jorge soler cubsOnce again, I have to note the spoiling that occurred with the Chicago Cubs landing seven prospects on each of the top 100 (or 101) lists from Baseball Prospectus and Now, when Keith Law says the Cubs have only the fourth best system, and only six Cubs prospects belong on the top 100, I’m all, “why does Keith Law hate the Cubs’ system?!”

Perspective, Brett. Six prospects on the top 100 is fantastic. Ease up.

Today, Keith Law released his top 100 prospect list for 2014, and the six Cubs that made the cut are …

7. Javier Baez
15. Kris Bryant
26. Jorge Soler
28. Albert Almora
67. C.J. Edwards
71. Arismendy Alcantara

The guy missing is pitcher Pierce Johnson, who was 100 to and 91 to BP. So, he’s right there on the cusp, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he “just missed” for Law (who has always been down on Johnson’s arm action and injury risk).

The obvious surprise on the list is Jorge Soler, two spots ahead of Albert Almora, and about 20+ spots higher than he’ll be on most other lists (he’s 45 to BP, and 49 to Clearly, Law remains very high on Soler, who climbed 16 spots from where he was a year ago. A small slice on what Law had to say about Soler:

He returned to action in the Arizona Fall League, looking rusty but physically imposing, with a good 15-20 pounds of added muscle since I’d seen him the previous summer in rookie ball. Soler has outstanding hand speed and acceleration at the plate, with big-time power when he concentrates on staying back and letting his hips work to add leverage to his swing; he does have a tendency to cut across the ball rather than finishing toward the middle of the field, which reduces his power. His plan at the plate has been better than anticipated, and he’s going to be above-average to plus in right field.

In past experience, Law seems to be a guy who trusts his own eyes more than some others, so it’s not hard to see why Law remains high on Soler. The young man looks like a stud when you see him. I’m not saying that’s the sole reason Law is higher on Soler than most, but it’s worth noting.

The other interesting bit is that, of the five top shortstop prospects in the game right now – Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, and Xander Bogaerts (that doesn’t even include graduated youngster Jurickson Profar – so stacked right now) – Law puts Baez last. He’s still ranked seventh overall, so it’s not like Law isn’t plenty high on him. But this is the first, and probably only, list that will have Baez last among that group.

If you want to see Law’s full list and comments, you’ll have to subscribe to ESPN Insider.

  • Jon

    Law has always been a Baez hater, just can’t let it go. I can’t wait till Baez is smoking 30+ HR’s a year @ SS and Lindor is Rey Ordonez.

    • Norm

      Hater? Serious or sarcasm? Can’t tell.

      • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

        Neither. Troll.

        • Brett

          LOVE your handle.

          • On The Farm

            I though it was Bob Loblaw’s law blog? Or am I missing something else?

            • On The Farm


              • VanceLawblawsLawBlog


                Yea, thats true. This guy was also a thing, though.

            • Brett
              • On The Farm

                I got it now. I suppose that just shows my youth

              • Joshua Edwards

                Love me some Vance Law!! Makes me miss the days of Steve Buechele, Jose Hernandez and thinking Kevin Orie would become a long-term answer player, too.

                (I mean, I don’t really miss those days because outside of ’89 most of them were terrible teams but, for sentimental reasons, I’ll take the “Long Arm of the Law” all day.)

                • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

                  Fun drinking game, take a drink for every Cubs 3rd baseman that played for the Cubs in the 90’s. By the time you hit Cole Liniak, everyone should be sauced.

      • Xruben31

        He has always been relatively low on Baez.

    • Orval Overall

      You saw the part where he ranked him # 7 in all of baseball, right?

  • Noah_I

    I’m curious if Law still has concerns about Johnson’s arm action that lead him to believe he’ll be a reliever? He has said that there’s something about Johnson’s arm action that concerns him. He also has less upside than, for example, Edwards. If Edwards can hold up to a starter’s workload and stay healthy, Law views him as someone with the upside of a 2. I’d bet he views Johnson as someone whose upside is more a 3.

    • JB88

      I wonder when was the last time Law saw Johnson. Given that Law was based in Arizona until recently, I’m not sure how he would have seen Johnson when he was in KC and then Daytona.

      • Noah_I

        Law does travel some, but I do know that he also has a set of scouts he has access to, and he relies on their impressions as much or more, probably more, than he relies on his own eyes.

  • Coop

    Law has always been *slightly* more down on Baez than other prospect gurus, mostly with an eye towards the swing-and-miss element.

    • Edwin

      If I remember right, he was down on Brett Jackson as well, and caught some grief around these parts for it. Seems like the K’s are a bigger issue for him.

      • Noah_I

        He also has Bryant, another swing and miss guy but with better walk numbers, a bit lower than most.

        • ruby2626

          Sometimes I think people comment on Bryant being a better walk guy based on what he did in college. His walk rate in college is completely misleading, the phrase pitching around him probably came up 2 or 3 times every game. Hope I’m wrong, be great to eventually have a .400 obp guy in our lineup.

