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javier baez aflSo, Aaron Rodgers is going to be back for tomorrow’s win-and-you’re-in Bears/Packers game. That kind of sucks for the Bears, though – as a football fan, generally, you’d hope not to see Rodgers re-injure his collar bone, either. But, you know, hopefully he’s rusty or something. I’d like to see a team that I kinda-sorta am starting to care about make the playoffs.

  • For your excitement file: Jason Parks, the lead prospect dude at Baseball Prospect says we’re going to see three Cubs prospects in the top 25 when BP releases its next top 101 list (early next year), and it’ll be Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora.* Moreover, Parks noted that Baez will be in the top five. Given the guys in the top five range – Byron Buxton, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa – it’s pretty impressive to hear of Baez’s inclusion. That’s elite-elite, with a side of elite. Remember: these rankings not only after a season’s worth of performance and stats, they come after BP speaks at length with talent evaluators, organizational members, and other scouts about the prospects. In other words, it isn’t just Baez’s video game numbers season in 2013 that catapulted him up the rankings – it’s also what folks who’ve been watching him believe.
  • *(Because I have allowed myself to become irrationally excited about Cubs prospects, “three in the top 25″ initially disappointed me. Four in the top 30 is more impressive, but I’m guessing Jorge Soler will wind up somewhere closer to 40 or 50 because of the leg injury and limited season. BP has never been as high on C.J. Edwards as some other publications, so he might be down in the 60s or so. The choice for plaudit may have been “three in the top 25″ or “five in the top 65.” The former is more impressive, I think.)
  • Agent Joshua Kusnick writes about his experience at the Winter Meetings, and I’m instantly struck how the big victory moment for him was having one of his players – Adrian Nieto – selected in the Rule 5 Draft. It’s a reminder that the game isn’t just about the stars, and there’s a lot of hustling going on (in a good way). I suspect that the life of your average, non-superstar agent is a tough one, far more rewarding for its successes (like having a player taken in the Rule 5) than its payout.
  • Beyond the Boxscore on whether payroll disparity is disappearing. Kinda? At least in terms of teams’ ability to spend big money.
  • Some favorite baseball idiosyncrasies from BP, including Luis Valbuena’s epic bat flip.
  • Blackhawks1963

    Baez has immense potential. That said I don’t think he is as ready for the majors as some hope. He needs to probably spend a full season at Triple A working on his ability to handle breaking balls, disciplining his hitting approach and improving his defense at shortstop. I’ve read a lot on Baez to suggest his offensive tools are still raw…he’s been able to let his God-given abilities take control. Hopefully Triple A pitchers throw him a intensive diet of breaking stuff…it would be great in fact if he rarely saw a fastball at Iowa.

    I’m still of the opinion that Almora is going to have perhaps the best and longest overall major league career of any of the top prospects in the system He’s got a high floor. I like his potential to settle in between a cross of Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Gordon. Not top end speed or power, but a guy who can flat out hit while producing plenty of extra base power and upper end defense in the outfield.

    Bryant? Excited to see his progression in 2014. I would think he has a great chance to be a mainstay of the Cub lineup by June 2015.

    • Ivy Walls

      Let us do some historical comp’s. for ceilings

      Baez = ceiling Sheffield hands (career .907 OPS), Santo 3B fielding
      Bryant = ceiling Mike Schmidt (career .908 OPS), Corey Hart fielding
      Almora = ceiling Billy Williams (career .853 OPS) Ellsbury fielding
      Soler = ceiling Robert Clemente (career .834 OPS) Guerrero fielding
      Edwards = Pedro Martinez (WHIP 1.054) Maddux fielding
      Alcantara = Roberto Alomar (career .814 OPS) Sandburg fielding
      *Lake = Ben Zobrist (career .789 OPS) Prado fielding
      *Castro = Hanley Ramirez (career .799 OPS) Ramirez fielding
      *Castillo = Carlton Fisk (career .797 OPS) Carter catching
      * Rizzo = (Todd Helton career .950 OPS) Helton fielding

      Starting pitching
      Tanaka?
      Johnson?
      Wood?
      Hendricks…Pineryo…

      Closer Vizcaino?

      dreamin

      • Esteban

        Hate to bust your balls, but your comps are “dreamin”. One of the most important things I’ve learned while reading and listening to good talent evaluators over the years is to not give in to the desire to place comps on prospects. One, it isn’t fair to the prospect. Two, most comps aren’t accurate because fans base it solely on positions. Three, it’s best to use the 2-8 scale for floors and ceilings. The Up and In Podcast had a great 20-30 minute segment on this very topic.

        • Ivy Walls

          didn’t I say dreamin…I was having fun….but Debbie Downers not allowed today, have some fun!

      • JDB

        Come on man really? You can talk about progression and ceilings all you want but NO prospect comps to a hall of famer. Your saying if these guys all turn out that we have 4 or 5 HOFs about to come up.

      • hansman

        Wow, Edwards has the ceiling of Pedro Martinez plus Greg Maddux.

        That is awesome. I wonder if he has Maddux 56 MAY fastball.

    • ThereWillBeCubs

      We need an Obsessive Blackhawks Watch or maybe an entire Snopes-style website to track all of your assertions.

  • cavemancubbie

    This is all very interesting and adds to the flavor of the Kool aide but begs the question. What percentage of top five prospects, prosper in the majors? Prosper, I define as impact players, +5 WAR or better?

