Quantcast

cj edwards daytona cubsAs teased earlier in the week, John Sickels released his top prospects list for the Chicago Cubs heading into 2014, and it’s a fun one to review. Sickels offers thoughts on each of the listed prospects, as well as an overall system breakdown. Give it a read.

The list:

1. Javier Baez – A

2. Kris Bryant – A

3. Albert Almora – A-

4. Jorge Soler – B+

5. C.J. Edwards –  B+

6. Arismendy Alcantara – B

7. Pierce Johnson – B

8. Jeimer Candelario – B

9. Dan Vogelbach – B

10. Christian Villanueva – B-

11. Arodys Vizcaino – C+

12. Mike Olt – C+

13. Neil Ramirez – C+

14. Matt Szczur – C+

15. Josh Vitters – C+

16. Kyle Hendricks – C+

17. Corey Black – C+

18. Rob Zastryzny – C+

19. Ivan Pineyro – C+

20. Paul Blackburn – C+

21. Kevin Encarnacion – C+

The “also ran” category includes several legitimate prospects: Gioskar Amaya, 2B; Yasiel Balaguert, OF; Dallas Beeler, RHP; Shawon Dunston Jr, OF; Jacob Hannemann, OF; Brett Jackson, OF; Eloy Jimenez, OF; Eric Jokisch, LHP; Dillon Maples, RHP; Brett Marshall, RHP; Jefferson Mejia, RHP; Armando Rivero, RHP; Gleyber Torres, SS; Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP; Logan Watkins, INF; and Ben Wells, RHP.

We’re starting to see something akin to consensus on the top prospects in the Cubs’ system, by which I mean the next tier after the Big Four (plus Edwards). Baseball America’s list and Sickels’ each have the same nine players in the top nine slots for the Cubs, albeit with a slightly different order. From there, you could make a case for just about any of the next seven guys to be number 10 in the system, though I think Sickels probably gets it right with Villanueva. Just as they are with respect to the big league club, Olt and Vizcaino are wild cards, given the health issues coupled with considerable upside.

As for the grades, it’s amazing that the Cubs go 21 deep in C+ or better, with 3 A’s and 7 B’s. In Sickels’ system, “A” prospects are guys that have a “reasonable chance” of becoming stars or superstars in the bigs. At a minimum, virtually all of them become contributors in the big leagues. There aren’t many of them in the game. B’s are guys who could become stars, but few do. They tend, instead, to enjoy successful careers in the big leagues in a variety of roles. C’s are guys that are legitimate prospects – possibly with star-level upside – that come with a number of questions, or are simply too young/far away from the bigs to rank higher.

Here’s one of Sickels’ takes, which should entice you to want to read the rest:

Jeimer Candelario: Solid in Low-A at age 19, hit .256/.346/.396 for Kane County, although scouting reports were more enthusiastic than the pure numbers. Stands out for youth, switch-hitting power potential, a good measure of strike zone judgment, and a good arm.

  • CubFan Paul

    If Olt is healthy, he’s easily in the big four over Soler and that relief pitcher.

    • JCubs79

      No he’s not. At his peak, Olt at best was a high power, high patience, high K, low BA and a good glove. Soler projects much better as a prospect and there is literally no world in which Mike Olt is easily ahead of Soler and Edwards.

      • CubFan Paul

        “there is literally no world in which Mike Olt is easily ahead of Soler and Edwards”

        If he’s healthy, with plus defense at 3B, plus the same power Soler is projected to have makes you wrong.

        • hansman

          Basically, for all the luck the Cubs had in health on the big club last year, the minors stunk it up.

          • CubFan Paul

            You just jinxed it…

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            And development was the reverse.

      • hansman

        Here is what Sickels said about him last year:

        2) Mike Olt, 3B, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Bothered by vision problem early, hitting just .205/.310/.388 in Triple-A, still has power, defense, but strikeout rate is getting the best of him at this point. He turns 25 next month, needs a shot soon. Mentioned in trade rumors every 12 seconds.

        That’d slot him in at #4.

        • jh03

          Yeah, Mike Olt before the vision problem was an extrememly dreamy prospect. This one was even after he had vision issues and he’s still higher.

          • EQ76

            Olt could easily be Rizzo at 3B. Decent BA, solid defense, 25 or so HR’s.. I could see it.

            • dgruver10

              Rizzo hit .233 in his first full year in the Majors, I hardly call that a decent BA.

    • Noah_I

      It’s not just a question of Olt is healthy is not, it’s a question of if the issue was solely the eye, or if he was just flat out overmatched against Triple A pitchers who could use his swing and miss tendencies against him. Olt has struck out in 33% of his plate appearances above Double A. And at 25, Olt either will be able to turn it around this season, or he won’t at all. Soler won’t turn 22 until just after spring training starts. Even heading into LAST season, for example, Keith Law had Olt rated as the number 71 prospect in baseball, while he had Soler at 42. While Soler’s value has likely done nothing more than stay stagnant, Olt’s undoubtedly dropped after last season.

      • CubFan Paul

        “it’s a question of if the issue was solely the eye, or if he was just flat out overmatched against Triple A pitchers”

        Only according to you.

        The guy had a busted tear duct and clearly was waiting til the offseason for surgery (eye drops in the short term).

        He’ll be fine come Spring.

        • Noah_I

          “He’ll be fine come Spring.”

          Only according to you. The prospect gurus clearly have their concerns. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be out of the Cubs’ organizational top 10 on every list I’ve seen.

          • CubFan Paul

            “The prospect gurus clearly have their concerns”

            Who gives a shit (besides you)?

            The Cubs Front Office is who should be quoting

            • Noah_I

              The Cubs front office is propping up one of their own prospects in public statements? I’m shocked I tell you! SHOCKED!