          • ari gold

            I don’t think he’ll have a high enough BA to get to a .400 OBP. Too much swing and miss.

  • EQ76

    Maybe it’s my Cubs bias, but it’s hard to imagine that Baez will be just the 5th best of that group.

    • Noah_I

      I could make an argument for Baez being just the 5th best of that group and for Baez being the best of that group.

      Fifth best: Baez is the most likely to move off the position, and has the most glaring offensive flaw (the big swing and miss/approach concern tendencies). If he’s a 3B and the Ks affect his average and OBP, he could be a low OBP, high power 3B who tops out at about an .800 OPS, which is still a good player, but not a star.

      Best: Baez is the only one of these players with the ability to eventually be the best player in baseball. He should at least be able to post .330 or .340 OBPs, and could hit 40 home runs as a shortstop. None of the other 4 can do that, and none have Baez’s offensive ceiling.

  • itzscott

    Baez, 1st 2nd, 3rd 4th or 5th….. WHO CARES???

    It’s just a prospect list!

    5th is still great, but again, it’s just a prospect list and one man’s opinion.

    The rubber hits the road when these guys are promoted to the bigs and not before.

    • Noah_I

      This is exactly the case. I bet if you asked any of the prospectors if they’d put money on who would be the best of the 5 shortstop prospects, they’d all refuse.

  • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

    Four in the top 28. The fact that we can argue about something like Baez’s place in the top 10, with three more prospects that project as everyday starters, means that this team is pointed very much in the right direction. We should enjoy the lists for what they are, people with more insight than us doing their best to project what teenagers are going to do somewhere down the road.

  • ari gold

    The fact that Almora is ranked 4th among Cubs and could be a 5-6 WAR player speaks volumes to the potential impact of our farm.

    • blublud

      That would be nice, but I don’t see Almora being a 4-6 WAR player. Maybe a few times in his career if he reaches his potential, but not consistently.

      Also if he was “4th best”, at 4-6 WAR, and he consistently came closer than 6, that would mean that the Cubs have four hall of famers in the system right now.

      It would be cool, but I doubt it.

      • ari gold

        I think I’m higher on Almora than most, but Gomez was an 8 WAR player last year. Granted he is much faster and steals more bases. Almora is a step below in defense and won’t provide much in steals. However, he’s a potential .300 hitter, good OBP, and 15-20 homers in center. That’s 6 WAR. I just think his hit tool is special and the walks are going to come in time.

        • blublud

          Im not high on his hit tool. I don’t think Almora will be a .300 in the Majors, and I don’t ever see him hitting 20 HR with anything less than luck in a single season. Lately, scouts are also questioning if he has enough speed to be as great in the OF as people thought. I see a .280/320 guy with 10-15 HR and good defense.

          There is no question that he lacks the tools of Baez, Soler and Bryant. All scouts admit as much. They always say that his makeup will allow him to play above his tools. If not, then what I posted above is about the most you can expect from the guy.

          • aaronb

            His walk rate causes a bit of concern.

            • On The Farm

              Why, because he could hit everything in Kane County he never had to lay off a ball out of the strike zone. Wait until he faces better competition before it becomes a “concern”.

              • hansman

                He’s probably always going to have a lower BB rate but he will also have a super-low K rate.

                The dude can hit.

                With that said, the BB rate is a footnote at this piont, like Soler’s makeup is a footnote. Something to keep an eye on and maybe you want to raise a lime-colored flag right now but it’s nothing to get too worked up over.

            • Jon

              He needs to be evaluated against tougher pitching before worrying to much about the walk rate.

          • On The Farm

            His speed has never been his best asset as a defender. He is always complimented for the routes he takes, his instincts, ability to read the ball off the bat, etc.

            • hansman

              There was one prospect analyst that was concerned about his speed yesterday or the day before.

              If you are not high on Almora before that it’s going to become a major concern.

              • blublud

                There has been more than one scout question his speed.

                • hansman

                  No, everyone has said that he has average to a touch below average speed.

                  One guy has pegged it as below average.

            • blublud

              Right, but if guys are questioning his speed in term of his defense, it’s because they are seeing something. Could his defense not look as good advertised. I’m not saying one way or another, but there have been a few scouts who have questioned this later.

        • blublud

          Also, Gomez did 3 things Almora will never do. 24 HR(Almora would be lucky to have half), 40 SB(Almora would be lucky to have 10-12) and slugged .500(a lot of luck to get there).

      • hansman

        Jacoby Ellsbury is Almora with speed and he was worth 6 WAR last year. With fewer SB but a handful more HR, it is entirely plausible that Almora is a 5 WAR player.

        • blublud

          The problem is Almora could be 10 WAR on one site and 2 WAR on another.

          Also, I don’t think Almora is close to Ellsbury and I believe Ellsbury is overrated.