    • http://www.rotochamp.com RotoChamp
      • jsorensen

        That Top 100 list is brilliant. It shows you that the job of figuring out who will be successful is extremely difficult. There are so many factors. The people who create these lists study & spend tremendous amounts of thought, effort, time, and they’re usually wrong. Weathermen are more likely to predict next week’s weather. Well, maybe not, but an exact science it is not. The fact that so much attention gets paid to these rankings, fans going a little nutty & giddy over how many of our favorite teams players make the list, expectations are raised, and almost always dashed. While I think it is probably better to have more in the Top 100 every year, outside of getting known value for these lottery ticket players, is just as important.

    • mjhurdle

      well, a 5+ WAR is a superstar. That is more than prospering. If you are looking to see a bunch of 5+ WAR a year players, you will probably be disappointed.

      However, if you are looking to see what top 5 prospects have MLB success (1.5 WAR a year or higher), you are looking at over 60% of position players, with about 35% of those reaching 2.5 WAR a year or higher level.

      http://www.royalsreview.com/2011/2/14/1992424/success-and-failure-rates-of-top-mlb-prospects

      http://viewfromthebleachers.com/blog/2012/08/23/success-rate-of-mlb-draft-picks-by-slot/

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Yep, I often wonder how many people truly understand WAR. Someone saying a player isn’t an “impact” player unless he is getting 5 WAR is crazy. There is a shortlist of impact players I guess. Less than 30 position players.

  • Ivy Walls

    Quantity and Quality, now that is how you turnaround a sick organization. I actually think when you really work the numbers, against the entire sample, consider the ratios. There are 30 clubs,

    So an even distribution is 1/30 (not 25) would be average and ranking 1-30 forms a standard deviation, but the Cubs have

    3/30 or 0.10% instead of 0.03% of that pool.

    Now if they have 5/65 let us move it easy to 5/60 (lot of subjective arguing between 60-65, I win) that then it is 0.083 of that pool, but let us then take the pool to 150, if the Cub have more than 5% of the top talent of that pool or 8 players they are twice as good as the equal distribution of 30 clubs.

    Let us expand it and say that this deviation carries through to 300 players (representing top ten of each organization) then if the Cubs organization had 5% of that, they would have 15 players instead of 10 in the top 300, meaning that many clubs might not have 5 since the rate of deviation would be distributed.

    Now if that was augmented by a FA signing of a 25 year old and then some fortunate trades that further netted something or a find and turnaround of a journeyman, then suddenly you have a last to first scenario.

    • JM

      “Last to first scenario.”

      Spoken like a true Cubs fan! I like it.

  • JM

    Too intruiging…

    Haven’t some of those other prospects spent some time in the Bigs? It has already been stated that Baez will need some time at AAA before coming too Chicago, and it is my hope that he simply plays so well that they have no choice but to bring him up. Let’s see if we can stay away from having another big time prospect become a bust.

    Out of curiosity, how long has it been since we had a prospect rated this high? Patterson never got that high, did he?

    • Norm

      Patterson was #2 overall behind Josh Hamilton.

      • JM

        Thanks. We’ll then that is something to keep in mind. Certainly helps a guy maintain some perspective.

    • ssckelley

      Prior was top 5 as well.

      • JM

        Thank you. Didn’t realize Prior got that high. Only in the past year have I been paying closer attention to prospects.

        In asking my original question, I had in mind that virtually all Cubs prospects have flopped, but not sure I’d put prior in that category. His first three years were quite good, then (for whatever reason) his career bottomed out due to injuries.

        • ssckelley

          Hard to call Patterson a bust, he did have a couple of good seasons. But he did not play up to what we all hoped he would become.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Patterson was neither a bust nor a success. He wound up being an OK MLB player. Of course, keep in mind that part of the reason Patterson was ranked so high was that 15 years ago people still believed that players would “learn” pitch recognition. Thus, the biggest flaw in Patterson’s game (he had very little idea where the pitch was going to be when he had to trigger his swing, despite having such great bat speed) was not considered to be a fatal flaw.

            If Patterson had even average pitch recognition, then he probably would have been a 0.900 OPS guy for many years. He didn’t and he wasn’t.

            • wilbur

              are you talking about corey or eric? eric had a cup of coffee, corey had a thermos to go.
              anyone remember how long it took patterson to go from his first season at AA ball to making the big league club? How about prior? Just curious because I recall it being said patterson was rushed up and think piniella even said he wasn’t ready to play, which most mis interpreted since everyone in town was convinced he was a natural.

              • Kyle

                Patterson went straight from A to AA, skipping A+, then he went straight to the majors from AA for a cup of coffee before being sent back down to AAA for a bit. He basically skipped a full level twice.

          • JM

            I only call him a bust based on what we all kept hearing about him. Though he has been a serviceable major leaguer, he’s hardly been the superstar we all hoped he would become.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          It’s a common belief in most fan bases that most of their prospects flop. And there is a simple reason for this: most prospects DO flop. Top 20 prospects flop half the time; however, 30% of them become very successful, too. (The remainder are serviceable MLB players.)

          Moreover, it gets much steeper after that: about 70% of guys who “peak” in ranks 21-70 flop, and less than 20% of them are ever “successful.”

          So, in a lot of ways, this is like “clutch” hits: you remember the 7 times in 10 PAs that your guy fails and you remember the 3 times in 10 Pas where the other guys succeed.

          (See http://camdendepot.blogspot.com/2013/12/death-to-tinstaapp-updating-mckinneys.html for a breakdown of all of this.)