              • CubFan Paul

                “The Cubs front office is propping up one of their own prospects in public statements?”

                And gifting him a position in the winter with no insurance policy.

                • Noah_I

                  First, it’s not clear that the Cubs are starting Olt at 3B in 2014, although I agree it’s the most likely scenario.

                  Second, the Cubs don’t expect to compete in 2014, so the value play is to gift Olt the spot and hope he performs before Baez/Bryant are ready. The Cubs have a log jam at 3B in the upper minors, so that complicates matters. On top of that, Olt performing well in the PCL at age 25 won’t significantly increase his value. Only performing well at the Majors will. So, if Olt stinks in the MLB it won’t affect the Cubs’ competitiveness and it won’t decrease his trade value in any meaningful way (he’ll go from a current throw in to a non-prospect). If he excels, it probably still won’t affect the Cubs’ competitiveness, but will vastly increase his trade value as Baez and Bryant approach the Majors (I expect both to be in the Majors by July 1, 2015).

                  Third, the Cubs do have a couple of insurance options with Olt. To start, if you’re going to give Olt a shot, it has to be an extended one. I’d say at least through June. At that point, the Cubs could shift Valbuena back to third base (I presume he’ll platoon with Barney at 2B to start the year if Olt is the starting 3B), the Cubs could call up Baez or Villanueva to play 3B, the Cubs could give Vitters another shot there, the Cubs could let Logan Watkins play the position for awhile. Again, since the Cubs likely won’t be competitive in 2014, whether or not they have a veteran insurance option is immaterial. They have a long list of prospects they could give short amounts of time to.

                  I’m all for the Cubs giving Olt the role as starting 3B for at least the first three months of the season. But, in my opinion, it’s the right move whether Olt’s struggles last year were solely caused by the vision problems or not, or whether those vision problems have been sufficiently corrected or not. I wholeheartedly hope that the issue was the vision, and it’s 100% corrected. But, being, the cautious person that I am, Olt has to show that in actual game action before I buy it.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “First, it’s not clear that the Cubs are starting Olt at 3B in 2014″

                    Not according to Jed Hoyer (the GM, not your prospect pundits)

                    “Second, the Cubs don’t expect to compete in 2014″

                    Shocker!

                    …and the rest is you “presuming”

                    • JacqueJones

                      If this is true, show me one quote from Jed that Olt is gonna be the starting 3B. There isnt any.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “show me one quote from Jed that Olt is gonna be the starting 3B”

                      It was a (local) radio interview

                    • JacqueJones

                      Convenient…

                      The fact that you can’t find anyone re-reporting this in writing makes me completely not believe this. If Hoyer said any player is going to be the starting anything, someone would A) write it down and post it on the internet and B) Ask for more information for a more detailed report. GMs don’t generally say who the starters are going to be, especially when those people are prospects. Saying that there is going to be a new starter at 3rd is big news.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Convenient…”

                      Correct. It is convenient to find, because outside of TV i’ve only caught Hoyer on Bruce Levine’s saturday show

                • JacqueJones

                  First of all, the FO hasn’t said anything about Olt being healthy. Second of all who says they gifted him a position with no insurance policy? Just because they didnt get a thirdbasemen that wasn’t actually available in free agency.

                  I might buy your argument IF he was healthy, but as the caps indicate, that is a big if. This is an issue that might be fixed by the surgery or it might not be and we’re back to square one where he cant hit a thing.

                  • jh03

                    I just wanna know how you got a Hall vote.

                    • JacqueJones

                      mistaken for Chipper Jones I think.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “This is an issue that might be fixed by the surgery”

                    Tear duct surgery is routine now, with more than one type of procedure depending on the individual.

                    • EQ76

                      I still think the best case scenario is Olt has a good, solid year and either develops into a great piece in a trade package or the reason that Bryant moves to LF. I’m pulling for one of those results.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      If Olt has a solid year, he’s not getting traded. He’ll be the best 3B option going forward.

                      Trading him would just create another hole (for a lesser player)

            • brickhouse

              It goes beyond Olt being healthy from eye and concussion problems. The Cubs are now trying to rework his swing like they did with Jackson last year.

              • willis

                Well if that’s the case, it will be a failure. The BJax experiment was a disaster.

                • CubFan Paul

                  I’ve seen nothing about Olt’s swing being re-worked. The Front Office prescribed: REST for him

                  • willis

                    Agree with this. If he can rebound and have a solid season, hell even decent pop, decent OBP and a solid glove, he’s a great option at 3B moving forward. You then park Bryant in the OF and Baez at 2nd. That’s a lot of pop in one lineup.

                    Olt being good would be a huge development for this rebuild and future.

      • gocatsgo2003

        Even if Olt does have some “swing-and-miss” in him, doesn’t it seem reasonable that it would be made even worse by vision issues? If you occasionally miss a pitch when you CAN see it, I can only imagine that it gets worse when you CAN’T.

        • Noah_I

          Whether it seems reasonable or not to me is irrelevant. I’m (a) not a doctor, (b) have never seen Olt play live, and (c) don’t have a scouting background, so even if I did see Olt play live, I couldn’t discern all that much from it.

          What I know is that Olt was terrible last year, and there are three possible reasons for it: (1) his eyes caused all the problems; (2) he was over matched by Triple A pitching; or (3) some combination of 1 and 2.

          Until he proves otherwise, I’m going to presume it was either 2 or 3. The people who make their living, or at least a portion thereof, analyzing prospects to provide information to the public appear to be viewing it the same way.

          • willis

            I really hope Olt can improve and jump out ahead of, and eventually take the 3B for the Cubs this Spring.

