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javier baez aflRankings season is winding down, what with Spring Training on tap (but the most important ranking of all – the BN Top 40 – is still on the way!). FanGraphs has offered its top 100 prospect list for 2014, courtesy of Marc Hulet. As we’ve come to expect from these lists, the Cubs are heavily featured, with seven prospects:

4. Javier Baez
6. Kris Bryant
21. Albert Almora
49. Jorge Soler
52. Arismendy Alcantara
77. Pierce Johnson
78. C.J. Edwards

The order there sticks out a bit, with Alcantara on top of the pitchers (and pretty high up the list, to boot), and Johnson ahead of Edwards. Clearly Hulet doesn’t buy Edwards as a future two or three in the big leagues, even if he clearly buys the stuff (to rank him in the top 100). Almora makes Hulet’s cut for the top tier of outfield prospects (together with Byron Buxton, Oscar Taveras, George Springer, and Gregory Polanco).

The love there for Baez and Bryant is quite high, particularly Bryant – this is about as high as you’ll see him on any list. Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, and Oscar Taveras to top the list, which is fair. Archie Bradley is the top pitching prospect, at number five overall, and Taijuan Walker comes in at number seven – in case you needed any further evidence that they will not be attainable in any Jeff Samardzija deal.

The Red Sox and Pirates are tied with the Cubs on this list, having seven prospects apiece.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    I wonder if fangraphs just isn’t willing to project a-ball pitchers very high (not that he isn’t ranked as an kmportant prospect). However Steamer projections for Edwards regression ( so/9, hr/9) are brutal. Clearly thinks he was lucky in the extreme last year.

    • CubFan Paul

      “Clearly thinks he was lucky in the extreme last year.”

      Not lucky. He dominated the lower levels with polished stuff.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        I was referring to fangraphs thinking this. I personally think he is our best pitching prospect. I may not have been clear.

    • Drew7

      Maybe I’m just being a Homer, but isn’t it possible that Edwards just has a knack for suppressing HR’s? I mean, he’s given up *1* in 183.1 pro innings.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        Very strange if you look at the “Steamer” projections (if I am reading them right), it would project him out as giving up about 16 homers in those same 183 innings next year. Maybe I am missing something.

        • Kyle

          In the majors. The jump from A-ball to the majors is significant.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            …so the steamers projection is what they would expect if they jumped to the MLB in 2014? I think that was what I was missing.

            • Kyle

              Yes. AFAIK, all the major projection systems are for major-league performance. They don’t bother to try to figure out what level a guy is projected to be at.

              • Eternal Pessimist

                Makes sense…would be nice if they labeled their graphs properly to make that distinction, unless I just missed that too.

  • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

    SHHH, Brett! You can’t go around saying the Cubs can’t get the 7th best prospect in baseball for Samardzija before 10 AM! It angries up the commentariat’s blood!

  • josh ruiter

    What are the chances Pittsburgh could get desperate to stay competitive in the NL Central if Burnett signs elsewhere? They are straight stacked with talent in the minors as well, and could benefit greatly from having Shark in that rotation. Plus, they are generally dirt cheap as an organization, so getting a top type pitcher at under 6 million would have to make the Pirate FO fly a stiffy. I would take any 2 of Polanco, Taillon, Glasnow, Heredia, and Hanson. I saw earlier that the Reds are poised to move on a trade for a pitcher, maybe we could get Stephenson and another piece? Or the Orioles if they whiff on other options…Bundy and Rodriquez….would that be enough?

    • Chad

      Yes, I think Bundy and Rodriuez would be enough. Now way you get Gausman though. Goodness I’d love to trade with any of those teams.

      • Jorbert Solmora

        We would have to add more to our package to get a return of that caliber.

  • blublud

    About the right spot for Baez, though he should be ahead of the overhyped Oscar Taverns.
    Bryant is a little to high.
    Almora to High.
    Soler much to low. Has perform at a higher level and has twice the upside of Almora. How is he even close to being that much lower.
    I starting to believe Alcantara is not as far behind the Big 4 as some may think.
    I too, like Johnson much more than Edwards. But that’s not a knock on Edwards, I just like Johnson that much more.

    • blublud

      *Taveras

  • CubFan Paul

    “Archie Bradley is the top pitching prospect…and Taijuan Walker comes in at number seven – in case you needed any further evidence that they will not be attainable in any Jeff Samardzija deal”

    Not in *ANY* Jeff Samardzija deal? Why?

    • blublud

      I agree. If the Cubs offered Shark for Either one straight up, both teams would jump. Fortunately, the Cubs aren’t that dumb.

      • Norm

        Neither team would jump.

      • BenW

        I would jump on that deal. Basically 6 years of control for each guy for Shark, who isn’t an ace, and getting expensive? Yes please. Seattle wouldn’t deal Walker for Price, so they certainly aren’t dealing him for Shark.

        • blublud

          Those guys would be lucky to have Shark’s success.

