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javier baez daytona cubsToday, Baseball America’s Jim Callis entered the 2012/2013 prospect ranking season with his top ten Chicago Cubs prospects. The list, at this point in the year, is more of a pre-2013 list than a post-2012 list, but, ah, they’re all the same.

There are only a couple surprises in Callis’ entry, which generally solidifies the guys at the front end of the Cubs’ system. First, the list:

1. Javier Baez, ss

2. Albert Almora, of

3. Jorge Soler, of

4. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp

5. Brett Jackson, of

6. Pierce Johnson, rhp

7. Dan Vogelbach, 1b

8. Jeimer Candelario, 3b

9. Kyuji Fujikawa, rhp

10. Arismendy Alcantara, ss

The top four are pretty consistent, in that order, throughout most publications at this point, and I think it’s fair. You also regularly see Vogelbach in the top seven or so, with Candelario, Jackson, and Johnson all frequently in the top ten as well. All in all, it’s a fairly expected list.

Until you get to the last two spots, that is. Now, I’m not going to criticize Callis for including Fujikawa – I certainly understand why he did – but I’m not crazy about seeing 32-year-old, 10-year-veterans on a Cubs prospect list. Mostly that’s just a selfish thing: I want to know which other actual Cubs prospect Callis would have included in the top ten. As for Alcantara, he’s been mentioned as a sleeper prospect for the better part of a year now, and is in the top 25 on most lists, but this is a pretty lofty ranking for the less-heralded shortstop prospect in the Cubs’ system.

Ultimately, I can’t really argue with any of the inclusions, though I continue to suspect that, by this time next year, we will all be convinced that Juan Carlos Paniagua probably should have been a consensus top ten prospect at this time. You’ll also note that Matt Szczur does not feature, just a year after being a top 100 overall prospect to Callis. The fact that he didn’t have a disastrous 2012 season (and, instead, simply didn’t have a break-out) suggests that the top 100 ranking was pretty much all projection.

The Baseball America rankings also come with a narrative, and some bonus ranking material. The narrative pretty much covers what you would expect it to (new front office, lots of organizational change, added prospects, etc.), but it is not nearly as glowing as others have been, with respect to the improvement of the system. I wonder if that will be reflected in the organizational rankings, which we’ll see in a little while.

As for the bonus ranking material, it’s always pretty fun. BA ranks things like “best arm,” “best hitter for average,” “best curveball,” etc. Among the ones that stuck out to me (though you should check them all): best fastball AND best curveball went to Arodys Vizcaino. Best athlete went to Matt Szczur. And best defensive infielder went to …

… wait for it …

Javier Baez. Wrap your head around the possibilities there for a moment. Callis was subsequently asked about that incredible ranking on Twitter, and he responded, “Tremendous instincts, better than expected. Probably winds up at 3B.” I don’t take that as a knock, either. Instead, I take it as a supplement to the “best defensive infielder” thing, which suggests Baez has Gold Glove upside at third base.

And that’s assuming he doesn’t stick at short, though it’s becoming increasingly possible that he could stick at short. Kid is a stud.

One last notable bit: Callis has Vizcaino in the future rotation, and Paniagua in the future bullpen. Those are obviously just way-far-out guesses, but that’s the reverse of what the general, collective wisdom has been about those two.

UPDATE: Luke was able to offer up his thoughts below …

  • 1,2,3: No surprise here. These three will continue to be the top three on virtually every Cubs Top Prospects list all winter. The order may vary, but Baez, Almora, and Soler will continue to be the headliners. All three are very solid contenders to rank among the league’s Top 100.
  • 4: Another Top 100 contender. If Vizcaino comes back healthy and as a starter, you can make a case that he should top this list.
  • 5: Yes, he struggled in the majors and struck out at a sickening pace while in Iowa last year. He also has maintains a high OBP to go with above average speed and a good enough arm to play anywhere in the outfield. At worst I think he’s a fourth outfielder in the majors, but I have not given up on him as a league average starter in center field.
  • 6: This is high praise for Johnson, and that’s a good sign. It will be interesting to see how polished he is next season.
  • 7: Vogelbach is best known and earns this rank for his bat, but it is too early to give up on his glove. First is the only position he can handle and he’ll never be as good as Rizzo, but I think he has a chance to be around average. Regardless, he’ll go has high as his bat can take him.
  • 8: Very high praise for Candelario, and it appears BA thinks he can stay at third. That is also a good sign. Switch hitters with both patience and power are a nice asset to have, and that is exactly what the Cubs appear to have in Candelario.
  • 9: Fujikawa is a safe bet to open the season as the major league set up man, and could finish the year as the closer. And he is only ninth on this list. That should leave you feeling very good about the state of the farm system.
  • 10: Bit of a surprise here. Alcantara no doubt gets a boost because he is a true shortstop, but even so this feels a touch high to me. Baseball America has a bit of a tendency to fall in love with raw, toolsy guys sometimes, and I suspect that may be the case here. I like Alcantara a lot, but not quite this much.
  • Projected 2016 Lineup: Baez will not push Castro to second. If anyone is going to second, it would be Baez. Castro has a much, much higher defensive ceiling at short. Barring a major injury, I don’t see him leaving that position for any prospect currently in baseball.
  • The real story here is the projection of Candelario at third. That is a tremendous vote of confidence in his ability to handle the position defensively.
  • hansman1982

    Their 2016 Lineup is intriguing as well with Castro at 2nd and Baez at SS.