            He’ll be given every opportunity to do so by the FO. But, I too am very skeptical of his resurgence. I tend to think the struggles are what they are, struggles and he just isn’t going to be that good. But, he’ll get a big chance to prove me wrong and I hope he does.

          • gocatsgo2003

            Really? Did you click the link to see Sickels’ actual, real live comments? If not, here goes:

            “Another injury guy; blurred vision resulting from a concussion ruined both his hitting and his defense. If his eyes and brain are OK, he can still be a low-batting-average, high-power slugger with a very valuable glove. Track health reports closely this spring.”

            Seems pretty clear that Sickels is attributing the dip in his production with the bat and in the field to his vision issues, ultimately couching his evaluation with a gigantic “if, then” statement. “Low-batting average, high-power slugger with a very valuable glove” has pretty much alwas been the scouting report on Olt, so Sickels is saying that could still be that guy if his vision issues clear up (PUN ALERT!).

            • gocatsgo2003

              *always

    • Jon

      Olt of Soler? That has to be a joke right. Olt is living off of one year of hype in the minors – 2012. Even before his vision issues, he always had a strikeout problem. There is a reason Texas gave him away for 2 months of Garza.

      • CubFan Paul

        “Olt is living off of one year of hype in the minors – 2012″

        Not true. He was blue chipper when drafted and only went up from there.

        “There is a reason Texas gave him away for 2 months of Garza”

        Prospect surplus to fill a short term need, yeah I know.

    • Kyle

      If he was healthy, he’d still be a Texas Ranger.

      • CubFan Paul

        “If he was healthy, he’d still be a Texas Ranger”

        Correct. If he was healthy (THEN, early 2013) he’d still be a Texas Ranger.

        • Kyle

          The post-concussion issues he’s facing may never heal fully.

          • CubFan Paul

            “The post-concussion issues..”

            You mean broken/busted tear duct?

            • Kyle

              I do not. Post-concussion syndrome and tear duct issues are two separate issues.

              • Norm

                Isn’t Justin Morneau a prime example of what can happen to a player after a concussion, or am I memory wrong on what happened to Morneau?

                • ruby2626

                  A lesser example of post concussion syndrome might be one of our own, Hee Sop Choi, he was never the same after slamming his head on the ground.

                  • D.G.Lang

                    Another possibility might be our own dear Ron Santo. He however despite the broken jaw seems to have recovered OK.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “our own dear Ron Santo…He however despite the broken jaw seems to have recovered OK”

                      Except for dying. No biggie.

                    • D.G.Lang

                      Actually s reply to cubfan pall below, reply button missing.

                      My reply was concerned with his ability to recover and play well after the INJURY, not his ultimate demise years later due to the disease which he suffered so much from.

                      After all the topic was players recovering from a concussion and possibly other severe injuries and playing well afterwards.

              • CubFan Paul

                “Post-concussion syndrome and tear duct issues are two separate issues”

                Either way, I like how you always ignore & don’t mention the more current reported latter matter (to dismiss Olt).

                • Kyle

                  Why did it need to be brought up? Did someone forget about it?

                  People seem eager to forget the post-concussion syndrome and focus on the eyes.

                • Kyle

                  Besides, by your creed, luck doesn’t exist, so we can assume that Olt getting hit in the head and losing ability is something he will likely continue to do. He must have “get hit in the head” skills of at least 70.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    I’ve never said luck doesn’t exist

                    “Why did it need to be brought up?”

                    Why would you not bring up the issue that currently bothering him?

                    “People seem eager to forget the post-concussion syndrome”

                    Recent reports (Hoyer too) say he’s fine

                    • Kyle

                      Yeah, and Ian Stewart’s wrist was fine. That’s just something GM’s say about their players. It’s their job to hype them up.

                    • mjhurdle

                      I agree with Kyle.
                      Most reports i have read state that Olt needs to recover from both the eye problems and the concussion to fully reach his potential.
                      As much as I want Olt to succeed and as much as i like the Front Office, Im not taking Hoyers opinion on whether Olt is recovered from both yet.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Yeah, and Ian Stewart’s wrist was fine”

                      I thought Ian Stewart was generally bad at baseball though (according to you)…

                    • Kyle

                      Olt might be too. I don’t think we can rule out Brett Jackson Disease as a contributing cause of his struggles last year.

                    • blublud

                      Yea. I’m high on Olt, but Brett Jackson disease, post concussion syndrome and a damaged tear duct makes baseball very hard.

                • blublud

                  I think Olt will be fine. However, how are you so sure he will. The FO has not even come out and said he fine. Until a couple weeks into the spring, none us will know. He hasn’t been name the starter yet.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “The FO has not even come out and said he fine”

                    Hoyer did recently on the radio

                    • blublud

                      Do you have the link?

                    • JacqueJones

                      Of course he doesn’t. He only said it on a local radio show aparently. The fact that no reporter reported this tells me he probably misunderstood the quote, because a GM saying X player is healthy and has the starting job is actually big news.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Awwww, poor e-baby Jacque doesn’t know how to use the internet so he lashes out.

                      Predictable. Next time i’m listening to the radio i’l transcribe for you, if you like.

  • NorthSideIrish

    As someone pointed out in the comments of the article, I love that 8 of these guys have been acquired via deadline trades the past two years…

    I think he’s too low on Blackburn and I would have Amaya on the list. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ramirez that high on the list though.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    Can someone reverse engineer this after a ride in the DeLorean at 88mph and tell me what A or B prospects in the Cubs system or any system to determine how well these grades translate to MLB players.

    I think Bryant is closer than Baez, but I am glad we will see them both soon!