          Walker is over hyped. Not a whole lot of success in the minors, he had more struggles since reaching AA than he has had success. And he has control issues.

          Bradley is much better than Walker and would be hard to get from Zona, but I don’t either one is as valuable as 2 years of Shark on a competitor right now.

          • Edwin

            Walker had a huge 2013, and he’s always been young for his level. 3.13 FIP as a 20/21 year old in AA is fantastic. Bradley has had worse control issues than Walker. Much Better seems like a stretch.

            • blublud

              Yes, Walker is only 20, but I would not call his 2013 huge. Good yes, Huge, No. Bradley had a huge 2013. C.J. Edwards had a huge 2013. I wouldn’t call Walkers 2013 huge. He is the more likely of the 2 to bust.

              • Edwin

                I think at this point we’re simply disagreeing on what is a “good” year or a “huge” year. I don’t see much difference between Walker and Bradley.

          • CubsFaninMS

            The tricky thing about prospects such as these is development. Of course, it’s a virtual impossibility to know which systems have the best development programs, but generally you hear that the Mariners and Orioles have had some success issues with pitching talent or talent in general. That always has to be factored in. The Cubs can easily fall into this category as well, at least from a historical standpoint. The new front office will hopefully change that.

      • Chad

        If I’m the cubs I take that chance on Bradley, probably not walker though.

    • Kyle

      Because they are way, way more valuable assets than Jeff Samardzija.

      • CubFan Paul

        “they are way, way more valuable assets than Jeff Samardzija”

        Not to playoff and contending teams.

        • Kyle

          Other teams will offer better pitchers immediately if those prospects are available.

          • CubFan Paul

            What better pitchers are available *now* that make less than $14M over the next 2yrs?

            • Norm

              If Archie Bradley were available in a trade, a whole lot of pitchers who aren’t available *now* will suddenly become available.

              • CubFan Paul

                So no one?

            • Kyle

              What a pointlessly arbitrary qualifier you’ve created, solely for the purpose of feeding your delusion that the Cubs can get an absurdly high return.

              Contending teams don’t give away elite prospects for 50 cents on the dollar just because they are contending.

              • CubFan Paul

                “What a pointlessly arbitrary qualifier you’ve created”

                Bullshit. I was staying on topic.

                There is still a current offseason. Bradley&Walker ARE available in the right deal. The Cubs have more than enough to acquire either or both.

                • Norm

                  Sure, but Samardzija alone isn’t enough.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    Norm, when did I propose a silly 1 for 1 trade?

                    Topic was: ANY deal

                    • Norm

                      Well you said Samardzija was more valuable to a playoff or contending team, which implies that AZ would value Samardzija higher than Bradley.

                      If they value Samardzija higher, why would it take more than a 1 for 1?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “why would it take more than a 1 for 1?”

                      SEA/ARZ would want to lessen the blow of losing their top prospect, obviously.

                    • bbmoney

                      Topic was: Any Samardjzia deal.

                      If the Cubs added a significant prospect the deal would no longer be labeled a Samardzija deal…it would be labeled, for instance, Samardzija and Alcantara deal. Hence the distinction.

                      And no…adding Russell or Schierholtz doesn’t get it done.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      No Johnny-come-late. The topic was “Not in *ANY* Jeff Samardzija deal?”

                      Who cares about the label? Samardzija is the Cubs’ biggest trade asset.

                • Kyle

                  Your idea that certain players are “available” and certain ones aren’t is odd.

                  Everyone’s available in the right deal.

                • JacqueJones

                  It’s arbitrary because Arizona or Seattle would be more likely to simply sign Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. That would hurt their future but nowhere near as much as trading away their best prospects would.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “more likely to simply sign Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.”

                    They don’t have the money for that. Ownership cut Z off. Samardzija would only cost $5M, maybe less if they sent back a ML contract too.

        • Norm

          To every team.

  • josh ruiter

    If the Cubs don’t offer that, they might be dumb. Extremely young, ACE ceiling, cost controlled for 5+ years, rising with the prospects fitting in our competitive window. I would immediately jump at either Walker or Bradley for Shark straight up!! However, Matt Harvey’s, and Jose Fernandez’s put a real damper on teams being willing to pull the trigger on dealing those top of the rotation prospects with their crazy immediate success.

  • Big City Mick

    I still like these trade proposals for all sides:

    Trade scenario 1:
    Mariners get: Shark
    Blue Jays get: Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley
    Cubs get: James Paxton and Aaron Sanchez

    Trade scenario 2:
    Mariners get: Shark
    Pirates get: Smoak
    Cubs get: Paxton and Tyler Glasnow

    • TulaneCubs

      I still think those trade proposals are bad. Particularly for the Jays in trade 1 and the Pirates in trade 2.

  • CubsinCarolina

    I think Baez and Bryant and going to challenge Jay-z and Beyonce for best “Power” couple soon (the jokes)

    • Xruben31

      Genius!

