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matt loosenBefore I get into the prospect ranking stuff, the Daytona Cubs have added a no-hitter to their franchise history. Right hander Matt Loosen walked two on his way to no hitting the Dunedin Blue Jays. That’s awesome.

More on that in a bit. But first…

Two articles recently published on Baseball America are each well worth reading individually, but when read together they provide a very powerful endorsement of the Cubs farm system, front office, and future.

Start with this one. That wonderful, wonderful article is Baseball America’s midseason update to their Top 50 Prospects Lists. Number ten is Baez. Number sixteen is Almora. Number eighteen is Soler.

Now let me rephrase that slightly. Despite a near historically bad start to the season, Baez recovered and performed so well that he made it up to No. 10 on the list. Almora had surgery to remove a bone from his hand this spring, but since then has performed so well that he has soared all the way up to No. 16 despite not having any one standout tool. Soler, we found out after he went on the DL, had been battling a leg issue since the spring and he still showed enough to check in at No. 18. That’s impressive.

We’re not done yet.

The second article to read is this one. Every year a reader asks BA’s Jim Callis which draft picks from that year’s draft will immediately become the best prospect for their new team as soon as they sign. Callis only sees two 2013 draftees in that category, and…

This year, I see only two draftees who project to become their organization’s top prospect, and one of those is highly debatable. Third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant (No. 2) had the best power in this year’s draft, and though it’s an extremely close call, I’d take him over shortstop Javier Baez and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler in the Cubs system.

Let’s interpret that conservatively and say that Callis sees Bryant as roughly equivalent to Baez on the prospect ladder. That is, he sees Bryant as roughly equivalent to, maybe just slightly better than, the number ten prospect in the game.

That means the Cubs will have two Top 10 caliber talents in the organization as soon as Bryant signs. And they have four guys in the conversation for Top 20.

When we consider the Cubs prospects in contention for Top 100 status (Vogelbach, Alcantara, Johnson, Paniagua, Vizcaino) as well as the expected return from a Garza trade, it starts to look very likely that the Cubs could have as many as six or seven on the off season Top 100 lists highlighted by The Big 4.

How’s that for a great start to the day?  Cubs beat the White Sox, massive praise for the farm system, and we have a no hitter to talk about.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa - Four in the third proved to be enough as Iowa won 5-2.
Tennessee - The Smokies gave up five runs in the late innings and lost 6-3.
Daytona - This was a beautiful game. The Cubs scored early and Loosen was nearly pristine. The Cubs won 7-0.
Kane County - The Cougars were rained out.
Boise - The Hawks took advantage of five errors and steamrolled to an 11-3 win.
Arizona - The AZL Cubs had the night off.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Chris Rusin returned from the majors and pitched 6 innings of 4 hit baseball. He allowed both Zephyr runs, walked 4, and struck out 2.
  • [Iowa] Brian Schlitter picked up his 10th save with a hitless ninth.
  • [Iowa] Logan Watkins hit two more doubles and drew a walk. He has overcome a slowish start and is putting together a very nice season.
  • [Iowa] Catcher Luis Flora hit his 4th home run in the third inning.
  • [Tennessee] Justin Bour continues to try to make up for lost time. His 8th home run came on a solo shot in the seventh inning.
  • [Tennessee] Outfielder John Andreoli had another nice game. He finished 1 for 2 with a triple (his Double A first) and a walk.
  • [Tennessee] Rubi Silva had a 2 for 3 game that featured a double and a two steals.
  • [Daytona] Two walks from perfection. Matt Loosen struck out 9 and went the distance for a no hitter.
  • [Daytona] With a homer (his High-A first) and a walk, Bijan Rademacher did his share of the offensive heavy lifting in the retooled Cubs lineup. Dustin Geiger (2 for 4, double) is continuing to hit as well.
  • [Boise] Dae-Eun Rhee struck out three in the start for the Hawks, and Tyler Skulina tacked on two more scoreless innings to his season.
  • [Boise] It is early yet, but Shawon Dunston is off to a great start. In this game he was 2 for 4 with two walks.
  • [Boise] Cael Brockmeyer had a nice game as well. He finished 1 for 2 with two walks. It’s too early to say what kind of ceiling Brockmeyer has, but we’ll be keeping an eye on this catcher.
  • [Boise] And then we have Jacob Rogers. He finished 2 for 3 with 3 walks.