      • Kyle

        And Juan Cruz reached No. 6

  • bushybrows74

    Cavemancubbie,

    Check out the world wide web, plenty of sources on your homework assignment. I think this has been covered on this site.

    No kool aide in the article. He simply states the Cubs have several highly regarded prospects. I’m sure you would agree that is better than not having highly regarded prospects.

    • cavemancubbie

      Thanks Bushy! I’m just into realistic expectations. It is just human thinking that we believe our kids, our teams, even our country will live up to our expectations.

  • http://Dogsrus Dick Gozinya

    Cubs trade for price
    Sign tanaka
    Sign Balfour
    Resign Jeff
    Sign Garza
    Fuck Shit Up

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    who is this guy kent sterling? Nasty cubs hatchet piece

    • beerhelps

      Ya, WTF was that load of hot garbage? I felt guilty giving him a page view after reading that bunch of nonsensical idiotic childish rambling.

    • roz

      To be honest, he sounded like some people here on this site.

    • Jay

      That’s his MO. I read a few of his hit-jobs on IU basketball a few years ago, before Crean turned things around.

      • Patrick W.

        Btw…. I’m joe.

  • ssckelley

    For me the neat thing about having 3 in the top 25 is that they are all position players, which have a higher rate of success. I like this FO philosophy of taking a position player with the top pick and then grabbing pitching with the majority of the rest of the top 10 picks. I think this FO is content with spending the majority of payroll on arms that are already developed, which may be why they are so committed to going after Tanaka.

  • CubsFanSaxMan

    I still live by Brett’s words of wisdom, that being “prospects are a crap shoot.” Don’t get too excited about those highly rated, I can’t wait to see them in a Cub uniform prospects. We have been down this road before. I hope that the Cub Fandom will not put too much pressure on these people to be top notch impact players. If that’s the case I fear many will be disappointed. Let’s just hope for a couple of above average type players to make it! I think that alone will make a big difference.

    • ssckelley

      Prospects are a crap shoot but the higher rated they are the higher chance of being successful. Top 25 position prospects have about a 60% success rate, so I say let’s get excited a little.

  • Blackhawks1963

    To me, the future of Almora is most “certain” versus any of the top 5 position prospects. In fact, I’d rate it as the following.

    1. Almora
    2. Bryant
    3. Baez
    4. Alcantara
    5. Soler

    Now, that’s not to say Baez won’t turn into a superstar at the major league level. I just think Almora and to a slightly lesser degree Bryant have the clearest major league future at this point from a risk standpoint.

    The top 5 is the envy of any organization right now. That can’t be lost.

  • Kyle

    lol, and Cano not in the top 10. After Parks went at it with me at length on Twitter because I said Baez should be at least even if not ahead of Cano in August, and that the only reason he didn’t see it is because he hadn’t done his offseason catchup yet.

    • Bwa

      Cano? What are you talking about here?

      • Kyle

        Parks mentioned on Twitter that Cano did not make his top 10.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I think that your autocorrect is flipping a “S” into a “C”!

          • BWA

            Yup, that would fix the confusion!

          • Kyle

            Wish I could blame that on autocorrect. Just me being teh dumbz.

        • When the Music’s Over

          Parks had a raging boner for Sano mid-season last year.

  • Fastball

    I think Bar will spend most of this season at A A A. He has a lot of work to do with his defense at SS. Last season he committed 44 errors. If he as in the bugs doing those kind of numbers he wouldn’t be playing that position for very long. Castro had errors in the 20′s and everyone rides him like a cheap date. I really don’t see him at SS. He may not even project as an infielder if his defense doesn’t improve. There are a lot of kids with range and cannon arms who just can’t make routine plays 99% of the time. I think Back will be a LEE’S before it’s all said and done. This is not a bad thing IMO. I see Bryant playing RF when it all shakes out.

    • TK

      And thick ^^^^^ his thigh two all ways PROOFREAD beforteen who subvert written maternal.

  • Reality Check

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/36812/royals-cant-miss-prospects-have-missed

    as the anti-kool aid drinker on this site of Thoyer (and a 40 year die-hard fan of the Cubs); so I’ve seen rebuilds, a few FA signings, etc, etc., all the talk of prospects are great, but they are all suspects till otherwise proven.

    the article above talks about Baseball America’s 2011 top 100 players which had 9 Royals. 5 in the top 19. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ve not seen the Royals in the playoffs for 20 years. It would behoove Ricketts (5 th year) and Thoyer (3 offseasons) to start putting a better team at Clark and Addison since only the MLB team can win a World Series; not Daytona.

    soon to be 106 yrs and counting………..while we are tanking………..

    • DocPeterWimsey

      What does the Royals having a great farm system in 2011 have to do with whether they’ve been in the playoffs recently? Having a great farm system in 2011 points to good things in 2014 or 2015. It suggests that thing (probably) were very bad from 2005-2010. After that, it’s all irrelevant: win or lose, a team almost certainly was run by different people.

      • Reality Check

        did you read the article and see the names. these guys weren’t class A players like we have. hoping in 2016 that the cubs will have an all rookie team is just nuts. and that’s what they are doing. when should they start adding MLB talent? so far the MLB team is worse than the one Theo inherited. 71 wins prior to Thoyer. certainly won’t hit that number in 2014. but you keep drinking the kool-aid.

        • ssckelley

          Don’t condemn the Cubs farm system just because the Royals had some failures. There are plenty of successful farm systems that have panned out, the Rays and Cardinals come to mind. Plus the Cubs have been here before, in 2002 they had the top farm system and they came within a game of the World Series using those prospects either on the field or via trade.

