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baez almora solerKeith Law’s prospect week rounds into the homestretch with his individual team top ten lists. We already knew that the Cubs had Baez/Almora/Soler/Vizcaino/Candelario at the top, thanks to their having made Law’s top 110 prospects. The rest of his top ten looked like this:

1. Javier Baez, SS

2. Albert Almora, CF

3. Jorge Soler, RF

4. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP

5. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

6. Duane Underwood, RHP

7. Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP

8. Pierce Johnson, RHP

9. Paul Blackburn, RHP

10. Arismendy Alcantara, SS

Alcantara showed up at the end of Baseball America’s top ten list, and at the end of Jonathan Mayo’s list, too (though that was 21 deep). Hopefully he comes back from the leg injury last year (a broken foot) and keeps his upward trend. Having another legit shortstop prospect in the system could prove a very valuable thing as the Cubs look to, perhaps, improve the big league club through trades next year.

Law is clearly high on the Cubs’ young pitching, with the Underwood-Paniagua-Johnson-Blackburn string there at the end. Each is new to the system, and each is about to play their first full professional season in the Cubs’ system. It will be interesting to see how they – and others like Dillon Maples, Ryan McNeil, Jose Arias, Tayler Scott, and on and on among the lowest levels – progress this year. Many of the Cubs’ young arms were discussed this week on the podcast with BP prospecting guru Jason Parks, by the way.

Law mentioned the absence of Dan Vogelbach on the list, and explained it essentially as a problem of position – Law doesn’t think Vogelbach has, or will ever have, one.

He also dug into each of the prospects on his top 100 list, and, since it’s premium content, I won’t share too much, but I did want to highlight part of his take on Vizcaino:

When healthy, Vizcaino has electric stuff, a top-of-the-rotation arsenal with a lightning-quick arm, needing work on command and refinement on his changeup a little further to reach that potential — and, of course, to stay healthy.

Before the surgery, Vizcaino would work at 92-96 as a starter and hit 98 when he worked in relief for Atlanta late in 2011. The pitch doesn’t sink but does have late life up in the zone. He has a hard curveball that works at near-slider velocity with hard two-plane break and good depth. The changeup has good arm speed, and improving it is a question of feel, something he’ll get with reps. His arm works well aside from a lack of extension out front, and he gets on top of the ball enough to get that depth on the breaking ball.

The Cubs will likely bring him back slowly this year, so if he appears in the majors at all in 2013, I’d speculate that it would be in relief, with a rotation spot by mid-2014 a more realistic goal.

It’s nice to hear that the rotation is still on the table for Vizcaino, from Law’s perspective. His value to the Cubs is obviously much higher as a starter than a reliever, so the hope is that he’ll have every opportunity to succeed in the rotation before falling back on a bullpen job. He could be outstanding in relief, though, so it’s not like that would be a total loss.

  • ETS

    Law’s list might be the closest so far to how I’d rank them. Except I’d have Vog in there.

  • dash

    What kind of leg injury did he suffer?

    • ETS
      • ETS

        Sorry, I couldn’t help that one.

        • dash

          :)
          That link was funny, although still not very helpful. His injury was described in various articles as being “significant”, “unspecified”, and “undisclosed”. Was surgery involved? Any report I’ve read describes it in very vague terms.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Doesn’t much help, though, because everyone was very secretive about it. I remember finally finding out at some point in the Fall, but I’ve since forgotten what it was.

  • dash

    (Alcantara, that is).

  • MightyBear

    Boy great to see the arms in there. 5 position players, 5 pitchers. Wonderful. Also, 7 from the new regime, 3 from the old. All 5 pitchers from new regime. Law obviously likes the Theo/Jedi way of doing things.

    • ETS

      Newer, less known, prospects are usually higher.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Problem is that most of those arms are at least a couple of years away from the majors (Vizcaino being the obvious exception). There’s a bit of a mis-match between the development of our position and pitching prospects — personally, I think this is why you see the front office signing many more free agent pitchers to “flyers” than position players.

