Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2012

Baseball America released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system last week. To no surprise, Brett Jackson topped the list, with Javier Baez and Matt Szczur rounding out the top three of the best prospects in the organization. The Cubs had several prospects take a positive step forward last season … and unfortunately some that took a step back as well.

Of the players Baseball America thinks are among the top 10 in the system, half made the list for the second year in a row and three were selected in last year’s draft.

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod along with Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken have a lot of work ahead of them. The Cubs’ system has a lot of depth in the lower levels but is missing an impact prospect.

Here’s how Baseball America thinks the Cubs’ system stacks up …

Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2012

1. Brett Jackson, OF (2)
2. Javier Baez, SS (NR)
3. Matt Szczur, OF (7)
4. Trey McNutt, RHP (3)
5. Dillon Maples, RHP (NR)
6. Welington Castillo, C (17)
7. Rafael Dolis, RHP (9)
8. Junior Lake, SS (27)
9. Josh Vitters, 1B/3B (5)
10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B (NR)
(2011 BA Ranking in Parenthesis)

Best Tools in the Cubs System
D.J. LeMahieu – Best Hitter for Average
Dan Vogelbach – Best Power Hitter
Matt Cerda – Best Strike-Zone Discipline
Matt Szczur – Fastest Baserunner
Matt Szczur – Best Athlete
Rafael Dolis – Best Fastball
Trey McNutt - Best Curveball
Kevin Rhoderick - Best Slider
Dae-Eun Rhee – Best Changeup
Dallas Beeler – Best Control
Welington Castillo – Best Defensive Catcher
Elliott Soto – Best Defensive Infielder
Junior Lake – Best Infield Arm
Jae-Hoon Ha – Best Defensive Outfielder
Anthony Giansanti – Best Outfield Arm

Scouting Reports on Cubs Top 10 Prospects
The scouting information provided by Baseball America is by subscription only. Here are a few of the highlights, and low-lights, for each of the Cubs top 10 prospects.

1. Brett Jackson, OF
Baseball America described Brett Jackson’ tools as above-average across the board and they feel he is a potential All-Star. Jackson’s power stands out the most and he possesses the bat speed, loft and strength to hit home runs to all fields.

Brett Jackson has shown a lot of improvement on pitch recognition since his college days and is willing to take walks. Jackson’s swing is described as “compact” and he doesn’t get himself out by chasing bad pitches. The concern is when his swing gets to mechanical and his strikeout rate goes up when he starts pulling off every pitch.

Jackson has plus-speed on the bases and in the outfield. Defensively, Jackson takes good routes to balls and gets good jumps. Jackson has played all three outfield spots in the minors and if he was to be moved to right field, he has enough arm to handle the position.

Brett Jackson is the Cubs only position player prospect that is ready to play in the majors. Due to roster constraints (Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd), Jackson could start the year in Iowa.

BA thinks Brett Jackson has the upside of Jim Edmonds at the plate and possibly the same Gold Glove caliber play in centerfield.

2. Javier Baez, SS
The Cubs selected Javier Baez with the first pick in last June’s draft. Baez had the best bat speed in the draft drawing comparisons to Gary Sheffield and Hanley Ramirez. The Cubs project Baez as a 70 hitter with 65 power (based on the 20-80 scouting scales).

Baez could end up at third base. He has a very good arm (described as a third well-above average tool) that could allow him to stay at short but he will likely out-grow the position.

Javier Baez has the highest ceiling of any player in the Cubs’ system but he needs to mature on the field and learn how to control his emotions.

3. Matt Szczur, OF
Matt Szczur has plus-plus speed which will help him hit for average and makes him a basestealing threat … plus it allows him to track down balls from gap to gap in the outfield.

Szczur has a short, quick swing and strength in his hands that could allow him to develop power. Szczur’s biggest issue is patience at the plate.

As for defensively, Szczur has worked on his arm strength and has shown improvement … from below-average to solid.

BA thinks Matt Szczur will begin 2012 at the Double-A level and could be in the big leagues by 2013. Szczur has the ability to move Brett Jackson from center to right.