    • Spriggs

      I’ve been hoping to see this!

      • JoeyCollins

        Why? Just Curious?

        • Spriggs

          Well, I like offense, and this projected 2016 line up could be a terrific one. I would love to see Barney replaced by a good offensive 2nd baseman with a nice glove. Castro could be all that, and more. Though I do not really expect to see Baez take SS from Castro, if it happened, it would also imply that one of Vitters, Candelario (in this instance) took over 3rd with an exclamation point.

          • Rcleven

            Barney still could be “that” player.
            IF he can become just a little more selective. It’s a big if. Hitting at eighth really all he has to do is raise his OBP.
            A few more walks and ?
            Barney is by far the not the best hitter but he doesn’t have to be. If the Cubs had better hitting all around this would not even be an issue.

            • Spriggs

              Barney will probably never be confused with a good offensive 2nd baseman — and what’s worse is that gus like him almost always end up hitting 2nd a lot.

          • JoeyCollins

            I’m right with you on most all of that, possibly a little higher on Barney but not much really. Wasn’t sure if the excitement was for Castro to second, or just the lineup in general. Some people seem to look for any reason to move him, either off SS or in trade, and i just don’t see either happening.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I don’t see it. Castro has a Gold Glove ceiling defensively at short. Baez doesn’t. I don’t see Baez pushing Castro to second.

      I do see Baez pushing Castro out of the middle of the lineup, but not out of short.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        You really have to take those lineup things with a huge grain of salt. Callis probably just wanted a way to get Candelario in there.

      • King Jeff

        Baez looks really smooth at shortstop and has a pretty good arm. He makes it look very effortless, don’t sell him too short. I do think Castro projects better, but Baez isn’t that far behind.

  • Spriggs

    I love that projected 2016 lineup!!!

  • RIch

    wow just 36 months to go for excitement

  • Rcleven

    ” I wonder if that will be reflected in the organizational rankings, which we’ll see in a little while.”

    The other day (reflected in tweet) he had them at about 12ish in MLB.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, RC. That’s pretty much exactly what I was wondering – what he wrote didn’t sound like someone who was going to put them in the top 10.

    • Jack Weiland

      12 seems unfairly low, especially if you’re going to consider a 32 year old ML ready closer type reliever for the list.

      I don’t think it’s a top 5 farm, but it’s closer to that than it is to 12.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I don’t think any of the popular sites (BA, ESPN, BP, MinorLeagueBall, Fangraphs, MLB) will have the Cubs better than 8…most will be closer to 12.

        • Jack Weiland

          I think 8-10 is where I would have them.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            That’s been my expectation.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Same.

              • Kramden

                Well, wherever Callis ranks them now it’s a huge improvement to where we’re all used to seeing them ranked.

                I’d say after this next draft, the Cubs will move into the top 10 and with another lousy season and a subsequently advantageous draft position next year they should rank in the top 5.

                They do that combined with a few key trades/FA signings along the way and the Cubs will be a very good team for a very long time thereafter.

        • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          Personally, I think the pitcher we most likely take in the draft along with whatever trades are available put us into the top 10. I am like you guys and thought we should be hovering around 10 on the good side, but everyone has an opinion. Once we have pitching and another year under our belt we should be where we wanted from an from an organizational standpoint. Our best talent should be close if not at AA/AAA next year. We should be able to use them in trades for something useful if we feel it is best.

      • Edwin

        It’s probably low for similar reasons it was low last season. Almost all of the Cubs more interesting talent is still at the A/A+ level, which is still a ways off from solid projection.

        • Rcleven

          From where we where to where we are? I’ll call that advancement.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          And that’s a fair knock right now.

          • Wilbur

            Agreed

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

        I’m not sure there’s any practical difference between 8th and 20th.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Poppycock. 8th and 10th? Sure. But a sea of 11 teams in between? I think rankings services can do a liiiitle bit of work in there and get the gist.

          • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

            It’s not the work that the rankings are doing. It’s just that like so much else in baseball, it’s a pronounced bell curve. There’s a few teams with amazing systems, a few teams with horrible farm systems, and everyone else has the same mass of generic guys with a few future stars sprinkled in.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Shrug. The 20th ranked org isn’t going to have a top four like the Cubs.

              Also: I got to say poppycock.

              • hansman1982

                Sometimes Kyle says things just for pure shock value.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              But even by your bell-curve analogy (which makes sense to me), we probably are talking about one standard deviation away (67th percentile vs. 33rd percentile). I’ll agree that it’s not a huge difference and it will not always mean anything, but most of the time it does mean something. (This is the “tyranny of the null hypothesis”: we often forget that just because we cannot prove a difference in a particular pairwise comparison that we haven’t shown that there is no difference!)

