Baseball Prospectus is Crushing on Cubs Prospects: Four in the Top 54

baez almora solerBaseball Prospectus finally released its top 101 prospect list for 2013 today, and on it are the four Chicago Cubs prospects whom you’ve become accustomed to seeing:  Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, and Arodys Vizcaino.

Notable, though, is the order of the prospects, and the altitude of their ranking. Almora shows up first on the list at number 18. We knew that Almora would be first for the Cubs, as he was the top prospect on BP’s top ten list for the Cubs. But that number 18 ranking – yowsa. That’s extremely high praise, and, for a frame of reference, puts him just behind top pitching prospects Shelby Miller and Tyler Skaggs.

Javier Baez is just behind Almora at number 20, and Jorge Soler is 36 (one spot ahead of Nick Castellanos). Arodys Vizcaino rounds out the Cubs’ entrants at number 54, one of his highest rankings.

It’s another good showing for the Cubs’ top prospects, and a reminder of how well regarded they are in the prospect game. On the knowledge that these rankings, in large part, originate with scouts and development executives, the rankings are also a reminder of how well regarded these prospects are in baseball at large.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

99 responses to “Baseball Prospectus is Crushing on Cubs Prospects: Four in the Top 54”

  1. Cedlandrum

    holy cow that ranking for Almora is just wow!

  2. Mike G.

    I remember 10 years ago, this was all I wanted. Nice to finally have a farm…

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      10 years ago, the Cubs farm system was considered to be one of the best in baseball.

      1. Edwin

        But this time it will be different!

      2. Mike G.

        big corey patterson guy?

        1. ETS

          Hee Shop Choy!

        2. David

          Ten years ago, Patterson was already in the majors. The farm system was highly regarded based on the likes of guys like Juan Cruz, Angel Guzman, Hee Seop Choi, and Bobby Hill. A year before, Prior was in that group, too.

          1. Edwin
            1. ssckelley

              Depressing to look at that. I think the Cubs have had more misses on the top 100 then any other team.

        3. Edwin

          In 2001 the Cubs had Corey Patterson (#2), Juan Cruz (#17), CHoi (#22), Ben Christianson (#37), Carlos Zambrano (#68), Lou Montanez (#73).

          In 2002, the Cubs had Mark Prior (#2), Juan Cruz (#6), Choi (#40), David Kelton (#45), Bobby Hill (#48), Nic Jackson (#68), Carlos Zambrano (#80).

          The system didn’t actually go on to produce much for various reasons, but that’s the point. Even “elite” prospects can fail, so while it’s nice that Cubs have some well regarded prospects, that doesn’t gaurantee anything.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Part of it is that 10 years ago, people were still using “old school” criteria to evaluate players: it now is better understood that they were not taking into account key tools that greatly contribute to success, and overly emphasizing “tools” that are actually amalgams or not even very real.

            That said, this is still a probability game, not a deterministic one. Not all of the Top 100 guys will go on to be great successes: but nearly all of the success stories in baseball are guys who were in the Top 100.

            1. Bric

              Interesting- Jim Hendry used the mantra “Sure, we’re pretty thin on top 100 prospect guys, but we’re loaded in the second 100″ for years despite his theory’s results. And yet people still find ways to defend it.

  3. Justen

    I find it interesting that Almora is the third highest of the guys that were draft last year. The only ones higher than him are Byron Buxton(#2 pick) and Kevin Gausman(#4). Correa who was taken at #1 is 26th on their list. Shows the kind of value Theo and company got with the 6th pick.

  4. another JP

    What’s intriguing is that Baez & Almora have consistently been ranked ahead of Soler and Vizcaino, but it’s very possible that they aren’t the better players. Soler has superstar written all over him and Vizcaino was very good in his ML stint before the injury.

  5. Tim

    Each team on average should have 3.33 players in the top 100. This time next year, I would be pretty upset if we didn’t have more than double that

    1. another JP

      So if we assume Vizcaino graduates the 6-7 in the top 100 would be…? How about Baez, Soler, Almora, Vogelbach, Candelario, Paniagua with the draft pick of Meadows/Frazier/Manea in the mix? Sounds good to me.

      1. Bwa

        Could also see Johnson, underwood, maples, sneak in and could get a foreign prospect as well.

