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big four almora baez bryant solerBaseball America is the last large publication to release its top 100 prospect list for the 2014 season, and it is a list that, generally-speaking, really loves the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs netted seven total prospects on the list, tied with the Pirates, and behind only the Red Sox (8), which is compliment enough. But look at the prospect placements:

5. Javier Baez
8. Kris Bryant
28. C.J. Edwards
36. Albert Almora
41. Jorge Soler
87. Pierce Johnson
100. Arismendy Alcantara

Outside of Almora and Alcantara, those slots are generally higher – and, in some cases, considerably higher – than where these prospects wind up on other lists. The top two really stick out, as does C.J. Edwards, ranked as the 13th best pitching prospect in baseball.

For those who don’t consider Masahiro Tanaka a prospect – I do not – you can bump all of those guys up a spot, because Tanaka was ranked fourth. That means, for all intents and purposes, Baez is the fourth best prospect in the game (and Bryant the seventh – wow), behind only Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, and Oscar Taveras. Bryant, then, is behind only those guys, plus Miguel Sano and Carlos Correa. You can also bump up the guys behind Edwards a spot, because Cuban Jose Abreu, 27, is ranked at 29, and I don’t really consider him a prospect either.

Bumping those two spots makes Soler’s ranking “feel” better, since it starts with a 3, and softens the relatively harsh take on Almora. For what it’s worth, it sounds like Almora’s ranking was influenced by his injuries last year, and a need for talent evaluators to see him stay on the field for a full season. That’s understandable.

After seeing Alcantara rise to 52 on the FanGraphs list (ZiPS wants to marry Alcantara), you may be disappointed to see him at, effectively, 98. But most of the other lists had him in the 75 to 90 range, so this isn’t that far off.

All in all, it’s a very complimentary take on the system, and ends the top 100 rankings season on a high note. I can’t wait to see how these players progress in 2014, as well as the bounty of quality prospects behind them. Consider that, at this time last year, Alcantara and Johnson would have been nowhere to be found on lists like these, Bryant wasn’t even drafted yet, and Baez was viewed as a consensus top 40 type, not a super elite type.

BA’s Ben Badler offered some prospect porn as the list was revealed live last night:

That Soler one, in particular, makes me very happy.

BA also revealed some numerical insights into the list, which is worth a read. Among the more interesting notes? Of the top 100, more than half (52) were high school draft picks (the rest were an even split between college draftees and international signings), and 59 came from the first or supplemental first round of the draft.

  • Jim

    Really makes that Garza deal seem like a grand slam now, doesn’t it.

    • CubFan Paul

      Not until at least one of them produces in the Majors.

      A healthy, producing Olt at 3B would be a Denny’s Grand Slam.

      Combine that with Grimm putting in some productive innings this year and we’ve got a Lumberjack Slam.

      Anything from Ramirez & Edwards is just strawberries on the French Toast Slam.

      I do not recommend eating at Denny’s btw.

      • Napercal

        Getting anything for Garza makes the trade a good one for the Cubs. Whatever he would have produced at the end of the season would have been meaningless and he was going to leave any way.

    • pinkstonaa

      Considering one guy will be on the ML team this year (Grimm), one may be a ML starter this year (Olt – cross my fingers), one may have some spot starts this year (Ramirez), and one guy is a near-consensus top 50 prospect, yeah I’d consider it a home run at this point. If Edwards and Olt pan out as quality major league contributors in the next 3-5 years, then it’s a grand slam.

  • CubFan Paul

    No mention of Alcantara’s switch hitting just ‘Honing his skills on the right side of the infield is job one’

    That should be job two.

  • NorthSideIrish

    I liked this one too…good to hear the believers go beyond just BA.

    JJ Cooper ‏@jjcoop36 5m
    We’re big C.J. Edwards believers here at BA. So are a whole lot of people working in the game. #BA100

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I kept looking for that one – because I knew I’d seen it last night – but couldn’t find it. Thanks.

  • nate1m

    Did the other 51 turn ZiPS down?

  • Edwin

    I feel like it’s a little aggressive on Edwards. I’d rather see how he handles AA before I totally buy in to the hype.

  • Edwin

    So BA thinks Bryant might be moving to the OF?

    • JB88

      It’s the most logical spot for him if you believe that Baez and Alcantara are infielders.

  • hansman

    Seeing Abreu ranked like that makes me sad we didn’t sign him. A first base prospect ranked that high?

    Would be nice to be able to slot him in LF, Lake in CF and Tanaka in the rotation. Sign Diaz and hope he can stick at 2B.

    • CubFan Paul

      We don’t sign young twenty something free agents.

    • Sandberg

      I was really hoping the Cubs would sign him. He fits “the plan”.

      • TulaneCubs

        But then you’d have 2 first baseman. Would you look to trade Rizzo?