              That said, I agree entirely that what’s really important is being in one tail or the other. And even being in the good tail often depends heavily on one stud who might break.

              • Pat

                Wouldn’t it be 16th percentile vs. 83rd? The first deviation being the middle 66 percent? It’s entirely possible I have this wrong, but that is the way it was explained to me at one point.

                • Pat

                  Nevermind, I think I’m picturing the first two combined.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    No, it is my bad: I didn’t type my thought out correctly: 67% and 33% are both one standard deviation away from the mean, not each other! (You know, one part of your brain says “Sentence A” and another part says “Sentence B” and you write a hybrid that’s wrong….)

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Very promising. I can’t wait to see our top ten after the draft… Hopefully we see a LHP or two added to that list in the coming year.

  • Deez

    32 year old as a prospect!?

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      MLB considers him a rookie, so he’s eligible for ranking.

    • AB

      Fukudome was on quite a few prospect lists when the Cubs signed him.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I don’t see Brett Jackson ever making it and I don’t like Fujikawa on the list at all.

  • Edwin

    The 2016 lineup is quite the pipe dream.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      They always are. That’s not a hard prediction, but more of a way of allowing fans to comparatively think about the players currently in the system.

      • Webb

        I’m confused. Why isn’t Giancarlo Stanton projected in left field?

        • JoeyCollins

          And Mike Olt at 3rd with David Price as our ace?

  • North Side Irish

    Callis is also doing a chat for subscribers in a few minutes…hoping to hear about some of the prospects who just missed the list, especially Underwood. His upside intrigues me for some reason.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If you’re able to participate and see any juicy bits, please share.

      • North Side Irish

        Taking some notes now…Callis is throwing out some crazy today and I’m trying not get too excited about it.

      • Jake

        Couple items from the chat:
        1) Callis ranked Cubs system #12 and the Prospect Handbook will be #13.
        2) Baez ranked as the #11 prospect in baseball by Callis. Didn’t say what the Handbook will have him…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Thanks, Jake. So other BA writers must have Cubs in the 14/15 range. I just don’t get that, but I guess the onus is on the young prospects to have a good year in 2013.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          If Baez can find some patience to go with that amazing bat speed, he could live up to that #11 billing.

        • JBarnes

          Nice to see him think that highly of Baez. Not to toot my own horn or anything but I’ve been saying Baez could be a top ten prospect very soon but I thought it would be closer to the middle or end of the up coming season. I love Baez but I’m actually more excited to see how much Soler improves and moves up after this season…I think he could be in Chicago a lot sooner rather than later. Sucks that we have reason to be more excited about the minor league season but a year from now our system could be the talk of the league.

    • ssckelley

      Someone please ask him who would have been his #10 had the Cubs not signed Fujikawa.

      • Jack Weiland

        #11, 12 and 13 are (in order): Paniagua, Villanueva and Cabrera

  • Corey

    I Hope Barney finds a bat this upcoming season, the 3rd base prospect craps out, Baez moves to 3rd. I also like The Jesus, but I don’t think he’s the future. Everything else is solid.

    barney and castro could end up being a good duo, why mess with it now.

    • BWA

      Or Barney Finds a Bat and Candelario doesn’t crap out. Then we trade Him or Baez for young Major League Talent and let the other play third.

  • ETS

    has any site every ranked the prospect rankers by comparing past prospect rankings from various sites to future WAR generated by those once prospects?

    I’d be curious to see results.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I haven’t seen anything like that, but, man, I, too, would love to see that kind of study. (Wow, that’s a lot of consecutive – but correct – commas.)

      Of course, the rankers (the people) at the entities change pretty regularly.

      • ETS

        Maybe if I get some spare time…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Your best bet to keep it reasonable would be to keep it to a pretty short window – three year period, maybe, from, say, 2004 to 2006? – and a limited number of publications. Of course, to go back as far as you’d need to, there probably won’t be too many publications to work with anyway.

          • hansman1982

            There is one out there that does something similar.

            Basically it looks at the top-100 rankings and determines future WAR. I will see if I can find it again.

          • hansman1982

            Ok, I want to say this is what I was seeing before:

            http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/messages/chrono/40396825/0/0/40401970#ID40401970

            Unfortunately, without the pictures (apparently taken down) it doesn’t say much anymore.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          As someone who has done lots of data collecting, I would also snag any information on injuries. That will be one of the first questions that comes up: how often guys “underperformed” because they got hurt vs. how often they simply did not live up to expectations.

          I would think that pitchers in particular run into this. (Of course, this might result in finding that guys like Callis do a better job of projecting position players than pitchers, or that some guys do better jobs of projecting pitchers than do others.)

          • ETS

            Depends on if you consider propensity to injury as something that prospect list makers can perceive or not.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’d like to give a shout-out to all of those hard-working guys getting the job done, who don’t get the spotlight shown on them:

    Greg Rohan
    Jonathan Mota
    Logan Watkins
    Nelson Perez
    Timothy Saunders
    Dustin Geiger
    Stephen Bruno

    • CubFan Paul

      Watkins would be in my Top 10. He had a career year last year. I hope he gets a legit shot this Spring to unseat Barney.