    2. Jason

      8 top 100 guys is a little crazy. I can see 4-5 next year. The same top 3 for sure but Vizcaino won’t make it next year. Hopfully he’ll be on the cubs. The first round pick should make it and 1 msybe 2 young guys can get noticed.

  6. David

    I actually think Soler is the best prospect of the big 3. Definitely the most advanced at this point, IMO.

    1. jayrig5

      Advanced doesn’t mean better, necessarily. He’s also older, so in that sense he should be advanced.

      Plus you’re comparing a corner OF prospect to a legit CF and a legit SS. Positional scarcity/value come into play.

      1. Jason

        Like to see him run through Daytona and junp to AA this year. Lets see what he can do against better talent. Don’t forget hes Cuban….good chance hes already 24.

      2. BluBlud

        Defensive position has value, but if Soler becomes a .300/.370/.600 35HR guy and Almora becomes a .280/.330/.500 20 HR guy, I don’t think I’ll take Almora just because he plays CF. These are not my projections, just numbers I use to make a point.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Correct, which means that people are expecting much better numbers from Almora than that.

        2. jayrig5

          That’s fine, of course, except that’s not how prospects are evaluated. Even if everyone agreed that those numbers were their respective ceilings, you also have to factor in their respective floors; the higher floor is why pretty much everyone ranking prospects has Almora higher. (Well, that and the guarantee of plus-CF defense, which does carry quite a bit of value relative to playing a corner. Almost enough to make me consider Almora more valuable even at the numbers you listed.)

          I love both, of course. This is a great debate to have as a Cub fan.

      3. David

        It’s more than just how advanced he is. I think he has the chance to be a hugely impactful bat. I still worry about Baez’s approach and whether he’ll be able to cut it against more advanced pitching. I’m not nearly as worried about that with Soler.

    2. Marc N.

      Same, but I can’t help but remain insanely high on Almora.

  7. Jim

    Speaking of Soler, today is his birthday and he is now legal to drink in the U.S. Happy Birthday Jorge!

  8. cubfanincardinalland

    Any scout in Florida this spring would have Brett Jackson in the top 20 on that list.

    1. college_of_coaches

      Which is amazing when you consider that he’s been playing in Arizona…

      (sorry cubfanincardinalland, couldn’t resist -)

      1. cubfanincardinalland

        Yeah, Mesa, Florida right. I’m an idiot sometimes!

        1. college_of_coaches

          Hey what can you say, it’s Monday morning.

          1. cjdubbya

            Or you could say the Morans in Cardinal land have rubbed off on cubfanincardinalland. Poor soul…

            getabrainmorans.jpg

            1. Bric

              Hey man, I know the Morans from St. Louis- Bob and Lucy and their son Johnny. Can’t remember the other kid’s name, but they’re good people.

      2. BluBlud

        That just means he has been playing so well, they could can tell all the way from florida. I wonder if the scouts in Arizona would have him in the top 5.

    2. OCCubFan

      What about the scouts in Arizona?

  9. another JP

    By the end of 2014 I look for Soler and BJax to be starting for the Cubs with DeJesus, Schierholtz, and Hairston off the roster.

  10. BluBlud

    I don’t understand ranking Almora so high. He has done nothing to warrant being ranked ahead of Baez, Soler or even Vogelbach. Soler and Baez for clear reasons and Vogelbach crushed his numbers last year going up against the exact same competition at the exact same level. I’m not an Almora fan as I think Theo had a man crush on him and reached to get him. I don’t think anyone had him ranked as high as the Cubs did on their board last year. We could have drafted Appel or even Russell who is much more advance then Almora in my opinion. Almora just has to much bust potential for me.

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      You need to go out and watch him play. He would be the Cubs best center fielder today. Has perrenial gold glove written all over him. Just needs to continue to advance his hitting and grow up. Pretty much a legit can’t miss type of player. Whether he is a star or not remains to be seen.

      1. Edwin

        And you’ve figured all this out from a player who is 18-19 and has about 200 PA’s in the lower minor leagues? How do you know so much about his defense? Scouts?

        1. JR

          The only thing I have learned about Almora last year is that he hates taking walks. But it is good to know that people in the know still think so highly of him after watching him last year.