4. Trey McNutt, RHP
Trey McNutt can hit the upper 90s with his fastball but when he does he losses control. He gets more life and can locate it better when he throws his fastball in the low 90s. McNutt has a power breaking ball that breaks like a curve but has slider velocity. McNutt’s changeup is a work in progress and he needs to work on keeping the ball down instead of throwing it by hitters.

Trey McNutt should start 2012 back in Double-A but could reach the big leagues by the end of the season. McNutt has the ability to be a number two starter in a big league rotation.

5. Dillon Maples, RHP
Dillon Maples was considered the most talented high school pitcher as well as the most unsignable entering last year’s draft. Maples fell to the 14th round and the Cubs paid him $2.5 million to start his pro career.

Maples features two-plus pitches, a heavy 92-96 mph fastball and a hard curveball. The question with Maples is not his arm but his mechanics … which could lead to command problems and stress on his shoulder.

Dillon Maples did not pitch professionally last season and figures to start 2012 in low Class-A. Maples does have the stuff to be a number two starter at the big league level.

6. Welington Castillo, C
The Cubs have always liked Welington Castillo but a questionable work ethic has delayed his progress and injuries hurt Castillo’s development in 2011.

Castillo’s draws his power from strength not bat speed and does not give away many at bats. His impatience at the plate will keep him from hitting for a high average. As for defensively, Castillo has a well above-average arm and a quick release. Castillo’s biggest issue has been his game-calling ability, which has shown improvement.

Welington Castillo should be with the Cubs in some capacity in 2012 … likely as a backup to Geovany Soto. As BA stated, Soto is getting expensive and is inconsistent. The Cubs could view Castillo as a cheaper alternative.

7. Rafael Dolis, RHP
Another former position player the Cubs turned into a pitcher. When the Cubs signed Rafael Dolis he was a shortstop but the Cubs turned him into a pitcher prior to 2006. Tommy John Surgery (2008) has slowed his progress as he missed a majority of two seasons.

Rafael Dolis has been compared to Carlos Marmol and those comparisons became even more so when Dolis was made a full-time reliever last season.

Dolis can blow a hitter away, when he can command his pitches. Dolis throws a heavy-sinking fastball that ranges from 93-100 mph and a slider in the mid 80s that has a hard bite. The Cubs had Dolis focus on his command last season and that is the reason for a drop in his strikeouts per nine innings. Dolis learned how to pound the bottom of the strike zone, which caused more groundballs than swings and misses.

Rafael Dolis projects as a future closer if he can improve his command.

8. Junior Lake, SS
Junior Lake is three days younger than Starlin Castro and the Cubs are hoping his performance in the AFL is the beginning of things clicking for Lake.

Lake has some of the flashiest tools in the system and arguably the best arm in the minors … not just in the Cubs’ organization. Lake’s range improved at short but he may be too big for the position. Lake has good hands that might translate to third base or right field.

At the plate, Lake’s bat speed and strength give him above-average raw power to all fields but his lack of patience and poor pitch recognition can hurt him.

Junior Lake will likely start off 2012 at the Double-A level. If he can hit there and build on his performance in the Arizona Fall League he might end up in the majors next season.

9. Josh Vitters, 1B/3B
The former third overall pick in the 2007 draft has not developed as quickly as the Cubs had hoped. Josh Vitters is still only 22 and had a solid 2011 season.

Vitters still has the bat speed, strength and ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. Vitters has very good pitch recognition, makes consistent contact and uses the whole field. Vitters still has not developed much patience at the plate and is coming off a career-high 22 walks in 2011.

Vitters work ethic has been questioned but he made strides in that area as well last season. Vitters has also worked hard in the field to improve his defense. Vitters has good range, solid arm and his quick but still committed more errors (21) in 100 games than any other third baseman in the Southern League.

Josh Vitters figures to begin 2012 at the Triple-A level and could still end up as the Cubs’ third baseman … but so could several other players in the Cubs’ system. BA projected Vitters as the Cubs’ starting left fielder in 2015.

10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Dan Vogelbach has power and tons of it to all fields and he generates it with a very loose, effortless swing. Vogelbach can also recognize pitches and has the patience that would allow him to hit for average as well.

Vogelbach is a big man (6-foot, 250 pounds) that takes pride in his defense and is working on his footwork around the bag. Vogelbach projects as an average defender.