      • Andrew

        I’d like to see Watkins too but he needs time at AAA to see if he can develop some more power and generally improve more. Theo and crew like to see a full year at AAA too so I doubt we see him until late in the year.

        • CubFan Paul

          Watkins’ SLG% the last 3 years:
          2012: .422
          2011: .402
          2010: .337

          He also had his highest BA, OBP, and BB%. Watkins definitely developed more power and generally improved overall in 2012. If the kid shows up to camp and hits plus flashes the glove (w/Sveum’s positioning), he should skip AAA. The ML team is in dire need of offense.

          • MichCubFan

            It is more important for Watkins to get more time to develop in triple-A than it is for the Cubs to use his production at the major league level. Darwin Barney should get more time to play while we see what Watkins does in triple-A.

            I could see Barney as trade bait, a right-handed platoon-mate/utility infielder, or even outlasting Watkins as the starting second-baseman.

    • JBarnes

      I like Rohan and Geiger…both big bodied 3B/1B types that can flat out rake. Got to see them both a lot in Peoria and turned out to be some of my favorite guys to watch on and off the field.

  • Don

    Slam dunk for Baez being number one. This kid is a stud!!! His bat speed is unbelievable. He will also hit for power in the majors. He should be considered intouchable in any
    trade discussions including Stanton.

    • Spriggs

      There are still questions about patience and pitch recognition. If he can develop in those areas, there is no limit! The first time I saw his swing – I was in complete awe. Still am. But those are big questions remaining to be answered in his favor.

      • King Jeff

        His swing is awesome, but I like him because he does whatever the f*** he wants to do.

    • sclem21

      hahaha. lets just be clear that Stanton would be ranked ahead of Baez in any list. Not that Stanton is going to get moved, but that age/contract/power combo would absolutely include Baez if trading for him was even on the table…and honestly any conversation about Stanton not including Baez is a joke.

      • Spriggs

        I thought he was talking about the Cubs prospect list… to be fair.

  • Jon

    If Rizzo were to start the season at AAA again.. Who would be ranked
    Higher. Him or Baez

    • hansman1982

      If he managed to maintain rookie status and STILL produce similarily to 2012? Rizzo.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      Rizzo AINEC.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Hey Luke,

    Not to be a buzz-killer or anything, but here is a serious question. What is the difference between 19-year old Javier Baez and 19-year old Corey Patterson? One posted a .320/.358/.592 line in his age 19 season in A-level ball. The other posted a .294/.346/.543 line at the same age season (being only 3 months younger) and at A-level. That’s a slightly higher isoD from the latter (Baez), but not a particularly encouraging one.

    Lack of a batting eye prevented Patterson from becoming an excellent player, or even a good one, really. The promises that he’d “learn” the strike zone never panned out. Does Baez show any evidence of knowing the strike zone?

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I feel like the hype train is moving too fast with Baez. 3.8% walk rate and about 20% K rate in Peoria last year. I most definitely would not have him as the #11 prospect in all of baseball.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I wouldn’t either, but if my scouts were telling me, “this kid not only can stick at short, he looks like he could be above average there,” and suddenly I’d be a hell of a lot higher on him, K/BB problems or not.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          True. I guess I’m still not thinking of him in that mold

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          And he does have one near-elite level tool. His bat speed is insane.

          • MichiganGoat

            I was very impressed with that when I saw him but as with Vitters he will need to learn which pitch to swing at to drive because he appears he can get to any pitch thrown to him. Next year will be huge for his development hopefully he learns how to be more selective.

          • Timothy Scarbrough

            If Baez’s bat speed isn’t an elite tool, what is? I’m legitimately curious here.

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

              Well, technically bat speed isn’t a tool.

              But an elite is 80 on the 20-80 scale, which means there is arguably no one better than you in professional baseball. Think Stanton’s power or Billy Hamilton’s base-stealing or Ichiro’s hit tool (in his prime).

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Does “elite” always = 80?

                I assumed Luke meant power.

                • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                  I mean, words can mean whatever we want them to mean. But traditionally, “elite” when used in a scouting context means 80.

                  60 = plus
                  70 = plus-plus
                  80 = elite

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    That was my question – I don’t know that I ever knew that.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      Kind of going on a tangent, but there’s also a certain about of what I like to call “creep” in prospect discussions. If you have 10 scouting reports on a guy, one says he’s got a 50 in some tool, 8 say 60, and one says 80, there’s only one that most fans will be quoting for the next three years.

                      True 80s are extremely rare. Baez’s ceiling is that of a 70/70 hitter, which is something that will get you to the hall of fame if you do it long enough.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Sure. And I imagine that consensus 80s are extraordinarily rare.

        • Diamond Don

          Good point Brett!! Forgot to mention that his defense is pretty good at ss. I still think with his potential power his position will be at 3rd, especially if Castro continues to improve his defense as he has shown.