        2. Marc N.

          I suspect rookie ball walk rates play a part, but I have not yet reached the post.

      2. Edwin

        Also, he would be the worst CF in baseball if he was the Cubs starting CF right now. That’s not a knock against him or his potential, that’s just being realistic.

        1. BluBlud

          yeah, his line would be .075/.076/100

          1. hansman1982

            scouts said that, on draft day, he would have been able to hit .230 but be a plus defender in the bigs.

            1. BluBlud

              Yeah, and scouts said on draft day, 2001, that Kwame Brown was going to be an All-Star PF in the NBA for the next 10 to 15 years. Scout get it right, honestly, about as often as we do.

              I hope he turns out to be the next “insert big name CF”. I just don’t see ranking him in front of Soler, Baez, Vizcaino or even Vogelbach. He has to prove more.

              1. hansman1982

                Considering that the top of the draft is ridiculously heavy on superstars and high WAR guys, I’d say they get it right a lot.

                Now, that was 1 scouts opinion, with prospects you have to get a lot of opinions. These opinions have Baez/Almora then Soler then a hodge-podge.

                It seems to me we are debating which Hollywood hottie is the best (Jennifer Lawrence (hands down (thanks to her recent Conan interview))). We should be pumped that all three of these guys made the top-50 in virtually EVERY rating service. That means that we should get 1 superstar out of them considering their individual tools.

                1. BluBlud

                  Kerry Washington or Meghan Good for me, but i would be piss off is somebody compare either one to Whoopie Goldberg. ;^)

                  1. Marc N.

                    Megan Good really is the hottest chick in Hollywood. My crush goes all the way back to Cousin muhfckin Skeeter.

      3. BluBlud

        I willing to bet this guy is more Corey Patterson then we think. I hope not, of course. I just don’t see it. I have never watched him play in person. Almora has absolutely no batting eye. I mean none. Zero. He will be exposed the higher he moves up. He would win a gold glove for the Cubs this year, but unless he goes a long way towards improving his batting eye, he is a 5th outfielder at best.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The data do not support the claim that he has no batting eye. Guys with no batting eyes whiff a lot and Almora’s not doing that. Instead, Almora is hitting the ball solidly in most of his PAs. By far the easiest way to get Almora’s type of numbers is to have: 1) a large red zone, and 2) hit the ball hard when it’s in that red zone.

          Now, that red zone will shrink as he faces better pitching. However, his ability to read the ball off of bats so well suggests that he’s got the basic tool that is also batting eye. (One common trait of guys with bad batting eyes is that they are not good at judging flyballs, either.) So, once he gets to the level where pitchers are more worried about getting guys out than throwing strikes, there is a high probability that we’ll see him lay off of pitches outside of his red zone.

          1. hansman1982

            Wait, so you are saying that it is possible that, literally, every scout and prospect ranking system out there isn’t wrong?

        2. Marc N.

          So yep, rookie ball walk rates was an excellent guess. That is enough to prove he has no eye, you’re using one number from the lowest level of pro ball. Wimsey covers this better.

          1. Marc N.

            *not enough.

      4. DocPeterWimsey

        And that’s the thing: the scouts had Almora ranked very highly for a lot of good reasons. His CFing is supposed to be special: several scouts have noted that he’s one of those rare guys who knows almost exactly where it’s going as soon as it’s hit. Therefore, instead of chasing after the ball, he’s intercepting it: and that hugely increases a guy’s range.

        The ability to read the ball off of the bat is essentially using the same fundamental tool as reading the ball out of a pitcher’s hand. Once Almora gets to a level where he’s not destroying everything pitchers throw into the strike zone, then there is a good chance that we’ll see a selective hitter. (Of course, he could grow up to be Tony Gwynn, who could still do that at MLB level: but Gwynn’s are very few and far between! Gwynn actually had a great batting eye, too.)

        1. BluBlud

          So a guy who projects to have slight power if it even reaches that, average speed at best, a horrible batting eye, no selectivity, and couldn’t even get on base 30% of the time in low A is our best prospect. 145 PA’s, I could luck into more then 2 walks. I AINT buying the hype. Defense is valuable, but it’s not that valuable.