          • dw8

            1. It’s not a problem for front offices, it’s a problem for some fans.

            2. Didn’t your WAR diatribe get debunked on a different thread?

            3. I’d like to see a season in which, one player has an 8 WAR difference between fWAR, bWAR and WARP. Looking into it now.

            • blublud

              Dude, that was joke. Get real

          • hansman

            If Ellsbury is in Sydney with Albert Pujols, then Almora is standing in a suburb of Sydney while Vogs is wading offshore of San Diego.

            • blublud

              Yeah right. Hilarious.

              • hansman

                I was hoping you would think I was saying that Pujols and Ellsbury were close. In reality, they are in separate universes and Sydney is just where the MLB comp has to stand at while we place the Cubs prospect flags on each map.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Baez can be a 5 and perform like a 1 or
    Be a 1 and perform like a 5
    I’ll take the 1st line.

  • Funn Dave

    So five of the top seven prospects are shortstops? Damn.

    • http://BN Sacko

      overall..I think you knew that

      • Funn Dave

        According to Brett’s article, Baez is ranked seventh overall, and last among the five top shortstop prospects. That would place five SS, including Baez, in the top seven.

  • Blackhawks1963

    To me, Almora and Bryant (in that order) or the two best certainties. Baez is obviously a major talent, but I think a lot of people (myself included) need to be convinced he can transition to the big leagues and be impactful. Soler seems to me to be a boom or bust type. I like Alcantara. I really like Edwards. I’m not sure yet what to make of Johnson.

    The name to watch in 2014 who may zoom up the charts is Blackburn.

  • BlameHendry

    Baez at No. 7? Law, GTFO.

  • NorthSideIrish

    From Law’s chat…not high on the big boy…or really high on some other prospects.

    Scott (Lincolnshire)
    I’m contractually obligated to ask you about Dan Vogelbach. Let’s just get it out of the way now and move on. Is the bat top 100 and the defense that horrible to keep him out?

    Klaw (1:12 PM)
    He’s not even in the Cubs top ten.

    • hansman

      Cue blub’s hatred of KLaw…

    • MichaelD

      Not specifically in reference to that question but Klaw’s chats have gotten absurdly snarky.

      • hansman

        Gotten? Did you review a chat on a day when someone else did it and are now reviewing your second one?

        Law is Snarkmaster General.

        • MichaelD

          I wasn’t specifically referencing this one but pretty much every one I’ve seen over the last year. Maybe “have gotten” should be replaced by “even more”.

  • MichaelD

    Actually shouldn’t there be more variance on these lists, especially after we get past 20 or 25? The miss rate on prospects after that level even with the improvement in prospecting is still quite high, so shouldn’t that mean that the prospectors have more differences in their list? We make a big deal that Soler is 20 spots higher on one list than the other, but I’m thinking that players should regularly be moving around that much or more.

    Is the ultimate source for each list pretty much the same with just slight differences due to the list-maker’s whim?

  • Napercal

    Food for thought. Almora, Baez and Soler are rated higher than last year. That is with Soler and Almora missing significant time due to injury. IMHO that indicates that Law believes they showed enough to not be just “potential” guys. I doubt that there is any measurable difference between the shortstop candidates at this point in their careers. It will be interesting to see how they play out over the next 10 – 15 years.

  • Akabari

    I don’t get how prospects with great defense but sub-par bats get so much hype at SS. I’m going to take a 70 bat with a 40 defense over a 50 bat and 70-80 defense any day. But there is such a premium being placed on middle of the infield defense that I think that has a bit to do with Baez’ ranking.
    See: Lindor

    • Drew7

      I wouldn’t be so quick to deem Lindor’s bat as “sub-par”.

  • NoGloveLove

    Every time I see Pierce Johnson’s name, I think of Eddie Butler. In a draft where the Cubs were targeting arms, they missed Butler who has become a top 30 prospect with TOR potential.

  • cubbiekoolaid2015

    From the Law chat.

    Ben (Ohio)

    Could you give a precise definition of “up side”? I know intuitively what it means, but I would be curious to see a real definition.
    Klaw (2:07 PM)

    Ceiling. What you might call a realistic optimist’s forecast (as opposed to a best case scenario, or what you might call “delusional Cubs fan who thinks Matt Szczur and Junior Lake are superstars” forecast).

    Am I the only one who is sick of comments like this? Every team has their delusional fans. Why is it that only Cubs fans get called out and made fun of?

  • Guesswhoscouting

    law is a hack everyone in The industry I know thinks so. I have met him a few time he is a moron.

    • brainiac

      is law a hack, or is something in the organization wrong? we have some good prospects, which is reason to be excited. so why are we disappointed that they’re good? the answer lies in how they fit into the (lack of) support and promise on the mlb level. just for the record, this was on purpose. it’s called “the plan” to sabotage the mlb team for draft picks.

      • BT


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