Baseball America’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2012

The CCO’s off-season look at the Cubs’ farm system continues with the top 31 prospects in the Cubs organization according to Baseball America.

Baseball America’s 2012 Prospect Handbook arrived with the Angels’ Mike Trout on the cover. For the second straight year, the Cubs made changes to the system after Baseball America went to the presses with their prospect book.

Baseball America ranked the Cubs’ system 14th in baseball prior to the additions of Anthony Rizzo, Ronald Torreyes, Dave Sappelt and Zach Cates. The four prospects Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer added in the Sean Marshall and Andrew Cashner trades all ranked among the top prospects in the Reds and Padres system with Anthony Rizzo topping the Padres’ organization rankings prior to the trade.

Baseball America is scheduled to update their organizational rankings in February.

Brett Jackson is the top prospect in the Cubs’ system even with the addition of Anthony Rizzo. The former top prospect in the Padres’ system slots in behind Jackson in a majority of the rankings after he was acquired from San Diego.

According to Baseball America, the Cubs’ system is more notable for solid depth than top-tier talent. But one good season down on the farm, another solid draft and a few international signings could make a difference for what is currently ranked as a middle-of-the-road organization.

The new Prospect Handbook for the first time includes a grading system and risk factor for each player. Baseball America used a 20-80 scale similar to the scale the scouts use for their grading system. The goal of the Grade/Risk system is to provide a quick look at how strong a team farm system is, and also how much immediate help the big league club can expect from the prospects.

For an explanation of Baseball America’s grade scale and Risk Factors, click here or read below the list of the top prospects in the Cubs system as well as how BA ranked Anthony Rizzo, Ronald Torreyes, Dave Sappelt and Zach Cates in their previous organization.

Top 31 Prospects for 2012
(Last Year’s Ranking, BA Grade and Risk Factor in Parenthesis)

1. Brett Jackson, OF (2, 60, Medium)
2. Javier Baez, SS (NA, 65, High)
3. Matt Szczur, OF (7, 60, Medium)
4. Trey McNutt, RHP (3, 55, High)
5. Dillon Maples, RHP (NA, 55, High)
6. Welington Castillo, C (17, 50, Medium)
7. Rafael Dolis, RHP (9, 50, Medium)
8. Junior Lake, SS (27, 50, High)
9. Josh Vitters, 3B (5, 50, High)
10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B (NA, 50, High)
11. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP (30, 50, High)
12. Dallas Beeler, RHP (NR, 50, High)
13. Chris Carpenter, RHP (6, 50, High)
14. Zeke DeVoss, 2B (NA, 50, High)
15. Tony Zych, RHP (NA, 50, High)
16. Marco Hernandez, SS/2B (NA, 55, Extreme)
17. Reggie Golden, OF (23, 50, High)
18. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF (28, 50, High)
19. Robert Whitenack, RHP (NR, 50, High)
20. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (NA, 55, Extreme)
21. Steve Clevenger, C (NR, 45, Low)
22. Jose Rosario, RHP (NR, 50, High)
23. Logan Watkins, 2B/SS/OF (21, 45, Medium)
24. Jeff Beliveau, LHP (NR, 45, Medium)
25. Ben Wells, RHP (24, 50, High)
26. Marcus Hatley, RHP (NR, 50, High)
27. Casey Weathers, RHP (NA, 50, High)
28. Taiwan Easterling, OF (NA, 50, High)
29. Hayden Simpson, RHP (8, 50, Extreme)
30. Shawon Dunston, Jr., OF (NA, 50, Extreme)
31. Pin-Chieh Chen, OF (NA, 50, Extreme)

Additions to Cubs System
(Ranking with Previous Organization, BA Grade and Risk Factor in Parenthesis)

Anthony Rizzo (Padres-1, 60, Medium)
Ronald Torreyes (Reds-13, 50, High)
Dave Sappelt (Reds-16, 45, Low)
Zach Cates (Padres-31, 50, High)

30 of the 31 players listed as the top prospects in the Cubs’ system are homegrown players, only Casey Weathers came from another organization.

Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo figure to make their Cub debuts during the upcoming season and BA thinks Jackson could be the Cubs’ top rookie for 2012. As for a breakout prospect, Baseball America tabbed Marco Hernandez as the player to keep an eye on and the sleeper in the system could be Gioskar Amaya.

Cubs Prospects in the Top 50
The editors of Baseball America included their lists of the top 50 prospects in the 2012 Prospect Handbook. Here is how the top names in the Cubs’ system stacks up with the rest of the game according to BA’s editors.

Jim Callis: Brett Jackson (28); Javier Baez (31); Anthony Rizzo (42)
J.J. Cooper: Brett Jackson (40)
Will Lingo: Brett Jackson (33); Antony Rizzo (40)
John Manuel: Brett Jackson (38); Matt Szczur (49)

Baseball America Grade Scale and Risk Factors
BA Grade Scale

  • 75-80: Franchise players and No. 1 starters, such as Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Roy Halladay.
  • 65-70: No. 2 starters and perennial all-stars in the mold of Chase Utley, Matt Cain, Matt Kemp and Adrian Beltre.
  • 55-60: First-division regulars and No. 3 starters and elite closers, such as Jonathan Papelbon, James Shields and Torii Hunter would earn these grades.
  • 45-50: Most players reside here. The high end (50s with lower risk) are second-division regulars with higher peaks, eighth-inning relievers and fourth starters on playoff teams. The lower end are platoon/utility players, back-end starters and relievers. Think of Jamey Carroll, Joe Blanton and Angel Pagan.
  • 35-40: Players with fifth-starter or utility/backup catcher upside, or relief specialists. It will be rare for a 35 to make the book. This category includes the likes of Doug Slaten, Matt Treanor and Alfredo Simon.

Risk Factors

  • Safe: Has shown realistic ceiling in big leagues; ready to contribute in 2012.
  • Low: Likely to reach realistic ceiling, certain big league careeer barring injury.
  • Medium: Still some work to do to turn tools into major league-caliber skills.
  • High: Most draft picks in their first seasons, players with plenty of projection left.
  • Extreme: Teenagers in Rookie ball or players with significant injury histories.

Coming Soon: The CCO’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2012

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • endy23

    is anyone else annoyed with all these prospect lists with recent draft picks on them? I mean, vitters had the best pure HS bat in 07 and he’s still trying to figure it out (which I’m all for waiting on). Unless they went to college, and are almost ready like say, Mark Prior, who lived up to the hype for 2-3 years.  Javier Baez is in the top  50? really?  Based on what? Bat speed?

    Wieters in 07 was a college standout and now producing in the majors, but he’s not exactly setting the world on fire, and he’s been on these “top prospect lists” as well.

    • Anthony

      BA and all the rest are in the business of selling subscriptions and don’t make player decisions for MLB.

      • Vivid_Reality

        So are you going to tell me the O’s didn’t value Wieters as one of their top prospects? Just because they try to make money doesn’t mean they don’t know anything. I’d like to see you come up with a list of 31 better prospects the Cubs have. I think its pretty safe to say that Baez or Vogelbach is a better prospect,  than say Logan Watkins.

        • Anthony

          Glad you asked.

          2011 High School kids have virtually no sample size in pro baseball, and have been evaluated on tools potential, have played against high schoolers only, and a few showcases.

          2011 College kids have hardly any sample size in Pro baseball other than 1/2 of a season, and even though many have had impressive college careers, not enough to evaluate yet.

          2010 High Schoolers don’t have enough sample size.

          2010 College kids, when combined with their college careers, have given a better indication of ability so far.

          2009 and older players have a decent book, and many of the ones who have produced the best so far, have been ignored and labeled “non-prospects” by these media outlets, such as Rohan and Bour. You can’t deny their production, throw R. Jones, Ridling, etc. in that mix as examples.