        • CubFan Paul

          “Would you look to trade Rizzo?”

          If need be, yes. Abreu supposedly has the best hit tool in the world. Rizzo’s contract is a bargain.

          • TulaneCubs

            I’m assuming you’re being sarcastic, scouts are concerned that Abreu will hit enough to tap into his power.

            • CubFan Paul

              When am I ever sarcastic?

            • BT

              No, one guy said this once. So now it’s true. Abreu is the greatest prospect evah.

              • CubFan Paul

                No, he was also getting a lot of Miguel Cabrera comps, bat-wise also.

                Which is why he got the contract he got.

                • BT

                  ONE guy said he might have the best hit tool in the world, which has translated to you (since the Cubs didn’t get him) to constantly referring to him as HAVING the best hit tool in the world, as if it’s consensus. It’s not. It was one guy, in Grantland if I’m not mistaken.

                  There is a chance he could end up being fantastic. There is also a chance he can’t hit major league pitching.

                  He got the contract he got for the same reason Tanaka got the contract he got. There were no strings attached. Not because people think he’s comparable to Miguel Cabrera.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    I only read Grantland for occasional Pacers/NBA news that gets linked thru hoopsrumors, so you’re mistaken

                    • BT

                      http://grantland.com/features/cuba-jose-abreu-migh-best-offensive-weapon-planet/

                      If you find someone other than Jonah Keri saying he is the best hitter IN THE WORLD, you let me know.

                      But I’m probably mistaken.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “But I’m probably mistaken”

                      In assuming I read Grantland baseball stuff & Jonah Keri, yes, by a mile, you are mistaken.

                    • CubSTH60625

                      6 years/ $68 million for a guy that has the potential for plus power (Jason Parks), but could be susceptible to hard and inside and breaking balls away.

                      Abreu could be magic; he could be a league average hitter and be worth the money. However, do you pay an average guy for 6 years?

                      I don’t know. It’s beyond fascinating to see if Abreu will pan out or not for my friends on the South Side.

                      Personally, it doesn’t make much sense for the Cubs to pay a guy a 6 year deal to play a position that they already have Rizzo locked up for 7 years/$47 million.

          • blublud

            I agree. I’m not advocating trading Rizzo at all, but if we could have acquired Abreu and traded Rizzo to add more talen to the big club, I would have been all for it.

        • hansman

          Stick one of them in LF.

          If Abreu’s hit and power tools are as advertised, you could stick him at SS.

          • mjhurdle

            If Abreu’s hit and power tools are as advertised, he would have gotten a much bigger contract.
            The going rate for ‘best hitter in the world’ is slightly higher than 68 million, just saying :)

            • CubFan Paul

              “he would have gotten a much bigger contract”

              False. He’s Cuban. Cubans never get market rate.

              $68MM did break the Cuban bank btw.

            • hansman

              The White Sox are cheap???

              There is risk and a lot of room under what I said, but I just wanted a shiney new toy. I’ve grown sick of my old ones (until you threaten to throw them out).

              • mjhurdle

                oh, i would not have minded having him at all.
                Just pointing out that, if teams did believe that he was the “best hitter in the world”, then more teams would have been in the running and his contract would have gotten huge.
                For instance, if Cabrera at age 27 was suddenly put on the open market, i think his price goes slightly north of 6yr/68m.

                I do agree that if the Cubs thought he was an all-world talent, but passed because they didn’t want to have to move Rizzo, that would be a mistake.

                • CubFan Paul

                  “hen more teams would have been in the running and his contract would have gotten huge”

                  Someone doesn’t pay attention to the Cuban market

                • hansman

                  He got a lot of money for someone outside of the NPB.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    $26MM more than the next Cuban I believe (Puig $42MM).

                    • Norm

                      This discussion is crazy.
                      If teams believed he was the best hitter in the world, they’d pay a lot more than $68M for him.
                      It has nothing to do with the Cuban market and everything to do with his talent.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      Exactly, he put up those numbers facing A level pitching. There are many guys in the Cuban league that top out at 80, which would be Division 3 college level pitching. Let’s see how he does against 95 before we anoint him the best hitter in the world

                  • mjhurdle

                    He did get a lot of money, for a prospect.

                    Again, we are talking about him being as good as advertised.
                    He got great money for someone who people believe is the best AA/AAA hitter in the world.
                    He did not get great money for someone that people believe is the best hitter in the world. Hence, people do not believe he is who (one person) advertised him to be.

                    If people believed him the best hitter in the world, he would have received a much, much larger contract, regardless if he was Cuban, Japanese, Korean, German, etc.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “He did not get great money for someone that people believe is the best hitter in the world”

                      That’s not what I said.

                      “If people believed him the best hitter in the world”

                      I said ‘supposedly’ he is. You’re stretching it kind of far.

