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baez almora solerFor the most part, we’ve exited the team-specific part of the pre-season rankings season, and we’re entering the overall rankings period. MLB.com wanted to be both first up and most noticed in the process, so they did a run up to the rankings last and this week, culminating in a TV special last night unveiling their overall top prospects list.

We knew going in that the Cubs were probably going to have no fewer than three prospects on the list, and given Jonathan Mayo’s positional lists, it seemed unlikely that they’d have more than three. So, it was really only a question of where each of Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler would fall in the top 100.

Well, they’re not just in the top 100 – they’re all in the top 50.

Baez, a 20-year-old shortstop, came in at number 16, placing him in the upper crust of prospects across baseball (again, according to MLB.com and Jonathan Mayo). Almora, an 18-year-old center fielder, was number 39. And Jorge Soler, a 20-year-old outfielder, was just behind Almora at number 42.

Obviously we’ve long been referring to Baez, Almora and Soler in the same breath when discussing the Cubs’ top prospects, and it would seem justifiably so.

2013 is a crucial development year for all three, as Baez looks to demonstrate his offensive prowess against better pitching (while sticking at shortstop), as Almora heads to full-season ball to show off his polished chops, and as Soler is given an opportunity to rocket as high up the organizational ladder as his bat will take him. It’ll be pretty fascinating to see where each ends up when 2013 is in the books.

  • myporsche

    No doubt baez will be in the top 10 a year from now

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I have plenty of doubts.

      • myporsche

        No one in this world gives a shit about you and your doubts

        • ETS

          whoa, that seems like a bit of an over reaction.

          • CubFan Paul

            Norm = Negative Nancy to Everything. That means a lot coming from me.

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              I hear that a lot actually, but I think it’s more realistic. How can you not have any doubts that Baez will be in the Top 10 next year with the approach he has?

              I think Jorge Soler is going to be a stud though…so there’s something positive.

              • Noah

                I’m with Norm on this one. It’s not like Baez doesn’t have holes in his game. The plate discipline is a concern. Honestly, Baez could be anywhere from number 1 (if he shows more plate discipline and puts up good numbers at Daytona and Tennessee) to the lower end of the Top 100 (if he doesn’t improve the plate discipline and puts up average numbers at Daytona). Almora’s the safest bet to creep up, but might have issues getting into the Top 10 because he lacks a plus-plus tool. I like Soler as well.

                I honestly like all 3 players a lot, but view Baez as the lowest floor, highest ceiling (especially if he sticks at shortstop), Almora as the highest floor, lowest ceiling, and Soler in the middle.

                • T C

                  Same here. Its really tough to succeed with the kind of plate discipline. Baez has some seriously sexy bat speed, but after that there are multiple glaring holes in his game that need to be addressed before he can excel in the majors (or find his way into the top 10 of prospect lists).

                • LWeb23

                  I agree with your last paragraph, but I think it’s worth noting that it’s by no means a knock against Almora that he has the lowest ceiling. Even though that’s true, multiple All-Star Appearances is the ceiling for all 3 of them.

                  • Noah

                    Oh, I agree. Almora’s ceiling is quite high. A high OBP/high average hitter who could hit 20 home runs a year, steal 15-20 bases or so and play plus defense in center field. But I’d say Almora’s offensive ceiling is in the .850 OPS range (which is FANTASTIC for a CF), while Soler could be one of the best hitters in the game while producing plus defense in RF and Baez could be one of the best hitters in the game while playing an average defensive SS.

                    The differences in the floors are greater. As much as could be said for any 18 year old who hasn’t played above short season ball, Almora’s floor isn’t much lower than average regular. Baez and Soler have a much higher probability of crashing and burning in the upper minors.

        • MichiganGoat

          Well that was a productive response, is this how you respond when someone disagrees with you?

        • MichiganGoat

          Oh norm I care about your doubts ;) lets hug it out.

          • ETS

            Norm, I’d be careful getting too close to a goat. ;)

            • MichiganGoat

              Oh ETS don’t be jealous ;)

              • myporsche

                I don’t do that gay shit

                • hansman1982

                  comeon, kids…kiss and make up

                • Mat B.

                  Relax. Everyone on here is a Cub fan.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  This is your one and only warning on that kind of comment: remove it from your repertoire. In fact, I’m guessing you would be best served removing the word “gay” from your mix, entirely.