        • FullCountTommy

          Alex Gordon was a top Royals prospect and he’s a perennial all-star. Hosmer and Moustakas are nowhere near done with the Royals. Myers (Rookie of the year) and Odorizzi got the Royals James Shields. Danny Duffy was injured and showed good stuff at times last year. It is way too early to call any of these guys busts and a couple of them have already turned into Major Leaguers.

          Not to mention the fact that the Royals were over .500 last year and have a very solid team this year and have a real shot at the playoffs.

          • Justin

            Eric Hosmer is a stud too. That guy is going to blow up this year. He’s a big guy with a long swing, just took a bit of time in the majors. I would rather have him than RIzzo for sure. The Myers for Shields trade is still pretty freaking stupid. I think Myers in the Royals lineup may have more value than Shields does to them now, not to mention how much cheaper and longer Myers is under contract. Plus the Royals could have used the save coin they spend on Shields to resign Santana, or some other arm.

    • Soda Popinski

      You drink anti-Kool Aid?

  • Spoda17

    I will admit, I have only been this interested in prospects the past two years. I can’t remember if out past prospects were this valued I MLB, and not just our system. Have we ever had this type of top three in our system before? Even if it wasn’t all at the same time. Just wondering if our past “top” prospects were this highly ranked in MLB in the past…

    • Reality Check

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2007/26983.html

      see the attached list. in 2001 Cubs had 3 top 25 Baseball America ranked prospects. (same as now). In 2002 Cubs had 7 of top 100. In 2004 they had 5 top 100.

      Laugh at some the names now; in 10 years we could be doing the same. Notice Luis Montanez’s name; he was to be a superstar SS.(compared to A-Rod when he came out of high school).

      Cubs have done this rebuild thing before. They had highly rated farm systems.

      http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/Cubs_Organization_Talent_Rankings

      the attached article shows in 2002 ranked 1st; from 2002 to 2005 ranked in top 10.

      all this BS of how great Theo has made the farm system like never before is because way too many kool-aid drinkers with too short a memory. (and in 2002 they did not tank on purpose to achieve it).

      sooner or later; the MLB team is gotta win………….nobody cares about an Iowa Cubs AAA championship.

      • ssckelley

        Like I posted above I would argue those prospect classes panned out well considering they came within a game of the World Series either using those players on the field or using those players in a trade.

      • BWA

        This certainly could happen again, and that would really suck. My only argument (without doing much research) would be that today’s Cubs top prospects are actually destroying minor league pitching, whereas the Cubs top prospects of the past (look Patterson and Pie) were not. Patterson ended up ranked the #2 overall prospect after 2000 after hitting .261/.338/.491 with 22 HR in AA. Today, there’s no way he would be ranked as high after that season, because the potential 5-Tool player isn’t as important as actual pitch recognition and on base skills.

        • Kyle

          Baez and Bryant are destroying minor league pitching, at least. Soler gets a lot of the same sorts of excuses that Patterson used to get.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            If memory serves, Patterson struck out some 20% of the time while walking barely 5% of the time in the minors. When Soler starts doing that, then your critique will be fair.

            • Kyle

              If you dig deep enough, there’s always distinctions. But both put up good but not amazing numbers that were overlooked because of eye-popping scouting reports and relative inexperience.

              • FullCountTommy

                Yes but one big difference is their size. Patterson was 5’10″, 160 or so pounds in the minors. Soler is currently 6’4″ and 215. While Patterson offered more speed, there is no doubt that Soler is much more “toolsy”

              • mjhurdle

                Yep, Brett had to dig pretty deep to see that Patterson had a much higher K rate and lower BB %.
                Also, Patterson played more in A ball than Soler has played in his minor league career.
                Patterson also performed well until getting to AAA, which Soler has not been yet.
                So other than batting eye, career paths, health, and physical size/ability, they are basically the same. You really have to dig deep to find any differences between Soler and Paterson.
                Most of the excuses for Patterson came after he was called up, and people attempted to rationalize away his horrible plate discipline (which existed at every level but his physical ability was able to mask it at AA and below)..
                Seeing as the criticism on Soler is not as much centered around his plate discipline, he has not been called up yet, and he has yet to really struggle at a level; i don’t think it takes much “digging” to see they are pretty different prospects with different flaws and different concerns.
                Patterson needed excuses once his pure ability was not able to overcome his poor batting eye. This may one day be the case for Soler, but so far his performance has not made excuses necessary.

                • Commander bob

                  Can you shorten your posts to 20 words or less please?

              • Jason P

                I’d argue in this case, the distinctions are significant. Even though the numbers Soler put up last season weren’t eye-popping (though they were still quite good for the FSL), they didn’t come with any of the traditional warning signs.

        • Scotti

          “Patterson ended up ranked the #2 overall prospect after 2000 after hitting .261/.338/.491 with 22 HR in AA. Today, there’s no way he would be ranked as high after that season, because the potential 5-Tool player isn’t as important as actual pitch recognition and on base skills.”

          Patterson walked 8.89% of the time that year. That’s more that Baez (6.9), Almora (6.3), Bryant (7.5) and even Soler (8.86) this last season.

          • Kyle

            Not to mention Jurickson Profar was recently named the No. 1 overall prospect after putting up an .820 OPS in AA.

            • Scotti

              And Carlos Correa (drafted 1 (1) by Houston) was ranked 13th after going .258/.305/.400/.705 in 204 PA’s his first professional season. Players are still ranked based on projection.