Dan Vogelbach had just 24 at bats in Rookie Ball last season but could begin 2012 with the Chiefs in low A ball.
_____________________________________________________________________

Last year’s draft was a step in the right direction … now they have to develop the players. With new leadership and hopefully a new direction, the Cubs system will be more focused starting in 2012. One of the knocks on the Cubs has been the lack of consistency in the system, especially on the defensive side. The Cubs have moved players from position to position instead of having them learn how to play one before determining how versatile they may or may not be.

A strong farm system is the key to sustained success, the Cubs have the pieces now it’s a matter of turning them into fundamentally sound baseball players.

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  • studio179

    Wow. BA has Vitters starting in LF in 2015…at age 26. He came in the system as a teen. He made strides last year and he has more work to do. A few years ago, BA ranked him the #1 Cubs prospect in the system. He keeps slipping farther down. He is one of those prospects many keep waiting on and others gave up on. He certainly draws a lot of opinions from fans. 

  • Chuck

    It would be interesting to do a chart of the Top 10 prospects of the last 5 years and next to each name, put where are they now.  This gives the average baseball fan, a better idea of just how good or how bad the Cubs minor league system is.

  • Kvchrisman

    How can we get to excited about who is down on the farm until Boston is taken care of?

    • Tedtop16

      It is interesting that your number 2, 5, and 10th rated prospects have less than one year of experience in the minors. On one hand it means you had a good draft, on the other hand, it means you do really have not developed many prospects from prior drafts. I’m glad that we have changed management. I think that we going to finally see a dose of reality introduced into the thought process. We have a long road coming back.

      • J Daniel

        In baseball you can’t be as sure of the draft as you can in other sports.  So when 3 of the last draft are in the top 10 shows you had bad the system is.  I do not think you can take it as the 3 are good as that is projection as this point.

        • Tedtop16

          I totally agree with you.  You said it better than I did.

  • John G

    ‘‘Pain is inevitable. Suffering is just an option.’’

    That’s a tatoo on Dale Sveum’s arm. I like it.

    • paulcatanese

      That is a great quote, so good I am posting it, and will use it. Thanks John for posting it. You have no idea how much it will help.

    • paulcatanese

      John, I have spent approxametly seven months in the last four years either in the hospital or re-hab hospitals (not me, family member) and have seen dramatic pain and suffering by many individuals and thats where that quote will come in handy and thats where I am going to post it. Those people are very brave and deal every day with dis abilities, thank you, I am sure it will help.

  • Shelbymenge

    from shelby  menge, we need to get fielder for first base  next season.

    • daverj

      Why?

    • Calicub

      Calicub doesn’t like this idea. Calicub thinks fielder would be too expensive in the longrun. While calicub would prefer fielder over pujols, calicub thinks that if the cubs signed a big time free agen1Bt, it would take attention away from other needed areas like the rotation 3B, 2B, and/or RF.

      • paulcatanese

        Good reply, when are you auditioning for Seinfeld? :-)

        • Calicub

          Lol. “The Jimmy”! Classic episode of seinfeld.

          And then george starts talking in the third person. Ha!

          • paulcatanese

            Caught it right away, am an avid fan of his shows, watch them over and over, even the replays. He took Regis place the last few days.

  • Anthony

    The 1B depth chart is my starting point for discussion. If Vogelbach leapfrogs Boise into Peoria(my guess he starts in Boise since he is young), what will be the Domino effect?
     
    Paul Hoilman should be destined for Peoria/Daytona. Richard Jones had a great season in Peoria at the plate and needs to move up. Ryan Cuneo is also in that mix, and add in Justin Bour, maybe even Brandon May, who also spends time at 3B.
     
    With all due(very little) respect for a magazine who employs journalists, not baseball scouting experts, Vogelbach belongs in Boise for these reasons:
     
    He is young, he hasn’t experienced the Grind yet, meaning games basically every day, long travel on a bus in the NWL, better pitching, living on his own, developing a routine, and getting his first dose of instruction and how he handles suggestions and possible adjustments, and the mental maturity aspect.
     
    I would guess the tandem of Hoilman/Cuneo will be in Peoria to start, and R. Jones to Daytona. Hoilman delivered the power as expected, and you have to remember that Senior signs are not a bad thing, especially from academic and leadership type players. Hoilman is one of our prospects who left college as his Conferences(A-SUN) all-time total base leader. If he handles the MWL pitching quickly, expect a jump to Daytona before the Fireworks fly.