      • Marc

        I kinda sorta agree with the hype train moving too fast, but the minors overall is a little down right now so guys like Baez can creep up on lists quickly. It’s annoying a little, but the thing to take out of this is that the Cubs have a pretty badass talent if he works out.

        He has more swing and miss than I would like for this supposed 70 hit tool of his. OTOH, if he can handle a middle infield position, keep hitting with power, and not kill his other numbers with a bad approach then Cubs win.

    • Andrew

      From what I’ve understood, stats in Low A ball simply aren’t that predictive and that looking at tools is more important. I think it’s worth noting that this organization stresses plate discipline a lot more than previous regimes.

    • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

      Two differences as I see them:

      1. Baez may actually stick at shortstop, where the offensive threshold for productivity is less than anywhere in the outfield.

      2. Baez will not be rushed as Patterson clearly was. Patterson skipped A+ ball and was in the majors at twenty My guess is that he won’t see the show until the front office sees that he can control the strike zone in the upper levels of the minors. My guess is that Baez is in AA by the end of his age 20 season but probably not higher.

      • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

        Also, Baez’s .294/.346/.543 slash line includes 86 PA’s in A+ ball. He actually hit better than Patterson in the MWL according to his slash stats, For whatever those stats are worth.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. Like I said in his Prospects’ Progress, I’m still very high on Baez, but that complete lack of walks is a tremendous concern.

      To answer your question, though, the biggest difference between Patterson and Baez is that Baez is in Epstein’s system. He is going to have patience, discipline, and OBP drilled into him at every step of the organization, and if he doesn’t get the message he’ll probably be dealt while his value is near it’s peak.

      Neither of those were the case with Patterson in the Hendry system.

      That may seem like a subtle distinction, but it is a critical one.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, Baez had a 5.8%ish walk rate in Daytona…would MUCH prefer to see that climb to 8% or more this season.

        He may have a great knowledge of the strike zone but when you have spent your whole life hacking at anything close to it to make the money he has, you are going to swing first and take 2nd.

        • ari gold

          The question is how many of those walks in Daytona were intentional? Do they even walk guys intentionally that much in the minors anyways?

    • hansman1982

      I’m not sure that Patterson “didn’t know the strike zone”. Age 20 and 21 seasons he posted a 8 and 7% walk rate. Not spectacular but it still should have put him with an additional 1.5-2 percentage points worth of walks in MLB. Good for an extra 15-20 walks in his first full year.

      Starting off not spectacular and combining that with an organization that didn’t preach drawing walks as useful means you are going to be swinging the bat more often to get on base.

      Was he ever going to be a 10-12% BB guy, even in the Red Sox organization, probably not.

      • Spriggs

        And I am not sure that Baez doesn’t know the strike zone either. I may be nit-picking, but to me, it’s more about pitch recognition and being overaggressive – than it is about knowing the zone. He gets fooled a lot. He is commits to swinging too early. He wants to hit the ball 500 feet every time he’s up. Once he slows things down, I think he can be the superstar many think he could become.

        • MichiganGoat

          I do know if he gets fooled he just has the ability to reach any pitch he sees, once he realizes/learns when he should go after a pitch and when to let it pass his ceiling is amazing. But that goes back to Doc’s batters eye discussion – can that ever be learned?

          • MichiganGoat

            Edit button: I DON’T know if he gets fooled

            • Spriggs

              I was thinking more of the times I’ve seen him swing and miss an outside breaking pitch by a foot or two — or when he swings WAAAAY early on an offspeed pitch. He got fooled a lot in the games I saw.

              • JBarnes

                I dont think its him being fooled, i think its him being over agressive. He doesnt lack confidence by any means so i think he believes he can hit anything that gets thrown at him. The combination of his bat speed and over agressiveness makes him suceptible to off speed pitches. Also as someone else stated he’s well aware of the long ball and “big play.” I remember one at bat in Peoria where the bases were loaded and he had a full count or at least 2 strikes on him. He swung so hard at the 3rd strike that he stumbled in the batters box…it was obvious he had decided to swing before the pitch was thrown. His over agressive approach in this at bat could have been aided by the large crowd cheering him on as it was one of his first games in Peoria.

                On a different note if anyone is in the area of one of his teams this year i suggest you try to make it to a BP session. You can read stories about his bat speed all day long but until you see it in person, theres just no comparison. His first day in Peoria he had the entire stadium stopped and watching him…didnt dissappoint. Sent one to dead center OVER the batters eye and one off the top of a pole that holds the netting up to keep balls out of the road. The first one was easily 450+ and the second had to be every bit of 475 if not more and it was HIGH in the air.

                • Spriggs

                  I agree, JBarnes. He is overaggressive. And can look pretty bad on offspeed/breaking pitches. I’ve seen the overswing and lose his balance thing too… I believe if he slows down his approach he will be able to better recognize the junk that is getting him out now.

          • hansman1982

            Doc will say no. I say that wherever they are at can be honed. Meaning, if you have the ability to get a 15% BB rate but are always being told to swing early and often, it won’t be that high. If you are taught and preached to about paitience and finding your pitch to drive it will go a few percentage points higher.