  • ruby2626

    Don’t know much about Alcantara but his stats at Daytona were pretty good. That seems like a pitcher’s league so his .302 avg is respectable. 7 homers and 25 steals in only 85 games are fairly impressive, like the little bit of pop seeing that he’s a SS (probably more HR’s than Lee has hit in his minor league career). Like a lot of young guys needs to learn to see more pitches, his obp was not great, only 19 walks or something. Was he one of Hendry’s international signings, only 21. By my count 7 of 10 guys are new regime guys, pretty impressive in only one year.

  • wiscubfan

    Can not beieve Law said Vogelbach will never have a position he is at least average at first base maybe a little better than average

    • mak

      I’ve never read/heard anyone call Vogelbach’s defense “average” and certainly not “better than average.” I’m not sure that justifies keeping him off the top 10, but Law puts a lot of emphasis on defense/overall ability.

      • BluBlud

        Funny. Most reports I read say he could be average.

        • ETS

          I seem to remember his defense as being described as “surprisingly” good, which still might be below average. I don’t have an links to back anything up though.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I believe that should be surprisingly better than they thought we was going to be. That doesn’t mean he was good or bad just better than they had originally thought.

    • JR

      I would love it Voges could some how make it the big leagues and play everyday with the Cubs. It would be like watching Tommy Boy every time the Cubs were on.

      • JoeCub

        You have idea how close you are. I was fortunate to get to know Voge. He is a very funny young with a terrific sense humor but when he gets up to bat, he hits like he hates the ball.

    • Danimal8

      The statement should have read “he will never have a position with the Cubs.” His inability to play the outfield forces the Cubs to use him as a a movable asset. With the exception of a catastrophic injury to RIzzo, he will never see time at first, and has apparently shown a lack of ability (or lack of training) to learn a new position. He may develop into an excellent hitter who can DH or play first with another squad. You could hope for the national league to go with the DH but, lets be honest, that isn’t even baseball.

      • TonyP

        He may never see time at first or he becomes better than Rizzo and Rizzo becomes the movable asset.

        • TonyP

          I find it crazy that a kid that has 67 low minor league games has been written off. Can he not be taught to play a decent 1B in the next 3-4 years?????????????

  • BluBlud

    I look for the Cubs to push Johnson, Piniagua, Blackburn and Underwood this year. I also look for them to push Vogelbach and Almora pretty hard. Not artificially, but hard. At the moment they show they are ready to move, the Cubs will move them. The higher these guys are in the system, the more value they have. Meaning Vogelbach is worth more at Tennessee then he is at Kane County, even if his number are slightly(I emphasize slightly) worse, at least relative to the league type(pitcher friendly vs hitter friendly).

    If the Cubs are going to push for some of the big name free agents at the deadline or in the next off-season, I suppose these will be some of the names you will see moved.

    • mak

      I’m thinking its a big year for the Cubs’ glut of potentially elite infield prospects. Beyond Baez, Villeneuva, Watkins and Candelerio, there’s Marco Hernandez, Alcantara, Amaya, Torreyes and maybe Tim Saunders. That’s a lot of surplus infield talent.

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        Elite? Come on, man. That’s trolling.

        • ETS

          Elite relative to the rest of the cubs’ system maybe.

        • mak

          I said “potentially elite,” which is not ridiculous (admittedly, Saunders would have to win the minor league triple crown to get there). Alcantara (21) and Hernandez (20) appear to be able to stick at SS and Amaya (20) OPS over .850 last year. If they repeat at the next level, they’ll make the top 100.

          • Cedlandrum

            Potentially Elite is probably a leap, but really good isn’t. Baez is elite now. Candelario could be some day as an offensive player. The rest I like, but they aren’t elite prospects. Some could be really good prospects like Villaneuva or Alacantra. Guys like Watkins(who I really like), Amaya, Torreyes, and hernandez are good prospects but no where near elite and most don’t have that ceiling.

            • Marc

              Baez is not an elite prospect for me just yet. He can take the leap, but for now he’s merely very good with some large, obvious, and key flaws.

