javier baez aflOne of the fun, extra things that Baseball America does each year is to rank the top prospects in each minor league. Doing so provides an interesting glimpse on how prospects line up relative to other top prospects, without having them in that one, singular, gigantic top 100 list. It also allows folks to see how one publication views the relative value of certain prospects who are not going to make that top 100 prospect list.

As expected, the Cubs are very well-represented in their league lists. The Pacific Coast League list hasn’t come out yet, but, giving the makeup of the Iowa Cubs this year (prospect thin), I don’t think it’s premature to go ahead and get this out, now that the Southern League list has been released.

You can see the full lists here at BA, and subscribers get scouting reports and chats.

In the Southern League (AA), the Cubs had Javier Baez at number three (behind Archie Bradley and Yasiel Puig) and Arismendy Alcantara at number nine (behind a bevy of top prospects). I’m a little surprised to not see Kyle Hendricks sneak onto the back-end of the list, but it really was a stacked league.

In the Florida State League (High-A), the Cubs once again had Javier Baez at number three (behind Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano) and Jorge Soler at number eight (behind Gregory Polanco, Maikel Franco, Noah Syndergaard, and Gary Sanchez). Pierce Johnson was the only member of the pitching staff to make the list, at number 15. C.J. Edwards presumably didn’t pitch quite enough in the FSL to qualify.

Edwards did qualify, however, in the South Atlantic League (Low-A), where he ranked third behind Eddie Butler and Tyler Glasnow. That ranking suggests that Edwards might not be a top 50 prospect to Baseball America, though Glasnow is a serious riser in the rankings.

The Cubs landed three on the Midwest League list (Low-A): Albert Almora at number six (behind Buxton, Carlos Correa, Robert Stephenson, Corey Seager, and Lance McCullers), Pierce Johnson at number ten, and Dan Vogelbach at number 17. The latter ranking very much suggests that Vogelbach is considered a big-time prospect right now by BA. He didn’t really breakout with the bat in 2013 like he would have needed to in order to carry a top ranking, so I can’t say it’s unfair. If he mashes next year at High-A, he’ll be right back there in folks’ minds. Jeimer Candelario was a possibility for this list, but he also didn’t quite break out this year.

In the Northwest League, the Cubs cleaned up: Kris Bryant (1), Paul Blackburn (7), Yasiel Balaguert (9), Dillon Maples (10), Shawon Dunston, Jr. (12), and Kevin Encarnacion (17). The NWL is a smaller league, with just eight teams. But if there were an even distribution of prospects on the list, each team would have had just 2.5 prospects – the Cubs had six(!).

  • http://chicagocubsprospects.mlblogs.com/2013/10/ cubs_prospects

    I get the print magazine and there were no Cubs prospects in Iowa that made the Top 20 League Prospects

    • CubbieBubba

      …they, like everyone else, must not consider bogusevic a prospect (nor any of the other flyers that filled out that roster).

  • Patrick W.

    In my I saw 6 of his at bats live last year scouting report: Yasiel Balaguert hits the ball very hard.

  • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

    I love that you’ve written this before they release the PCL list online

  • AA Correspondent

    I know i am crazy; as the MLB playoffs are not even over yet; but I cant wait to see the talent that shows up at AA Tennessee next year. The pitching should be FANTASTIC!!

    • Dan Foote

      Since I’m not close an affiliated team (although El Paso DOES get the Padres’ Triple A affiliate next year – PCL!!), I am already looking forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training (anyone know that date yet??), so I can go watch. It’s worth the six hr drive.

  • ssckelley

    The amount listed on the Northwest League is encouraging, it shows that the wave of prospects are going to keep coming. To bad they don’t do the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues, I bet the Cubs would be all over them.

    • Kyle

      That’s more a function of how small the NWL is.

      I think we had more last year, didn’t we? I’m pretty sure we had seven last year. But a lot of them washed out as they got to higher leagues with harder lists to make.

      • On The Farm

        That, and when they are in the MWL league there is so little professional data most of it is based on projections. For instance, Dillon Maples makes the list and is 20 years old and dealing with some pretty extreme control issues.

