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baez almora solerThe inimitable Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus has put together his publication’s mid-season top 50 prospects list, and the Chicago Cubs are faring mighty well. Each of The Big Three – Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and Albert Almora – made the cut, and, indeed, are way up there. Soler is ranked 31st, Baez 17th, and Almora 15th.

Even better, Parks has indicated previously that if Cubs’ top 2013 pick Kris Bryant had signed in time for publication, he would have been in the top 30 as well. That’s four of the top 31 32 prospects in baseball. No, prospects don’t always pan out, and no, you can’t assume The Big Four will all contribute to the next championship. But having a large set of elite prospects is always a good thing, however you end up using them.

For what it’s worth, each of Soler, Baez, and Almora has risen in BP’s rankings since the offseason top 101 list – Soler is up five spots, and Baez and Almora are each up three spots.

The only downside here, if you absolutely need one, is that the Cardinals placed four on the list (all in the top 34), and the Pirates placed three.

(If you’re trying to speculate about a Matt Garza-Padres trade, you should probably be aware that BP ranks Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges at number 13. Don’t expect to be seeing him in any Garza deals.)

  • North Side Irish

    In the Comments section, Parks says Bryant would have been ahead of Soler. Crazy to think that Soler could be the Cubs 4th best prospect, but I like it.

    • JB88

      Parks seems to be somewhat “down” on Soler’s power potential longterm. I suspect if Parks believed that Soler’s power would play longterm that he would be ranked higher.

  • Evolvedb4u

    The NL Central has 11/30 top prospects? That makes for an interesting division battle in the future.

    • cub4life

      that includes Bryant correct? Either way do we know how many the Reds or Brewers have?

      • North Side Irish

        It’s actually 12 without Bryant…Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, Pirates 3, Reds 2, Brewers 0.

        • cub4life

          Thanks, that’s awesome.

          I must congratulate the brewers on there great ability to draft high caliber and keep them……..(golf clap).

  • jh03

    Wacha is listed ahead of Soler… Soler clearly has the higher upside/more to be excited about right? I think two of the Cardinals top four are there because of MLB-readiness. Wacha and Wong don’t really have high ceilings like most of the top 35 guys have, they’re just the most MLB ready with good floors.. from what I understand, anyways. Am I mistaken?

    • JOE

      It is an unfortunate part of my life that I married into a family full of die-hard Cardinal fans, so I am exposed to much more of the Cardinals organization than I otherwise would be. I have not dug too deeply into Wacha, but I know that their organization projects him to be something pretty special (even dreams of Adam Wainwright-like ability). Advanced pitching prospects like him normally are ranked higher than lower-level positional players, like Soler, so I understand the current ranks. Having said that, I would rather have Soler in the Cubs system than Wacha personally. These rankings mean very little in the long-run, except in terms of projected trade value, I suppose.

      • jh03

        I live in a very Cardinal dense area and I too have a pretty solid understanding of their system. I think the Cardinal fans that are hoping Wacha will be Adam Wainwright are dellusional. At least that’s my opinion, anybody can correct me.

        • Rich H

          Wacha’s readiness has him heading up many prospect lists not his ceiling which is probably a solid number 3 starter with some upside (5/6). His fastball sits at 94 and he works off it well. Some scouts think he could add a few ticks to it but that is conjecture till he does it. His slider is a plus pitch and he throws a curve ball and strait change but I have not seen any grades on them so I am not sure what we are looking at there.

          So he is on the top 50 because he can be an effective rotation piece now not because he has elite stuff. I have heard a number of Cardinal guys that think he will not stay in the Cards organization because his hype has over shot his upside.

          • Kev

            Hill or Harden, btw?

            • Rich H

              I think the comparison that holds the closest is he could be a Gallardo without the k’s or he could be a Bronson Arroyo,where he just always keeps his team in the game, depending on his growth. But right now it is probably closer to Feldman (career wise not this year). His strikeout are not anything special about 6 per 9 and his control is good with about 2.5 walks per 9. He lets his defense work for him which in a young guy is pretty rare.