    What the Cubs do with Jones and Bour are anyone’s guess.

    Having 3 unproven inexperienced players in a TOP 10, again, consider the source, can be interpreted in many ways.

    • daverj

      The best interpretation of 3 inexperienced players in the Top 10 is that the Cubs farm system is pretty.  With a solid minor league organization, only Baez cracks the Top 10 (with Maples and Vogelbach being Top 20 type guys).

      • Anthony

        If you eliminate all the 2011 Draft additions, then give us a Top 10. Nobody who entered the system in 2011 has enough reps/playing time for a proper evaluation, so having 3 newcomers is more based on Draft status/investment than any other criteria.

        • studio179

          100% agree.

        • paulcatanese

          Right again Anthony, and to add, it go’s without saying the players that are blocked along the way. Been there, saw it first hand, big investment to players automaticly gives them longer opportunity to succeed or fail, and also where they were drafted. Very few good players get by the system and advance.

          • Anthony

            Blocked.

            750 active spots at any given time, an annual revolving door of 5000-7000 MILB prospects. 1000 new arrive, 1000 get sent away each season. For most, the window is short, plus infuse all the International players unaffiliated.

            It can be said that there is as much, or more major league talent floating around minor league baseball then there is on MLB rosters. It is a numbers game, or lack thereof, and Clubs feel forced to amortize the signing bonus’ of early selections over many years to justify potential “busts”, all the while qualified players get released during same period.

            I have to respect each of those not initially invested in financially who believe they have the goods to compete while foregoing other career/life opportunities. To me, unproven high dollar draft bonuses, especially to kids taints the entire system and skews the evaluation process, but it is what it is!

            Much has changed in the past 10 years for the prospect landscape. The communication age, instant info, the internet library at your fingertips, wannabe bloggers and magazines generating PR for players, the Showcase craze, international training camps for foreign kids, etc.

            It is as Global a game/business as its ever been, and it will keep evolving, but unsure as to what is trying to be achieved?

            Soon enough, the time will come where MLB might end up being one Regional League in a larger scale organization to really determine a “WORLD SERIES” Champion.

            Whenever I hear an Owner talk about winning, is he really talking about winning on the bottom-line?

          • paulcatanese

            Exceptional reply Anthony, and will give many food for thought. I know just what you are saying. Wish I could get some things to you that a revelant but it would tie up the blog.

  • Aaron

    I am conflicted regarding this prospect list. On one hand, it’s comforting to know that recent drafters are highly thought of. On the other hand, as others have mentioned, it’s also an indictment of the system in general being barren of difference-makers.

    In my opinion, I would rank it as follows:
    B Jackson
    Whitenack (TJ surgery)
    Vitters
    Szczur
    Lemahieu
    Dolis
    Lake
    Antigua
    Carpenter
    McNutt

    *no 2011 draftees due to limited data. When baseball America or any other publications do that, it diminishes their credibility as they’re going on nothing but hype

    • Anthony

      your list makes sense, funny how the experts seem to get paid for their lists……….lol

      BA and the other journalists are not baseball decision-makers even though they try to be, in their own minds.

      The real decision-makers aren’t going to disclose their depth charts and detailed scouting reports because it would be bad business, like playing poker and tipping off your hole cards.

      It has been said by many in the business that a player who enters pro baseball either via the Draft or FA is a member of pro baseball first and foremost. Drafted players have been scouted by the MLBSB and entered into the database with their own independent scouting reports and OFP numbers shared with ALL the organizations, team scouts have their own reports for pretty much every amateur also(draft boards), and then once introduced into the system, pro-level scouts are assigned to watch the opposition at each level.

      A unique aspect is happening with the Cubs with the change in suits. The Wilken reports can now be merged with the Boston and SD scouting reports at least for the past couple Drafts. This is a wealth of information as three different views of prospects can be examined.

      After the 2010 class gets a 2nd full season, and the 2011 class get their first full season, lists are somewhat meaningless.

      There are too many variables in baseball that come into play to make such bold statements, but I suppose it sells magazines?