        • JulioZuleta

          He was pretty great after getting demoted to Boise.

          • On The Farm

            Maybe, I am not sure I would call 4 BB/9 “pretty great”.

            • Scotti

              Maples came to the Boise team with residual control problems. In his first two outings (1 start) he had 5 BB in 3 IP (15.0 BB/9 IP). From there on out (8 starts) he had a good 3.2 BB/9 IP ratio. That’s what the scouts and managers saw when they watched him pitch.

              • King Jeff

                The mechanical difference was night and day with him. I saw video of him at KC and he was all over the place with his release point, his follow through, arm angle, you name it. He was much more consistent after the demotion.

      • ssckelley

        Sure but 6 of the 20 with 8 teams in the league is a good ratio. Of course many of them will flame out, but I still see it as encouraging. On the other hand I just noticed there were no Cubs listed in the top 20 of the Arizona League, so I guess it all evens out. I would have thought Ihrig or Leal could have made the list.

      • http://obstructedview.net Myles

        2. Dan Vogelbach
        6. Marco Hernandez
        7. Jeimer Candelario
        9. Gioskar Amaya
        15. Stephen Bruno
        16. Trey Martin
        17. Tayler Scott

      • kscubfan

        I think the main point here is, this is league that we should dominate if we are going to have a top farm system for years to come (sustained success). Check!!.

        Would I rather dominate AA or AAA? Of course but yea have to start somewhere.

  • Aaron

    Looking forward to the Cubs drafting a potential “ace” starting pitcher with the #4 draft pick in the 2014 MLB Draft and other quality pitchers in the following rounds.

    I like the Cubs’ future position players. We just need more top tier pitching and this draft will help accomplish that goal.

    • caryatid62

      I’m not sure the Cubs are interested in committing the type of money the #4 prospect would command to a pitcher. I would think that prospect would have to be graded significantly higher than the next person on their board to offset the injury risk.

      Based on the way they’ve drafted the last two years, it seems like they prefer quantity over first round quality, given the injury rate for young pitchers.

      • Scotti

        “I’m not sure the Cubs are interested in committing the type of money the #4 prospect would command to a pitcher.”

        Makes more sense than giving $52 million to the likes of Jackson hoping for LIAB or $150-200 million to actually sign a legitimate ace (who has a strong likelihood of flaming out, getting injured or just getting too old. Spending less than $5 million on a draft pick who has a *chance* to save you $195 million (and potentially give you his better years) is really a pretty good move.

        • Kyle

          You don’t compare the cost of a draft pick to free agents. You compare it to the cost of other draft picks.

          I’d just as soon keep using the top picks on the much safer, equally rewarding position players.

          • Scotti

            False. You compare the cost of talent acquisition to the cost of talent acquisition. If you have a draft philosophy that causes you, by design, to miss out on the top pitchers and forces you to spend hundreds of millions more down the road on costlier talent, then your philosophy is going to bite you in the ass.

            Many of the same issues that make hitters more desirable in the draft make hitters more desirable in free agency but free agency is 20X (literally) more expensive (and that more than takes into account of development and the expense of paying, say, a Samardzija over his first six years).

            Buying hitters on the market is expensive but they rarely, even in the case of injury, flame out to the point of being useless.

            • Scotti

              A good analogy here is folks who grow their own fruit and vegetables (as we did for ten years). You don’t just compare the price of the seeds/plants with the price of other seeds/plants. You compare the price of the seeds/plants PLUS time, effort, failure rate and health benefits to the finished product (what you get from the store that takes very little time, effort and has a virtually non-existent failure rate but has lower health benefits and costs more). For our family, after determining total costs, we decided that we would still buy certain fruit and vegetables at the store, but we never would have made the RIGHT determination by just comparing the price of seeds.

            • Kyle

              True. You are missing the fact that draft pick’s financial cost understates their true cost because you are also spending the pick itself, a much more finite resource.

              • Scotti

                No, I’m not missing it. The COST of a pick is finite and calculable (each organisation will have differing values–even the same organisation will have differing values dependent upon where the organisation, as a whole, is at in its development). Hell, some teams willingly lose top 11-15 draft picks for just signing marginal free agents.