    • Rich H

      With the young pitching the Cardinals have if Wong ends up a Adam Kennedy type 2nd baseman that can actually play defense then they win. They just need his glove and his instincts to help them out.
      Another Cards guy that a few years ago would not have made the list but with the way that organization maximizes talent he is seen as can’t miss. It will be interesting to see who comes up first in between him and Taveras.

      • EQ76

        wacha wong with you guys?

        • Rich H

          I spend a lot of time around very knowledgeable “Mullet Heads” and some of the actual organization so I get to ask very pointed questions about some of their guys. I do not hate the Cardinals but most of their fans are really freaking annoying. Now the Yankees there is actual hate there.

  • ssckelley

    The NL Central is shaping up to be a powerhouse division with the Cardinals, Pirates, and the Cubs all showing signs of sustained success. Of the three the Cubs lag behind in on field talent but have the most money of the 3 to make up the gap in the free agent market. Then of course you cannot forget about the Reds and the Brewers still have that cheater playing for them.

    • Kyle

      The big thing is that not only do those three teams have tons of talent (and I’d include the Reds. They aren’t terrible on the farm and have plenty of big-league talent. And all four teams are run by smart, savvy front offices and have good organizations overall.

      Being in a powerhouse division is going to *suck* with the split wild card. At least we can all laugh at the Brewers.

  • Spriggs

    With the cardinals though, it doesn’t matter how highly thought of their prospects are. They will always pull stars out of nowhere. Even if they only shine for a month, a year, or two years… or become Pujols. It just doesn’t matter.

    • hansman1982

      Example 1A: Russian Spammer fav, Aaron Miles:

      2008 Cards OPS: .753 – OPS+: 100 (Mark DeRosa-lite)
      2009 Cubs OPS: .466 – OPS+: 20
      2010 Cards OPS: .627 – OPS+: 73 (not good still but not 2009)

  • David

    Alcantara in top 100????

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he keeps this up, I think he’s getting close to being a lock for the 80 to 100 range.

      • David

        I love his game!! Him and Almora batting 1, 2 will be sweet. 50 stolen bases and 200 runs between them in 2015/ 16???!!!!

        • JeffR

          Almora doesn’t seem like he will be a great base stealer at this point. Not good enough accelleration. He seems like the type of player that could get his share off of pure instincts and awareness though.

          • X the Cubs Fan

            He’s a smart an instinctive baserunner as well as fielder. He could be a perennial 20-20 guy.

        • X the Cubs Fan

          Campana can get that many sb on his own. (:

          • Rich H

            When did this turn into COO with a Campana reference everyday? By the way where does not hitting in the minors prove that this FO did a good job of getting a return for him?

            • MichiganGoat

              Where have you been… Campana is the poster child for Scrappy as Dick Tidrow is the Poster of Everything Awesome

  • Jon

    I believe Bryant is the only top 10 pick now not signed, what is the holdup?

    • TWC

      He gets a rise out of fans posting seven hundred daily “ZOMG! When is Kris Bryant going to sign? What’s the deal?!”-type comments.

    • Coop

      He is waiting to scoop up all remaining pool money from Cubs after they complete the rest of their signings. Likely won’t see him sign until right about the deadline.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Yeah, no big deal, but slightly annoying nevertheless. Would be cool to see him get an additional 2-3 weeks with the team, whether that be in Arizona or one of their minor league squads. Either way, whenever he signs, an additional few weeks isn’t going to have any impact on his long term plan.

        I do however, find it pretty weak that Parks didn’t slide him in. That type of move would suggest he thinks Bryant isn’t going to sign, which I don’t think Parks thinks in this case. Just kinda a lazy move, I guess.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Parks said all along that he would not rank players who haven’t yet signed. Can’t disagree with him on it because there’s always a chance, technically, that an unsigned prospect will not sign.

          • When the Music’s Over

            I must have missed those memos, but if he prefaced it that way, then sure, totally understandable. I just didn’t see it in the leading paragraph, only in the comments section where it was the first question asked. Because of that, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only person who missed his reasoning on that, as it wasn’t stated in the article anywhere.