    • cub-hub

      Why would you think Bryant is closer when he is just now getting to AA, a league that Baez has already absolutely slaughtered. Baez is a hot streak or injury away at the most. Bryant may still have another level to reach.

      • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

        I am sure you are correct. I think as Bryant played college for 3 years at such a high level that I am sure he will do well at AA…
        glad to have them both!

        • CubFan Paul

          “I am sure he will do well at AA…”

          I think Bryant’s going to crush it harder than Baez did.

          • cub-hub

            I hope Cubfan Paul, but it will be damn near impossible. What Baez did had just as much to do with chance as skill. Yes, Baez is talented, but no one can be expected to repeat that nor can it be predicted. Let’s just hope Bryant has great success. Not interested in comparing what Baez did to anyone.

            • CubFan Paul

              “What Baez did had just as much to do with chance as skill”

              Hitting homers to straight away center is not chance, it’s 70-80 raw power.

              Me thinking Bryant will do better is because Bryant is a much better hitter (skill again).

              • cub-hub

                20 HR in 214 at-bats and 54 games is steroid level production. That has him on pace to hit 60 a season. So either Baez is on steroids(unlikely) or he got on a hot streak that can’t really be expected or predicted. If Bryant is better than that. Damn. They would be ranked 1 and 2 in all prospect ranking and it would not be even close. Like I said, I hope Bryant crushes AA, but if he doesn’t duplicate Baez’ numbers, I won’t be disappointted or surprised.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “So either Baez is on steroids(unlikely)”

                  It’s actually more likely than not.

                  Technology is way ahead of MLB testing.

                  • Fishin Phil

                    Got anything to back that up, or is this just wild speculation again?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Got anything to back that up”

                      What? Technology being way ahead of MLB testing?

                      “or is this just wild speculation again?”

                      Again?

                    • DarthHater

                      It’s actually more likely than not.

                • ssckelley

                  Bryant had 15 home runs in 205 at bats between the minors and the AFL last summer. I know that was not all at AA but in comparison Baez hit 20 home runs at similar levels in 2012 and it took him 350 at bats. So I think the power comparisons are justified and I feel Bryant is more polished as a hitter as he should be since he is a year older.

              • Jason P

                His BABIP was slightly high but not huge. Based on how hard he hits the ball and his above average speed, a .333 BABIP might actually be sustainable for him in AA. The .638 slugging was just crazy. For a 20-year old in AA? Who plays SS?

                If he just struck out at a 19-20% clip rather than 25%, I think he would probably be challenging Buxton for title of best prospect in baseball.

                • Scotti

                  Baez does not have above average speed.

                  • blublud

                    Scotti, Baez does have above average speed. He actually has good speed.

                    • Scotti

                      Nope. Baez has average speed and above average quickness and instincts. His best 60 time for Perfect Game was 6.90. For reference, Vogelbach was 7.15 and Almora (who is no burner himself) 6.78.

                      Baez’s speed is overrated and Vogelbach’s speed is underrated.

                      http://www.perfectgame.org/players/playerprofile.aspx?ID=275154

                      Baez’s quickness and average speed could translate into good defense at short where quickness is more important than straight line speed. There have been plenty of average speed guys that worked worked well at short.

                    • blublud

                      I have never seen any other site call Baez speed less than above average, and most call it good.

                      I do agree that Vogelbach is not nearly as immobile as people assume.

                    • blublud

                      Speed

                      Present Grade: 50
                      Future Grade: 50

                      Notes: Baez has average base running skills and solid speed, which in combination with his natural instincts on the field allows him to possess average range on either side of the ball.

                      He swiped 24 bags last season and 20 thus far in 2013, which should provide the Cubs with an all-around power threat who has the ability to flash speed when needed.

                    • hansman

                      So he does not have above average speed?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      LOL

                    • blublud

                      Hansman, average speed is a 40 grade. 50 grade is above average. Also, I have never seen any describe average speed as solid.

                    • bbmoney

                      20 to 80 scale 50 is average.

                    • hansman

                      “Hansman, average speed is a 40 grade. 50 grade is above average. Also, I have never seen any describe average speed as solid.”

                      Wow…just wow.

                      Oh and average speed on someone who has 80 power (btw, that tops the scale) is solid.

                  • Jason P

                    Well then it’s at least average. Either way, my point stands.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            Wouldn’t it be great to see Baez and Bryant locked into a neck and neck derby each year to see who hits the most bombs and drives in the most RBI’s. Kind of like the Yankees when they had Mantle and Maris.

            • blublud

              Except if all our power guys reach their potential, it could be Beaz, Bryant, Olt, Rizzo and Soler

    • Noah_I

      I don’t have a DeLorean, but I do have Google. Looking solely at Sickels’ lists, in 2012, the Cubs had no A prospects. Their top three prospects were Brett Jackson (B+), Anthony Rizzo (B+) and Javier Baez (B). He rated their fourth best prospect as Szczur, who was a B-. By the way, the Cubs don’t hit B- until number 10 on this year’s list.

      In 2011, the top three prospects were: Brett Jackson (B+), Trey McNutt (B+) and Chris Carpenter (B).

      In 2010, the top three were: Starlin Castro (B+), Josh Vitters (B+, borderline B), and Brett Jackson (B).

      In 2009, the top three were: Josh Vitters (B+), Jeff Samardzija (B), and Ryan Flaherty. Andrew Cashner was number four at a B-.

      In 2008, the top three were: Josh Vitters (B+), Geovany Soto (B+), Sean Gallagher (B).