    • Dorasaga

      I know I’ve asked you before, what’s so good about Antigua? Tom U basically pointed out his slider (below as well) and his improvement last year at high A. I know I will root for him, for being a Cubbie, but this Epstein and Hoyer fad can only keep my patience so long… say a year or two. He better be a success, promoted, and stay consistent at a higher level. Or else, if one by one the prospects fall short, the blame must go to someone. Tim Wilkens will not look good.

      • Tom U

        Dorasaga, I know you asked Aaron, but look at Antigua’s numbers last year. With 93 strikeouts to 24 walks, that’s nearly a 4:1 ratio! 

        Forget his 8 starts. Daytona went with that cockamamie system of starting Angel Guzman every four game for two innings, screwing up their starting pitching. Had he pitched regularly, he would have had more starts and probably more wins. Even though his 2.92 ERA at Daytona and 1.116 WHIP were pretty good, they probably would have been better.

        And don’t forget, he’s a lefty.

        • Dorasaga

          Then two things kind of worry me. One, the previous management simply didn’t know what to do with him. The intermediate starts might mean a concern of high injury risk. My reaction is they thought about converting him to be a full-time reliever.

          Another thing is if his stuffs are as good as projected, after four seasons at single-A, he shouldn’t be giving up many homeruns or hits, but his stats are telling me a different story (giving up an average of more than one homerun per 9 innings and almost 9 hits; that looks average at best, for single A).

  • paulcatanese

    Boy do I like the new CBA, many positive points made, hopefully some of these ridiculous contracts will dissapear. I know its just condensed but hope to see it in the complete form so I do not feel I mis-read anything.

  • Ripken Boy

    Start Vitters at 3b now

    • cubtex

      I know Fleita mentioned that he will be moved back to 3rd next year. He should start in AAA. Remember…..he is still only 22 and let him have some success in AAA first before he is moved up. I think Theo will try and get a stopgap 3rd baseman for next year(god I hope it isn’t Eric Chavez) and hopefully Vitters will force the Cubs to bring him up halfway thru the season because he is crushing the ball.

      • paulcatanese

        Better watch what you wish for, as I might get what I wish for at third.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    International Spending By Teamhttp://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/international-affairs/2011/2611345.html

  • paulcatanese

    Did I read that blurb correctly about Garza may be unloaded? Why? I thought he was one that could be counted on with rebuilding.

    • cubtex

      I guess they are listening to offers and see if someone blows them away. I am with you Paul. He is the only pitcher on their staff that is a sure thing for next year.

      • Tony_Hall

        Maybe they don’t feel like paying him his FA contract, and rather than use him for seasons, in which the playoffs are a long shot, trade him to re-stock the system, prior to then.

        • cubtex

          we’ve argued this point alot Tony. Starting pitching is extremely hard to get and if you have a younger guy like Garza…I would lock him up.

          • Tony_Hall

            :)  That’s why I couldn’t pass it up…

            I agree, and have said I would have extended him, otherwise the trade was for nothing.  But if they were to pull off a trade, it would tell us, what they think of our near-ready farm hands.

          • J Daniel

            I don’t think there are many near ready farm hands for pitching.

  • Tom U

    Baseball America is entitled to their opinion, here’s the list I would have made:

    1. Brett Jackson, OF (2)
    2. DJ LeMahieu, IF (10)
    3. Matt Szczur, OF (7)
    4. Trey McNutt, RHP (3)
    5. Jeffrey Beliveau, LHP (NR)
    6. Josh Vitters, 1B/3B (5)
    7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (NR)
    8. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF (NR)
    9. Austin Kirk, LHP (NR)
    10. Welington Castillo, C (17)

    Best Tools in the Cubs System
    D.J. LeMahieu – Best Hitter for Average
    Richard Jones/ Paul Hoilman – Best Power Hitter
    Jeimer Candelario – Best Strike-Zone Discipline
    Evan Crawford – Fastest Baserunner
    Matt Szczur/Jae-Hoon Ha – Best Athlete
    Chris Carpenter – Best Fastball
    Trey McNutt – Best Curveball
    Kevin Rhoderick/Jeffry Antigua – Best Slider
    Dae-Eun Rhee – Best Changeup
    Dallas Beeler/Aaron Kurcz – Best Control
    Sergio Burruel – Best Defensive Catcher
    Marwin Gonzalez/Elliott Soto/Brad Zapenas – Best Defensive Infielder
    Dustin Geiger/Arismendy Alcantara – Best Infield Arm
    Brett Jackson/Jae-Hoon Ha – Best Defensive Outfielder
    Anthony Giansanti/Michael Burgess/Rubi Silva – Best Outfield Arm

    While Baez, Maples, and Vogelbach have promise, none of them have demonstrated they have the ability to translate that into production during a regular season. 