      • SenorGato

        Montanez was compared to ARod? I was always under the impression that the Gonzalez/Johnson/Montanez draft was considered one of the worst top 3s ever. I don’t remember that pick being anything complimentary said about the top of that 2000 draft to be honest. Gonzalez didn’t really have much of a bandwagon out there until he broke out in 2006 and I think that goes all the way back to his draft.

        Not sure there’s much to do about these rankings. We know these prospects are awesome as prospects. We know Baez stacks with pretty much any non-Buxton in the minors right now. We know Bryant and Almora have extremely high makeups with tools and skillsets that give the kind of ceilings that warrant high prospect rankings. That’s….I mean there’s only so much we can do with that after a while.

        • http://comicsandcardsupplies.com cms0101

          The comparisons to AROD were simply because they were shortstops from the Miami area. There was never any thought that he was as talented.

      • Chef Brian

        I hate the term “Kool-Aid Drinker” to describe a Cubs fan that is on board with the rebuild and has a little faith in the team. People that break Cubs fans into “Kool Aid Drinkers” and “Anti Kool-Aid Drinkers” are really simple minded.

        • greenroom

          Great point. I believe in the plan, maybe too much sometimes, as much as I have critiques. But I sit on my couch and don’t run the Cubs. That is my 2 cents. Go Cubs~

      • jsorensen

        Here’s a Reality Check, Reality Check: you need to learn how to have a discussion with people. Calling names & basically telling people they are stupid? Grow up. Stay home, go back to bed. And for your information, Montanez was highly thought of but I believe it was the Cubs who compared him to ARod, show me Baseball America or some other major scouting services doing that and you can win that argument. The Cubs system & the prospects you refer to were almost a complete fail across the board. I think the ability to predict prospects has improved slightly since, but it is still a major struggle, obviously. One year in the early 2000′s the Cubs had like 5 failed choices in the first round or two. Matt Clanton, John Webb, Bobby Brownlie, on & on. Luke Haggerty. The disappointment felt by Cubs fans who were actively following their minor leaguers back then was intense. Injuries and just plain suckage destroyed what was supposed to be such a great system. There was no major re-build like you’re saying. The Cubs players just didn’t pan out. Produced in that era were Wood, Prior, and Zambrano. Not a bad success rate. But telling us that if we’re hopeful that Theo & Jed & crew can make out team better that we’re kool aid drinkers & basically stupid shows all of us how ignorant you are. There, one name called: ignorant, based on what you write & they way you say things to others. That’s called evidence.

        • Reality Check

          who did I call stupid? could you point that out for me. did I tell anyone to grow up?

          wow. dude. really.

          you a very angry person.

          you might want to grab a mirror. the ignorance is staring back at you.

      • Darth Ivy

        Hopefully a big difference is that this cubs organization is better at developing their prospects than 10 years ago. Drafting the right guys is only part it. When I look at the cardinals’ success, I don’t just see good drafting. I see good player development.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          This is a pretty considerable difference between the 2000s and now. We won’t see the fruits of it for several years (if it is, indeed, improved), but it’s a much more obvious financial focus than it was 10 years ago.

          • Kyle

            We *hope* it’s a considerable difference.

          • Reality Check

            much more financial focus; at the extreme expense of the MLB club. apparently this FO cannot both improve a MLB team and improve the minors, but can only do one or the other; in the case the cheap way by spending on the farm.

            should this group of minor leaguers fail; then not a good example of what might happen after that; more tanking per se?

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Please point me to the part where it’s not the player but the development? They’ve had their share of high picks that didn’t pan out as well. The difference is they’ve picked the right player more than others in the recent past.

          • Darth Ivy

            I think you need to reread my comment. My point was that it is both. Is it not?

            • half_full_beer_mug

              Zac Cox was supposed to be the next big thing, what happened to him?

              I just think that we look at the Cards and see the the one’s that “make it” and we look at the Cubs and see the ones that “bust”. We are always going to be more critical of the Cubs because we pay more attention to them.

              • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                He was traded in 2012 for Edward Mujica. Mujica ends up being an All-Star. They made the right move with him. He is a bust for someone else. Their staff made the right move for him. You may have to dig further than that for what you are wanting to prove. Prospects are brought in to build one way or another your major league roster. They did that and won with him. He served his role in that.

                • half_full_beer_mug

                  Not really, I was referring to the player development part, not the got rid of him at just the right time for a better player part.

                  • Darth Ivy

                    Im not sure what point there is to make about player development by pointing out a.bust in the cardinals system. Not every prospect.is.going to pan out, even with good drafting and good player development

                  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                    What does player development matter for every prospect? That means absolutely nothing. Literally every prospect is made to make the Major League team better. If they don’t, they get cut. By trade, he served his purpose. I don’t understand what point you are trying to make at player development. That is inconsequential when you are turning out impact players like they are, and using the ones they feel aren’t in trades. I still don’t get they picked the right player? You think they just get lucky when picking in the 20-30 range every year? You think all of their high impact players were 1st rounders? You may want to look into that.

            • half_full_beer_mug

              And yes, I missed the “just”.

  • masher1965

    It is always fun to discus a highly rated farm system, but we have to keep in mind NOTHING is guaranteed. The good thing about the Cubs farm system, unlike the past 20-30 years is that there is quality depth in the low minors that is working it’s way up. We all know that all of the prospects will not make it as major leaguers, but some WILL. That is why it is wise to be patient and see who does make it and then start filling in the gaps with the big POSITION free agents.