                The difference between the cost of a slugger on the market and his value to the team (getting value from a post-injured slugger) vs that of a top pitcher (a post-injured pitcher is far less likely to produce anywhere near acceptable levels, is much more likely to get injured in the first place and is more likely to just lose his edge without ever having a severe injury) is Crazy Go Nuts difference.

                The Oakland A’s rode Mark Mulder (2nd overall ’98) and Barry Zito (9th overall ’99) to divisional championships and then either traded them (Mulder for Dan Haren) or let them walk via free agency for the pick (Zito’s pick turned into Sean Doolittle). Mulder was out of Baseball in four years (with only 6 appearances in his final two years). Mulder just missed free agency as a healthy pitcher (that would have been an awful investment). Zito has been a s*p*e*c*t*a*c*u*l*a*r flop (six years w/ OAK for less than $20M and ERA+ of 125 and seven years w/ SF for a mere $119M SF and an ERA+ of 86–and prices are double that now).

                Yes, OAK also drafted guys in lower rounds but, if they didn’t draft Mulder and Zito, they would have been looking to free agency and, as Mulder and Zito prove, free agency isn’t where you want to get your pitching (even if you have the money).

                • Scotti

                  One thing I don’t think that I’ve made clear is that if you:

                  A) sign a free agent PITCHER and he is injured/flops you will likely go back to free agency again to fill in the hole (double dipping).

                  B) sign a free agent HITTER and he is injured/flops you will likely go back to free agency again to fill in the hole.

                  C) DRAFT a top PITCHER and he is injured/flops you will likely look to free agency to fill the hole.

                  D) DRAFT a top HITTER and he is injured/flops you will likely look to free agency to fill the hole.

                  In all scenarios you are likely to fill the hole in free agency (that’s just how it roles these days). The issue is that, if you fill your free agent spots with HITTERS, then you know that they will be more durable (less likely to be injured/flop and be worth the contract) AND that frees up more room in the draft for pitching (so you can fill a pitching slot with another draft slot instead of a floppy/injury free agent pitcher).

    • Eric

      I think the Cubs are more inclined to keep drafting impact position players with the idea of trading them for proven pitching later on down the line once we get out ahead of the organization’s shortfall of prospects.

      • On The Farm

        Perhaps a new market inefficiency? Only draft positional talent at the top of the draft. Higher success rate, and you can trade later for young talent. You may be on to something.

        • SalukiHawk

          But if everyone starts doing that, won’t it just raise the price of free agent pitching?

          • bbmoney

            Well at some point it’d stop being a market inefficiency if everyone was doing it.

        • turn two

          I think its a draft strategy, not a market inefficiency.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    We’re the #4 pick, I think the lefty, Sean Newcomb would fit us very well. His upside is close to Rodon’s and everyone has been comparing him to Jon Lester.

  • Aaron

    My top choices for the Cubs’ #4 pick in next years MLB draft:
    – Tyler Kolek
    – Jeff Hoffman
    – Tyler Beede
    – Sean Newcomb

    • On The Farm

      If we are only looking at pitchers those are definitely the front runners for now. If we are including all the talent that may be available at #4, Alex Jackson and Trea Turner should be included as well.

  • On The Farm

    AFL update: Almora to bat leadoff, Soler in the DH spot hitting clean up, and Bryant batting 5 (3B).

  • Aaron

    Cubs already have a quantity of pitchers. Now we need first round quality for that potential future “ace” starting pitcher.

    All of the playoff teams have at least 1 if not 2 aces. Many of those pitchers were drafted by those playoff teams. That is what we are shooting for.

  • Aaron

    On The Farm – Looking at Alex Jackson (SS) and Trea Turner (C)…I would still take any of the four pitchers I highlighted with the #4 pick over those 2 players you mentioned.

    • On The Farm

      Maybe, but you don’t know what kind of year they will have. What if Trea Turner goes off like Bryant (not necessarily HRs, but in other areas of his game)? Maybe he is worth it if he is available at #4. Same with Jackson, you could argue that we are weaker at catcher than we are at pitching. If we could draft the next Joe Mauer, you draft Joe Mauer. Its too early to just assume these guys won’t worthy of the #4 pick yet.