      So the Cubs haven’t had great luck with their top three as listed by Sickels. Vitters has done nothing at the MLB level as of yet, although he was only in the top three for the three years after he was the number 3 pick in the draft. Jackson looks like a bust, McNutt is a bust, Carpenter was released by the Red Sox, Gallagher was pretty terrible after being traded in the Rich Harden deal. The Cubs let Flaherty go in the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles picked him up, and at least to this point it doesn’t look like the Cubs made a mistake there. The successes, to some extent or another, to this point have been Castro, Rizzo, Soto and Samardzija.

      However, the quality of the Cubs’ top prospects in prior years is vastly different from its current quality. From 2008 to 2012, Sickels did not rate a single Cubs prospect as an A, and an average of less than 2 a year as a B+. This year, the Cubs have 5 players listed as a B+ or better, with two A’s and an A- in there.

      To put this in context, the earliest year I could find a rating for solely Cubs’ top prospects by Sickels was 2005. Prior to giving Javier Baez an A- heading into 2013, John Sickels had NEVER rated a Cubs’ prospect above a B+. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs had no A- or better prospects from Mark Prior to Javier Baez.

      • Cyranojoe

        Noah, thanks for that! That’s Brett-quality research and summary, with exciting conclusions to be taken from it. :)

      • Jason P

        Good fact.

  • coondawg

    Are any of these guys catchers? I feel we lack in catching prospects more so than plus pitching!!!

    • gocatsgo2003

      This is probably true… but at least Castillo will still only be 26 on Opening Day and Kottaras is only 30. One or both of those guys could be around for a while yet, so we likely won’t feel the squeeze for a while, giving the FO a chance to find some catching prospects.

    • Scotti

      Cubs may have a shot at getting an ELITE catcher in the draft (massive power and the best pop time AND mph throws ever recorded by Perfect Game).

      • Scotti
        • jh03

          1.73…. oh my

          • Scotti

            And not just a goofy quick pop time but a goofy quick pop time with a power arm.

      • ssckelley

        There is a chance Alex Jackson could be there at #4 and could very well be the top position player available. But a lot can change between now and June, at this time last year I had not heard much about Kris Bryant.

        • Scotti

          Just like prospects not all panning out, it kind of doesn’t need repeating that a lot can change leading up to the draft. Of course a lot can change in the draft–a lot can change in MLB from day-to-day.

          • ssckelley

            True, but this young man is definitely worth keeping an eye on. The scouting reports on his power have been glowing since he was a freshman. If he can stick at catcher (they rave on his skills behind the plate as well) that makes him all the more valuable. I like that this FO has been using the top pick to take the top position player and unless one of those stud pitchers falls to #4 I hope this trend continues.

            • Scotti

              I personally believe that drafting pitchers and signing position players via FA is more cost effective (by several magnitudes) BUT always BPA and he is a tremendous physical talent.

              • ssckelley

                I agree, and the Cubs do draft pitchers, in fact a majority of their 2-10 picks have been pitchers. Last June 7 of the top 10 picks were pitchers and the year before 9 of the top 12 picks were all pitchers. But top position players have a better chance at panning out than pitchers, so they are going the safe route with their top pick and rolling the dice the rest of the way.

                It is no coincidence that the Cubs top 3 prospects are all position players that they drafted.

                • Scotti

                  In terms of coincidence, Baez is certainly a coincidence because he was drafted by Hendry/Wilken (who had zero problems drafting pitchers in the first round).

                  The quantity without quality approach to drafting pitchers hasn’t had much success yet (it’s early, yes, but for the volume, you’d expect more than just Johnson getting noticed). I’m not convinced it’s going to produce the amount of TOR pitchers required to keep the Cubs out of the free agent market.
                  In fact, I’m pretty convinced otherwise.

                  Re. position players having a better chance/safe route. The same is true with pitchers and hitters in Free Agency–pitchers are far more likely to get injured and give you nothing. Except an injury from the market could cost a quarter of a Billion dollars. That’s never true in the draft–not even close.

    • ssckelley

      The best catching prospects are a long ways off. The Cubs drafted 2 bonus babies out of high school that I doubt make it out of short season next season (Will Remillard and Tyler Alamo), it will be a while before we hear anything on them. The Cubs also took a college catcher in Cael Brockmeyer who will move up faster than the other 2 but he is not anywhere near anybodies top 20 prospect list.

    • hansman

      The problem isn’t that we are devoid of pitching talent, it’s that we have no top shelf talent.

      But you are right, our catching depth is weak.

    • Jason P

      The Cubs are banking on Castillo not regressing too far. Granted, the offensive bar is pretty low for catchers, so it wouldn’t take much for him to be average, especially considering he plays good defense.

      • CubFan Paul

        If only he could frame on pitch on the perimeter of the strikezone consistently with his right handed pitchers

        • Scotti

          Here’s an excellent article about framing pitches. The best I’ve ever read on the subject:

          http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/63855/qa-ryan-hanigan-on-the-art-of-pitch-framing

          • jh03

            That was fantastic.

            • Scotti

              He didn’t talk about using the different parts of the mitt to catch much (if at all) but otherwise he was exceptional (as you might expect for a top receiver). There is skill behind framing (more skill than talent at the highest levels) and the common perception of jerking the glove around after you catch the ball is just about the worst thing you can do.

  • jh03

    That top 10 is so freaking pretty. That’s 10 guys who can reasonable project to contribute at the ML level, in some fashion. Oh boy.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    anyone guess who will be at AA this year ?

    will Baez start there? I am thinking he will be at AAA..

    AA could we see Bryant, Almora or Soler ?

    Bryant I would say yes…

    I now live in NC and going to AA team is a short trip..so I plan on seeing these boys play

    • Noah_I

      Baez and Alcantara will be in Iowa. Likely Villanueva as well.