            Take Doc’s Corey Patterson example. In the minors he had an 8 and 7% BB rate in back to back seasons before reaching the bigs. MLE calculators showed that he should have been walking at about 6-7% of the time, instead, because he was in a system that didn’t value walks, he was down around 4.5%.

            Does any of this make sense? Basically, to an extent, no – guys will be low, medium or high walkers – (A,B,C grade levels) – training and development will make them range from A+ to A- but won’t take a B and turn them into an A.

            • Drew7

              “Basically, to an extent, no – guys will be low, medium or high walkers – (A,B,C grade levels) – training and development will make them range from A+ to A- but won’t take a B and turn them into an A.”

              I think that’s a perfect explanation, Hans.

            • Jack Weiland

              I buy the logic here, but I also think this topic has not been proven much in either direction. Pretending there’s a real answer here is a bit misleading.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Actually, people have researched it. The long-held idea that players draw more walks as they get older has no empirical support: most guys draw walks at the same rate (with sampling error) their entire careers. Most of the supposed cases of guys “learning” to take walks simply to hold water statistically. We did see a very rare exception in Sammy Sosa: from 1989 to 1997, he was basically Shawon Dunston; but from 1998 until the time he got beaned, he took walks over 10% of the time. For all of his slugging, he actually was the best lead-off candidate in the Cubs lineup for several years!

                Dunston also managed to show a significant decrease in his walk rate, which might sound crazy: but it started so low that actually getting lower was not easy.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I would not say “no” blankly, but it is rare that guys shift their walk rates too much. The issue comes down to why a guy is not drawing walks. If it is because he swings at non-strikes, then he’s probably not going to magically learn to distinguish strikes from non-strikes. We saw Sammy Sosa actually do that 15 years ago: and what few people appreciate is that this was a much rarer feat than his slugging! (I think that Bill James showed Sammy to have the biggest increase in walk rates of any player in the last couple of generations: ‘roids might have helped Sammy, but not swinging at pitches 2 feet outside did even more to aid him!)

              Alternatively, some guys can simply hit anything that an A-level pitcher puts into the strike zone. Unless a pitcher is completely missing, these batters are going to put the ball into play before the pitcher gets to 4 balls.

              Patterson was definitely the first type of player with the ability to make contact on just about anything A-level pitchers threw. He swung at just about everything, and at low levels, that was fine: A pitchers couldn’t throw stuff that he couldn’t eventually hit. Upper level pitchers could. (I saw Corey play a couple of games for the Lansing Lugnuts, and I remember him tomahawking a pitch in one AB and golfing one in another: it looked good, but boded poorly.)

              I honestly don’t know which into which camp Baez falls. I’m hoping that it’s the latter, but I’m fearing that it’s the former.

              • Marc

                The good thing is that he’s probably in better hands than Patterson was.

        • hansman1982

          I think Epstein will promote Baez until he fails this year, short of a promotion to MLB (which would be insane (although, if he keeps mashing up through 3 levels, maybe we are the ones who need to adjust our thinking about Baez))

  • Cedlandrum

    Since the season ended I have tried to make a top ten list in my head and it changes almost every time I do. Top 4 are solid to me. 5-7 could change in order about everyday, and then the back part changes players for me everytime.

    Candelario, Underwood, Maples, Watkins, Paniagua, Villanueva, Amaya and others all have slotted into the 8-10 range for me.

    Which all this to say, the Cubs have a good problem. A lot of good young talent.

  • ssckelley

    I cannot help but be excited to hear how much everyone raves on Baez defensive skills at shortstop. What an awesome problem to have both Castro and Baez at one of the toughest positions to find a player with those kinds of offensive and defensive skills.

  • Rizzo44

    What’s the projected 2016 lineup?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      ?
      ?
      Castro
      Rizzo
      ?
      ?
      ?
      ?
      PROFIT!

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Well played…

      • Rizzo44

        Lol GOTCHA!

  • North Side Irish

    Some notes from Jim Callis’ chat:

    Panigua was #11 on the list, Christian Villanueva was #12, and Alberto Cabrera was #13.

    Sterling Peralta was on this list before the Rule 5 draft.

    Villanueva gets raves for defense and make up, but some scouts question if he has even 15 HR power

    Last year’s Cubs Top 30 was a 45 on the scouting scale, this year a 50-55

    Szczur has become a more selective hitter, has plus-plus speed, and enough raw strength to hit for avg. power, but has to translate tools into skills. Good 4th OFer likely.

    No shock, but he doesn’t see Concepcion as a good investment and wasn’t close to Top 30 list.

    Pierce Johnson could be in Wrigley by 2015 if he stays healthy…thought he would’ve gone bottom 1/3 of first round without the forearm strain

    Could argue for Lake over Candelario, but Callis him a tease. Thinks Lake moves off SS this year and his bat may benefit from a less demanding defensive position.