      • Chad

        So hard to predict what will happen. Will a few of these guys spring board up and push Rodon down? Or will someone come out of nowhere. At this point last year Sean Manea was pushing for the top pick and Bryant was not getting any attention at all. Lots of time until June, and lots of amateur baseball to be played. As of right now I think the pitching quality at the top is much higher than it was for this last draft, so we’ll see what happens.

        • Chad

          Also, here is a preliminary ranking of the top 50 2014 draft prospects as of right now

        • On The Farm

          Yeah, that is kind of my point that right now these two look to be the best offensive talent on the board right now, so we shouldn’t completely ignore the hitters in the draft. I think if Alex Jackson has a good senior season, the value of drafting a catcher may be hard for the FO to pass up. The rarity of catchers is worse than pitching. People say there might be 15 “true aces” at one point in time, there are about 5 elite catchers at one time so the scarcity of catchers may increase the players value to go along with the theory of drafting best available.

          • Chad

            I don’t know how true it could be, but the scouting report says he may need to move to the outfield. If true could change minds of anyone drafting him.

  • Aaron

    Sorry…Alex Jackson (C) and Trea Turner (SS)

  • mjhurdle

    Unless there is a Gray or Appel sitting there at #4, i do not see them taking a risk on a pitcher, and really dont see them drafting a HS pitcher that early.

    Rodon would qualify, but he wont be there at #4 (barring horrible year/injuries).
    Of course, there is plenty of time for one to emerge, but if i had to guess now, i would say that Turner or Jackson would be the Cubs pick with Rodon already gone and Hoffman/Beede not being ‘can’t miss’ enough for them to risk.

    just my opinion though

    • Professor Snarks

      A lot will change between now and next June, but I think a College pitcher with TOR ability would be the Cubs top wish. I agree with you about HS pitchers. Don’t think they fit this front office at all. Now, if Kolek is the top player left, they should take him. (I wouldn’t mind Jackson if he can stay at catcher).

  • kielovher

    On an unrelated note… what the what?? Tunney has lost his mind. http://www.suntimes.com/23054547-418/tunney-pressures-needy-cubs-to-start-wrigley-rehab.html

    • Jon

      What an idiot.

    • MichiganGoat

      The money quote from him after he said he didn’t want a “civil war”:

      “You have to be a good neighbor. Otherwise, I’ll be up your butt every day,”

      Hate to think how much more up the Cubs butt he plans on going.

      • JB88

        *Snicker* Probably not the best choice of words for Tunney … :)

    • Chef Brian

      Tunney’s a toad.

  • The Huch

    Girardi to Yanks for 4 more years.

    • D-Rock

      Dang. That sucks.

  • Boba Fett

    What’s the cubs next move now that giardi is staying with the yanks?

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    In the 2012 draft Cubs chose Albert Almora at # 6 while the Cardinals waited till # 19 to select Wacha who is throwing 1 hitters in the NL playoffs. We’ll be waiting at least 2 more years for Almora. I’ll take the college pitcher who projects as an ace in this years draft whether it’s Rodon, Beede, Hoffman, or LSU’s Nola my personal favorite.

    • Jon

      This is a stupid ass post.

      • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

        I was suggesting the urgency of fixing our rotation now that we’ve used our previous top picks on position players and the fact that great college pitchers can pitch on playoff teams in just a couple of years like Wacha has this year.

        • King Jeff

          I think that’s part of the reason that they skewered toward college arms this year. They took the big potential arms that were further away in 2012, and supplemented that with several college arms this year. I’d like to see them go pitcher with the #4 pick next year too, unless a top catcher emerges over the course of the winter/spring.

    • SalukiHawk

      So you are blaming the Cubs for whiffing on a player 13 other teams whiffed on behind them? Clearly we weren’t the only fools. Just because the dude is bringing it now doesn’t mean he projected as a high first rounder at the time. Your logic escapes me.

      • SalukiHawk

        Oh, and by the way, he’s thrown one one-hitter in the playoffs. Not plural, as your post suggests. How’s that for logic?