      Bryant and Soler I’d say are shoe ins for Tennessee on opening day. I think Almora will start in Daytona, but could be called up to Tennessee as early as June. Edwards and Johnson will either start in Tennessee or be there not long after the season starts.

    • AA Correspondant

      The TN lineup should be fun to watch this season……especially on the pitching side.

      I beieve Bryant will start with AA.

      Watch Baez and Alcantara’s spring……they are both slated for AAA but could actually start in AA (for about 6 weeks). If Watkins does not make the big league roster, I think he may start in AAA which might push Alcantara back down to AA just so he can get regular at bats. Less likely for Baez, unless they see something they dont like in spring and want to nip in in the bud before planning a Starlin Castro type promotion and send him to Chicago directly from AA. Not likely, but definately could happen.

      Seeing Bryant, Baez, Alcantara and Geiger in the infield (even for a short time) would be spectacular. I expect Soler to start in Daytona and be a mid season callup to AA. Would not surprise me to see Szczur back in AA to start season and move up once Soler arrives (there appears to be a lot of OF’ers slated for AAA. An outfield of Szczur, Andreoli and Silva/Giansanti could be a reality to start the season. Lots can happen, and these are just my opinions……but I think this could be a very exciting season in TN.

      • Noah_I

        Watkins doesn’t need to play at 2B, though. He could also play all over the outfield.

  • lukobravo

    I’d really like to see Vitters rake this ST. But look how bad Brett Jackson has fallen off the charts.

  • Seth

    And Jim Callis thinks Baez is the second best SS prospect in the game. That is IMPRESSIVE.

    https://twitter.com/jimcallisMLB/status/421305943293702144

    • cub-hub

      Honestly, I love Bogaerts. I think Baez has more star power, however. If Bogaerts wasn’t already in the MLB, I think Baez would rank higher. Pretty cool for Baez though.

      • Noah_I

        I’m surprised Lindor isn’t on that list. Lower ceiling than Baez and Bogaerts, but MUCH higher floor than at least Baez due to being a plus defensive shortstop and the on base skills. Correa would be 4th of those 4 for me, due to distance from Majors more than anything else, but I don’t think you could really go wrong listing Lindor, Bogaerts and Baez in any order.

  • Patrick G

    Its crazy to think just 2 years ago Brett Jackson was a top prospect for the Cubs

  • jcoffey89

    I think that “Big Four (Plus Edwards)” might be the motto of the future. I know Edwards doesn’t have as much upside as some of the Big Four, but he has enough to merit inclusion. Regardless of whether or not he starts or is in the pen, I look forward to seeing what that kid can do.

    • CubFan Paul

      “he has enough to merit inclusion. Regardless of whether or not he starts or is in the pen”

      Well if he’s in the pen he’s much less valuable than a number 3 or 4 pitcher.

      • Drew7

        False: high-leverage relievers can have a ton of value.

        • CubFan Paul

          Not in a stacked farm system.

          • Drew7

            I’m not sure what the state of the farm system has to do with how much value a player can provide relative to a 3-4 starter.

            • CubFan Paul

              I was referring to ranking a relief prospect in a stack system.

    • cub-hub

      Some have Edwards higher than Soler and Almora. I think Johnson is better, but Edwards certainly deserves to be in there.

    • jcoffey89

      Vizcaino, when we got him, had the same kind of uncertainty. Coming off the injury we didn’t know if he would start or have be a high leverage reliever, and he still broke top 10 lists. They have both have good ceilings and similiar stuff.

      According to http://www.scoutingbook.com/ pre-T.J. Vizcaino had a “fastball that hovered in the low 90s” and ” complement his heat with an already-superb curve and a developing change”. The same site has Edwards as “quality mid-90’s fastball (somehow) from his slight frame” and a “plus curve”.

      There are some similarties in stuff, and similiar concerns with their ability to go deep into games. What I was saying was that there is a big range of ways he could contribute. Being the best pitching prospect we have right now, taking last season into account, and throwing in some pure hope, I would put him along with the Big Four in terms of what I would like to see. However, as a relative throw-in for the Garza trade, I would be happy with high leverage reliever. There is still value there.

  • BWA

    The one rating that caught me off guard was candelario. He’s never really done much with the bat so I havnt been super high on him. Scouts love him though so it’s nice to see that even after a bad year sickels still really likes him.

    • JacqueJones

      I wouldnt say Candelario had a bad year, just an ok year. he was one of the youngest players in the league he was in which is pitcher-friendly.

    • Jason P

      He’s the ultimate “projection” prospect. But I think if I had to choose between him and Olt (I can only keep one), I’d probably still go Olt.

      • willis

        I think a second go around in A ball will be a good thing for Candelario and he’ll tear it up. He’ll be up to high A at some point this year and that’s not too shabby for a dude that will be 20.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      He’s still really young (Candelario). And being a switch hitter is a real plus. I have to think that Villanueva gets thrown into a trade deal for pitching prospects some time this summer. Maybe bundle him with Barney.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The system is becoming absolutely loaded. The exciting thing is that there are probably 35 guys to be legitimately excited about. The work that Theo, Jed and McLeod have done in two years is outstanding. Flat out.

    Olt? Way too much discussion on him. He’s methodically devolving into Brett Jackson / Josh Vitters status. Could he surprise? Could he be serviceable? Sure he could. But my goodness, I’m much more interested in others right now.

    • Noah_I

      This. I’m wholly rooting for Olt to prove that the issue was wholly the eye thing. But, until he proves otherwise, I’m presuming that wasn’t the issue, or at least wasn’t the sole issue.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The Garza trade was absolutely outstanding. To get Edwards…plus Ramirez….plus Grimm (who could become a quality back of rotation starter)…and Olt as a throw-in? A fleecing.