                  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

                    Speaking of, y’all hear about the Boy Scouts finally smartening up on this subject? As an Eagle Scout I’m pretty stoked.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Good news now if the rest of the world can just join the 21st century

                  • Ivy Walls

                    think you should delete the entire thread and give a couple days of cooling off. This kind of attitude has no value and civility should be the given.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Homophobic as well you just really want that BanHammer don’t you?

                  • hansman1982

                    Hey, if you are join a community, what better way than to come out with douchenozzles a blazin!

                    • DarthHater

                      Always been my approach. ;-)

                    • LubDub

                      i blaze that shit every day

        • T C

          This shit is why I don’t post around these parts all that much anymore

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            One comment out of 300?

            • T C

              I meant it more as the hostile nature of what feels like a lot of comment threads. I still lurk a *lot* around the comments, I just don’t feel like stepping into the fracas all that often, idk. I should try and get my message board account back soon.

              Also, I guess this is a bigger factor, since I don’t have my own computer at the moment (or for the last two months), I get to the comments late and I feel like everything I’d like to say has usually been said.

              This has been a weird ramble brought to you by TC.

              • Cubbie Blues

                “I get to the comments late and I feel like everything I’d like to say has usually been said.”
                That never stops Hansman.

                • hansman1982

                  Ya know…

                  I, well, um…

                  I have an original thought every now and again…

                  Or something…maybe.

                  Your just jealous that my puzzle story was better than yours (even if I did just rip off another puzzle story and tweak it a bit)

                • T C

                  HAHAHAHAHA

                  • hansman1982

                    ouch, bro, ouch

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                No prob – I was just curious what you meant.

                • T C

                  Cool. Still love this place and everyone here.

                  Except for you, TWC. Except for you.

                  • TWC

                    ::glares::

                    • T C

                      :)

              • fromthemitten

                “”Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – I”m pretty sure that Nietzsche was writing about the comments sections on popular websites

        • arta

          lol, funny.

      • Mick

        This is an unproductive response other than to let people know someone crapped in your Corn Flakes. You could, say, try listing those doubts and we could debate, or you could just continue being myporsche about it.

        • DarthHater

          Oh, sure! Next, you’ll be demanding “facts” and “reasons” for your “debate.” ;-)

          • Cerambam

            I wish I could like or up vote a comment. Because If I could I would like yours, darth

      • Marc N.

        Agreed. Plate discipline is an issue against upper minors pitching. I’m optimistic, but there’s definitely room for doubt.

    • http://www.Chicagocubstalk.blogspot.com ChicagoCubsTalk

      Top 5…

  • Demarrer

    It is very exciting to see this list, knowing that these guys should only move up on the list, and a few others should be added this time next year. I think that is the most exciting thing about the Cubs farm system this year, nobody of importance will really be pulled from it. The system will only get better, and that is incredibly exciting as a Cubs fan.

  • ETS

    my comments on the list
    Hak Ju Lee 56. I was thinking the scouts were starting to wane their opinions of this guy, but 56 suggests they still think big things.

    Yasil Puig @ 76. I suspect that neither Soler nor Puig’s ranks are very credible as they just haven’t been on playing baseball in the states that long, but if the 42 and 76 are close to accurate rankings then it suggests that the Cubs scouting department did a solid job. Especially if you consider that the Cubs were rumored to be way into Soler from some of the earliest stages.

    I notice webster and lee (zach) falling in beside each other. It sure would have been nice to have picked on of those up. Well, here’s to hoping that vizcaino ends up better than either of them. :toast:

    • ETS

      before anyone says anything, I realize that it was Maholm, not Dempster, that brought over Vizcaino. I was merely saying that after the demp to LA and the demp to atlanta rumors went bust Vizcaino became the prize pitching acquisition of the trade season.

      On a side note, I am interested in watching Kyle Hendricks develop. I have a soft spot for nerdy pitchers and the peripherals are exciting.

    • hansman1982

      eh, a .676 OPS over a full season of AA ball should get them waning. Vitters dropped off the face of the earth and MASHED AAA ball.

      • ETS

        He is suppose to be as high of a defensive upside as possible, but I don’t think his offensive skills are enough. Not sure if it’s comparable but gregorius had a .699 ops over his entire minor league career and isn’t nearly the base stealing threat that Lee is

    • Ivy Walls

      It is just me but all the prospect ranking is a huge parlor game like trying to predict the weather in the Great Lakes a year out. Yeah you can say there are mostly four seasons and it will probably precip between 35 and 50 inches and that highs will probably reach 90 or above and lows 10 below zero, and that a thunderstorm will come etc.

