Scout.com released their list of the top position prospects in baseball. The top two position prospects in the Cubs’ system made the cut … Josh Vitters ranked 11th while Starlin Castro checked in at number 22.
Josh Vitters and Starlin Castro rank as one-two (in pre-season rankings by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus) among the position players in the Cubs’ system. Both players, along with Brett Jackson, received non-roster invitations to big league camp and many are looking forward to see how they perform this spring against Major Leaguers. Josh Vitters has been the top prospect (according to most) in the Cubs system since pre-season rankings in 2008. Vitters was the Cubs first round pick (third overall) in the 2007 draft.
After tearing up the Midwest League (.316/.351/.535/.886 with 12 doubles and 15 home runs in 70 games), Josh Vitters struggled a little with his promotion to the Daytona Cubs (High-A, Florida State League). Vitters was hampered by the annual injury bug and managed just a .238/.260/.344/.604 line with seven doubles and three homers in 50 games.
Vitters rebounded nicely in the Arizona Fall League. In 16 games, Vitters hit .353 with a .380 OBP (.485 SLG, .866 OPS) with four doubles, a triple and a home run.
Vitters can hit. His swing has been raved about for years; the only knock on him is his patience at the plate as pointed out by Scout.com.
Vitters has the potential to hit for average and power, but he needs to improve his anemic walk totals. He seems to have a knack for developing minor nags and bruises, normally with his hand or wrist, but that could be because the Cubs are just being cautious with their top prospect (really one of their only legit position prospects). His defense is average at best, for now, and perhaps better classified as suspect. His bat, however, will allow him to play for a long time.
Starlin Castro began making noise when Baseball America named him the Cubs’ seventh best prospect prior to last season. Castro did not disappoint and surpassed expectations in 2009.
Castro began the year in Daytona and lit up the Florida State League. Castro put together a .302/.340/.391/.731 line with 17 doubles, three triples and three home runs after a slow start.
Castro played in the Florida State League All-Star game, earned MVP honors and took part in XM Radio Future’s Game during All-Star weekend … all at the age of 19. Castro earned the promotion to Double-A and continued to impress while playing short for Ryne Sandberg.
After another slow start, Castro adjusted and hit .288/.347/.396/.744 in 31games for the Tennessee Smokies.
Starlin Castro spent his fall in Arizona and played in the AFL Rising Stars game. In 26 games in the AFL, Castro hit .376/.396/.475/.871 with five doubles, a triple and a home run.
The buzz has grown around Castro all year long with merit. He has flown through the minor leagues at 19, reaching Double-A and playing in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .376. A plus defender, Castro does everything right in the field. Sitting at 170-pounds, he has already shown gap power with the ability to use the entire field. Castro has the chance to be an impact bat as he fills out his frame.
One of the ‘Storylines of the Spring‘ will be how Josh Vitters and Starlin Castro handle themselves in big league camp. The future looks bright, but the players still have to perform.