    • ssckelley

      Almora will be up no later than 2015. I have no problem with them taking a position player in the first round and loading up on pitchers with the rest of the top 10 rounds. Just like this year I like Bryant over Gray, I think in the long run Bryant ends up being more valuable and could be the starting 3rd baseman in 2015. Let all the rest of the teams roll the dice with their number 1 pick on pitchers. The early reviews on Pierce Johnson, who was taken 24 picks later, are looking pretty good. Expect to see him in AA next season and jump to AAA if he gets off to a fast start. He may be another one that arrives in Chicago in 2015, see the trend here?

      Had the Cubs drafted Wacha I doubt he would have pitched in the majors this season, earliest would be May of next year. The Cardinals had five #1 draft picks that year, four of them they used to draft college players, and 3 of them already look like busts. I think the Cubs did just fine with Almora, Johnson, and Blackburn.

      • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

        Get your facts correct on that 2012 draft class of the Cards. Wacha was their first pick and he is already pitching in their playoff rotation. The Cards minor league system is considered one of the best in baseball and their next two picks in 2012 are now no. 7 and no. 10 so they are hardly considered busts. Piscotty from Stanford hit .299 at AA this year and Rasmussen from Florida St. Finished the year at AAA Memphis after a strong offensive year at AA. If you consider these guys as busts then what the hell are you smoking ?

        • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

          Correction on the OF from Florida St. His name is Ramsey.

        • ssckelley

          I was not overly impressed with Ramsey, Piscotty does not look bad, and the other 2 have really struggled. Honestly I don’t give a crap about the Cardinals draft picks, my point is I am pretty happy with how this FO has drafted so far.

  • North Side Irish

    Arizona Fall League ‏@MLBazFallLeague 2m
    Mesa takes a 4-0 lead thanks to first-pitch home runs by #Cubs prospects Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. #AFL13 pic.twitter.com/H3tyk7YFeV

  • pondorotravis

    I think we should have the gamecast on this one. Today’s game already has Almora and Bryant with home runs and 3 RBI a piece.

  • SalukiHawk

    Slightly off topic, but Soler just hit a 3 run double, and the Solar Sox lead 10-0. Cubs are TEARING IT UP. Almora 3-3 (HR)….Bryant 2-2 (HR) and currently up to bat. Making it look too easy.

  • SalukiHawk

    Oops…didn’t see the other posts. Sorry for the duplicate info…

  • ssckelley

    Darvill just hit a home run and drove in Soler. Come on Soler, get the lead out of your bat!

  • Sam


    I thought after Baez opted out of the fall league, Almora was taken off the taxi squad and given a full time spot. This article begs to differ.

  • http://www.rotochamp.com RotoChamp

    I attended the game today in Mesa. It was my first ever AFL game and a great experience. I got there early, about 2 hours before the game, hoping to catch some batting practice even though the AFL website says the gates don’t open until an hour before the game. Unfortunately, the website was correct, so I had to peer through a fence in left field to catch the Glendale squad take BP. Once tickets went on sale I grabbed one and entered the stadium. Only $7 for adult admission, which is a bargain. No restrictions on what you could take into the ballpark….people had bats, balls, backpacks, coolers, etc…. Once inside you could really notice the presence of scouts, who obviously had special passes allowing them to watch BP.

    Before the game some of the players made themselves accessible for autographs. I hadn’t planned on getting autographs, but I found a BP ball that cleared the stadium while watching Glendale. I can only assume it was a ball that Bryant hit because it was probably 500+ feet from home plate. Anyway, I took the ball down to the first row and got it signed by Bryant, Almora, and Soler. Almora and Soler were quite reserved, but Bryant seemed to really enjoy interacting with the fans. Obviously, I am biased but he exuded confidence and a great attitude. I talked to somebody who had been to the game in Glendale on Tuesday and he said Byron Buxton refused to sign and basically ignored the fans. No biggee and perhaps not true, but interesting nonetheless.

    On to the game and it didn’t take long to get excited as Almora roped a line drive on the very first pitch he saw over the left field fence. The wind was blowing out to left field about 15 mph, but it probably didn’t affect the ball as it didn’t really get up into the wind. Later the same inning, Bryant hit an absolutely moonshot to the opposite field on the first pitch he saw. This one was certainly aided by the wind and ended up travelling about 430+ feet. However, on a windless afternoon it still would have been gone.

