He’s been teasing at it for a few days now, but Minor League Ball’s John Sickels has finally released his top 20 (but it goes beyond that) Chicago Cubs prospect list for the post-2012 period. And it’s dripping with good news for Cubs fans.
First, and foremost, Sickels’ top 20 list, together with grades (which are, for now, preliminary):
1) Javier Baez, SS, Grade A
2) Albert Almora, OF, Grade B+
3) Jorge Soler, OF, Grade B+
4) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Grade B
5) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Grade B-
6) Brett Jackson, OF, Grade B-
7) Dillon Maples, RHP, Grade B-
8) Christian Villanueva, 3B, Grade B-
9) Matt Szczur, OF, Grade B-
10) Pierce Johnson, RHP, Grade B-
11) Gioskar Amaya, 2B, Grade B-
12) Duane Underwood, RHP, Grade B-
13) Josh Vitters, 3B, Grade C+
14) Junior Lake, SS, Grade C+
15) Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Grade C+
16) Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP, Grade C+
17) Paul Blackburn, RHP, Grade C+
18) Marco Hernandez, SS, Grade C+
19) Arismendy Alcantara, SS, Grade C+
20) Barret Loux, RHP, Grade C+
Sickels adds that the Cubs have nine additional C+ prospects: Michael Jensen, RHP; Kyle Hendricks, RHP; Trey McNutt, RHP; Ryan McNeil, RHP; Starling Peralta, RHP; Ronald Torreyes, 2B; Logan Watkins, 2B; Ben Wells, RHP; Tony Zych, RHP. Further, there are others who just missed inclusion: Jose Arias, RHP; Stephen Bruno, INF; Alberto Cabrera, RHP; Marcelo Carreno, RHP; Shawon Dunston, OF; Jae-Hoon Ha, OF; Trey Martin, OF; Brooks Raley, LHP; Jose Rosario, RHP; Tim Saunders, INF; Tayler Scott, RHP; Nick Struck, RHP, Robert Whitenack, RHP.
The article is well worth a read, as it is a very comprehensive take, and includes thoughts on each of the top 20.
Instant reactions: Paniagua seems low, surprised (but not disagreeing) to see Amaya so far ahead of Hernandez, nice to see newly-added Loux make the cut, and Sickels really likes Vogelbach and Baez.
Sickels also offered some thoughts on the state of the system, and it’s about what you’d expect after seeing a list like that:
I knew the Cubs system had improved a lot over the last year or two, but I don’t think I truly grasped the amount of depth they’ve developed (especially at the lower levels) until I got into the analysis.
At the top you have Baez, Soler, and Almora, all three with obvious star/superstar potential. Vogelbach’s bad body generates more skepticism, but the guy has got a good shot at being a devastating hitter. There is a lot of depth beyond the top group, much of it products of the Latin American operation, especially in the infield.
Sickels goes on from there to note the difficulties on the mound in the system, but says there’s a lot of raw talent there. Good read all around.