          1. JR

            Yeah Blu Almora’s #’s last year weren’t very impressive. But most experts have him as a top 25 prospect they must being seeing something besides his glove.

          2. David

            Dude, you are reading way too much into 15 games at Boise (re: your comment about him not getting on base 30% of the time).

          3. Tommy

            You do realize that Almora just got out of high school, right?

            1. BluBlud

              You mean like every other prospect taken out of High School. Noooo!!!!!!!!!!

              .310/.369/.448 Addison Russell
              .308/.352/.631 Courtney Hawkins

              These guys were straight out of HS, in the same draft as Almora and taken after him. They put these numbers up one level higher then Almora with the same amount or more at-bats as he had at A-. So the being straight out of high school as a reason for his non success is not an excuse. You can’t blame Theo for not taking them if they were rated as high, but give me the he was fresh out of HS crap. Hawkins actually reached A+ ball, which currently leaves him 2 level ahead of Almora. He put up almost the same exact numbers at A+ as Almora did at A-, though he only had 18 PA there.

              1. BluBlud

                *You can’t blame Theo for not taking them if they were not ranted as high, but don’t give me the he was fresh out of HS crap.

              2. Cedlandrum

                I’m still trying to figure out what you are so disappointed in, in Almora’s season last year. The lack of walks was a concern, but everything else was really pretty good. Why the outrage man?

                1. BluBlud

                  Not outraged. I like that he is ranked, just dont understand how. Baez and Soler are better and Vogelbach had better numbers then any of them. How Almora is ranked so high, or even ranked at all and Vogs is not is just stupid. Plain and simple. Vogs bat is by far and away better then Almora and his age and defense does not make up the difference. More power, better batting eye, more selectivity, more consistency, more production and its not even close.

                  1. ab

                    geez, People have explained probably 800 times why vogelbach is not ranked higher among scouts and analysts.

                    1. BluBlud

                      And I still don’t agree for the 800th time.

                  2. hansman1982

                    Some could argue that basing Almora’s abilities on 140 PA between rookie and A- ball is stupid.

                    1. BluBlud

                      I actually agree. That is pretty stupid and i won’t even argue over that.. But then again, I have never really been a huge fan of his. I guess I have grown to be less of a fan over last season. I just think the guy needs to be a little(or a lot) more selective. Baez get criticized for not being selective enough. If Baez is not selective, then what is Almora.

                    2. hansman1982

                      We will find out after this year. If he continues with his 1% walk rate then we can declare he has a terrible batting eye.

          4. Drew7

            ” So a guy who projects to have slight power if it even reaches that, average speed at best, a horrible batting eye, no selectivity”

            Who’s projections are these? Do you have a source, or are you deliberately being obtuse?

          5. Marc N.

            He slapped 12 doubles in his pro debut right out of HS, including 7 in 65 PAs at Boise. He’s also been said to have above average power and/or 60 power in most of his scouting reports.

            If you’re going to read so much into the “bad” numbers then it’s only fair to read as much into the good ones. An 18 year old jumping into a league of 19-21 year olds right after the draft and hitting 7 doubles in 65 PAs isn’t exactly slapping the ball into the ground.

    2. hansman1982

      The bust potential, literally, goes against absolutely everything I have read about Almora.

      Also, if Soler hits .600 SLG that would mean that he shot WAAAY past his projected ceiling and is one of the best power hitters in the game.

      1. BluBlud

        You totally missed the “those are not my projections” part. You could have taken the names away from the players. I was just making a point about the positions.

        1. BluBlud

          *Taken the names away from the numbers*

        2. hansman1982

          Ok, take the names and positions away from the players. If you tell me that a guy projects to, literally, be the best bat in the majors (as in Miguel Cabrera) then yes, he deserves to be the best ofensive prospect in the bigs.

          Now, if you say that he can only be a DH because his fielding is atrocious, then that cuts him down a bit (because now he only has half as many chances to make the majors). Now, you tell me that he can put up those numbers while playing SS then I say the FO needs to literally hand him a blank check because that would make him THE best SS EVER.

          Plus, if his bat starts falling short of the projection it has a long ways to fall before he becomes below average. If his glove falls short then you can move him around the diamond.