              To me the potential elites are Baez, Almora, Soler, and Paniagua. Underwood has the outside shot 2-4 years down the road.

            • mak

              I guess my definition of elite is top 100. With a good year, I can see Alcantara, Hernandez and Amaya in there.

              • Marc

                You definition of elite is extremely…like super mega extremely…generous.

                • mak

                  If there are (conservatively) 150 minor leaguers per team, then the top 100 are in the 2%. The top 2% being elite may be generous, but “super mega generous?”

    • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

      Please put the crackpipe. Epstein isn’t the type to push any prospect along. He’s a patience person.

      Next.

      • BluBlud

        The fact that you respond to so many post with the “crackpipe” line and the “next” signature shows your maturity and intelligence level. Why not try to state that you are in disagreement and why and then maybe we can have a conversation about it.

      • MichiganGoat

        Willie not sure if you are going for humor with these comments or you want to pick a fight but it’s not playing if its the former and getting old if its the latter.

        • DarthHater

          No soup for you!

          Next!

          • Cubbie Blues

            Thanks, Mr. Brown.

            • DarthHater

              How many fingers am I holding up? ;-)

              • TWC

                Only the middle one, I presume.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Yup place firmly up his butt ;)

                • DarthHater

                  No! The answer, of course, is three! :-D

                  • TonyP

                    Because that is all you have…. ha

                    • DarthHater

                      Yes, but having three permits only using the one – on appropriate occasions.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Funny, but isn’t your avatar Mordecai Brown?

                • DarthHater

                  Yes. I have declared today to be Mordecai Brown tribute day. Tomorrow will be Pink–haired Samuel L. Jackson tribute day.

                  [img]http://api.ning.com/files/dVPGEeW-Ke*xogTBBRIdud9NMcB3bsKjJ-yCURM8aOyBDUSrp4Wk3uGyLAt06L3ScdjBkGblTKby07ElJ1im*Q__/2c369_samueljacksonbeez1400x300.jpg?width=139&height=104[/img]

                  • MightyBear

                    When is Orville Overall day?

                    • DarthHater

                      The day after the Cubs’ next world series championship game. ;-)

              • Patrick W.

                If I make my avatar Antonio Alfonseca will it be twice as good as yours?

                • DarthHater

                  No, but it will have 1.67 times as many fingers on the right hand.

                • DarthHater

                  Oops. I didn’t know about Alfonseca’s hand. Now I get it. My bad. ;-)

                  • DarthHater

                    So, the correct answer is no, it will be twice as fingered, but not twice as good.

                    • TWC

                      “it will be twice as fingered, but not twice as good”

                      The jokes. Oh, the jokes.

          • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

            There you go…it took a sense of humor to get it.

      • Cedlandrum

        They will push guys that can handle it like Baez playing in Daytona and even Soler in Peoria were pretty aggressive. I mean Soler wasn’t killing the ball at rookie league when they had him skip a level and join peoria.

      • mudge

        My crackpipe got soaked with kool-aid in the douchebag. I’ll never be an elite commenter now…

    • Cedlandrum

      I agree they may push Johnson and Paniagua, but I don’t see them pushing Underwood. he was young for his draft class- only 18 this season and he is really raw. I think he will start in Mesa and bump to Boise. Blackburn could be pushed a bit maybe but I still see same route for him, underwood and Maples.

      • truthhurts

        Anything less than Daytona for Johnson and Paniagua would be a dissappointment. Love it if they could each get 5-6 starts in Tennessee to finish the year.

        • Cedlandrum

          I think that disappointment is a little strong. I honestly though have no sense of the what the Cubs may be thinking with them. It would make sense to limit their innings this year, but they are also 21 and 23 respectively so especially Paniagua needs to jump some levels. Johnson threw just a touch over 100 innings last year so he probably won’t throw more then 130 this year. Which may be a bit short of a full season. Paniagua hasn’t thrown more then 29 professional innings in one season.