        • hansman1982

          Parks didn’t include him because he is not yet a prospect, not because he is lazy. Sure, Bryant will eventually sign; however, he can’t go including every guy who is probably going to sign with a team in the next month.

          • When the Music’s Over

            There’s a massive chasm between the 2nd player selected in the draft and considering “every guy who is probably going to sign with a team next month.” Massive.

            • hansman1982

              I think massive is grossly understating it.

  • Randy

    Nitpicking – but we wouldn’t have 4 of the top 31 prospects, rather 4 of the top 32 since it’d bump Soler down a spot by placing Bryant in front of him.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Thanks, Randy.

      • Randy

        Haha, I rarely comment – but love your writing Brett. Love the wit, and also enjoy the crossed out 31. Reader for life.

  • Randy

    Still… not a sh*tty position to be in, not a’tall

  • steve123

    There is a small chance that we could land another top 50 prospect through the trade deadline. I expect to see atleast 3 top 150 through the deadline.

  • curt

    why not hedges in a garza deal isn’t garza worth a top prospect .

    • Rich H

      Because a top 15 prospect at a premium position for a small market spells out that SD will not move him because they have need for cost control.

      • SenorGato

        Then Id look to grab Grandal. Thing about the Padres is that they have two worthwhile catchers in their organization. Grandal’s got the whole PED thing THO…

  • Kramden

    When was the last time the Cubs has 3 prospects rated within the top 50?

    Ever???

    • hansman1982

      I want to say, early 2000′s.

  • Kramden

    Had

  • Cedlandrum

    That is a huge jump for Hedges. Jumped what almost 55 spots?

    • SenorGato

      Parks compared him to Ausmus defensively with a better bat. That sounds awesome for a player. Ausmus was a great defensively catcher.

      • SenorGato

        defensive*

  • SenorGato

    This is making me wonder what type of hitter and player Soler will be. I guess all that really matters is that the power plays in the end. His D doesn’t seem to match the expectations his tools got him last year.

    I wonder where the heck Paniagua would be on these lists if he actually threw in the USA.

  • BluBlud

    I still don’t see how people are ranking Almora in front of Baez. Baez is by far, at least in my opinion, our highest ceiling player in the minors, and he has also had more success in the minors then any of them. Almora has impressed me so far this year, but Baez is reducing his strikeouts and walking much more as of late. in the last 28 days, per Baseball Reference, Baez has struck out 19 times and walked 10 times in 97 PA, Almora has struck out 16 time and walked 3 times in 86 PA. Baez walks twice as much as Almora, though he does strike out twice as much. At the same level that Almora is currently crushing, Baez had basicly the same OBP and a much higher Sluggling and OPS then Almora. They both play a premium position, though SS is more of a premium position.

    I’m not saying Almora is not good, just not sure how his any of this equals better then Baez.

    • jh03

      Almora is a 5-tool player who has a much much higher floor than Baez. Also, Baez isn’t going to stick at SS, or isn’t likely to. Also, Almora’s make-up is an 80 grade.

      All that considered they’re pretty much neck and neck. The difference in #15 and #17 out of every minor league baseball player is pretty small.

      • BluBlud

        Baez is a 5 tool player, much more of a 5 tool player then Almora. Almora may be slightly better hitting for average, and defense, but Baez clearly has more Power and better base running and stealing skills.

        • jh03

          I’ve never seen Baez listed as a 5-tool player (could have just missed it) and every time I see a description of Almora it says he’s a 5-tool guy… So, no disrespect, but I’m going to take the experts opinion on that one.

          I’m not arguing with you, you just asked a question and I gave you an answer. Floor/Ceiling combo has a lot to do with why Almora is higher, I’d guess.

          • BluBlud

            The 5 required tools to be a 5 tool player is Batting Average, Power, Baserunning skill, Arm, and Fielding. If I had to pick between Baez and Almora, and I could only label one as a 5 tool player, Baez would by far get the nod over Almora.