    Callis wouldn’t be shocked if Baez was in the Cubs 2014 lineup…calls him “crazy talented”

    “Alcantara has the tools to be Jimmy Rollins in Rollins’ prime–not saying that will happen, but the talent is there”

    Middle IF rankings after Alcantara – Watkins, M. Hernandez, Amaya…next guy might be Tim Saunders

    #s 1-2-3 could have gone in any order. Almora has highest floor and worst tools. Some scouts say Soler has higher ceiling than Baez

    Callis has the farm system ranked #12. Cubs are #13 in the handbook rankings

    Cubs wouldn’t get much in return if they traded Vogelbach before he gets to full season ball, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how good a hitter he is.

    Callis has Baez as the #11 prospect overall

    Baez over Lindor long-term

    Plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Underwood…no make up or work ethic questions

    Nick Struck, Stephen Bruno, Dae-Eun Rhee, Dunston Jr., Ha are not Top 30

    Vogelbach over CJ Cron as a hitter and defender…Vogelbach more power…both are DHs

    Doesn’t think the Cubs would make the Garza trade again

    Top 4 should make Top 100 list…Jackson may sneak on to the end.

    Xander Bogaerts over Baez

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Peralta was on the Top 10? Or the Top 30?

      I’ll buy Top 30 easily, but I have a hard time believing he was on the Cubs’ Top 10.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Yeah, that Alcantara comparison is an interesting one. Hadn’t heard he had hands that good. Really looking forward to seeing Johnson, Underwood, Panigua, Maples, and Vizcaino this year. If even 2 of them live up to what we think, we will be in good shape. Vizcaino out of the pen isn’t horrible to imagine either. Not surprised on the Garza talk either.

      • North Side Irish

        I’m not sure…but I have to assume it was Top 30. The question was about who Fujikawa bumped from the Top 10.

        “Paniagua would have been No. 10 (though I also considered Villanueva) if Fujikawa hadn’t just snuck in under our transaction deadline. His addition made up for the loss of Starling Peralta in the Rule 5 draft. I had Peralta toward the end of the list.”

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Ok, that makes sense.

          Thanks for posting this. Awesome stuff.

          • North Side Irish

            First time I read his reply I was confused…it sounded like he meant Peralta was #10 which made no sense.

            In general I think BA’s stuff tends to be a little overly positive, but right now that’s a lot more fun than following the big league club.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Beautiful. Thanks, NSI. Kind of love hearing that Struck/Bruno/Rhee/Dunston/Ha didn’t make top 30, because they’re not nobodies. Seems like a much, much, much deeper system than it was even two years ago. We’ll always have to remember that some of that credit goes to guys in the Hendry regime (and Hendry, too). But a lot of the credit goes to Ricketts for accepting the need to open up the amateur checkbook.

      • MichiganGoat

        If only we had a few more years to spend like that before the slotting ruined all that.

        • hansman1982

          Yes…if only the new CBA would have waited 2 more years to implement the hard slotting.

          • ari gold

            The question is how many of those walks in Daytona were intentional? Do they even walk guys intentionally that much in the minors anyways?

            • hansman1982

              If you’re talking about Baez, it’s 1 in 5 total walks.

            • hansman1982

              To your other question, I was curious so I looked it up.

              NL – 1 every 154 PA
              Mexican – 161 PA
              AL – 204
              PCL – 305
              SOUL – 356
              FSL – 472
              MWL – 367
              NWL – 673
              AZL – 1358

              Frontier League – 449 (Home of the Immortal, Ben Klafczynski (anticipated to “increase” to 9999 in his 2nd season there))

              The NL has about 9 more IBB per team vs. the AL.

              • hansman1982

                The general trend is fewer IBB the lower down you go.

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      With all the pitching acquisitions this off-season I wonder if Cabrera is still a candidate to be stretched out. I see a whole lot of potential there. That slider is deadly.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I think stretching him is still the plan. I hope it works out. He has some good stuff.

    • Ben

      BTW …. don’t think the statement about Garza is fair. If he didn’t get hurt, and they had turned him into Olt/Perez from TX, I would absolutely make that trade again. 1.5 years of Garza, plus those 2 for basically Archer and Lee? Maybe I’m crazy, but I would do that.

      • Jack Weiland

        I don’t think they’d have gotten Olt/Perez, but they still might get Olt, and I would take him over the Archer/Lee combo today. But maybe I’m just crazy too.

        I do think he’s correct in that this FO wouldn’t have made that move knowing they were so far away from legitimately competing.

        • Jack Weiland

          Oh I misread that as Olt+Perez. My mistake.

    • Jack Weiland

      They seem overly tempered in their feelings about the Cubs farm … this is a system where Baez had a very strong year (to the point Callis has him #11 overall), it added Almora, Soler, Vizcaino, as well as other strong arms in Pierce Johnson, Fujikawa, etc … and it only goes from a 45 to a 50-55? That seems odd. By all measures the Cubs’ farm made great progress last year and added a bunch of very nice pieces. It still has flaws, to be sure, but … potentially only a mid-grade jump from 45 to 50? That seems crazy to me.

      • ari gold

        You gotta remember that we graduated Rizzo, and Jackson took a pretty big step back. Baez was also top 60 last year.

