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big four almora baez bryant solerSome Friday afternoon fun (well, mostly) …

  • Peter Gammons spoke with a handful of GMs, managers, scouts, etc. about a variety of Spring Training issues at the close of the fake baseball season, and one of the topics on which he polled them was “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?'” Although you don’t find a Cubs prospect until you reach number four, you see three Cubs names by the time you reach number seven. The three named shouldn’t surprise you – Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Albert Almora – and it’s just more praise for the Cubs’ elite positional prospects. Remember when a similar grouping of anonymous execs/scouts told Jon Morosi that the Cubs had the best collection of prospects in the AFL, too? That didn’t even include Baez.
  • No Jorge Soler on the list, by the way. But he remains in my Big Four, at least through this year. I think he turns a lot of heads this year – ones that started to turn away last year.
  • Gammons did the same thing with pitching prospects, but you’ll be unsurprised to learn that no Cubs made the list. The best of the Cubs’ pitching prospects were mostly on the back fields, so they weren’t seen by the kind of wide swath of executives necessary to make this kind of list. Also, frankly, the ten guys on the list are *elite*. Cubs don’t have any of those yet.
  • The Baseball Prospectus crew was at the Cubs’ backfields again this week, churning out some scouting reports that you can read here. The players reviewed were Javy Baez, Albert Almora, Christian Villanueva, Junior Lake, and Lendy Castillo. Although one of those names sticks out, the review wasn’t too bad, all things considered. Here’s a portion on Castillo: “Athletic righty with reliever profile; worked 94-95 and touched 96 with the fastball; pitch showed above-average life to the arm side …. overall command was fringe-average; middle-relief profile; role 4; lively fastball will play at highest level but slider wasn’t a plus offering.” Given that most don’t consider Castillo a part of the Cubs’ future anymore after his ugly stint as their Rule 5 pick a couple years ago, that scouting take right there establishes him as a possible middle reliever in the big leagues. That’s a win.
  • On to the higher praise, and we’ll go with Junior Lake, since it’s something different (although he’s not really a true prospect at this point): “I’m not suggesting he can alter his approach, but if you allow yourself the opportunity to dream (take drugs if necessary), Lake has the tools to hit 30-plus bombs in a season, steal 30-plus bases, and be a weapon on the defensive side of the ball. Will this happen? I would bet against it. But we live in a world where this is possible—based on the physical evidence of the player, and if the present rawness in his game can find its way to a flame and mature a bit, Junior Lake could be a player to build around instead of a player to bust on.” Don’t even get me started on the impact to the Cubs if Lake somehow blossoms as that minimally-possible 30/30 type player.
  • Cubs top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards admits he was nervous to make his Cactus League debut this week, but he received words of encouragement from his manager, his prospect friends, and the man catching his pitches. (CSN Chicago) That Patrick Mooney piece adds the money quote from Edwards, as far as future projections are concerned: having just stepped off of the scale, Edwards says he’s up to 165 pounds. Keep it coming, String Bean Slinger.
  • A little more from Edwards on his start. Here’s what he says his catcher, now-Cubs-back-up John Baker told him when he came out of the game (Sun-Times): “His exact words were, ‘Hey, you did a hell of a job, man,'” Edwards said, “and he said, ‘Hey, look, your stuff will play in this league. You’ve got a bright future ahead. You just stay with it.'” I like that about Edwards, and I like that about Baker.
  • Farewell Reggie Golden, the Cubs’ second round pick from 2010, who has been released. He blew out his knee at the outset of the 2012 season, and he never quite recovered. It’s a shame, because there was a lot of physical projection there.
  • A fun read from MiLB.com on Jeimer Candelario, Mike Olt, Javier Baez and a few others. A note, though, MiLB: “Prospect Primer” is taken, or at least squatted on …
  • A couple tweets from Jason Parks just because:

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I’d like to have seen what Golden could have done had he stayed healthy, but as crowded as the outfield situation on the farm is getting, this isn’t entirely surprising.

    • C. Steadman

      I liked his power potential, but his 30%+ Krate probably what did him in(along with injuries). I was a bit bummed too bc it seemed like he didn’t get a fair chance with injuries limiting 2011-2013

    • jeff1969

      The Cubs 2010 draft has to be one of the top 3 worst Cub drafts ever. Wow. There are a few guys who may yet make it, Loosen, Wells, Beeler, but overall, it offered little to an already weakening system, not even many organizational prospects. I’m not a Hendry hater but drafts like that just handcuff the organization for years.