    It is also easy to see why Dolis and Lake were chosen. They are “tools” players that will impress those who don’t take enough time to watch on a regular basis. However, neither player has translated those tools into great success.

    • Anthony

      I would also have LaHair in power and Klafczynski in outfield arm, Rohan hitter for average, DeVoss fast runner.

      Best athlete is a tough call. I am not always sold on the football aspect and overall athleticism. In baseball, I look for many traits, fluidity, or the look of natural ease when performing, almost effortless.

      • Tom U

        Excellent choices Anthony! There were a lot of deliberations going into the previous post, maybe enough for another article.

    • daverj

      Rightly or wrongly, I think Baseball America puts a lot of emphasis on players with upside when making their rankings (which is why the tools guys get bumped up a bit) even if the probability of reaching that upside is low.  I like when prospects are given two grades … one grade which describes his potential major league contributions and the other which describes his odds of actually making it to that potential.

      Take the following two theoretical players:Player A:  Potential for .290, 25-30 HR, 25-30 Steals based on tools, but given his lack of success so far (maybe due to plate discipline), he only has a 20-30% chance of reaching that potential.Player B:  Potential for .280, 10-12 HR, 10-12 Steals based on tools, but a 70-80% chance he produces those number in the majors.Some might rate Player A higher as a prospect.  Other might rate Player B higher.

      • Tom U

        Like I said, they are entitled to their opinion. I don’t necessarily think they got it wrong, just maybe not as well informed.

    • cubtex

      You are consistent Tom with LeMahieu…lol. I am not convinced that LeMahieu should be rated as high as you have him.

      • Tom U

        Cubtex, the only reason I rated LeMahieu so high is that I believe that, as of right now, he is the only position player beside Jackson that can be a starter in 2012.

        • cubtex

          Ok. If that is your criteria, I can’t argue….but I still feel his bat is currently more of a middle infielders than a corner.

    • Jay from sandwich

      Agree with you almost completely I also feel that Baseball America is wrong about prospect as much as they are right. Alot of players slip threw the cracks and become every day to hall of fame type players. This is a imperfect siebce do to players commitent and determinations to succeed

  • Last_ginger

    Whats everyones thoughts on Hank Conger? Sota and Marmol to the Angels for Conger? Just saw this rumor and wondering what Neil or Aaron think.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Conger has really struggled both offensively and defensively. Many think Conger could end up at first base … or if he stays in the AL, at DH. Conger could use a change of scenery, like Mike Napoli, but it would take a lot more to land Soto and Marmol.

      • cubtex

        Agreed Neil. Soto alone should get more of a return than Hank Conger let alone adding Marmol to the equation.

      • KevininSanDiego33

        I like Conger Defensively and I am an ex High School Catching Coach and hav e sent 6 Catchers to college with full rides.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Kevin … the comparisons to Victor Martinez are pretty common. Martinez can hit but we all know about his defense. As I mentioned, a change of scenery and getting away from Mike Scioscia might do him so good. I still do not think Conger is even a good starting point for either one of the players mentioned. The Cubs need starting pitching not another catcher.

      • Last_ginger

        Thanks Neil

  • Ripsnorter1

    You look at the Cubs’ top prospects from 2005 to date, and you see that the Cubs produced just two impact players: Marmol and Castro.(And even at that you have Marmol being used out of position–he’s a setup man, not a closer!). At a lower level you  find just two more average MLB players: Marshall and Soto. At an even lower tier is Ronny Cedeno, a parttime ML player. Finally you have several AAAA players like Colvin (whom I do not think will ever amount to anything now) and Eric Patterson, Felix Pie, et al. Not an overly productive system by any measure.

