks well balanced. He definitely has good bat speed and can really turn on pitches but I’d raise his front (left) elbow up a bit to help level out his swing. Defensively, he has a strong arm but his range and foot work at the hot corner needs work. Vitters looks like he could/should be a really good hitter. If a coach can finally get through to him with preaching patience and pitch selection, this former No. 1 pick could really explode. As it stands, he’s one of the more frustrating prospects in baseball.
Interesting/disconcerting to read that both Jackson and Vitters had extremely high BABIP last year, which is usually the product of luck (though it is also a product of hitting more line drives than others). Hopefully it doesn’t mean we will see significant regression next year.