    And the Dempster trade is quietly looking great as well. Hendricks is one of those guys who might come in and nail down a rotation spot for 5 years plus. Nothign fancy, but very interesting prospect. Plus Villenueva, who is underrated. He is going to be a marketable asset.

    • CubFan Paul

      “A fleecing”

      One of the benefits of targeting a team with prospect surplus

    • jcoffey89

      Did I see that they moved Grimm to the bullpen? Are they still going to give him chances to start?

      • willis

        I think Grimm’s future is in the bullpen. But I do think they’ll keep him in AAA to start to help keep his durability up in case of an emergency in Chicago. He’s got ok stuff, but that could translate to very good bullpen stuff.

  • ssckelley

    moar prospect porn!

  • mugatu23

    Over the last 5 years when they do their top 100 prospects list the top 30 overall prospects seem to be solid contributors on a team or if the don’t make the mlb that year they are still ranked in the top 30. There is only a handful of players of the top 30 that don’t do anything.

  • greekcubsfan

    Hopefully we can get another A prospect in this year’s draft. The FO has done an incredible job fixing the previous regime’s lack of foresight.

    • CubFan Paul

      “previous regime’s lack of foresight”

      Like Javier Baez?

      • jcoffey89

        No, not Javier Baez. Maybe Hayden Simpson though.

      • Adventurecizin Justin

        Wasn’t Baez drafted in Rickett’s first draft?

        • CubFan Paul

          No, Hayden Simpson was Ricketts’ first draft choice.

          • Adventurecizin Justin

            I could be wrong, but I believe you are wrong on that.

          • Adventurecizin Justin

            Almora was Theo & Jed’s first pick, right? Hendry was only around for one of Rickett’s drafts, right?

            • ssckelley

              Hendry was around to get the 2011 draft class signed (Baez). So yes Almora was Theo & Jed’s first pick.

              • greekcubsfan

                And before Baez they drafted? Not very much. Wasted many draft picks and didn’t have a restriction that is in place now.

                • ssckelley

                  Not sure what point you are trying to make, was that a knock on Hendry or the Cubs overall? If your point is Theo and Hoyer are good at drafting then I cannot disagree with you as the early results are looking good.

                  • greekcubsfan

                    Ssckelley, that’s my point. The previous FO didn’t think long term. I’m totally on board with Theo and Jed’s plan. I can’t remember there ever being a long term plan before. It was always narrow minded IMO.

                • Scotti

                  Greek, the restriction in place now restricts all teams. Hendry was restricted by draft/IFA spending caps placed on him by the Trib, and later, Zell. Other teams during that period–even some small cap teams– had much larger budgets for the draft and IFA. Hendry had one shot at it and he had an excellent 2011 draft.

                  When it comes to prospects, Tom Ricketts has thrown his cash around like feta on a Greek salad. If Hendry had that kind of owner from the start, he would have produced differently.

                  • greekcubsfan

                    Scotti, I hear ya. I’m not saying there weren’t any restrictions just that it didn’t seem they had a plan as well as good scouts to find that diamond in the rough that could make up for any “flop” picks.

                • When The Musics Over

                  Andrew Cashner was anything but a wasted draft pick.

                  • blublud

                    Depends on how Rizzo turns out. ;)

  • jschwei17

    Just went back and looked and Olt was the #16 overall prospect in all MLB in 2012! He could bounce back and have a great year (and pray he does) but it’s a perfect example of how quickly this game can pass you by!

  • NorthSideIrish

    I think my favorite part was in the Comments where someone suggested a Brandon Wood comparison for Baez. Sickels joined in and said he thought Wood’s issue were mental and that he was over-thinking. Then, Sickels said about Baez (excuse the language):

    “Baez is a different sort of person. I get the impression that when Baez fails at something, he says “f@#k this s%&t,” makes an adjustment, and takes it out on the pitcher. Wood strikes me as more introspective, which is good in many ways but can also lead someone to internalize problems and lose confidence.”

    • Featherstone

      Thanks for sharing that comment.

      I think Baez walks that’s fine line between confidence and arrogance. He had such amazing talent and he knows it, but he also has the work ethic to put the work in when hes beaten. He takes his failure very personally and it drives him to make sure he succeeds next time.

      • dw8

        I’ve heard it commented by prospect folks (BA) that Wood showed the power in extreme hitter leagues, and his ranking followed. BA has become a little more diligent when it comes to performance of hitters in hitters leagues, especially when it pertains to power.

  • CubsFaninMS

    You know? It’s odd as a Cubs fan seeing so many highly-touted prospects. We never see this. Although you can compare, conceptualize, and analyze the vast improvement in our farm system, us Cub fans have been burned so many times (Pie, Patterson, Kieschnick, Harvey, Cruz, etc.) that many of us have this “Is it for real?” mentality. Honestly, although I’m very excited and expect good things in the future, my mind won’t be able to grasp the fact that we have impact talent nurtured by our own farm system until I actually see it in Wrigley Field. In that respect, 2014 could be an exciting year and moving forward.

    • Adventurecizin Justin

      We have had impact talent in the past. However, developing that talent was the Achilles. I’m confident going forward because of the emphasis on development. Not all of our big boys will likely make it big, but the depth will produce very good players that aren’t always initially ranked highly. The Cards don’t always draft the most talented, but I believe they get olayers closer to their ceilings.

    • Kyle

      It’s not that odd for those of us who paid attention to the early 2000s. In 2002, the Cubs placed 7 in the top 80 on BA.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Kyle:

        I’ve been a fervent Cubs fan since 1987 but, up until 2010 or so, I only had a vague understanding of how our farm system worked. Knowing that, noticing the trend even at the big league level was relatively easy with Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Kevin Orie, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, etc. Prior and Wood had the major league talent, but it’s difficult to argue that we expected much more out of them, two very promising individuals.