Other News

  • Keep an eye on Tennesee’s Rubi Silva as a possible trade candidate. He is hot, his value has never been higher, and he doesn’t really fit the profile of players the Cubs seem to like. I could see someone being willing to overlook the middle number of his .270/.289/.464 line to take a gamble on the 10 HR, 10 SB right fielder. He would not be a major part of any trade, but he makes a lot of sense as a sweetener.
  • More on Loosen’s piece of history can be found here. A no-hitter at any level is quite the accolade, but Loosen got his against a pretty good Blue Jays lineup. I only wish the Florida State League had been hooked up to MiLB.TV so that more than the 648 in attendance (yes, that’s a three digit number) could have seen it.
  • In total the Hawks walked 9 times against just 5 strike outs in last night’s game. Nice.
  • Shadows of Wrigley founder and BN regular TC had his camera handy at a recent Dillon Maples start, and that means we get to enjoy over four and a half minutes of excellent video, not to mention a pretty good write up of the young starter.  One key take away from this – the Cubs are overhauling Maples’ mechanics.  Those mechanics were an issue when he signed, but the Cubs stayed quiet as to their plans.  Now we know their plans, and it partly explains Maples’ control issues this season.  There is upside readily apparent in that video, but this guy is most definitely a work in progress.
  • fortyonenorth

    Luke,

    Aside from the no-hitter, it sounds like Loosen’s been really effective since returning to Daytona (after struggling with TN). What’s your read on his overall floor/ceiling?

    • BluBlud

      Matt Loosen has been pretty good at Daytona, but I still don’t know is he is a legit prospect. Maybe a future BP arm, but not a starter.

      • ssckelley

        I agree, we need to keep in mind Loosen is already 24 and cannot get past Daytona. That was his first career complete game in the minors and he has struggled at the next level. Perhaps last night will get him on track but I need to see him pitching successfully at Tennessee before considering him as a prospect.

  • Oswego chris

    Whoa, whoa whoa…Shawon Dunston Jr. had two walks in a game? His old-man is not gonna be too happy about that..2 walks?…it took Shawon Sr. about 110 games to get 2 walks…

    • baldtaxguy

      That is a whole different “Shawon-O-Meter”

    • BluBlud

      Dunston looks really good. 95 PA’s, only 9 SO and 13 walks. plus he has a .827 OPS. This guy is showing he is a very legit prospect. 1 million well spent.

      Jacob Rogers was drafted by Theo with the Red Sox, by hendry with the Cubs and then again by Theo with the Cubs. He is not exactly young, will be 24 nect month, and is still at Boise, but he is at least someone to watch. Maybe he get the big bump next year to Daytona, and then we’ll start to see what we really have.

      • BluBlud

        This was supposed to be 2 different post.

  • baldtaxguy

    So cool about Loosen. Love to read about pitching accomplishments in the system.

  • On The Farm

    Between Brockmeyer and Alamo it looks like the Cubs have added two interesting catching prospects into the system.

  • Rebuilding

    Phil Rogers is guest hosting on the Score today. It’s not clear Phil understands that the Cubs can trade for slots up to 50% of their pool. Or much else for that matter

  • Assman22

    Plus the top 5 pick the Cubs have next June…

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      If they don’t trade off pieces (which I expect they will) after next years draft they have got to be in the conversation for the top overall farm system in baseball. I’ll have to look into the rankings around 2008/10 but I think we have gone from the bottom to the top in just a few short years. And since Theo came in that jump has been rapid.

      • hansman1982

        Frankly, if we aren’t in that conversation after the Garza trade, then frack it.

        If we can place 4 in the top-25 and 6-7 in the top 100 and not be in consideration for top farm system, something is wrong (besides the lack of top-tier pitching talent).

        • On The Farm

          I get what you are saying, but Buxton (1), Sano (3), and Meyer (SP #32) are a pretty good 1-2-3, and then if you count Rosario who is a top 2B guy, and I think Max Keppler has a good shot at climbing the OF ranks from what I have seen of him. That gives Minnesota 2 of the top 3, 3 in the top 32, and 4-5 in the top 100.

          Our system will be right there but I am not sure if Vogelbach or Johnson will be top 100 guys by the end of this year. I think we would be looking at 1 in the top ten, 4 in the top 25 and hopefully 6 (Alacantra + Garza deal) in the top 100.

          • Rebuilding

            Yes, not to mention that some are calling Buxton a “generational talent” and Sano might have the most raw power of any prospect in the game. Quantity is great, but their quality is off the charts

            • On The Farm

              Two of the top three is something that is really impressive. I have been blessed to see Buxton play a few games when he was in Cedar Rapids and the way he played in the MWL I thought he looked like a more complete player than Trout when he was in Cedar Rapids. I am not trying to say Buxton will be the better player, I am just saying Buxton looked so advanced.

