Prospect rankings come in a variety of flavors, from team lists to overall lists to league lists. One of the more interesting approaches ranks prospects at each position throughout the minors. Recently, MLB.com ranked Javier Baez as the second best shortstop prospect in baseball, which is extremely high praise when you know that shortstop is absolutely stacked in the minor leagues right now.
MLB.com has also ranked first and second base, with a couple more Cubs making an appearance. On the first base list, it’s no surprise that the Cubs’ entrant is Dan Vogelbach, roundly considered an impressive bat, albeit one belonging to a guy who could struggle to stick at first base without some additional progress defensively. On the bat, the compliments flow: “Vogelbach has stood out for his power dating back to high school. Large-bodied even then, he has hit at every stop of his professional career, bashing at least 17 home runs in each of his first two full professional seasons. Vogelbach’s bat has never been questioned. He easily has plus power and his advanced approach allows him to drive the ball to all fields. He projects to be a good all-around hitter and doesn’t have as much swing-and-miss in his game as many power hitters.”
Although it’s great to see a Cubs prospect so high on a list, it’s important to remember that many of the best future first basemen in baseball are not presently considered first basemen in the minors. Players tend to stick at the toughest defensive position they can handle for the longest possible time (because they have more value there), so if a prospect is in A-ball and already a surefire first baseman, that’s not necessarily a good thing. A huge bat, in those cases, is a necessity. Fortunately, Vogelbach’s got it.
In the second base rankings, it’s another Cubs prospect in the four spot: Arismendy Alcantara. The presumed starter at second base for the Iowa Cubs this year, Alcantara has been steadily climbing the rankings over the past two years as he’s steadily climbed the minor league ranks. From the MLB.com report: “Alcantara has a short, compact swing from both sides of the plate. His swing is more suited for line drives, but he does have some pop in his bat. He is athletic and has well above-average speed, making him a threat to steal. The Cubs have used Alcantara at shortstop and second base. He has a strong arm and is a good defender at both positions, but is probably best suited for second base. Though the Cubs have a burgeoning group of middle infielders in Chicago and the upper Minor Leagues, Alcantara’s potential assures that he won’t be lost in the shuffle.”
Once again, there’s a word of caution: many future second basemen are moved over from shortstop, so a ranking like this doesn’t necessarily mean Alcantara is the fourth best future second baseman in baseball. Not that this isn’t a high compliment, though, considering many of the surrounding names: Kolten Wong, Rougned Odor, and Mookie Betts are the only three ahead of Alcantara.