        • Marc

          +1, especially for Paniagua. Paniagua is going to be 23 this season and has been known for a while internationally, so I expect him to get fast tracked.

  • On the Farm

    Brett I got a question for you, I am thinking Kane County will be the affiliate to watch this summer, which prospects should I count on starting off the season there?

    My thoughts are Soler, Vogelbach,Candelario, Amaya, Almora?
    What Pitching prospects will be there (Pierce, Maples, Underwood, Blackburn?)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think you can count on everyone you listed seeing time there except Soler is possibly going to just up and start at Daytona (only possible – still likely for KC), Maples might do the short season thing, and Blackburn and Underwood will almost certainly do the short season thing. Might see Paniagua. Will definitely see Marco Hernandez.

      • On the Farm

        Thanks, I am really looking forward to watching these guys take on the new Twins affiliate in Cedar Rapids!

    • Cedlandrum

      I don’t know he will start there but Reggie Golden will probably play there too. Trey Martin and maybe Dunston as well depending on how they shake out in camp.

      • On the Farm

        Speaking of Children of former Pro players, how is the “Great one’s” son doing and where is he at?

        • Cedlandrum

          He had shoulder surgery the year he was drafted. So he didn’t play in Mesa that year until extended. Last year he showed a good approach it seems but no power. He is expected to grow into that. He will probably start the year in Mesa again and then bump to Boise. this is a huge year for him because it will be his age 20 season. He should be a left fielder so it isn’t like there are a ton of guys blocking him, so I guess it is possible that he has a great spring and bumps to Kane County, but I doubt it.

          • MightyBear

            I hope he makes it to wrigley if only so we can see his sister

            • cubchymyst

              Nice

    • Noah

      Soler goes to Daytona probably, but the other 4 should be in Kane County with some other guys who are legitimate prospects (as opposed to org guys). As far as the pitchers, Pierce Johnson will probably start the year in Kane County, but ideally that would be a short stint before showing he’s ready to Daytona. Maples has a good shot at being in Kane County. Underwood and Blackburn are both almost certainly ticketed for extended spring training before going to Boise, although if either of them just look dominant in Arizona they could be shipped up to Kane County in May or so like Javier Baez was last year.

      But the majority of the big time prospects will be focused in Daytona and Kane County, at least to start the year, although there will be guys to watch at every level. At AAA I’ll be focusing on Vizcaino’s recovery, Brett Jackson’s new swing, and Logan Watkins. At Double A I’ll be looking at Christian Villanueva and Ronald Torreyes.

  • cubsin

    A scary thought: What if the Cubs have five pitchers in the top 10 because Law thinks none of our other position prospects are any good? Ranking two HS pitchers with a combined 25 or so professional innings ahead of Jackson, Vogelbach, Szczur, Amaya and Hernandez surprised me, although Law’s disdain for Vogelbach and Szczur made those two unlikely picks.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he hadn’t had the system as the 5th best, it definitely would have concerned me. As it is, I think it’s just a compliment of the pitchers’ ceilings.

  • Chad

    What happened to Logan Watkins, I thought he was going to push Barney for the 2B position? Have things changed that much

    • mak

      Although no one is writing it, I think he’s got at least a decent chance of stealing the utility IF spot on the big club. Lillenbridge or others rumored don’t have a 40 man spot like Watkins does. If the F/O isn’t concerned about stalling his development by making him a bench player, then I think he pushes for a spot.

  • DReese

    To me it looks like there are 5 positional players and 5 PITCHERS in the top ten, that cant be right.

  • cubchymyst

    Going through Fangraphs prospect chat today. Soler got some love for his hit tool. Some asked “Which NL hitting prospect has the highest ceiling in the minors, not counting Taveras?” the response was “Look at the Cubs. Soler, Baez, or Almora.

  • VanSlaw

    No Villanueva? Boooooo! A pox on you, Law! You don’t pass the bar!

    How’s my Acey?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeesh, where in the world have you been? We need to get a beer.

      • VanSlaw

        Yes, please. Hit my PM up.