    The current top ten prospects have major holes in their game, too. Brett Jackson brings a lot to the table, but his alarming strike out totals make many scouts question whether he can be more than a Tyler Colvin (ie, a bust). I have no real hopes for Vitters at all. On the pitching front we might have a few relievers who will make the team at a level similar to James Russell, but I do not see any impact players at all. 
    The Jim Qlueless regime has done horrible damage to the organization from top to bottom which will impact the ML team for years to come.

    • cubtex

      Did you forget that Soto was rookie of the year in 2008? I would say that is a pretty good impact. He has been a little up and down but he is one of the better offensive catchers in the NL.

      • Ripsnorter1

        No, he is not an impact player. He is an average ML player. By “impact” I mean an everyday player. Soto does not deserve to be an everyday player anymore. He had one good year, and after that the league adjusted to him, but he not to the league. And he lost the lineup support of the 2008 team. Between that and his love for Mary Jane, he has been unable to replicate his first year success. So I place Soto in the category as Marshall. A decent player, but not to the status of Castro and Marmol. After his rookie year he has not had the BA or the HR or the RBI of that first year. Look at his splits–he does not deserve to play vs RHP. He’s a .207 hitter vs RHP–with .365 slugging! That .277 OBP and .677 OPS isn’t as much impact as I want. Do you realize that puts him in K.Hill territory?. Your friend K.Hill had a .214 BA was RHP, .313 slugging and .288 OBP. He outperformed Soto….[As a side note, vs. LHP, Koyie hit .091, slugged .091 and had a tremendous .167 OBP. WHAT AN IMPACT--for the opposition].

        The “impact” he provides vs. RHP is not a positive one for the Cubs….

    • Joey U

      I have to agree with you……The regime of J.H. was terrible…who in there right mind would have picked Colvin as a number one, …as for Vitters the jury is still out on him,,( I have my doubts)……..

      • paulcatanese

        In all honesty I could see where they picked Colvin number 1. First he has size,2. decent speed 3. slightly above average arm, 4 he does have power.
        So at the time he was drafted I could see a number 1 choice.
        It so happens that he has reached a.  his peak and is not and probably will not make it as a steady major leaguer. His level of success is no higher than AAA.Thats what I would say, at the time he was drafted,number 1.

        • Jay from sandwich

          It is still to early to say he will not make (Tyler) he has not even give a fair chance seen Lou left. Our new manager will prove himshelf to me if he can get Tyler back on track. I still believe sanberg can turn Tyler’s care around so a trade to phillies Tyler for xx would be go for him. But if dale wants my support he need to take a player like Tyler and fix him

          • Joey U

            it’s kind of hard to teach “old dog new tricks”….

          • Anthony

            Not Dale’s job to fix anyone. A manager manages games and the people supplied to him.

            A player has to “want to” fix themselves, with some instructional guidance.

            One thing under-emphasized is the transition from metal to wood. This entire generation of hitters learned to hit with metal. For some, it takes longer to retool and refine.

            The adjustment could be as simple as 1/16″ bat angle, but years of muscle memory and false comfort from success(more margin of error with metal) is not that easy.

            Swinging at bad pitches could be a vision issue, a guesser, or some combinationof the two.

            I have seen several of our minor leaguers approach hitting in an all out max effort to swing from the heels. Sometimes the ball gets in the way, most of the time, NOT.

            We also have some hitters who use games to groove their swings and approach, not concerned about HR’s but more geared toward creating a solid, polished repeatable swing for the long term.

        • Joey U

          I know what you are saying but at the time he was drafted many baseball people questioned the cubs thinking when drafting him as a number one. Oh, well it’s a mute point now.He has power but no plate discipline swings at too many bad pitches .He is going to be 27 in 2012, not much hope for him as an everday player.

          • paulcatanese

            You are correct at what he is now, but I would compare it to Baez and Vogelbach this year. Time will tell, but when I saw the film on Baez I did not consider him a number one either and Vogelbach got a few bucks up front, but I like him,good stroke. but thats the point it dosent matter what I think, its how these guys will turn out in the future. I hope it goes well for them. 

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yeah, we all hope, Paul. That’s the very essence of being a Cub fan: Hope for better things than we actually have. LOL