          Brett Jackson, everyone loves, struck out too much in college, has actually regressed in that department in Pro ball, yet a top prospect because………….He is a 1st rounder.

          Anyone can regurgitate a list of early round draft choices and ignore the rest.

          These lists are silly, and have no bearing on the front office decision-makers, they are for your enjoyment, and I enjoy laughing at them.

          • Vivid_Reality

            You ignored the point. So you would take an organization of 100 Watkins vs 100 Jacksons?

          • Anthony

            visit BRef, and look at the past couple years at the Rangers, and two lowly 17th rounders being huge contributors, they never appeared on any lists, these lists are junk

          • Vivid_Reality

            You fail to get the point of my argument or answer my questions. Have fun living in your fantasy land.

          • Vivid_Reality

            And Kinsler and Moreland were both on top ten lists before they broke into the bigs.

          • Anthony

            u win, hahahahahaha, richard, rick, ricardo, rico, translate em all, missing one Nix

  • Vivid_Reality

    Cubs could have a pretty disgusting bullpen in a few years.

    CL – Tony Zych
    SU – Jeff Beliveau
    SU – Aaron Kurcz / Rafael Dolis
    MR – Aaron Kurcz / Rafael Dolis
    MR – Chris Carpenter
    MR – Russell – Really think he can be an effective LOOGY
    LR – Shark

    If Marmol has a nice first half, I’m confident Thoyer can trade him for a top 75 prospect or two. I’d love to get someone the Padres want and flip him for Robbie Erlin. Maybe a three team trade could work? Wood fits in for whoever doesn’t pan out. My money is on Carpenter at this point. Really wish Hendry would have traded him when he still had good value.

    How would everyone feel about this trade?

    Det receives Garza, Barney, Dolis / Carp, Lake and 9mm

    Chi receives Turner, Castellanos, Smyly, Alex Burgos, and Tyler Collins

    I think that its still stacked in out favor in terms of top end prospects but it makes Det a serious WS threat.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      love your idea but trades like this very rarely happen.detroit aint giving you all their top prospects.

      • Vivid_Reality

        Well yea, never in a million years would I expect that to happen but a man can dream.

    • KevininSandiego

      Love the idea but agree with wubbie these types of trades dont normally happen. I also think it that the Jays will be close this year and go after Garza.

      I would expect a return like this:

      Syndergaard, Nicolino and AJ Jimenez for Garza.

      • Vivid_Reality

        I would rather have Deck McGuire than Syndergaard. Probably less upside but will help the Major League team within a year and a half.

        • KevininSandiego

          I as much like McGuire I would rather a Guy that has a ceiling of a pure #1 then one that most scout project to be a #3. Most people believe that Syndergaard and Nicolino can be ready within the next 2 to 2.5 years which coincides with when the Cubs other prospects should be ready.

        • KevininSandiego

          I as much like McGuire I would rather a Guy that has a ceiling of a pure #1 then one that most scout project to be a #3. Most people believe that Syndergaard and Nicolino can be ready within the next 2 to 2.5 years which coincides with when the Cubs other prospects should be ready.

  • cubtex

    I heard the interview with Dave Sappelt on mlb radio this afternoon and he is a very confident young man. He shared that the Cubs had told him that the outfield situation is “Wide Open”…….Unless Byrd or Soriano are dealt…I don’t see where that is the case. I like this kids attitude and hope he does well.

    • Anthony

      Sappelt is a good player.

      OK in my outfield, profiles more CF body type, speed, defense, bat

    • Ripsnorter1

      Sappelt was speaking about the exit door: it’s wide open. 

  • RT

    QUESTION: Where is NA, the Korean kid who played in Boise two years ago and Peoria last season? “3/4 of earth is covered with water; NA covers the other 1/4”