  • Scotti

    The problem with most prospect prognosticators is that they can get locked ON to a prospect. “Klaw” gets locked OFF of prospects to the point where it doesn’t matter how well a guy does. He refuses to see the value in a speedy CF who gets on base (and is NOT a slap hitter) or a big 1B who mashes, hits to all fields and is patient in doing so.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      So…you think he’d rather be wrong about a guy than to change his mind about a guy?

    • Noah

      Szczur only gets on base when he’s old for the level, though. After his promotion to High A in 2011 he put up a .283 OBP. Last season after being promoted to Tennessee it was .285. And he has a .127 career minor league ISO. That’s a slap hitter.

      The Vogelbach one is purely an issue of if he’s so bad defensively at 1B that you literally cannot survive playing him there. Is he just Prince Fielder bad defensively, or is he Adam Dunn without the height? Plus I think klaw thinks Vogelbach will have some growing pains with the bat as he faces tougher pitching. I’m higher on Vogelbach than klaw is, but I get the knocks on him.

      Szczur just flat out isn’t much of a prospect these days.

    • Drew7

      Wasn’t it you that, during the season, had Szczur as #2 on your top-10?

  • Brian

    separately, it’s interesting how Law penalizes Voggy for being a DH only type, but stops slightly short of calling anyone who penalizes Edgar Martinez’s career for being a liability/nonentity on defense the most irrational and stupid breed of human to ever exist. I bet in a trade situation, he would ding a DH only. It’s not exactly the same question, but it is a valid criticism of DH value and those who say Edgar’s stone hands and half-step range shouldn’t be considered as part of his HOF candidacy.

    • Noah

      There’s a difference between viewing a prospect as less valuable because he has no defensive position and saying that the greatest DH of all time deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. It’s a before the fact and after the fact issue. Before the fact, Vogelbach would have to be a truly great hitter to have much value as a Major Leaguer because he brings no value with the glove. After the fact, Edgar Martinez in fact was a fantastic hitter who created a ton of value as a Major Leaguer, despite providing no value with the glove.

      • Brian

        I said as much and that wasn’t my point. Total value has to be just that: total. An inability to provide positive value on defense must be part of the equation.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          True, but the value from fielding is small relative to what guys can create with their bat. Look at Derek Jeter: he has often provided negative value with his glove (or, more exactly, his lead feet), but his bat has more than made up for that. Martinez could have been a decent enough first baseman, but the Mariners simply never needed him there. Had they done so, then he could have played it to (probably) a league neutral level.

          • brian

            i agree that offense matters more than defense, but i think i might differ with you on how much. i think it’s often undervalued by current defensive metrics, and i’m excited to see how field f/x will enhance our valuation of defense relative to offense. i also disagree that he could have played first at a neutral level. he was bad or he would have played in the field where he could have provided greater value. his career was bookended, by the presence of Tino Martinez and Olerud, who were awesome with the glove. but in the seaons in between he was displaced by David Segui and Paul Sorrento, both of whom were way below average defensively. Edgar was a DH because he was awful defensively. and coming into the bigs on an AL team is accident of birth, like being born rich. i doubt people would think of him the same if he’d been a padre.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I suspect that the pendulum has swung the other way. I am quite suspicious of the “runs saved” estimates from the last season or two: it seems like they have greatly altered the assumed ratio of outs:runs.

              Incidentally, both Segui and Sorrento were considered to be very good first basemen, at least while they were playing. (Whether they were or not is a separate issue.) Indeed, it was their reputations with glove that kept them around: they were both below-average hitters for 1Bmen for much of their careers. At any rate, Edgar was not bad at catching the ball: it was his arm that was awful, especially after some shoulder injuries. (He was a 3Bman at one point.) However, a lot of good 1Bman have bad arms.

    • Kygavin

      Another thing is that a DH provides 0 value for the Cubs since they dont use one in the NL

  • Marc

    Might be my favorite top 10 so far because it focuses on the strength of the system – lower level upside.

    Question:

    Am I the only one more high on McNeil than Blackburn? Seems like he has more fastball while Blackburn has the advantage in offspeeds.

