javier baez aflThere’s a new top ten list to obsess over, and it comes courtesy of Baseball America, which today released its ranking of the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system. The write-up includes info on the system at-large, the top players under 25 in the organization (tease: Starlin Castro does not appear at the top of the list), the best tools in the system, and the previous top prospects. You very much should read the piece.

Apropos of the Cubs’ presentation to season ticket holders, the list is stacked.

As for the Cubs’ top ten, it looks like this:

1. Javier Baez, ss

2. Kris Bryant, 3b

3. C.J. Edwards, rhp

4. Albert Almora, of

5. Jorge Soler, of

6. Pierce Johnson, rhp

7. Arismendy Alcantara, 2b/ss

8. Jeimer Candelario, 3b

9. Dan Vogelbach, 1b

10. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp

The composition is about the ten guys you’d expect to see (though it’s amazing that guys like Mike Olt, Paul Blackburn, Rob Zastryzny, Tyler Skulina, Kyle Hendricks, Christian Villanueva and more don’t make the list). But the order is pretty surprising.

The biggest surprise? It’s right there at number three, where pitching prospect C.J. Edwards breaks up The Big Four (who would definitely be called The Big Five, if we included pitching prospects in such things). That’s the order in which I’d have The Big Four, too, and I’d have Edwards right there at number five. Johnson would be next for me, followed by Alcantara. Candelario, Vogelbach, and Vizcaino would all be getting consideration for those final three spots, but I’m not sure how I’d place them, together with the many other guys who could be legit top ten types. This system is crazy deep right now (and also elite at the top (swoon)).

The truly amazing thing about Edwards’ placement as number three in the system? Almora and Soler are generally considered, at the worst, top 30 prospects in the game. Doesn’t that necessarily mean that BA also considers Edwards a top 30 prospect in all of baseball? So much for the Cubs not having elite pitching prospects, eh?

  • Ivy Walls

    Think through these ratings and understand again they are not linear or equal to each club. If true, Cubs have the top 5 of the top 50 players in all minors…that is ten percent in all baseball, they should if there was an equal distribution have no more than two. There is politics in every media piece so conceivably like the All Star game where every team gets at least one entry, there are teams that DON’T have one player in the top 50 (if done truly objectively) and possibly a team or two that don’t have a player in the top 100 or even 120.

    I bet when you dice it, Cubs have 10 in the top 120, (most other clubs know this) and probably 12 in the top 150, and 14 in the top 180. Understand when you rank top ten per organization that is 300 players, go 20 deep and that comes out to 600 players.

    Got to think the following:
    Baez, Bryant, in top ten, little doubt, (meaning only eight other clubs have entries at the most), where we know that Boston, Astros, KC, SD, StL, TX, Atl, Minn, Sea, D-Backs probably are included in that consideration. The next question is are their top prospects in the top ten or does another club have two. Some say Boston has two, so someone is out. I actually think there are three clubs who have two legitimate top ten prospects, Cubs, Bos and Stl, (yes two teams who were in the WS).

    That would leave only 4 teams with a player in the top ten, meaning those players fall into the 11-20, range, where again if you take the remaining six teams with top players, there are four spots left—meaning either one or more of the six or seven have two in the top 11-20, AND someone or two who had multiple players in the top ten have another in the Top 11-20.

    One can go through this process and first identify who are prospect trading partners, (as the Cubs did over the past couple of years, Rangers, Atlanta, Baltimore and who they attempted to trade with, AZ, TOR, DC, etc. (Cubs made two big trades with TX, a trade with Atl, couple with Balt, even fleeced NYY) while drafting in the top five. This is how you quickly rebuild down under.

    Therefore if those top five-six organizations as the BP ranks them all have at least three players in the top 60, that comes out to roughly 30 players out of 60 or half of that pool. Now if it is said that Cubs have 5, and a couple of teams still have appreciably a better player ranked 3rd or 4th in their system than some other team has as their number one, there are clubs without a top prospect in the top 60. This could even go where clubs have two, again pushing out more clubs.

    I am further saying this: Cubs have some wild cards. Vizcaino if he suddenly gets healthy could go the route that Dempster went, become a reliever, then a closer and emerge as a starter. He also could be like Adonis and be lights out. Villanueva & Olt, they could be nice trade-able pieces, where if Olt gets his vision solved (something that seems to be a do able thing), Cubs could trade with another who need a 3B.

    My question comes to Rizzo and Vogelbach. First if Rizzo continues to struggle with LHP than a decision has to be made, do the Cubs convert Villanueva or Olt to a platoon 1B/corner IF’er and wait for Vogelbach or what. Rizzo has to figure out how to hit LHP.

    Finally the question you really want to ask regarding the Cubs system is this: If they truly have top 5 in the top 60, than how many in the top 120? Is Johnson, Alcantara, Candelario and Vogelbach possibly all in the 120 if they were on other clubs, top 150? The same goes for Soler, Bryant and Lake, if Almora is the next coming of Ellsbury in CF.

    I really think that if the Cubs go with Baez at 3B and Alcantara at 2B, then must look at Candelario as a converted catcher, him and/or Amaya.

    Finally I think the entire strategy gets refined if the Cubs can swing Tanaka. That would put the Cubs on a path from away of building a stable to refining it. They could make a decision to sign Samardz, whom I think is a solid #3, seek to develop another #2 and #3 and sign a #1 when it is the right deal. They could then start trading off excess like 3B and OF while still developing a pipeline like Bos and Stl.

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