  • Jon

    Baez is really #3. Bogearts isn’t a prospect anymore, he’ll break camp with the big league club.

    • CubFan Paul

      Nice catch.

    • Norm

      Anyone eligible for ROY is eligible to be on their prospect list (except the foreign league pro’s)

  • Diehardthefirst

    What Cubs lack is a core of proven 10 yr veterans to mentor the youngsters – dont know how 2-3 could be added over next 3 yrs but kids will have not many to turn to for role models

  • Edwin

    Bradley or Walker could be available in a deal for Samardzija, but the Cubs would clearly have to kick in another valuable piece. Probably either Soler, or 2-3 prospects like AA, Johnson, and Edwards.

    I think the Cubs would have a better chance going after someone like Marcus Stroman.

    • CubFan Paul

      Stroman’s size scares me. I’m with Theo, Sanchez would have to be in that deal also

      • Edwin

        Sanchez and Stroman for Shark is going to be a bit much, and they’d probably be in the same situation as trying to trade for Walker or Bradley. I think Stroman and Sanchez is a nice place to start the ask, but the Cubs would have to come down pretty quick, unless Sanchez or Stroman pulls an Olt.

        I like Stroman because he puts up great numbers, where I hope that maybe the Blue Jays undervalue him too much because of his size, and the Cubs can get a better deal.

        A Sanchez for Shark trade probably has the Cubs throwing in a piece or two, but I like that possibility much more than a trade for Walker or Bradley. I don’t really know where the Blue Jays are at in terms of trading for talent though. Are they looking to win now, or are they going to wait for their prospects?

        • CubFan Paul

          “Sanchez and Stroman for Shark is going to be a bit much”

          Not if the Cubs added pieces. They have a farm also…

          • Edwin

            That’s pretty much what I implied.

    • Chad

      That would be a horrible deal for the cubs (not the stroman deal).

      • Edwin

        It might be a tad much, but either way, the Cubs need to offer something valuable other than Samardzija.

  • BenW

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 24s

    #Phillies have reached agreement with A.J. Burnett on a one-year deal, per @JSalisburyCSN.

    Certainly doesn’t hurt the Shark market. In fact, may force Braves to think about making a move and being involved.

    • NorthSideIrish

      Actually it potentially affects the Shark trade market at the deadline. Phillies could easily be out of contention and looking to move Burnett in July. Or maybe I have started assuming that the every one year deal is a potential flip.

      • Jason P

        I think the Phillies have deluded themselves into thinking that they actually still have enough to contend.

        • BenW

          I just looked at their depth chart. Yuck. Not sure how they finish .500, even with AJ. Maybe they sign him fully planning on dealing him in July. If so, that could be a very solid move.

      • BenW

        I agree, it could have deadline implications. I would deal Shark this off season, if at all possible. This deal could certainly help accomplish that.

        There are just too many guys that could be available at the deadline for us to hang on to Shark. Burnett, Masterson, Shields, and Bailey are just a few guys I can think of that might be dealt.

        • Noah_I

          The one way I could see it possibly making sense: it lets the Phillies trade Cliff Lee and still try to present the idea that they are attempting to compete in 2014. Trading Lee, especially if it could be combine with a mid-season trade of Burnett, would be a great way for the Phillies to improve their farm system quickly and hasten a rebuild, which they desperately need.

    • Noah_I

      The Phillies making another solid move in the abstract that makes absolutely no sense for them considering the state of their team. I’m trying to decide if Amaro is stupid or crazy.

    • Kyle

      That makes sense with the rumor that the Orioles have a deal with that Korean pitcher whose name I’m not going to type because I don’t feel like looking up the spelling.

      Also significantly improves the Cubs’ chances of being the worst team in the NL.

      • NorthSideIrish

        Not sure about that last part. Marlins showed they’re going all in with the signing of Marmol…

    • D-Rock

      Or Pirates or Orioles as they were both thought to be in on Burnett.

  • josh ruiter

    I think the market has rounded out on Shark this offseason. It will probably be Seattle, Baltimore, Toronto, or Pittsburgh…and no sooner could I type this than we will begin hearing another name, maybe the Reds or a starter will get hurt now that they are reporting, and AZ opens up again… I do think it is a ripe time right now. Many more guys available at the deadline like was mentioned above making the market a buyers market more than most years, also, the level of interest in teams that are mediocre at best is fascinating. Arizona, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Toronto, even Baltimore…they are not great teams looking for one piece…at some point in the season each of those teams will realize this and back away from trades…we need to rob them blind while they are fantasizing about playoff land.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Jonathan Mayo named the Cubs as having the top trio of prospects in the minors (Baez, Bryant, Almora)…Jim Callis picked the Twins…

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/chc/pipeline-perspectives-cubs-have-top-prospect-trio?ymd=20140212&content_id=67682996

    • Kyle

      Unfortunately, the Twins got the guy with a shred of credibility.

      • Jason P

        Mayo always seems to be about a half a year behind in his analysis of prospects.

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