  • Cheryl

    One thing will happen for sure this summer Vogelbach will either prove Law wrong or Law will sit back and say I told you so. A question – Does Law always go with first impressions and doesn’t change his mind no matter what? I get the feeling that’s the case with V. Yet so far he seems to be right about Szczur.

    • Noah

      Law was more than happy to admit he was wrong on Trout, and, after thinking he was a reach as a draft choice was among the first to say what an astounding talent he was once he had a bit of time in pro ball.

      And Vogelbach doesn’t necessarily prove Law right or wrong this season. If Vogelbach mashes in Kane County and Daytona this season but still looks terrible defensively, it doesn’t mean that Vogelbach will have the same success upon the jump to Double A. The fact that Law isn’t very high on a bat only player who hasn’t played above short season ball shouldn’t astound anyone.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Ultimately, where KLaw will be right or wrong is if higher level pitching consistently throws strikes away or high and in, and if Vogelbach doesn’t hit those pitches. The control that lower level pitchers lack is not simply missing the strike zone: it is missing spots in the strike zone. As you go up levels, you get more and more pitchers who not only throw strikes, but throw the right strikes.

        If so, then Voglebach will wind up like Hee Seop Choi: i.e., a really good batting eye, but unable to hit pitches in a wide range of the strike zone. That written, it might not be until AA or higher that Vogelbach consistently faces pitching that can hit his blue zone three times in one PA.

  • Grant

    Really surprised to see Law so high on Underwood since I haven’t really seen him on any of these lists (or did I just miss it?). Any idea why Law is ranking him so high?

    • Marc N.

      Hits 97, one of the best athletes in the system, secondary pitch is a changeup, and he was one of the youngest players in the draft. Underwood has a great profile.

    • Marc N.

      http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23886723

      Unless you’ve seen him live this is the best look at Duane Underwood on the internet right now. He’s all projection and athleticism, but the tool set for a pitcher is as good as anyone in the minors for the Cubs.

      • Grant

        Great to hear. Duane went to my high school, so I’m excited to see how he progresses through the system.

  • JB

    Would like to se several prospects move two levels this year. Soler, Paniagua for sure. Vogelbach, Candelario, Almora, would be good. Anyone know of prospects who made a two level jump in 2012?

  • I like stuff

    Bett, Luke and BN commenters thanks for getting me addicted to Bleacher Nation. I check in several times a day for the last 6 months or so. I love it! Now I have a question I’m hoping someone can answer for me. Whenever Dan Vogelbach is brought up I noticed the comments on his devensive ability at first is mixed. Some say terrible or bad while others say average or something somewhat positive. On scouting book after they praise his hitting prowess they said thankfully he shows good hands and footwork around first too. So how is his defensive ability truely? are the negative reports based on assumption because he’s a large man? Thanks

    • Cubbie Blues

      My thoughts are that everyone initially assumes he can’t play a lick and since hardly anyone had actually seen him play that’s what it stuck in their head. Then when they finally do see him they are surprised by how much he actually can move and that he had soft hands. It’s still hard to shake that first assumption though. Now, after saying that, even if the amount of athleticism surprises doesn’t mean he is overflowing with it. It just means “he moves well for a big man”.

      • hansman1982

        There are two components to good defense at first. There is actually fielding batted balls and then there is fielding throws.

        It could be that he is average or better at fielding throws but is a frozen tub of lard on fielding batted balls.

        • Cubbie Blues

          In ever really thought of it that way before Joe. That maybe where the soft hand reference has come from. I’ve still heard the moves well for a big man reference before though. That could mean that he can take 1 1/2 steps instead of just falling down though.

        • The Dude Abides

          How fat is this guy? Is he bigger than Kung Fu Panda or Prince? He’s young if he wants it he can put in the work and get his weight surely below those two to name a couple of pretty big guys who have played all or the majority of their time in the NL at or near an all star level. Give him a year or two before we write him off.