        • Jack Weiland

          Was Rizzo in the handbook last year? I thought he had either graduated or was part of SD at the time. I easily could be wrong there. And yes, Jackson took a big step back, but he was never at any point as highly thought of as Baez, Almora or Soler are now.

          • Jack Weiland

            I realize it’s hard to evaluate last year’s list based on what people thought then (i.e. maybe Trey McNutt is still something!) but … still. A 5 point jump? That seems silly to me.

          • Jack Weiland

            AND Jackson is still part of this year’s farm. His stock his down, but he’s still there. And Vogelbach’s stock rose a ton … the list goes on and on. This year’s farm, to me, is WAY better than it was last year.

            • North Side Irish

              Last year’s list did not include Rizzo, so I think the 10 point jump is more likely as well. But last year’s list did have Wellington Castillo at #6 and Szczur at #3, who Callis had in his top 100, so those were losses as well.

              I think the big key is that there were five players on last year’s list who were still eligible and did not make this year’s list. They’re still in the system, they’ve been replaced in the Top 10 by better prospects.

              • Jack Weiland

                I think the Szczur thing is the key for my confusion. I’m not personally very high on him, so to me it’s a negligible loss. To Callis, that might offset some of the rather impressive gains from the past year.

                Still … that seems silly to me.

    • JBarnes

      Im confused on all this Alcantara talk…guy has had over 70 errors that last two seasons between playing SS/2B/3B. I know there can be a lot of reasons for errors, especially in the minors, but my god. Also thanks for posting this stuff…great to read.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Agree with Brett. Appreciate that. That is good stuff.

  • Cedlandrum

    You know I was thinking Alcantara was a bit of a reach, but then I went back and looked at what he was doing this season. I must admit I forgot how good he was playing.

    he has to work on patience and rounding out the rough edges on D, but his speed and his bat both seemed to click this year. I am excited to see what he can do next year. If he progresses pretty quick the cubs may want to consider shifting him to 2nd.

    He may open the season at Daytona again or AA depending on where they start Baez, but I imagine that at some point the Cubs will have to figure out how to play both Alcantara and Baez at the same time in AA.

  • The Brian Roberts Trade

    I see most sites having them in the 12-15 range.

  • ETS

    Think the recent Bauer/Gregerious (sp?) trade puts more perceived value on “true shortstops” and maybe could help the trade value of like Alcantara?

  • cheryl

    My guess is that V will work heavily on his defense this next year.He’s already opened eyes with his power and becoming a better defensive player will be a major objective of one that doesn’t want to be primarily labeled a DH.

  • hansman1982

    Is it fair to say the lack of impact pitching is what is holding the Cubs back from top 7-8?

    Say, trade Soler out for a healthy Vizcaino type would that bump us or is just that we are still lacking in impact talent?

    • Miggy80

      Good point, I think we might see Lake or Vogelbach traded to net us some pitching down the line.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

    Baez is not the best defensive infielder in the system. BA likes to write provocative, attention-getting reaches once in awhile.

    • Bill

      In the two games I saw him last summer he didn’t look to have the soft hands you want from a SS. Anyway, I hope other teams think he’s a defensive gem, because that only helps his trade value.

      If his value is truly this high, then maybe it really is an opportunity to talk to th Marlins about Stanton trade, with a package from the Cubs including, Baez, Vizcaino and 2-3 other players.

  • Voice of reason

    This is great news!

    We just have to be patient and let them develop and please no trade proposals like vogelsang and soler for Stanton or upton. We need to develop our own stantons and uptons and that comes from having a bunch of different prospects instead of one or two.

    This is just what the front office planned for!

    And, no talk about bourne or some other bandaid outfielder. Just let dejesus and schierholtz and stewart muddle through the season. Well still lose 90 games, but understand that there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      If that was even a remote possibility, The front office would be running the trade proposal to South Beach, Olympic style with every person in the organization.

    • brickhouse

      Many writers view is if a front office waits for prospects they are waiting to get fired.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Cubs will need a leadoff hitter in the future & Alcantara may be the one who best fills that role & probably supplants Barney at 2B. More speed, more power, younger & hits from both sides of the plate. I foresee Baez at third & if Candelario hits better than Jackson he is moved to LF.

  • North Side Irish

    Gordon Wittenmyer ‏@GDubCub
    Source: Cubs one of several teams interested in Cuban defector/SS Aldemis Diaz. Turns 23 Tuesday, exempting him from signing $$$ limits.

    • hansman1982

      Props to Assman who had it first…

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Huh, we’ll have to replace the phrase “ass backwards” with “ass forwards” around here….

      • MichiganGoat

        He also says Bourn is coming to Chicago

      • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

        My top-secret political sources indicate that there will be turmoil in the Middle East. Sand will likely be involved.

        I look forward to my props.

        • Internet Random

          Racist.

  • Diamond Don

    Baez’s walk ratio is over-rated. It’s not that bad. HOFer Andre Dawson, one of my favorite players of all time, had a walk ratio of 5.4%.

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