Baseball Prospectus Names its Top 20 Cubs Prospects for 2012

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Baseball Prospectus Names its Top 20 Cubs Prospects for 2012

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

In a Thanksgiving treat for Chicago Cubs fans, Baseball Prospectus released its Top 20 Cubs prospects list for free to everyone, including a scouting report on the top 11 prospects.

The prospects ranked thusly:

Five-Star Prospects

1. Brett Jackson, OF

Four-Star Prospects

2. Javier Baez, SS

Three-Star Prospects

3. Welington Castillo, C

4. Dillon Maples, RHP

5. Matt Szczur, OF

6. Josh Vitters, 3B

7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

8. Trey McNutt, RHP

9. Marco Hernandez, SS

Two-Star Prospects

10. Junior Lake, SS/3B

11. Rafael Dolis, RHP

Sub-Two-Star Prospects

12. Dan Vogelbach, 1B

13. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF

14. Chris Carpenter, RHP

15. Tony Zych, RHP

16. Ryan Flaherty, IF/OF

17. D.J. LeMahieu, IF

18. Zeke DeVoss, OF

19. Reggie Golden, OF

20. Marwin Gonzalez, IF

It’s hard to quibble with too many of the rankings – you could make a case that Castillo is a touch high, Golden a touch low, and a number of pitchers surprisingly excluded (Chris Rusin, Ben Wells, Nick Struck, Aaron Kurcz, Larry Suarez, among many, many others). In a system like the Cubs’, where there are a clear top handful of prospects, and then 30 after them who could be ranked in almost any order, you’re picking nits if you say Jae-Hoon Ha should be two spots higher, or Rafael Dolis two spots lower.

Indeed, that is part of Kevin Goldstein’s overall take on the system, who notes that “it’s not a bad system by any measurement, but it has far more depth than star power.”

The article is highly recommended for the scouting reports on each of the top 11 players, but here are some of the more notable bits from the scouting reports on some of the younger guys you might not know as well:

2. Javier Baez, SS

DOB: 12/1/92

Height/Weight: 6-0/180

Bats/Throws: R/R

2011 Stats: .333/.333/.500 at Rookie (3 G), .167/.167/.167 at Low A (2 G)

Tools Profile: He has outstanding offensive potential, but he’s not a pure athlete

Year in Review: Baez, who was considered to be the best pure high school hitter in the draft, went ninth overall and earned a $2.625 million bonus.

The Good: Baez can flat-out rake. He has blinding bat speed, excellent hand-eye coordination, and projects for average to plus power as he learns how to drive balls. He has solid defensive fundamentals for his age, and his arm is more than enough for the left side of the infield.

The Bad: Baez is not the kind of athlete one normally sees at shortstop. He’s an average runner at best and not especially quick, leaving most to believe he’ll move to third base early in his development. Some describe his play as “out of control,” and he’ll need to develop a big-league approach at the plate. One scout noted that he rarely took pitches—even bad ones—in high school.

Perfect World Projection: He’s an excellent hitter, but chances are good he’ll end up at a less prominent position.

Path to the Big Leagues: Baez will make his full-season debut at Low-A Peoria.

ETA: 2015

4. Dillon Maples, RHP

DOB: 5/9/92

Height/Weight: 6-2/195

Bats/Throws: R/R

2011 Stats: N/A

Tools Profile: This teenage righty has athleticism and upside.

Year in Review: Maples was seen by many as an impossible sign due to his college commitment, but the Cubs shocked the industry by giving $2.5 million to their 14th-round pick.

The Good: Maples’ upside as a starter is unmatched in the system. He already pitches in the low- to mid-90s with natural movement, and scouts think there could be more in him with some professional instruction. His power breaking ball was one of the best among prep arms in the draft. If he attended college, this very athletic pitcher would have also played football.

The Bad: Maples barely has a changeup; he simply never needed the pitch as an amateur. His delivery isn’t exactly pretty, but the arm works and he throws strikes. More than anything, he just needs innings and the experience to learn how to make adjustments.

Perfect World Projection: He could be an above-average big-league starter.

Path to the Big Leagues: This spring, Maples will try to convince management that he’s ready for a full-season assignment.

ETA: 2015

7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

DOB: 11/24/93

Height/Weight: 6-1/180

Bats/Throws: S/R

2011 Stats: .337/.443/.478 in Dominican Summer League (72 G)

Tools Profile: Candelario has a fantastic combination of pure hitting ability and offensive polish.

Year in Review: This Dominican signee was among the most impressive players in the Dominican Summer League in terms of both numbers and scouting reports.

The Good: Candelario has significant offensive potential. He earns raves for his highly-polished approach, and is a switch-hitter with power potential to all fields and a knack for consistent hard contact. He’s a solid runner with the tools to become an average first baseman.

The Bad: Candelario’s swing works much better from the left side; his power is reduced greatly with his contact-based swing against lefties. He’s still messy defensively, and there are worries that he could be forced to first base or left field should he fill out and slow down.

Perfect World Projection: He could be a middle-of-the-order run producer.

Path to the Big Leagues: Candelario will likely spend the spring adjusting to playing in the United States, then play in a short-season league. His upside is tremendous, but he’s eons away.

ETA: 2016

9. Marco Hernandez, SS

DOB: 9/6/92

Height/Weight: 6-0/170

Bats/Throws: L/R

2011 Stats: .333/.375/.486 at Rookie (51 G)

Tools Profile: He’s a legitimate shortstop with some hitting ability.

Year in Review: This Dominican teenager put up big numbers in his stateside debut.

The Good: Hernandez is a true shortstop with above-average speed, quick reactions, range to both sides, and a strong arm. He’s a switch-hitter with a line-drive swing from both sides, and has shown the occasional ability to drive one into the gap.

The Bad: Hernandez does not have a projectable frame, so he’ll never develop much in the way of power. He needs to improve his on-base skills to avoid being relegated to the end of a lineup. Hernandez needs to slow the game down defensively, as he’s prone to errors on routine ground balls when he rushes the play.

Perfect World Projection: He’s an everyday shortstop, and there aren’t 30 of those in the big leagues.

Path to the Big Leagues: Hernandez will compete for a full-season gig this spring, but he’ll likely play for short-season Boise in 2012.

ETA: 2015

Again, the whole thing is worth a read if you’re even a little into the prospect game, but it’s interesting, at a minimum, to hear specifically about some of the younger guys about whom we usually hear generally. These kids are among the reasons the Cubs’ system is incredibly bottom-heavy.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.