          In terms of 2012 Almora, you summed it up best, in 140 PA you could luck into just about anything.

          1. terencem

            Almora was BA’s #7 draft prospect so I don’t think a lot of people are going to agree with you that there were “better” players on the board. Some of the guys drafted behind him broke-out when they started playing but drafting Almora was totally logical there.

            1. BluBlud

              Even If I concede that he was ranked there, which mean absolutely nothing, he still doesn’t deserve to be ranked where he is. Hopefully his ranking gets him traded for a big name pitcher , such as David Price, before he gets to exposed. If Cub fans are waiting for this guy to be the next big super star, they are going to be disappointed.

              1. JB88

                Out of curiosity, what is the basis for this belief?

                1. BluBlud

                  My opinion

    3. Cedlandrum

      Blubird you are hilarious. Reached to get Almora? Baseball America had him as the 7th best prospect. Mayo actually had the cubs selecting him 6th because he felt he was the 2nd best position prospect behind Buxton. I mean I know you are grinding your axe and all but were you living in a cave last year or something? I am sure you could find some report somewhere that didn’t have him as high, but for the most part he was a top 10 pick.

      1. TWC

        Hey, Ced, you typed “hilarious” where I think you meant “obstreperous”.

      2. BluBlud

        First off, My name is not Blubird. Why be disrespectful. Even though thats not a derogatory name, it’s still not the name I choose to go by, so why call me by it. I don’t call you by any name you choose not to go by.

        There were reports that Theo would have taken Almora even if he had the #1 pick. There were better players on the board when he was drafted. I not saying he can’t play in the Majors one day, or that he can’t be a productive Major Leaguer, but I have my doubts. If he does make it to the show, I have a feeling it will be by way of Josh Vitters, slow and painful, and he will not be thought of as highly by the time he gets there.

        There is absolutely no way in Hell anybody should have him ranked higher then Baez and Soler.

        1. Cedlandrum

          Calling you Blubird was an accident, it was not being disrespectful. Get a grip.

          As far as better players on the board, it remains to be seen. Theo has stated a preference for drafting position players with first round picks. Almora was the best position player available then. I understand that Appel and Fried were still on the board, but obviously they wanted to take a position player and loved Almora. I don’t have a problem with that, not sure why you do either?

          Every year there is going to be a close group of players and you have to decide on a preference. I know some wanted the Cubs to take Jungmann or Gray the year we drafted Baez. It is all about preference.

  11. terencem

    Jason Parks is going to have a lot of explaining to do. This list is pretty out there compared to BA and Keith Law.

  12. cubfanincardinalland

    Corey Patterson is still relevant to the Cubs. He is a great example of how you can destroy a kid’s chances by rushing him to the big leagues before he is ready. He may not have had much of a career anyway, but he had no business being in the big leagues at 21 or even 22 years old. He had little success in AAA ball in 2001, yet the front office bought into the hype machine, and stuck him in a major league outfield. He needed at least another year in AAA to learn the game.

  13. DB Kyle

    I’ve never forgiven BP for their “Brendan Harris/Albert Pujols” comp.

  14. someday...2015?

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. Almora will be a future MVP. I believe he will eventually put up Ryan Braun type numbers with the bat all while winning multiple gold gloves. Yes, I know, extremely high expectations for a kid who isn’t even 20 yet, but with his work-ethic/baseball skills/natural leadership I think the sky’s the limit.

  15. Marc N.

    I too <3 Almora.

  16. Morken

    Some day, Cubs fans may thank Dempster for being a prude.

    Delgado is a solid young arm; but Vizcaino’s ceiling is much higher.

  17. another JP

    I guess there’s no way that Almora will ever reach Tony Campana potential if you follow one sensitive posters’ logic.

    Fact is, we won’t know for another two/three years if Almora is worthy of the hype, so until you have guys making comments like when Soriano told the press that Soler is going to something special, it’s hard to be too judgemental on his future just yet.

    And for all the CPat bashing, the guy hasn’t had the worst career in the world. Dude put up 5.2 WAR in 2004 and looks like he has a chance to make the Met OF this year. Thirteen years in the league with a 252/290/400 line isn’t exactly bust status.