          • Internet Random

            I’m too lazy to give you an HTML link, but Google Images has lots of pics of him. He’s supposedly lost some weight, though.

            • Internet Random

              He’s not bigger than Fielder. Not close.

              • Cubbie Blues

                I would argue that his body dat is well above Fielders’.

                • Spriggs

                  [img]http://futurestarphotos.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Chicago-NL/G0000FXPx0tUEQ9E/I0000EKEasDsw5sw/C0000s0uOOnpcMLg[/img]

                  I have no idea if this link will work. I don’t know where reports come from or what they are seeing when they say he has soft hands and good footwork. I have not seen either. What I have seen is a kid with awesome hitting skills and tremendous power. But on defense – let’s just say he has a long way to go in my opinion.

                • Spriggs

                  damnit

                  • DarthHater

                    Looks like photos from that site are for sale and copy protected

          • Terry Forster

            Letterman has not called him a “fat tub of goo”, so there is nothing to worry about.

    • mak

      In my own opinoin, those who are saying “average” or “above average” or “surprising” are watching him practice or play in low level games, while the ones who say “terrible” or “the worst fucking thing I’ve ever seen” are projecting him to the big leagues.

  • another JP

    I really like Law’s list and analysis but when you consider that less than half of the top 50 prospects ever become successful at the ML level it kind of tempers my enthusiasm somewhat. For all the love that Vogelbomb gets for his hitting, just consider that LaHair was putting up his kind of stats in AAA and look how it worked out for him. Granted that BL was 9 years older, but success in the majors can be extremely elusive for even the best prospects.

    Oddly enough, I think the best chances for Laws top ten Cubs prospects to succeed are for Vizcaino and Paniagua… two pitchers. If one of the other eight showed Rizzo or Castro level talent I’d be surprised, and until they show great potential two or three years from now it’s hard to project them as all-stars yet.

    Here’s Law’s list of 2012 prospects:

    Chicago Cubs
    1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (36)
    2. Brett Jackson, OF (89)
    3. Javier Baez, SS (95)
    4. Trey McNutt, RHP
    5. Zach Cates, RHP
    6. Welington Castillo, C
    7. Dillon Maples, RHP
    8. Josh Vitters, 3B
    9. Reggie Golden, OF

    Rizzo & Castillo have worked out so far, and only Baez remains on his list. With seven guys not reappearing in 2013, it speaks volumes to how young our best prospects are.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      “I really like Law’s list and analysis but when you consider that less than half of the top 50 prospects ever become successful at the ML level it kind of tempers my enthusiasm somewhat.”
      -
      That’s cuz you’re only looking at it from the angle of how successful they’ll be as major leaguers.
      Which ignores a major factor; present day value.
      We should be excited that these prospects are rated highly (just don’t get attached to them!) because they can be used in trades. Like Toronto did this offseason.

  • Marc N.

    http://i.imgur.com/UdseBOj.jpg

    Interesting comment made on minorleagueball about Manaea and his mechanics:

    [Quote]I’ve been out of the baseball loop the past couple years, so maybe this stuff doesn’t matter as much anymore, but holy hell that arm position. [b]High elbow, very late.[/b]

    If I’m going pitcher at #1, give me a huge dude with a nice simple delivery please.[/quote]

    Interesting. He does look a little ugly mechanically, but mostly I just think he’s generally overrated as the hot name from the latest significant pre-draft event. I’m still Appel all the way for the draft.

  • mditka

    off subject but does anyone think Jr Lake will surprise this yr after his offseason production?

    • AB

      I don’t the urge to trade guys like Szczur and Lake. Are they overated?? Yes. But if there is any team that should be taking gamble’s on those kind of players, its a team that just lost almost 100 games last year, and is a couple years away from competing, and especially when there is not much high end talent at the upper levels of the minors.

      • Rich H

        I am very high on Lake but not on Szczur anymore. I think that one or both of them will be playing somewhere else by the end of the spring if they can put together a good camp though. I still see Lake as a that could make that turn to become the type of player we have been expecting him to be.