    • Jon

      Outside of Harvey, all those those earlier prospects were highly regarded all the way till they pooped the bed in the big leagues.

      Let’s wait until Baez, Bryant, Soler, etc..have big league success before spiking the proverbial football.

    • ssckelley

      Here is something to get you a little excited about this farm system. The last time the Cubs had a system this good they soon came within a win of going to the World Series. That top farm system in 2002 either helped the team or were traded for players that had big roles on the team (Ramirez and DLee). I doubt all of these players will turn into major league players in a Cubs uniform, some may get traded for other players.

  • Cubsin

    I have a birth defect which robbed me of my depth perception. I know firsthand that the lack of depth perception makes baseball a very difficult and dangerous game to play. I was actually surprised that Olt was able to perform as well as he did last year with his vision issues. If his eyesight is back to where it was before his problems started, I expect him to be the Cubs third baseman for the next eight or ten years. If it isn’t, he’ll soon be out of baseball.

  • Assman22

    Big fan of Sickels…don’t always agree with him but he has a great eye for prospect talent…the guy simply watches a ton of baseball on all levels…with that being said, IIRC he forgot Paniagua on the list…he’s early teens on my prospect list…

    • CubFan Paul

      We need a Assman Top 20 ..or a twitter feed

      • Assman22

        My top 20 would be very similar…I don’t consider Olt a prospect anymore…I’d slot JCP just behind Vizcaino…both are in similar predicaments as neither has thrown much in the past couple years but this season will determine their fates…at least 2 or 3 of the mid-20’s prospects would be mid teens or even early teens on 75% of other MLB team prospect lists…Cubs farm is Deep…

        • Edwin

          Why do you use so many … ?

        • college_of_coaches

          Do you know anything about Olt’s health status?

        • CubFan Paul

          “I don’t consider Olt a prospect anymore”

          Can you give us more? A busted tear duct is no reason to write off a blue chipper, is my thinking (Tear duct surgery/repair procedures are fairly routine now).

          He should be ready to go come Spring.

          • blublud

            CubFan Paul. I think you are to high on Olt. You are setting yourself up for disappointment, even if he does reach his expected levels. He is a solid prospect and has the potential to be an average to good everyday player. He is not a star, however, and I don’t think I would have ever, and definitely not now, label him a blue chipper. A Blue Chipper is a top 10, maybe 20 type prospect. Olt, even at his best, was never close. I hope you are right, but I don’t see Olt ever being a consistent all-star level player and definitely not parrenial, even if he does smash 25 a year and plays solid D.

            • roz

              That’s entirely false. He was the 16th best prospect in all of baseball in 2012, according to MLB.com, and put up a .288/.398/.579 slash line that year in 352 ABs. Kid was good.

            • CubFan Paul

              “I think you are to high on Olt”

              When it turns into ‘man-crush city’ i’ll let you know.

              “You are setting yourself up for disappointment”

              No, I’m not. I’m just expecting a healthy player come Spring, nothing more.

              “A Blue Chipper is a top 10, maybe 20 type prospect”

              Wrong. You’re also off/wrong on the 20-80 scale (Brett educate your peeps).

              “Olt, even at his best, was never close”

              You Sir, need a BP subscription.

          • MaxM1908

            I could be wrong, but I think Assman could be saying that Olt is past the prospect list point in his career, as in he’s major league-ready. I didn’t take from his statement that he had written Olt off, but maybe I misunderstood completely.

            • Assman22

              @MaxM1908 You are correct…Olt is/was MLB-ready…played in the bigs for too long to be a prospect any longer(just my opinion)…only in AAA due to his vision issues…

  • Ivy Walls

    I think many of you are missing the obvious. Three prospects are projected to be stars or superstar potential. They are position players. Then another 5 position players projected to be solid players with a few potential stars, including 2 pitchers. This is much more than merely the parlor game of which of them has your favorite personality or story.

    Last time this occurred was in my elementary school days when the Cubs were bringing up 3 superstars (Williams, Brock and Santo) and three solid starters; Beckert, Kessinger and Hundley.

    Honestly, I could see someone like Vogelbach pushing FO to rethink Rizzo if he continues to be in the OPS and get value for him. But my favorite is Alcantara, power switch hitting slick hitting 2B, Bryant has the ceiling to be Ryan Braun? Baez G. Stanton and because of injury Soler could be as big as well with a steady Sandburg type of CF’er in Almora.

    • CubFan Paul

      I like the Ryan Braun comp.

    • arta

      ditto! looks like u could be right.

  • Diehardthefirst

    I would like to see how other teams rate Cubs prospects because that is how trades are made- consensus makes trades more difficult

  • Adventurecizin Justin

    Man, I totally thought that Ricketts wasn’t a part of The Simpson draft. My bad, CubsFanPaul, you was right and I’m really glad I prefaced it with, “I could be wrong”!! I’m kinda worried that I couldn’t remember that. Maybe it’s just too much kool-aid!

    But, I hope being wrong earlier means that I’ll be right in saying that there will be a high success rate from this sweet list of prospects!!

    • CubFan Paul

      Thank You.

  • CubsFanFrank

    Somewhat surprised by the inclusion of Kevin Encarnacion. I’d first taken notice of him in 2012, but even then, I thought he was a bit old for a DSL prospect.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    Random aside: One great thing about this site regarding people making wildly sweeping and inaccurate (yea, at times, ignorant) comments (and I’m sure I’ve had my share) is that there are a host of ever patient lunatics (endearingly) who respond with intelligence and insight that further the learning of everyone else.

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+