Are we ready to turn the page? Discuss something else? I am.

Today, Baseball America finally released its top 100 prospects for 2012, and it more generous to the Cubs than previously-released 2012 top prospects lists. While the big three – Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez – all make an appearance, the Cubs pick up a fourth in outfielder Matt Szczur, on whom BA’s Jim Callis is higher than most others.

Jackson comes in at 32nd, which is becoming a near consensus spot for him. Rizzo is next at 47, and Baez is at 61.

Szczur is a surprise at 64, as he didn’t merit a ton of top 100 consideration from guys like Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law, each of whom is plenty down on Szczur for their own reasons. BA, however, calls it like they see it on the former Villanova football player:



“Exciting high-risk, high-reward talent who should take off with football in his rearview mirror.”

Swell.

Szczur, 22, is one of those incredibly athletic kids, who simply needs to show that he can play baseball at a high level. He struggled last year after a promotion to High-A Daytona, but it was a very, very long year for him – and it was his first away from football. Already on the 40-man roster thanks to a unique contract situation (required to sign him away from football), the Cubs would be happy to see Szczur progress rapidly. Even still, expecting to see him in 2012 in Chicago would be overly-optimistic.

Szczur will, obviously, be one of many prospects to watch this year. The Cubs’ superior depth, if not clear top-level talent, could make for a very exciting 2012 season, with a number of breakout stars.

Or, it could be one big kick in the crotch of injuries, ineffectiveness, and demotions. Such is the prospecting game.

(And, for those of you not entirely ready to turn the page on the Theo compensation drama, here’s one apropos slice: BA’s Jim Callis says Chris Carpenter, who was ranked 13th in the Cubs’ system by BA (higher in some rankings, lower in others), would be ranked somewhere in the teens in the Red Sox’s system.)






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