      But pick a great day in June for an outdoor wedding a year out or good day to go tobogganing in January and it is a crap shoot.

      What is important is not the particular players but the fact the system is beginning to stable recognized talent. Talent as it gets closer suddenly gets thin, as the game gets more mental and preparation and approach separates the few from the rest. Pick any sport and what people thought were locks turn out to be disappointments and role players or worse total flame outs while others suddenly surprise.

      As the Cubs commit and work at acquiring talent the next step is development, that is where I want to see this organization move into the top tier. The Cardinals seem to be there again and again as they reload and reload. So the Cubs will be able to draft two more players in the top 50 again barring something that is not done in haste in the FA.

      If they can trade a Soriano for what would be a top 50 draft prospect out of TX or DC than fine if it means Bourne, but they have to continue to add at the talent, and work at coaching development.

  • Sunny

    The theo effect is starting to take shape. I’m very excited for the nearish future; our farm system is getting stacked. I have complete confidence that was can compete as early as 2015-2017. In theo we trust! (and jed hoyer :D)

    • ETS

      I’m fairly pro theo, but Baez was Hendry’s doing. Don’t give all our farm depth credit to the front office (yet).

      • EQ76

        As was Vogelbach, Maples, Lake, and several others. I agree, this hasn’t all been Theo/Hoyer.

        • Rich H

          We will agree to disagree on the Theo effect and the new “Cubs Way” approach. Getting talent and recognizing a blue chipper was never the problem with the old front office. Getting them to get better and develop good baseball skills were. So as the players themselves are Hendry guys the growth they have and the improvement in the way the kids are being trained and grown is all Team Theo.

          • ETS

            Hendry definitely had a “type”. So many free swingers – pie, pattersons (btw is there another patterson brother we could draft?), vitters, etc.

            Baez is definitely more of a “Hendry-type” than a “Theo-type” at least from my limited perspective. Makes me think even more so that a baez trade is possible this season or next off season.

            • Rich H

              I think that Almora could be in the same boat if he doesn’t develop patience. You never know though. These kids could have the lights go on and get what this team is trying to do. Then it could be very special. That is why they are called prospects and chips though. If they don’t fit what you are trying to do move them. Epstien has a history of moving guys if they do not fit the need that his team has so anything is possible.

            • cubspong

              When Theo discussed his reasons for joining the cubs, didn’t he say part of the reason was that the cubs finally got it “right” in the draft? I believe he liked drafting players such as baez and vogelbach. So wouldn’t that mean Hendry changed their approach from drafting players like patterson and pie?

              • ETS

                vog’s ISOd is pretty darn good. He more or less is the Jeremy Brown special.

              • hansman1982

                He said the Cubs finally “got it” which meant spending big in the draft. It had nothing to do with the skills of the players chosen.

                It’s entirely possible Theo would have chosen Baez with the same pick but the world will never know.

    • Dave

      If we are waiting until 2017 to be competitive then I would be deeply disappointed.

      There is no reason for this team to not be in their competitive stage by 2014

  • myporsche

    Looks like vogelbach didnt crack the top 100

    • Kevin

      He did on the scale

  • chuyz

    What about daniel volgbach. Must the most underated propect.i think the cubs should switch him to 3 base..he will ready 2015 as well..the kid is a monster…

    • ETS

      I’m sure it’s scouts’ doubt on his defensive side that hold him back. This is a huge year for Vogelbach.

      • cub2014

        it is a big year, but one thing is for sure if he can smash it a team will find a place to play him everyday.

    • Patrick W.

      Kid would have to lose significant weight.

    • JulioZuleta

      I would bet he wasn’t that close to making the list. Until he proves otherwise, he’s essentially a DH prospect that hasn’t played above short-season ball. That’s not going to get you very high on these lists.

      • ETS

        Some of the yankees top rated “catchers” last year were basically DHs (tho it looks like the M’s may be sticking montero behind the plate this year). The “hasn’t played above short season ball” is the salient point here.

        • JulioZuleta

          A catcher has A LOT more value than a DH, even if he isn’t great at it. Montero’s ability to catch 40 or so games would give him a lot of value over a pure DH. Even if he turns out to be an average 1B, it’s just a given that 1B prospects are supposed to have incredible bats and they’re always lower on these lists than their bats would seem to place them.