      • Kyle

        Beeler and Szczur are basically all that stand in the way of that draft not having a single player even touch the majors.

        • jeff1969

          And if you go through on MLB Reference & click on the careers of almost all of these guys from 2010, there is very little value even for their minor league teams. Lots of guys who played one season or maybe two. It was like the Cubs were drafting like for an Independent League team. One interesting guy could Jacob Rogers, a 1B who hasn’t progressed quickly but seems to hit wherever he goes. But then again, not.

          • ssckelley

            Rogers did not sign in 2010, the Cubs drafted him again in 2012.

        • ari gold

          Kyle, I thought the farm wasn’t that bad when Theo took over?

          • Kyle

            It wasn’t. The 2010 draft was terrible, but that was the bottoming-out point. The system took a big step forward in 2011.

            • WGNstatic

              By which point, wasn’t Jim Hendry already essentially fired? It seems to me that the 2011 draft was more driven by Tim Wilken without the input from “higher” up in the front office.

    • AB1980

      Guys who can’t stay consistently healthy in their early 20s probably don’t stand a good chance of being major league players.

    • Diehardthefirst

      He had potential- Lakes best position may be CF

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    I feel like that quote on Lake has been repeated forever about him.

  • ssckelley

    Wow, Lake has 30/30 abilities? I did say on here a few days ago that Lake could hit 20 homers. I wonder if he has a little Soriano in him where he can get hot and carry the team.

    • JCubs79

      People have been saying that on Lake since the beginning. He’s always had an astronomically high ceiling but the rawness of his tools make it unlikely he ever reaches it.

      • ssckelley

        I have seen rave reviews about his raw skills but I must have missed reading the 30/30 potential.

        • JCubs79

          Rave reviews on his raw skills have always translated into a high ceiling ie. 30/30 potential, which is an example of what his ceiling could be, as unlikely as it is.

          • ssckelley

            I don’t know how you can draw that conclusion when the most homers he has ever hit in a season is 12. They have high reviews on Almora as well but I do not instantly think 30/30 potential when reading them.

            • Brocktoon

              Not to mention 13 guys in all the majors hit 30 HRs last year. It’s no small feat anymore.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Brett, do you have any idea what the status is with Soler? Remember a few weeks ago he hit a triple against the Angels and after that there has been little mention of him. I hope he doesn’t have a problem. We really need a good showing from him this year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      As far as I know, he’s been doing the minor league camp thing. He needs at bats as much as anyone, so it’s no surprise he hasn’t been doing the brief big league fill-in thing since he was cut.

      • ced landrum

        Az Phil said yesterday? that Soler was on Limited Activity Only.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          That fits with what I read that he hadn’t appeared in any minor league games for the last couple of weeks. I hope it isn’t the stress fracture reoccuring.

  • Ben G

    I am rooting extra hard for Junior Lake because it would be so funny if he became a stud after Law, Goldstein etc joked about him

    • terencemann

      He will have to prove that he can play well enough for teams to give him the opportunity to develop at the major league level. This next season really is make-or-break for Lake.

      When I look at Carlos Gomez, I see the best possible scenario for Lake. It took Gomez 6 seasons to finally tap into his potential as a hitter but it also took playing for a team with no other options in center field (and he was already considered a great defender in center). I just don’t know if Lake will ever get that opportunity.

  • ssckelley

    Now that Golden is gone the 5th round pick Szczur is the highest remaining draft pick from 2010.

    • C. Steadman

      Wow…the supplemental first round was loaded that year….

      • ssckelley

        Since the Cubs have Olt, and they gave up next to nothing to get him, can we just pretend the Cubs took Olt with the 16th pick?

        • C. Steadman

          Yeah, even though I wish the Cubs took Walker instead

  • Edwin

    Maybe Edwards should go to more White Sox games.

    • ssckelley

      Much cheaper to just go to the store and get a 5 gallon pail of ice cream.

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Is it just me or does that picture of Almora look like James Franco?

  • carmelo

    Sloer hasn’t played in a minor league game since 3/17—anybody know why?

    • CubsFaninMS

      No sunlight?