    Overall, Almora looked amazing for not having played in so long. He hit every ball hard until grounding into a DP in his last AB. Three balls were hit at him in CF and 2 were fairly easy plays. The other one he appeared to get a great jump on a line drive and made a diving catch…by far the nicest play made all day by either team. I’d say the reputation of being a plus defender and excellent hitter were only enhanced by his performance today. The only downside was his speed getting down the line. He’s just not that fast and it really showed in person.

    Then there was Bryant, who followed up his HR with a semi-line drive to the opposite field and walk in his next 2 ABs before looking somewhat bad striking out on some high inside cheese. He had 3 chances in the field, all routine plays. Unfortunately, the 2nd chance went through his legs for an error. It was a medium hit ground ball that should have been made 100/100 times. Apart from the error, he had a great game. One sidenote….he hit a foul ball in his last AB that landed squarely on the top of the head of a senior citizen that wasn’t paying attention. Blood was gushing and the Solar Sox trainer went into the stands to attend to the older gentleman. He ended up walking out of the game on his own, so hopefully he’s OK, apart from a huge lump courtesy of Kris Bryant.

    Soler was a little disappointing. I’d say he looked really rusty and his timing seemed off as he swung late at a lot of pitches. He did have one good swing, which resulted in a bases clearing double. The scariest moment of the game, besides the old guy getting thumped on the head, was when Soler fouled a ball of his leg and went down for about 90 seconds. Thankfully, he shook it off and remained in the game, though I suspect he would have been pulled had he not been the DH.

    Finally, Bryant was replaced by Wes Darvill and promptly smoked a 2-run HR in his only AB. The impressive thing about the HR was it was lefty on lefty action. And, while it was a no-doubter the wind was blowing pretty good straight out and I suspect it might have needed the help.

    I noticed the Cubs player really rallied around each other, always being first to great each other after scoring. The team unity was visibly strong, though scoring so many runs probably has something to do with it.

    The overall experience was great. There were only about 800 people there and you could sit anywhere. I took advantage of this by moving around quite a bit to get different vantage points.

    I highly recommend catching a few games if you are in the Phoenix area!

    • Ron

      Awesome, thanks!

    • ssckelley

      Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

    • Napercal

      Thanks for keeping us updated.

  • Brains

    What about Quade? I bet he’d like a chance to build again.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Then he could start with a deck and see where that takes him.

  • Clark Addison

    Thanks for the detailed report, RotoChamp.

  • Blublud

    I’m really excited about Almora’s performance. Like I said before, I hope he has the best fall, because I would love if he forced me to jump on his bandwagon. If he can increase his XBH % and start driving the ball(he is never going to hit many HR, so I’m speaking of gap power) and stop relying on singles, then he should be a good player with his defensive value. I still think with his lack of speed(average at best) he is going to have to be a very instinctive defender, as a signs point to. However, he doesn’t have as much room for error as faster guys such as Hamilton.

    • Scotti

      Almora’s speed is “average” for up-the-middle types. He was 6.78 sec in the 60 y/d for Perfect Game. For reference, Baez, whom many consider speedy because he has good timing when it comes to base stealing, was 6.90.

      Likely Almora has been told to run at 90% with the injury.

      • ssckelley

        Keep in mind you are responding to someone who uses statistics as a basis for his “scouting” report. He sees Almora only stealing 4 bases this season and being caught 4 times, so naturally the assumption is he has “average at best” speed. Just like his analysis of Almora’s power, even though every scouting report I have ever read from people that do this for a living says he has power potential because he only hit 3 of them this year we should assume he is “never going to hit many HR”.

        • Scotti

          I’m not a big fan of posters slamming other posters. I’ve got too much a life for that.

  • http://BleacherNation Mugsy

    Nice stuff RotoChamp, greatly appreciated.

  • Maximum Terror (aka: Carlos Marmol)

    Damn shame we didn’t sign Sonny Gray in 2008 (pick 821).

  • YourResidentJag