          • ETS

            This is actually a great point.

      • Mat B.

        I like seeing your screen name. I always thought the Cubs should have given Zuleta more of a chance.

    • GraniteStateCubs

      Vogelbach was not close to Top 100 on this list. If I added correctly (big if) the breakdown was:
      Position Players
      Catcher 5
      1B 1
      2B 2
      3B 6
      SS 14
      OF 25
      RHP 37
      LHP 10
      Looks ok distribution wise – half the prospects are pitchers, 3/4 are Righties
      Divide the the other half 8 ways and you should get 6 per position.
      Shortstop is over indexed, but some of those become the missing second basemen, and some of the extra outfielders are moving to first.
      Tells me two things our pitching is weak (or at best unproven) and Vogelbach will need to hit like crazy every single level of the minors to makes lists like these.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        This is all fair, though it’s worth pointing out that Mayo was exceptionally low on Vogelbach, compared with some others. Vogelbach would not be even close to the 8th best 1B on most lists (if they ranked first basemen).

        • cedlandrum

          Yep you are right. I think Vogs is a top 5 first baseman. I like him a bit better then Cron and Ruf, but I mean those guys are good too. I really only like Vogs better because I can see Cron breaking down with his injury past. Especially the labrum.

        • T C

          The 1B ranking from Mayo is so bad that it makes me wary of every other ranking he put forth. Hunter Morris is a non-prospect according to KG, Parks, and Law, and yet Mayo has him 3rd. Darin Ruf has had on good year in the minors, and that came as a 26 year old in AA (his first time in AA, at that). Alex Dickerson posted an .803 OPS last year and, according to Mayo, has a future 5/5 hit/power, which is not good AT ALL for a 1B. That entire 1B list is ridiculous, and it doesn’t matter much I guess, but it does make me think he gets his info from some pretty unconventional sources.

          • cedlandrum

            The thing to remember about Ruf is that he was drafted after his senior year of college so he was older. Also it was his age 25 season last year as he didn’t turn 26 until July 28th. So this coming year will be his age 26 season and he has already had a cup of coffee. So if he breaks with the big league team this year it won’t be that big of a deal. A bit old, but he still had 1. something in AA.

            • cedlandrum

              I meant 1. something OPS in AA.

      • JulioZuleta

        Yeah so 1 1B made the list, and Vogelbach was 8th on Mayo’s 1B list. Possibly wouldn’t have been on the list if it was a top 300.

      • MichiganGoat

        I some see minor league 1B as future DH, so that might account for only 1B. Most teams would rather keep players in tougher defensive positions or positions of great need (ie 3B right now) to maximize their trade potential and value.

        • Mick

          Voglebach’s trade value and prospect ranking could triple if he’d shed his Peter Griffin physique. It’s just too bad the NL doesn’t have the DH, he’s going to be a fun one to watch.

          • brickhouse

            Lets wait until Vogelbach at least plays low A bal before declaring him the next great power hitter

            • Bigg J

              Agreed. He tore it up last season, but he still has a long road ahead of him to get to big league caliber hitter.

            • TonyP

              Ceiling– Volgelbach = Stairs?????? Or is his ceiling better than that?

              • Cubbie Blues

                To reach his ceiling he will have to start taking the stairs.

    • frank

      There are some scouts who question his defensive ability at 1st base–if they’re right, 3rd base has to be way out of the question.

  • ETS

    I wish we could see their top 200. Even noncub fans know that baez/almora/solar are going to be top prospects this year. I’m much more interested in what they think of our “cusp” prospects.

  • Seth

    Anyone notice that Arodys Vizcaino was 68 last year and now he’s nowhere to be found on this list. I’m guessing its due to him being out all of last year.

    • ETS

      Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. Wasn’t Villanueva right at 100 last year?

    • Seth

      Also, it looks like they’ll have a Top 20 by team coming out for the Cubs on 2/6. That should be interesting to see.

  • JOHN

    Felix Pie and Corey Patterson

  • Stevie B

    As hesitant as I am to get all jazzed about prospects, I have said multiple times ( twice….) , this prospect game is a matter of chance and even though you try to make the best decisions when drafting and signing, you never know who will turn into a MLB player and who will bust.
    It is HIGH TIME a few top Cub prospects actually pan out, and of these three, it wouldn’t be complete bizzaro world if all three did so.