    • SenorGato

      I feel like I haven’t learned a single new thing about these prospects in a while. What’s to be said that hasn’t been said? I’d love a significant move that makes having all these prospects a little more interesting and defines the timetable a little bit more than it is. In any normal year I’d be ecstatic to have 3 top 25 prospects. Unfortunately, the fact that the farm has preeeeeeeeeettty much been the only place the FO has sought and bought impact talent for really kind of dampens my excitement.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Precisely. People are so gaga over the Cubs farm system and the job the front office has done in further (it was already trending up when they arrived) turning it around. However, they so often conveniently forget that just about every possible resource was diverted to this effort and the damage done to almost every other part of the organization because of this singular focus.

        • jsorensen

          Explain what you mean? Almost every part of the organization? I guess the approach you might suggest is to do what? Not care too much? Care equally? It’s shame a guy like you isn’t in there making these decisions.

        • Tommy

          When the Music’s Over – you’re just wrong in your assessment, and your opinion comes from a very short sighted and uninformed point of view.

          • SenorGato

            He’s not right, but still…They’ve spent a ridiciulous amount of money on prospects the past 3 years. Anything less than a top farm system on the way up would be failure, so this is pretty ho hum.

          • When the Music’s Over

            Purposely tanking season after season has done serious short term damage to the fan base, the ability to attract free agents is now in question (see Tanaka arguments), and as a byproduct of not winning, decreased attendance has lowered team revenues enough where other facets of the organization are now likely having money siphoned from their budgets. If the Cubs don’t snag Tanaka, you may be looking at a sub 70M payroll and a sub 1.8M attendance.

            There are so many more not so obvious negative side effects as well, such as the ever increasing potential for decreased media revenues, including television, radio and advertising dollars, as well as decreased merchandising and concession revenues. The overall picture is much more complicated than most of us realize. Tanking seasons doesn’t just mean high draft picks and you can call it a day.

            Sure, much or even all of this damage is ultimately reversible (the way they have abused fan loyalty with shit teams yet shy high ticket prices is going to leave a bad taste in many people mouths for a while), but what it does in the short and medium term is adds to the length of the rebuild. Which leads to the next point…… the litany of mistakes made by ownership.

            • FullCountTommy

              There has been zero damage to the fan base. They will draw 2.5 million or so fans again this year and the second that the Cubs even show a hint of winning, they will be right back up to over 3 million again

              • YourResidentJag

                I am not sure about that and neither should you be.

        • ssckelley

          So which resource did the Cubs spend to get this farm system? They spent money to get Soler and the other 3 were drafted. They acquired a bunch of prospects for players they would have lost anyway to free agency. Players that they have lost like Ramirez and Soriano were not going to win a World Series anyway.

          • Kyle

            By my count, they traded roughly a dozen MLB players for prospects, they committed around $60m to IFAs (including the 2011 crop) and tanked two seasons in order to get higher draft picks. That’s an incredible commitment of resources unmatched by any other organization that I know of.

            • Justin

              They also spent money on FA’s knowing they were only going to deal them at the deadline for prospects like Maholm, Feldman, and others who haven’t worked out as well. So in a way that’s like buying prospects too.

              • Kyle

                You know, we always talk about that, but they’ve only gotten two prospects that way: Pineyro and Vizcaino.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  In this context, it’s a bit unfair to exclude the Feldman trade.

                  • Kyle

                    Why? We were talking about how the farm system was built. Strop and Arrieta are not part of the farm system.

                    The fact that we took an MLB return on Feldman is fascinating to me (although our continued spending on relief pitchers at this point is getting a bit odd). But it has nothing to do with how we built the farm system.

                    • X The Cubs Fan

                      In an unofficial way Arrietta was like a prospect.

                • Jason P

                  Not that these are usually all that significant, but we also should still have a few PTBNL’s coming to us.

            • Reality Check

              soon to be tanking a 3rd season. 2014 has the potential as of right now to be the worst of the last 3.

              • When the Music’s Over

                Tanking seasons has more of a cumulative negative effect than people typically consider. Another 90+ loss season is going to be soul crushing for many this time around. Combine that with the chance that 2015 might be similar and people might get mutinous.

                People need to remember that the vast majority of the paying and viewing fan base are casual fans, who aren’t cut from the same cloth as those frequenting message boards. They have far less patience for mediocrity and even less than that for a shit product.

  • Werner

    Isn’t a part of the discussion about highly-ranked prospects about how they have value right now, playing as well as they played in the minors? Yeah, they aren’t all going to be all-world but they are all attractive trading chips. We have more of those than we did just a few years ago. My Kool-Aid tastes delicious by the way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Prospects, in addition to being potential future cheap contributors (and sometimes, the kind of young stars you can get ONLY via your own farm system), are trade assets, pure and simple. Quite right. Having them matters.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Nothing like having the pressure of being a top five prospect in all of MiLB hanging around your neck. But some guys are born stars. I hope Javy is one of those. A couple of days ago when the topic was about prospects I learned that Paul Goldschmidt was drafted in the 8th round in 2009. That pretty much proves that you have to take all of this prospect ranking with a grain of salt. Too may of these guys are legends in their own minds. I hope Baez stays humble and just goes about his business in a proffesional way. I guess what I’m saying is that being a top 5 prospect doesn’t mean squat. There’s just a gazillion people out there in the blogaspere that have nothing better to do than disect and and ingest multitudes of stats and to regurgitate it on a daily basis. So it comes down to Javier Baez the man. Hopefully he is taking the path of Samarzija and not dwelling on every tweet or facebook post. And I hope he hasn’t been a party animal during the off season and reports to camp in good shape. Getting excited because in a little more than a month we will start getting news in real time about real games. Just tired of all the Tanaka and Samardzija stuff being talked to death.