              While I am gushing over all the CF talent I have been lucky enough to see, Almora is as good as advertised when it comes to his D. The kid has great instincts.

  • Assman22

    Cubs and Bryant have a deal done in principle…

    • hansman1982

      Waiting for additional signings?

    • BluBlud

      Theo, how about you get off the blog, and get back to signing the rest of the draft picks and international free agents left. ;)

      • ChicagoMike702

        I’d be an even bigger fan of Theo if his screen name of choice was “Assman22.”

  • Clark Addison

    Just a word of caution about farm system rankings. The Cubs had a top farm system ranking with Patterson and Choi and Zambrano. Nobody is saving a spot in Cooperstown for them.

    I wonder how many of the gurus actually see the players they are ranking.

    • hansman1982

      Quite a few do and when they don’t they are generally honest about it and talk to scouts who watch these kids everyday.

      Also, that farm system did get us Lee and Ramirez and a spot might be saved for Ramirez someday.

      • BluBlud

        And Lee was putting up triple crown numbers one year if I remember right. Nobody is saying any of the big 3 or 4 or top 8 will be in coopertown, but the most superstar are usally ranked pretty high in the prospect ranking, so the more you have, the better chance once turns into that guy, or in my Lebron james voice, not 1, not 2, not 3. ;)

        • BluBlud

          *cooperstown*

    • Rebuilding

      I hear what you are saying, but Zambrano had a very nice career and Choi got us Lee. Patterson never had any plate discipline and major league pitchers took advantage.The talent evaluation of the minors has gotten so much better than even ten years ago by taking into account advanced metrics that I think the ranking today are far more reflective of the actual talent you have.

      • BluBlud

        So in other words, Zambrano, and Choi(by way of Lee) were successful and Patterson wasn’t. If every team in baseball could hit on 2 out of there 3 big prospects, they would be very happy.

        • Rebuilding

          Yes. And I think by the shear volume of information on the internet now the prospect rankings are probably far more accurate of the actual ability to play baseball

          • Mr. B. Patient

            THIS^.(to Rebuilding). Prospect evaluation will always have a bit of guess work involved, but when prospects are evaluated by so many sources, the consensus opinion seems to get it right more often than they used to.
            For most of my life, I’d have to wiat until Thursday to get my new issue of Baseball America to check on Cubs prospects. We’d get two paragraphs of narrative and the box scores.

      • ssckelley

        I would argue Patterson had a decent career, he did end up playing 12 years and did have a couple of good ones with the Cubs. You look at the end result of that farm system the Cubs got within 1 win of the World Series with it. Now imagine if the Cubs can build the farm system where they are consistently top 10 along with the payroll the Cubs can afford.

        I see people knock Hendry and honestly he had the Cubs close. The Tribune was not patient enough to see it through, started spending carelessly and the wheels fell off.

    • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

      If all the top prospects in the Cubs system right now produced like Zambrano did, this team would win 4-5 championships over the next decade. Carlos Zambrano is an overwhelming success story as far as prospects are concerned, and I don’t know how you would lump him in with Choi or Patterson

  • EQ76

    Luke, I’d argue, with a Garza trade, that the Cubs could have over 10 of the top 100.. You named 9 potential guys with (Bryant, Baez, Soler, Almora, Vogelbach, Alcantara, Johnson, Paniagua, Vizcaino). If Garza nets us a couple of an organization’s top 10, we could easily see one of those guys in there too.

    • On The Farm

      If the Cubs got that many guys in the top 100 it would have to be considered one of the best farm systems of all time…

      (I am not talking retrospectively I am talk prospectively)

    • BluBlud

      The big 4, Bryant, Baez, Almora and Soler are locks, Alcantara is looking more like a lock everyday, Vogelbach should be in there, and Johnson, if he finishes off the season the same way he has started will more then likely be there.

      Vizcaino prospect status has probably faded slightly, so it’s possible he won’t be in there. and Piniagua will have to pitch lights out the rest of the year to even come be considered, IMO. So maybe one of the guys we get from a Garza trade will be there, but i think our peak and likely spot will be 2. Nobody will surpass the Twins until their big 2 is playing big league ball.

      • On The Farm

        I would have to agree with most of your post. The only thing is I think Vogelbach is going to have a tougher time be in the top 100 based on his position. I think once the draft picks get included in the top 100, Voggy might be bumped to fringe status. I still think he is a heck of a ball player, but not sure if he will be top 100.

        I also don’t think right now (or by the end of the season) Piniagua will have thrown enough to be ranked, or Johnson will be able to crack the top 100.