  • Rich H

    With the amount of High School talent that Hendry and the boys went after in the 2011 draft I expect to see some of the names in our top 20 change a lot in the next season. Dunston Jr, Golden, Shoulders, Gretzky, Maples, Taiwan among others now have a full year in the system and get to see what the new approach will be. It is way to early to write off any of them. So as our top 20 looks a little light this year the next year will be very telling as to how this front office and development staff can translate talent into baseball skills. I personally am very excited about where these kids could be in 2014.

    • cedlandrum

      I don’t think the top 20 will look light at all to be honest. I think we may not have as strong of a top 10 as other teams in the second half, our 11-30 even is pretty deep and interchangeable. The nice thing about the system is you have guys like Dunston and Gretzky who aren’t in the top 30 right now who have a ton of upside. Same for a guy like Trey Martin or even a guy like Golden although he probably would have been in there if he hadn’t gotten hurt this year. But right now he would probably be in the 27-35 range.

      You have guys in the 11-20 range like: No particular order
      Vitters
      Alberto Cabrera(as much upside as any pitcher, but a lot of issues to work out)
      Paniagua(huge upside- Really could be in top 10)
      Alacantra- baseball america has him at 10
      Duane Underwood
      Junior Lake
      Candelario
      Amaya
      Paul Blackburn
      Marco Hernandez

      Also you have a guy like Whitenack who will probably be in the 20’s who could be in the top 10 if healthy.

      So anyway all that to say I don’t think the top 20 looks weak at all.

      • cjdubbya

        Silly question – is Brett Jackson no longer considered a prospect? (not completely up on that determination)

      • Rich H

        Great point. I was just meaning that as our older guys either loose their prospect status (Vitters, Scuzr)or are on the big club (Jackson, Whitenack, Stuck). They were going to be replaced with hugely talented guys. I still see 2015 as the year these kids start reaching the upper minors or the big club and in the next couple years we will be hearing A LOT about the high schoolers from 2011.

    • AB

      None of those guys I would consider Top 20 except for Maples. In 6 months the crop of new draftees, trade acquisitions, and (hopefully) some IFA will bump 5-6 guys out of the top 20.

  • CharMcCar

    Whats crazy is how young and new to the prospect scene they all are. Likely that none make it to Wrigley this year, could easily all be top 25 next year

  • Alex

    Thanks to Tim Sheridan from the Boys of Spring blog site for posting this video on “The Cubs Way.”

    http://vimeo.com/channels/madayproductions/57887658

  • http://www.Chicagocubstalk.blogspot.com ChicagoCubsTalk

    The prospects are looking great. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  • macpete22

    Looking forward to seeing and going to some Cougars games this season

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    He likes him some Baez. He has him listed as a 6 with potential for 7. Only a handful of prospects are graded that high. None of them he feels has the bat Baez does. That is either impressive or a bit premature. I went through and couldn’t find anyone he projects as a 7 beyond Baez. Only a couple before him.

  • Chris

    This is great. 50 players, 30 teams. That’s 1.7 per team. So the fact that we have 3 puts us well above average. It’s a good place to begin. When we have 3 of the top 50 MLBers and 3 of the top 50 MiLBers–then we’re going to be smoking.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Brett Jackson was Baseball America #32 before last season. He was that bad in his call up that he dropped out of the top 100 prospects? Played a pretty good centerfield if you ask me. His minor league OPS is .867.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      BJax’s ridiculous K rate in AAA (which carried over into MLB) is why he is not on the lists anymore.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        This.

        I’m seeing more scouts agreeing that part of Jackson’s problem in the majors in particular may have been mechanical. He was apparently moving his head in such a way to be blind to pitches on the inner part of the plate, and the pitchers in AAA and in MLB cheerfully used that to eat him alive.

        That’s not to say he’s a few tweaks away from being Tony Gwynn, but there is some reason to think he won’t be historically awful in the K department next year.

      • MJ

        Because of the time Jackson spent in the big leagues last year, I don’t think he qualifies for the list anymore. 40-some games, over 100 at bats.

        They are projecting potential with that top 100 list. What kind of body they may grow into, skill sets, floor and ceiling. They’re predicting everyday major leaguers to All-Stars. It’s good that he was ever on the list as high as he was in the first place. There’s still hope and he’s still young, but this is a sh– or get off the pot year for him. He’s gotta show some of that potential in 2013.

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