FanGraphs Reveals its Top 15 Chicago Cubs Prospects for 2012

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FanGraphs Reveals its Top 15 Chicago Cubs Prospects for 2012

Chicago Cubs
Photo via Born on Third

On heels of Baseball Prospectus’s Cubs top ten prospect list, FanGraphs has revealed a top 15 of its own. And, as was the case with BP, there are a few surprises.

First, the list:

1. Javier Baez, SS

2. Albert Almora, OF

3. Jorge Soler, OF

4. Dillon Maples, P

5. Dan Vogelbach, 1B

6. Arodys Vizcaino, P

7. Brett Jackson, OF

8. Matt Szczur, OF

9. Christian Villanueva, 3B

10. Josh Vitters, 3B

11. Marco Hernandez, SS

12. Jeimer Candelario, 3B

13. Junior Lake, SS

14. Duane Underwood, P

15. Trey Martin, OF

Immediately reactions: wow, that’s really high for Dillon Maples, considering how little he’s pitched in the year and a half since he was drafted. Juan Carlos Paniagua again just misses the cut, and falls behind Duane Underwood. Speaking of which, Underwood ahead of Pierce Johnson? That, too, is a surprise. Marco Hernandez continues to get the (justified) love, but none for Gioskar Amaya (who just missed the cut). Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych also just missed the cut, according to the author, Marc Hulet.

FanGraphs also included a pretty extensive writeup on each of the prospects in the top 15, which are worth a read.

For example, on Maples:

The 2011 amateur draft infused a ton of talent into the Cubs’ minor league system and Maples was one of the most promising players nabbed even though he wasn’t taken until the 14th round. He was considered a difficult sign due to his commitment to the University of North Carolina where he would have played both football and baseball. A $2.5 million contract got him to commit to baseball on a full-time basis.

A scout familiar with Maples said he’s a great athlete with a “NFL leg… who could have kicked 50 yards, easy.” As a pitcher, the scout said the North Carolina native is a “horse of a kid” with a plus fastball that can touch 95-97 mph with a plus 12-to-6 “wipeout” curveball. “It’s as good a breaking ball as I’ve seen… while scouting,” he added. “He has a chance to throw three plus pitches.” Maples benefited from having former big league hurler James Baldwin as his high school baseball coach and a father who also played pro ball as a former second-round pick.

The scout said Maples has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter. “He’s a very focus kid.”

And on Jeimer Candelario, who is quietly one of the most intriguing prospects in the system – he was very young for short-season A-ball:

As I mentioned above, I expected to be impressed by Candelario when I watched him play but came away more impressed with some of the prospects around him. My first impression came with him playing third base in the playoffs and will refer to his efforts as lackadaisical. He looked very nonchalant at times and didn’t have great throwing mechanics or foot work.

A baseball evaluator I spoke with about him said the prospect could face a position switch down the road, possibly to first base. He also suggested Candelario may add 10-15 pounds to his frame and “he may be a pretty big man when all is said and done.”

At the plate, Candelario showed noisy hands but had decent bat speed. His swing got whippy at times and didn’t stay on a level plane. He would benefit from keeping the bat head in the strike zone for a longer period of time. Although I was a little lukewarm after his effort in the games I saw, the baseball person reminded me that Candelario was one of the youngest guys in the NWL and sometimes guys “get caught between style and substance… (but) I like his upside.”

The evaluator added that Candelario has a chance to be an average to above-average hitter and just needs at-bats. He should move up to A-ball in 2013 to once again play on the left side of the infield with Marco Hernandez.

Additional Notes

Candelario is a physically imposing 18-year-old, but his athleticism and foot speed are lacking. At the moment he’s top heavy and as legs develop further he could out grow third base forcing a move to left or first base. Candelario, a switch hitter, deploys an upright stance and uses his legs to create a narrow base. From the right side of the plate his swing tends to get long and his balance is suspect but his natural hitting ability often shines through. Those problems persist from the left side of the plate but are compounded by his tendency to pull off the ball. (JD Sussman)

All of those write-ups are worth a read.

Author: Brett Taylor

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