  • Oswego chris

    What do think the realistic number of suitors there are for Garza? After purusing the standings, it’s not quite as many that have probably been portrayed…I would say BOS, CLEV, TEX, and NATS are favorites

    Longshots- DODGERS, ARIZONA, BALT…

    Disagreements?

    • BluBlud

      NYY, SD, Detroit I would think could also be in the conversation.

      • Coop

        I think SD has distinctly fallen out of that conversation. They are plummeting in the standings. SD radio has them more likely in sell mode now.

        I think best bets are: TEX, BOS, TOR, WAS
        Less likely, but still in the conversation: DET, NYY, CLE, LAD

  • Rebuilding

    Man am I excited to get Bryant in the fold. If it’s possible for a #2 overall pick to be underrated by a team’s fanbase I think Bryant is by ours. I don’t know if its disappointment about not getting Appel or what, but I don’t feel the buzz you would expect about this guy. Pretty strong when Callis basically anoints him one of the Top 10 prospects in baseball before he’s seen a professional pitch. I think Bryant is going to really open some eyes

    • Cornfield Cub

      Are you talking about in this site?
      Because outside of this site:
      1. there is a fairly large portion of the cubs fan base, that doesn’t know who we drafted.
      2. people that are afraid to celebrate until he signs
      3. and others who think its silly to get excited about draft picks

  • Feeney

    If and when we sign Bryant we will have 4 of the top 20 prospects in baseball. We don’t have a top end pitching prospect really anywhere on the radar. If Garza and Shark were to sign reasonable extensions. With Wood and Jackson we would really only need to go out and get a top free agent pitcher and our rotation would be strong. For example, just an example, Shark, Price, Garza, Wood, Jackson. That’s as strong as anyone in the division.

    Both Garza and Shark are young enough to be in their prime when our prospects arrive to join Castro and Rizzo. Plus a top pick next summer. I wouldn’t mind seeing an extension for Garza if it’s good value for both sides.

    • On The Farm

      The only problem with that senario is we would have lots of money tied up between Jackson, Garza, Price, and Shark. It would hamstring the ability to go out and sign some decent bats or decent bullpen guys.

      • Feeney

        Yeah I suppose. I hate the idea of spending money to sign bullpen arms. Those should come through the system and I think we will have lots of options in a couple years time.

        My point is that if we don’t spend money to have that rotation where are we getting similar quality for cheaper? Not from our system as it is currently set up.

        • On The Farm

          I know what you mean, however I am fine with locking up decent arms through the market, not the cream of the crop since they usually comand as much of a starter (Papelbon, Madson..etc.). I think a majoirity of the BP should be home grown with a couple other aquistions.

          If we sign someone like Price we would sign the #2 most expensive SP (’12), The most expensive (’13), The most expensive (’14), and then theorically the most expensice again on shark in (’15). Instead of Price we will need to find another Feldman-Maholm type quality. Someone that is a 3, but if they are riding a hot streak they can be as good as a 2. I think Shark-Garza are good enough to be a 1-2 punch.

          • Feeney

            In the end I guess it just depends on value and what Garza and Shark would get in terms of contracts. But at some point this team is going to have to try and win. I think that’s probably 2015 or 2016.

            If the Cubs have a strong lineup at that point that is capable of scoring runs and being a contender I’d rather have Garza than a Feldman or Malholm type arm.

            Maybe with Garza being 29 it depends on how soon the front office thinks we can compete. If it’s not until 2016 then dealing Garza is most likely the better option.

      • TheDondino

        The decent bats and bullpen guys would come through the farm system. Yes we’d have to lose a couple of those bats to get Price, but there’s going to be enough left to stock the order with cost-controlled, quality hitters. Say we lose Baez, Vogelbach and Pierce Johnson in the deal for Price, that still leaves us a 2015 core of Rizzo, Alcantara, Castro and Bryant in the infield, Soler and Almora in the outfield. All of those guys under big cost-controlled savings. Plenty of room in the budget to add one big time bat for the other outfield spot and sprinkle in some quality BP arms that the system doesn’t provide. That’s should be a pretty stout team. Without breaking the bank.

        • Feeney

          I was thinking Price would be coming as a free agent.

          • TheDondino

            I’d prefer that to trading away Baez, but I think this FO won’t want to take the chance of losing a bidding war with the Yankees/Dodgers or winning the war but at a way-too-steep price. They’ll make the trade this off-season along with a contract extension for Price, which will save some money as well.

  • Whiteflag

    Theo and Jed have really turn things around on the farm fast. Love to see the system in conversation for top 5.

    • On The Farm

      Its in the conversation for top system if/when Bryant signs

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