                      “he would have received a much, much larger contract, regardless if he was Cuban”

                      Again, you are wrong. Cubans do not get market because of the RISKS (plural) involved.

                    • mjhurdle

                      my post was a reply to Hansman. So, while i appreciate your breakdown assuming it related to some post you may have made, it doesn’t really apply.

                      A+ for the effort though.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “my post was a reply to Hansman”

                    Yeah, because you did some Cuban Market research and realized you were wrong. Have a nice day.

    • TulaneCubs

      Slot who in at LF? Abreu?

      From everything I saw, no one thought Abreu could play the outfield. 1B/DH only.

      • CubFan Paul

        Myth. Abreu is buff.

        • TulaneCubs

          Maybe I’m wrong and there actually is something out there that says Abreu can play a serviceable outfield, but I sure haven’t seen it.

          If you have seen it, you’re welcome to share.

          • CubFan Paul

            I saw him. He’s nowhere near as unathletic as 1st reports said he was. Supposedly he was too fat for the OF.

            Now he looks like he spent time with Cespedes’ trainers. He can play the corner OF now.

            • TulaneCubs

              Saw him where? When? Doing what?

              • CubFan Paul

                Spring Training has started…

                • TulaneCubs

                  Got it, so you haven’t seen anything substantial that you’re basing those conclusions on.

                  I’ll go with the scouts on this one.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    The scouts are in Spring Training e-jerker.

            • C. Steadman

              just because he’s “buff” doesn’t mean he can play COF…

      • hansman

        Adam Dunn could barely play 1B, yet he played LF for a while.

        He’d be a butcher defensively, but if his hit tool is legit he will make up for that. Rizzo is young, cheap and good (sounds like a helluva woman), no sense in shipping him off because we have someone else.

    • Sandberg

      I would like to add that it is entirely possible the Cubs *did* try to sign him, but told him he’d have to play LF because Rizzo was a gold glover and he said no. So, there’s that.

  • Darth Ivy

    I’m glad Bryant was added to the top prospect picture thing. Pretty soon, Brett might have to add Edwards, too. I’m just confused why Clark isn’t in there

  • Edwin

    Why has Zach Lee’s stock fallen so much? It looks like he had a pretty good year last year.

    • C. Steadman

      thats a good question, he improved on his AA numbers this season, I’m wondering why the Dodgers didn’t promote him to AAA in 2013…Dodgers rotation will be scary good when Lee graduates to join Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu…it already is scary…this is their spring training depth chart for SP….1. C. Kershaw, 2. Z. Greinke, 3. H. Ryu, 4. D. Haren, 5. J. Beckett, 6. P. Maholm, 7. C. Billingsley

    • aaronb

      It seems like scouts start to pick guys apart as they progress through the minors (similar to college Sr’s in Football and Basketball).

      Scouts get more info, and the numbers tend to be less gaudy as the competition improves around them.

  • itzscott

    Said it last year and it still applies this year until these guys get promoted to Wrigley…..

    The Cub minor league teams will be so much more interesting to follow than the Cubs themselves.

  • blublud

    This list fits my view of the Cubs top prospects as well as any list. The only difference is I would drop Edwards about 30 spots to 58 and bump Johnson about 30 slots to 57. I think Edwards is good, and can start, but is a little overhyped, and Edwards is better and considerably under hyped.

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  • terencemann

    Looks like they’re pretty high on Almora’s baseball abilities but his ranking has a lot to do with his injury issues.

    “Almora is another prospect who just needs to show he can stay healthy. Evaluators love his bat and defense in center—when he’s on the field.”

    • CubFan Paul

      Is your mama a llama?

      • Fishin Phil

        Off topic. ;)

        • CubFan Paul

          *swoosh*

          The joke went over your head.

          • hansman

            Care to back that up with some proof?

            • CubFan Paul

              terencemann basically typed exactly what Brett said. He didn’t read (all of) the post…

              Is your mama a llama?

              • hansman

                *swoosh*

                The joke went over your head.

                • CubFan Paul

                  You got me.

                  • hansman

                    YAY!!! I WIN THE INTERNET!

  • http://bleachernation 29bigcat

    Listening to hoyer…were gonna resign shark if hed be reasonable about it…..baez will not make the team…and like last yr first pick best available talent then focus on pitching only.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Cat.

  • Lou Brown

    That by the numbers thing is pretty interesting. So only 10 of the top 100 are third round or later picks. Really hammers home how important those top picks are, and why teams are loathe to sign free agents who received a QO.

  • Orval Overall

    Am I the only one that took some kind of perverse thrill from seeing Mark Appel not only 31 spots below Kris Bryant, but 11 behind our top pitching prospect?

    • Featherstone

      No, you are definitely not alone in that secret joy. It does make me wonder though if the reports wanting Appel last year were true and if the FO feels any differently now.

    • Funn Dave

      Not now that you’ve pointed it out!

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