        If I just went with the numbers and told you there is a player that hit .210 with a .751 OPS at AA when he was 23 years old would you say he was even still considered a prospect? I just do not see the growth with Szczur at this point to stay on any list. He turns 24 in June. I know that he doesn’t have a great amount of baseball experience but I think that ship has sailed.

        • Rich H

          As a Guy that can make the turn.

      • Marc N.

        Relying on the Lakes and Szczurs to make this rebuild only a couple of years

        They are both part of the “not much high end talent in the upper levels” thing in the end. Neither really fits the Cubs as a starter, but maybe Szczur is a better version of Campana.

        • AB

          Nobody said anything about relying on Lake and Szczur to be significant parts of the rebuild.

          I only see 3, maybe 4 (Ha) players at either AA or AAA coming into spring training better than Spellcheck Jr. and Lake right now. Except for a couple guys, most of the Guys from Daytona moving up to AA are pretty blah, and we’ll see how Alcantra bounces back from his mystery injury last year.

          • Marc N.

            Of the guys who will likely open up at the AA/AAA level this year I would have them behind or lumped in with:

            Cabrera
            Jackson
            Vitters
            Villanueva
            Alcantara if he’s there
            McNutt
            Zych
            Watkins

            They’re prospects, and being close is nice, but neither guy is someone to lose sleep over in a trade.

            • truthhurts

              Marc, you’re right about the prospect ‘goodness’ these folks actually posess, but I think what’ we’re all forgeting is the depth they could provide a championship quality team.
              If we really are going to build a team for the ‘long haul’, we need AAA depth that can hold its own for an injured starter for a few weeks. I think Lake, Villanueva and Sczcur could provide above avg production in short stints in bigs.

              • Marc N.

                Quality depth for a championship squad is available every year, and it’s definitely no lock that Szczur/Lake even turn into that.

              • Marc N.

                I think of those three you named the only one I buy is Villanueva, the best defender, youngest, and just best prospect of the three.

            • AB

              I obviously wasn’t including pitchers, strictly hitters.

    • Patrick

      I do… I know Law isn’t sold on Lake, but he’s a 4 tool player w/some upside, seems KLaw is sour because he’s already overrated ( he didn’t offer much more of a explanation than that) time will tell but think he’s versatile and talented enough to contribute.

      • Marc N.

        Can Lake’s inability to find a defensive home but athleticism to occupy multiple spots really a sign of versatility? To me he’s always been a corner outfielder defensively with youth and the minors allowing for experimentation.

      • Kygavin

        He doesnt take walks at all. His plate discipline is the biggest thing, along with his lack of defensive position

      • MightyBear

        What tool is he missing? Fielding or defense? Is that the tool?

  • Marc N.

    Sure, but hopefully with another franchise that buys the tools and has a player they are willing to give for him (solo or in a bundle).

  • Lou
  • Bill

    Say the Cubs bring Vizcaino slowly this year, as expected. Let’s also say he stays healthy and looks good enough where the Cubs like him as a starter for 2014. Realistically, how many innings is he going to be able to give the Cubs in 2014? He’s never thrown over 100 innings in a season. Don’t you basically have to look at him as a number 6 starter or a half a season starter? I can’t see the Cubs letting him throw much more than 100-110 innings. I guess it will depend on how many innings he throws this season.

    • mudge

      The number of innings will be limited by the number of outings.

    • Marc N.

      Cubs are said to be limiting him to 100 this year so I would assume 130-150 in 2014.

  • Bill

    So, you are then going to have to figure using a 6 man rotation in with Vizcaino missing some turns in the rotation. This is fine, but when figured out starting pitchers in 2014 Theo/Jed will have to carry 6 starting pitchers.

  • mudge

    If he can really start, maybe they’ll just keep him on a strict pitch count and have a Carlos Villenueva type ready to take it to the 8th. Sure would be a nice problem to have.

    • Bill

      Agreed. I’m hoping he can come back healthy and be a guy they can throw into the rotation. He has the ceiling to be a TOR pitcher which the Cubs really need. Cross our fingers.

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