            Batting Average: Lean Almora
            Power: Safe Baez
            Baserunning Skills: Safe Baez
            Arm: Lean Baez(I think Baez’s arm is stronger)
            Fielding: Lean Almora(SS is tougher to field)

            • jh03

              It’s not batting average, it’s hit tool. And Almora’s hit tool is better than Baez’s, safely. Baez still has contact skills he needs to improve on.

              I’d guess that Baez isn’t a “5-tool” guy because of his contact ability and he doesn’t project to have good speed once he fills out, unlike a guy like Almora.

              Also, Almora is going to play GG CF defense, according to scouts. That’s better than decent-to-average SS, where Baez won’t even stick. I’m not downgrading Baez, I’m really high on him… But Almora has a clear advantage in defense too.

              • hansman1982

                Well said. Baez is doing just enough to get people to say “He might just stick at SS but he will most-likely end up at 3rd, still”.

                The only tool that Baez blows Almora out of the water with is Power and this is reflected in the fact that while Almora is ranked higher, they are incredibly close.

                • jh03

                  Exactly. Like I said, it probably comes down to the fact that Almora is much more projectable than Baez, so he’s the top guy. If Baez could raise his floor he might be a top 10 prospect in the game, right now. To me, that’s got to be the biggest separator between the two.

                  • hansman1982

                    If Baez is truly a guy who can walk at a 8-9% rate and K in the 20-range, he will eventually be a top-5 prospect.

                    • jh03

                      Yes, I agree. If he had been doing this all year, too, there would be more believers that he’s changed his approach.

                      Here’s to hoping he keeps it up.

                    • hansman1982

                      My stance on him has softened from “SWEET BABY JESUS TRADE HIM ASAP!!!!” to “I won’t mind if he get’s traded.”

                      Although, he probably did need that sucky period to get him to make some adjustments. If it is strictly approach and he does have an average batting eye, HOORAY! If it is both approach AND a below-average batting eye, well crap, trade him.

                    • jh03

                      Agreed.. and that’s where we just have to trust the FO and hope they make the right move. #InTheoWeTrust haha.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                ugh: can we please stop talking about “5-tool guys”? Why not talk about humors and leeches, too? In particular, ditch batting average: that is an amalgam of batting eye, contact, and power (Eris cannot touch homers!). Arm is pretty meaningless, too: strength, accuracy and quickness of release are three very different tools. Fielding includes both judging where a ball is going (basically the same tool as batting eye neurologically), hand-eye coordination (which is closely tied to contact skills) and foot-eye coordination. Base running is an amalgam of speed, acceleration (2 very different things, although acceleration is going to be tied to the foot-eye coordination), and judging where the ball is going (back to batting eye).

                • DarthHater

                  Uh-oh, sounds like somebody’s humors are inflamed today…

                • hansman1982

                  Part of that is what stats can we determine these fundamental tools from?

    • hansman1982

      Almora has a much higher floor, is still getting some prospect love from his scouting reports and appears to have good contact skills. With his A stats, not sure why you stopped at 86 PA when you can add 30 more and get his whole sample size. In that you get a guy that is walking more than Baez did (not by much) and King a LOT less than Baez.

      Baez needs to keep the BB and K rates up for the rest of the year and figure out how to make some damn contact, a .275 average with 23%K rate still scares the snot out of me.

      • BluBlud

        I used the last 28 days as posted by baseball reference. Lazy of me, I know. :)

        Yes baez has a .275 average, but considering he was hitting below the mendoza line with an extremely unlucky BABIP, that .275 average is fine.

        Also, I’m glad you used contact skills and not batting eye.

        • hansman1982

          We won’t get into what I think of Baez’s batting eye.

          • Rich H

            He is Batting EYE’s No wonder he is still in Daytona. We need to get him to start hitting baseballs and quit taking a bat to opposing players eye. Oh Wait that was Soler NM.

        • hansman1982

          His BABIP has normalized.

          There are just a lot of red flags about him.

          1. Not likely to stick at short.
          2. Batting eye issues
          3. Possible contact issues?

  • JeffR

    Parks said on twitter that Baez does have highest ceiling of cubs prospects. Almora likely has the highest floor.