    1. BluBlud

      Nah, I think Almora is better then Campana. Never said Campana is a star, just a guy who I think deserves a chance, and a guy I really enjoy watching play the game. Never said Almora won’t make the Majors, just that I don’t think he’s a star and that I would take what I think is Vogelbach’s future production over his. I do think Almora does have more bust potential then any of our other big prospects. I think the Cubs “Big 3″ position prospect should be Baez, Soler and Vogelbach. That just my opinion. everything posted on this board about prospect is really just an opinion. I’m not that sensitive. People are more sensitive to my comments then I am sensitive. once again, just my opinion. I just have a way of voicing my opinions I guess. The thing is, nobody knows who will end up being the best out of these guy in 3 or 4 years. In 3 or 4 years, it could be Brett Jackson or Candelario tearing up MLB while Soler, Baez, Vogs and Almora are all still struggling. It’s really all just a guessing game.

      1. arta

        blublud…IMO campana did have a chance in 2012, a very good chance. Dale really liked him and gave him every chance to succeed and didn’t. what will be the excuse when he doesn’t start with his new team? again, JMO.

        1. cub2014

          blubud you need to let campana go. i think it was a mistake
          by FO to get rid of him but I dont think he was going to be a star.
          arta, he didnt really get a chance 90 games only 2 at bats per
          game. so what did he start 30-40 games? What I have said is
          why not let him play CF until Jackson was ready to come up
          and truely see what you have. We know what Nate schierholz
          is, that being said we did get 2 17 year old pitchers for him. I
          dont think he was ever in Theo’s plans anyway.

      2. brickhouse

        Blubud – Campana is a fringe 25th man and will likely be a 4A type player the rest of his career.

        Almora is the safest bet and least likely to bust of the big 3 – Vogelbach is the most likely to bust and is overated as a prospect now.

        1. BluBlud

          I honestly think Vogelbach will eventually have the most success of the big three, at least with the stick. Whether thats as a NL 1B or an AL DH is debatable, but his hit stick is unquestionable.

          1. Rich H

            I do agree with what you said that it is to early to tell. There are not that many major league guys at 22 years old. I can see you guys getting media fatigue on these guys way before they are ready. That does not mean they are not going to make it but it seems you are all comparing them to Trout and Harper (as far how far away they are and how fast they can come through the system). That is not reasonable. In 2014 when none of the Big 3 have had a cup of coffee yet do not get discouraged.

            It is much too early to say that anyone of them will be a star or a bust.

  18. ruby2626

    Can someone answer my question? What is going on with Vizcaino, is he pitching, if not when is he expected to? Don’t recall hearing his name mentioned at all.

  19. ruby2626

    Brett can you delete my last post, didn’t mean to put my name on it.

  20. Dan

    Blueberry – you lost all credibility when you said that Campana is a fun player to watch – he can hit – he can field- all he can do is run yet you need to be able to hit – you obviously don’t know baseball if you don’t think Almora is a player – he’s the Cubs future Elsbury

    1. BluBlud

      Why did I lose credibility when I said Campana is fun to watch. He is fun to watch for me. Maybe not you, but to me he is. Hey maybe you like Rock and I like Rap. Maybe you like Drama’s and I like Comedy. Maybe you like Castro and I like watching Campana. It’s all opinions or a matter of choice. One thing I have never said about Campana, no matter how many debates I have had, is that he is a super star or even a star outfielder. In fact, have you ever thought that I make statements about Campana just to see how many responses I get out people on the site. Maybe I shouldn’t write this, as it may reduce my future Campana responses, but Campana is gone and honestly, I like the trade Theo made. I have said that numerous times. I’m over Campana not being a Cub. I still wish he was a Cub and I’ll still watch him in Arizona, but the guy is gone and I’m not losing any sleep over my man. Like seriously

      As for Almora, how many can’t miss prospect have missed. I hope he doesn’t. He fits my definition of a true Cubs, so I hope he turns into a super star. i’ll ride with him, regardless. if he’s traded for Price or Stanton though, i wouldn’t be mad. It just my opinion that he’s overrated. It just my opinion, nothing more.

      For future reference, you probably shouldn’t over react to my words, as i don’t even take myself all that serious. If you knew me personally, you would know that I’m really just a goof ball who loves to laugh and joke.