javier baez aflAs a group of the Cubs’ top prospects work out at Northwestern as part of the Rookie Development Program, it seems appropriate to once again gaze longingly upon a list reveling in the awesomeness of top Cubs prospects.

Today’s list comes from Chris Crawford at MLB Draft Insider (he also does draft work for ESPN). Crawford offers a scouting report on each of the listed prospects, and ranks the top 14 thusly:

1. Javier Baez
2. Kris Bryant
3. Jorge Soler
4. Albert Almora
5. CJ Edwards
6. Arismendy Alcantara
7. Pierce Johnson
8. Arodys Vizcaino
9. Jeimer Candelario
10. Eloy Jimenez
11. Rob Zastryzny
12. Dan Vogelbach
13. Scott Frazier
14. Neil Ramirez

Some things jump out, particularly in light of Kiley McDaniel’s recent ranking. First, there’s Jorge Soler cracking the top three, over Albert Almora (whom McDaniel had at number one in the system), which further supports the idea that, well, the Big Four are awesome. Mix and match ’em how you like, they’re just good, good prospects.

The next five all make sense, given the lists we’ve seen yet this year (and our own general sense of prospect-dom), but there’s a huge surprise in the 10 spot. That would be recently signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who was as close a consensus number one international prospect as there was this year. Crawford acknowledges that this is an aggressive ranking, and he hasn’t seen Jimenez personally (few have), but the reports he’s received have been glowing.

Zastryzny, the Cubs’ second rounder this year, is a pretty reasonable inclusion just outside the top ten, because he’s a legit pitching prospect. Overshadowed in the 2013 draft by Kris Bryant (because obviously), Zastryzny was the top pitcher selected by the Cubs, one of several nice college arms (including Frazier, who pops up a couple spots after Zastryzny). You could probably also argue for Tyler Skulina in this range, another 2013 college draftee.

I’ve been very pleased to see that, generally, Neil Ramirez consistently shows up on these lists in the mid-teens after a rebound season in 2013. Formerly a top ten Rangers prospect, Ramirez was the fourth piece in last Summer’s Matt Garza trade, and could see action in the big leagues this year. Crawford says Ramirez still has the potential to be a three in the big leagues, if he control takes a serious step forward. You’ll gladly take that type of review for a mid-teens prospect who has already seen time at AAA.

Give Crawford’s piece a read for more scouting reports, including grades.



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