    • hansman1982

      Which is interesting, many people debate the ranking of a High ceiling/low floor guy against a medium ceiling/medium floor guy. Apparently, very close.

  • ssckelley

    Curious, since Gray and Appel are both signed did either of them make the list? If so, where did they get ranked? Or any other 2013 draft pick for that matter.

  • The Future

    Let’s play the comparision game:

    Almora = Right-handed Beltran
    Baez = Sheffield
    Soler = Bautista
    Bryant = Glaus

    *This was done in 15 seconds without much thought to open the coversation.

    • BluBlud

      If you hadn’t compared Baez to Sheffield, i would have thought you were a racist. ;) J/K

    • Dave

      I remember when the B Jackson comparispn was Jim Edmonds.

      • The Future

        I could see that at one point. Unfortunately it hasn’t panned out that way, which is probably further proof that such comparisons are generally useless. I’d take Jim Edmonds in his prime in our lineup and outfield any day.

  • http://www.hookersorcake.com Hookers or Cake

    If most high ranking prospects don’t pan out, doesn’t it make sense to deal a couple of these guys for legit known MLB talent? The Cubs are a big market team and should be able to afford it. Why not deal Baez and maybe Soler for a guy like Stanton?

  • cubsin

    The Big Four all bat right, so let’s hope that Hanneman (L), Alcantara (S), Candelario (S) and Watkins (L) all reach their ceilings.

    • Dynastyin2017

      If Almora, Baez, Bryant and Soler all reach their ceilings, and Rizzo continues to improve, I don’t think the Left/Right thing will matter.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, if absolutely everything breaks the Cubs way and we get Rizzo, Soler, Almora, Baez AND Bryant reaching their ceiling, you could trot 40 year old Soriano out to 2B and it wouldn’t matter.

        • Dynastyin2017

          And as long as we’re dreaming, we trade Vitters and B-Jax for Stanton. Then I could play 2nd base, and it wouldn’t matter!

  • JoeCub

    Brett, please get a different photo of Almora. He looks angry. We’ve been a host family for many years and Albert is one of the most mature and focused young men
    we’ve ever known. That, along with his baseball skills, will carry him for many successful years in the majors.

    • gocatsgo2003

      With a ton of thanks/gratitude for the service you do for young baseball players in acclimating to life as professional athletes (seriously)… doesn’t he just kind of look like he’s playing baseball?

      • JoeCub

        Thanks, gocats. We feel fortunate to be part of their family. These men have been tremendous role models for my sons. As far as the photo, I’ve seen many of him playing ball. I would never recognize him from the shot used on this blog. There just has to be a better one.

  • North Side Irish

    From Parks’ chat about the list…

    Mario66 (Pittsburgh): Which five players currently in the minors have the highest ceiling?

    Jason Parks on the Midseason Top 50 Prospects: Byron Buxton, Oscar Taveras, Javier Baez, Archie Bradley, Jorge Alfaro (hard to name five)

    Josh (Kansas): Does Arismendy Alcantara make the top 100?

    Jason Parks on the Midseason Top 50 Prospects: He might. He will be in the mix, I assume.

    Josh (Kansas): Could the Cubs top the Organizational rankings after the trade deadline or are the Cards way above everyone else?

    Jason Parks on the Midseason Top 50 Prospects: They won’t top the Twins. They could top the Pirates if they decide to go for the post-season by trading from an extremely deep system. Cubs are definitely in the top 5 of all farm systems, and after the music stops this season, they could easily find themselves sitting comfortably in the top 3.

    James (Morgantown): What ultimately leads you to believe that Lindor will be the better all around player than Baez? Who has the lower floor between the two?

    Jason Parks on the Midseason Top 50 Prospects: Baez has the ceiling, but Lindor has the floor. He [Lindor] is the superior defensive player and has a much better all-around approach to the game.

    • DarthHater

      Interesting. Thanks.

  • fromthemitten

    There is some hope with Hedges since he’s currently blocked by both Grandal and Huntley. Maybe Garza + a B prospect for Hedges and a fringe guy

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