    • Kyle

      Baez strikes me as the kind of guy who thinks that being top-5 just means he’s up to four spots underrated. Which is awesome.

      • Rebuilding

        This made me laugh and is probably accurate

      • Professional High A

        It not often Kyle gets one of these from me.

        +1

    • Drew7

      “That pretty much proves that you have to take all of this prospect ranking with a grain of salt.”

      I have an uncle who smoked for 65 years and never got lung cancer, so that pretty much proves that you have to take all those Surgeon General warnings with a grain of salt, too.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I might add that how Olt performs may determine how fast Baez gets to Wrigley. If Olt chokes and we are back to the platoon at third then I can see baez getting a shot at third base. I doubt that they would bring Bryant up that fast since Baez already has a full year of A ball. If Olt pans out then I think Baez plays second. And not many people are thinking that Olt may be just a short term piece. Could see him flipped for pitching prospects at the deadline.

    • Darth Ivy

      Im really glad the cubs have Olt. Buy-low guys like him and arrieta may not seem like much individually when acquired, but when they start adding up, its nice.

  • Aaron

    Sad to see Brett Jackson’s name on the Top 100 list a few times…and then having him do absolutely nothing for the big club. What happened with this one? Is Jackson all to blame or did the Cubs mess up his development as an elite major league player?

    • JUICED1

      His inability to make contact was the problem. It should serve as a warning for everyone assuming all highly ranked prospects turn into stars.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Lots of warnings that come from the Jackson story (hopefully he turns it around and becomes a contributor in some capacity – still some time), but the biggest is probably: severe contact problems can wreck even guys who look fantastic in every other phase of the game.

        That’s what makes Jackson’s issues all the more frustrating: he does *everything* else well.

  • Justin

    It’s cool and all that the Cubs have a good farm system, but is it that impressive when they everything they’ve done was done only to improve the farm system over the last several years. Like tanking on purpose, mainly only signing guys you can trade at the deadline (flippable dudes), and spending tons on the international market. I get why the FO is doing all of this, but is it really that impressive? I am over tanking and sucking balls on purpose. Time to make a move towards being legit now..

  • Aaron

    Brett, wasn’t Jackson’s reworked swing going into 2013 supposed to help him put the ball in play more often to utilize his speed, etc.? The Cubs have had five seasons to try to fix that swing and have failed miserably. A left-handed bat with some pop, good speed and that can play great defense. What a shame!

    • Jason P

      Sometimes prospects just don’t work out. Doesn’t mean anythings flawed with your development program.

  • X The Cubs Fan

    Poll: who has the highest ceiling in the Cubs organization?

    • Kyle

      I hate “ceiling” talk, but Javier Baez AINEC.

      • Jason P

        I hate ceiling talk too. Shin Soo Choo’s ceiling was supposed to be “platoon player” when he was in Seattle.

        • Kyle

          Yep. Sammy Sosa went from a scrawny CF with limited offense to a 66 HR, 1.147 OPS monster who put up some of the greatest offensive seasons of all time.

          Everybody’s ceiling is monstrous and their floor is dies of a brain aneurysm.

        • http://vdcinc.biz 70′scub

          Maybe choo makes an all star team this year…

      • FFP

        “And it’s not even close.”
        I had to google it. I was thinking AIN ‘t Even a Ceiling.

  • Cub Lifer

    Nightengale posted that the Giants are very serious in their pursuit of Tanaka. His latest handicap of the sweepstakes is Yankees, Giants, Dodgers, Mariners and Cubs in that order.

  • Ballgame

    I personally believe the big difference now opposed to the past for the Cubs farm system is depth. We’re all enameled by our top 5 right now , but I think the Top 20 in our system has some serious depth and we don’t have to rely on 2-3 guys to make or break us. Most of our Top 20 has a legit shot at making it. Obviously most will not pan out but if 5-6 of those guys do you’re really doing something positive. Cubs also have #4 draft pick in this years June draft. I know we’re all used to overhyped prospects but good god, let’s have at least some optimism on here. Reality check needs a reality check…

    • Kyle

      The farm system of the early 2000s was just as amazingly deep.

      But yes, this farm system is insanely deep. I could easily go 50- or 60-deep on guys who have legitimate shots at getting at least a cup of coffee.

      • Lukas

        True, the early 2000′s had some good prospects. But at the same time there was a piss poor organization and coaching philosophy that failed to develop them.

        Luckily it appears the coaching is much better under the new FO.

        • Kyle

          Why does it appear that way?

          • Jason P

            1) Proven successful coaches like Derek Johnson have been hired.
            2) Rizzo successfully reworked his swing in half a season at AAA
            3) Baez’s walk rate has ticked up
            4) At the ML level, Chris Bosio turned Wood into a solid 3/4 type, helped Samardzija make a successful conversion to starting, helped Maholm and Feldman have big bounce back years, and so far it looks like Arrieta and Strop are on the right track.
            5.) Small sample size, but even Vitters has actually started taking the occasional walk.

            The tell-tale sign is going to be how guys like Maples, Underwood and Paniagua develop.

            • Kyle

              1) A proven college coach without significant pro experience, iirc
              2) Brett Jackson was supposed to get the same magic
              3) Everything that happened to Starlin Castro
              4) Peripherally, most of those guys are the same guys they’ve always been. Let’s see if they can keep up the superficial ERAs or if they go Edwin Jackson.
              5) Vitters’ BB-rate has been rising steadily his entire career, more or less.

