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albert almora cubsA few short prospect notes here in the final week before the Arizona Fall League kicks off (complete with some interesting pace-of-play experiments) on October 7.

  • Speaking of which, top Cubs pitching prospect C.J. Edwards will be one of the top players to watch in the AFL this year after missing much of 2014 with shoulder inflammation. When he was able to pitch, Edwards seemed to look like the guy who broke out in 2013 and became a top 50/75 prospect in all of baseball.
  • Jonathan Mayo writes that Edwards is the pitching prospect he’s looking forward to seeing most this Fall. Among Mayo’s comments: “Edwards’ stuff is reportedly electric, with a fastball that can touch 97 mph, an above-average curveball and a vastly improved changeup. A year ago, between his two organizations, Edwards struck out 12 per nine innings, walked 3.2, had a 1.86 ERA and gave up just one home run in 116 1/3 IP. He gave up just one more in 2014, albeit in a season shortened to 53 2/3 IP due to shoulder inflammation. In 237 professional innings, he’s given up only two home runs.”
  • It was a tough year for Albert Almora, even though it might have been a productive one developmentally. The numbers weren’t where you’d want them to be at High-A and AA, but he dealt with the sickness of his father, was young for his levels, and was still playing excellent center field defense. I remain firmly in Almora’s corner with respect to him becoming a quality MLB regular eventually, even if the offense takes a little while to come around. I actually like Almora as a breakout candidate (offensively) next year. He has a great natural swing and so much barrel-to-ball contact ability. The bones are there.
  • Jim Callis was asked about Almora’s down year, and it sounds like he still believes in Almora. A snippet: “While Almora needs to work deeper counts and walk more often, he doesn’t swing and miss excessively, and he’s still just 20 years old — so it should be safe to project him as a .275/.320/.425 hitter. He still draws raves for his defensive prowess and still looks like the Cubs’ center fielder of the future. As long as Almora hits, Alcantara likely will settle in at second base or into a super-utility role, and McKinney is destined for an outfield corner.”
  • Ever wonder what the process of ranking prospects is like? What goes into it? How difficult it is? John Manuel gets into just that over at Baseball America.
  • The Cubs placed four prospects in BA’s top 20 list for the Northwest League, and, later, John Manuel chatted about that list. Among Manuel’s comments in the chat: (1) Pitching prospect Trevor Clifton was considered for the list, and would have been in the top ten if he hadn’t battled inconsistency in the second half of the season; (2) only the top one or two prospects on the list (the Cubs’ top entrant was Jeffrey Baez at 6) will be in consideration for the top 100 overall list; and (3) compared to other leagues, in terms of prospect depth, Manuel described this year’s NWL as a one-star league (oof).

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