  • Spoda17

    This is a big year for Sloer. I know he is young, and needs to develop more… but if he has an average year, the nay-sayers are going to have a field day.

  • https://twitter.com/LouHemp beerhelps

    “I’m not suggesting he can alter his approach, but if you allow yourself the opportunity to dream (take drugs if necessary)”

    DONE.

    I’m telling everyone it’s ok, Brett told me to. It’s cool, officer….

    • ssckelley

      You would be lying if you said that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Actually, Parks told you to.

      • ssckelley

        Now you are involved!

      • DarthHater

        Yea, and you are spreading his message. It’s a darn shame your site will have to be shut down now…

        • DarthHater

          BTW, Bert, I think I made 4 or 5 BN/Amazon purchases today. Please think of me kindly when you are vacationing in the tropics with Jeff Bezos.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I’ll send you a postcard.

            Well, I’ll think about sending you a postcard.

            • brains

              cold.

            • DarthHater

              Don’t say that unless you mean it. I can use the Force to verify these things, you know.

  • okiecubhawk

    Is Junior Lake comparable to Preston Wilson?

    • ssckelley

      I don’t see Lake having that kind of power.

      • Adventurecizin Justin

        Just because he hasn’t hit more than 12 homers in a season? He has terrific power…his homers aren’t usually paint scrapers!

        • ssckelley

          Actually yeah, if he was unable to hit more than 12 against minor league pitching it is hard to imagine Lake hitting 30-40 in the majors.

          • C. Steadman

            I’m with kelley, I would say Lake’s ceiling for power would be 30 and I doubt he ever comes close. I can see a few 20/20 but no 30/30. It’s easily to get caught up on Jason Park’s evaluations, especially the man crush he has on Baez.

            • TK

              With a lil experience, theres no reason he could steal only 20 bases per. I think within 2 years he’ll be steady at 30+ SB. I’ll take a 20/30 CF any day. Lets hope he can be an average+ CF. Even if Almora causes him to be traded.

              And the HR projection thing isn’t just about minors/majors. It also has A LOT to do with physically maturing and experience. 20 HR is no stretch for Lake.

    • Rich H

      The projection I always liked was a poor mans Raul Mondesi. Cannon arm. Not as much strait power but better speed over all If he could ever touch his physical tools it will be pretty impressive. And I personally will send Keith Law the biggest Crow I can find.

  • NorthSideIrish

    thecubreporter ‏@thecubreporter 2m
    New Post! “Updated Cubs 2014 Minor League Camp Rosters”; http://www.thecubreporter.com/03282014/updated-cubs-2014-minor-league-camp-rosters-327

    Looks like Tennessee is the place to be this season…Bryant, Soler, Almora, Edwards. Thought both Almora and Soler are listed as “Limited Activity only”. Wasn’t aware anything was wrong with Almora’s knee.

    • Abe Froman

      Wait what? Torres and Jiminez starting at Kane County? That can’t be right? Jiminez is 17.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Those are just the current Spring rosters, not the season starting rosters. There are no short-season Spring rosters, so everyone at Kane County or below (that is currently in camp) is on that roster right now.

        • Abe Froman

          Thanks Brett. #talkingsense

      • ssckelley

        Yes, they are currently on the KC rosters along with a bunch of other players that will end up in extended spring training.

    • ssckelley

      Iowa has 7 pitchers to cut yet, I wonder if it isn’t the end of the road for former pitcher of the year Nick Struck.

  • Dakota44

    Baez or Alfaro? With all do respect is that a joke?

    • CubsFaninMS

      If that was a Rangers fan, one of us Cubs fans should’ve followed up with a “Baez, Olt, or Edwards”?

    • Brocktoon

      I’m surprised Parks didn’t snark it or not respond at all. Or say something utterly bizarre, cause ya know it’s Parks.

      • roz

        I enjoy his analysis, but sometimes I just have no idea what the fuck he is talking about.

  • college_of_coaches

    So Theo dumped Golden in the trash bin, huh? Just like he did with Ben Klafczynski.

    • mjhurdle

      Nice! a Ben Klafczynski reference!!

      • mjhurdle

        interesting that he had to becaome a pitcher (and not a good one) in the independent leagues.
        I thought i heard on here that he was some sort of amazing hitter

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