              Agree about the low-minors pitchers being a huge telltale sign. I think we’ll know a lot more about the organization’s developmental skills after this year. Right now, it’s too early to tell, although they (like everyone) have had some players get better and some players get worse since they arrived.

              • Jason P

                1) It’s no difference. Either way, you’re developing young baseball players.
                2) That’s true, but this front office also didn’t draft him/acquire him. Some players are beyond repair.
                3) The coaches who orchestrated (or failed to orchestrate) Castro’s approach change are now gone.
                4.) Fair point
                5.) In 2011, Vitters’ BB% was 4.5%. In ’08, it was 4.7%. In the 2 years since Epstein came over, 6.6% (2012) and 11% (2013).

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Those are simply small sample size effects. The error bars on Vitters’ walk rates completely overlap over the last four years.

              • Jason P

                But that said, I do agree it’s probably too early to tell. But I think early indications are positive.

              • http://bleachernation.com woody

                So how much of the hitting woes had to do with losing Rudy Jamarillo? Seems to me like a lot of players went to hell while Rob Deere and Rowson were doing their thing. And Dale fancied himself as a hitting coach too. That’s why I want to see how Mueller does this year. Everybody wants to kick Barney to the curb, but I want to see him rebound so we can get some value for him. Barney, Rizzo, Castro. One third of the lineup had a crappy year after recieving instruction from those guys. I remember reading that Sveum was working with Barney last winter in Arizona. I’m pretty sure that Deere was one of Dale’s buddies from the Brewers. Theo did the right thing making the change. When you lock up two guys who are defined as core pieces and they both fail something has to be done. This coming season will answer a multitude of questions imo. If Rizzo and Castro don’t bounce back then the FO is left holding the bag. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

          • Lukas

            Many of the prospects are already showing signs of development that were nonexistent previously. I never once felt confident the Hendry group could successfully bring a big prospect up and help then flourish, aside from a few stud pitchers(whose mechanics they failed to correct which led to career ending injuries)

  • Ballgame

    Enamored, not “enameled” sorry

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks 11m
    Seven #Cubs in the BP 101 (as of right now). RT @davidrelliott @ProfessorParks any of Edwards, Johnson, or Vogelbach make top 101 from Cubs?

    Seven would be nice…have to think Alcantra rather than Vogelbach though.

    • Jason P

      I’m going to take a guess.
      5 Baez
      12 Bryant
      21 Almora
      42 Soler
      59 Alcantara
      68 Edwards
      91 Johnson

      I’d be interested to see how many we’d have in the top 150. Olt, Vogelbach, Blackburn, Vizcaino, and even Hendricks could potentially fall into that range.

      • X The Cubs Fan

        There is not 48 prospects better than Soler.

        • Jason P

          He’s 42nd, so I’m saying 41 are going to be ahead of him. He was 30-35 last year and being injured didn’t help his stock. I could see him staying where he was last offseason or falling up to 10-15 spots.

        • Kyle

          I don’t think it’s that hard to believe that there are 41 prospects better than Soler. There’s definitely some downside and nagging concerns starting to develop there. Injuries, missed development time, attitude (yeah, I know, the coaches came up with excuses for the loafing and we all just assumed it was true), and a susceptibility to curveballs.

          • Skiz

            There were a few different reports on the loafing, so I don’t know if this is what you were referring to, but Sharma said on Twitter a month or so ago that Hoyer (or Epstein, can’t remember) said they actually ordered Soler to not run out anything for fear of re-aggravating his injury.

            • Skiz

              For the AFL, assuming that’s what you were referring to as well.

            • Kyle

              That’s the “covering up for him” I was referring to. That may be true, or it may be something the organization said to keep the heat off their $30m guy.

              • hansman

                They seem to be doing a lot of that but only, really, for him and letting other prospects and players twist in the wind.

  • Josh

    Hey at least were not the brewer

    • Josh

      Brewers

  • sven-erik312

    Smart drafting and good teaching is what makes it work. I think you have to have both for a farm system to develop players that can succeed.

  • VegasGoat

    Adys Portillo just got DFA’D by the padres. Top 10 prospect last yr huge arm, high upside, only 21. I want the cubs to pick him up

    • VegasGoat

      Purely an arm-strength guy prior to 2012, Portillo started to make some head-way with other aspects of his game last season. The right-hander has ironed out his delivery and arm action while also improving his secondary pitches. His fastball works in the mid-90s and can touch the upper-90s. He backs it up with a changeup that shows plus potential. His breaking ball has improved but may not be more than average.

      Portillo, 21, absolutely dominated low-A ball in 2012 but struggled when he was jumped over high-A ball to double-A and he fell apart. The Venezuela native will return to that level in 2013 and could reach the majors at some point in 2014 with a role as a high-leverage reliever as the back-up plan for this talented arm.

  • VegasGoat

    Adys Portillo – There’s a lot to like about a guy that can sit in the upper-90s at times even if his secondaries need a fair amount of work, but Portillo is yet to show more than a well-above-average fastball in his four seasons with the Padres. A successful bullpen career is still very much a possibility for Portillo and seemingly the likely outcome at this point. ETA: 2014

    Risk Factor – Portillo’s career best mark at any level is 4.4 BB/9 – the control needs to improve for him to have ANY sort of career
    Via: padres public

    http://padrespublic.com/padres-prospects/2013-top-25-padres-prospects/

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