Baseball America’s Top 31 Cubs Prospects for 2013

The CCO’s off-season look at the Cubs’ farm system continues with Baseball America’s ranking of the top 31 prospects in the organization. Baseball America’s 2013 Prospect Handbook arrived on Wednesday with the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar on the cover.

Baseball American ranked the Cubs’ system 13th in baseball, up one spot from last year. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod spent their first year with the Cubs focused on the future and added building blocks in Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Arodys Vizcaino. The Cubs system showed improvement last season, aided by Tim Wilken’s draft from the year before.

Baseball America’s top 10 list of the prospects in the Cubs’ system was released earlier this month. Javier Baez topped the list with Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Arodys Vizcaino and Brett Jackson rounding out the top five. The Prospect Handbook goes a lot deeper than the online version and provides grades for each prospect.

The handbook also includes top 50 prospects lists from each of the editors. Jim Callis listed Javier Baez (11), Albert Almora (36) and Jorge Soler (39) among his top 50 in the game. Javier Baez (16) and Jorge Soler (32) cracked J.J. Cooper’s top 50 while Will Lingo dropped Javier Baez (25) out of the top 20 and ranked Jorge Soler (32) and Albert Almora (49) in his top 50. John Manuel listed Javier Baez (21) and Albert Almora (48) in his ranking of the top 50 prospects.

Cubs Top 31 Prospects for 2013

2012 Baseball America Ranking (NA – not available, NR – not ranked), BA Grade and Risk Factor in Parenthesis – Click Here for an explanation of Baseball America’s grade scale and risk factor

  1. Javier Baez, SS (2, 65, High)
  2. Albert Almora, OF (NA, 60, Medium)
  3. Jorge Soler, OF (NA, 65, High)
  4. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (NA, 60, High)
  5. Brett Jackson, OF (1, 55, High)
  6. Pierce Johnson, RHP (NA, 50, High)
  7. Dan Vogelbach, 1B (10, 50, High)
  8. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (20, 50, High)
  9. Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP (NA, 45, Low)
  10. Arismendy Alcantara, SS (NR, 50, High)
  11. Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP (NA, 55, Extreme)
  12. Christian Villanueva, 3B (NA, 50, High)
  13. Alberto Cabrera, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
  14. Matt Szczur, OF (3, 50, High)
  15. Junior Lake, SS/3B (8, 50, High)
  16. Paul Blackburn, RHP (NA, 50, High)
  17. Duane Underwood, RHP (NA, 50, High)
  18. Dillon Maples, RHP (5, 50, High)
  19. Logan Watkins, 2B/SS/OF (23, 45, Medium)
  20. Marco Hernandez, SS (16, 50, High)
  21. Gioskar Amaya, 2B (NR, 50, High)
  22. Tony Zych, RHP (15, 45, Medium)
  23. Robert Whitenack, RHP (19, 50, High)
  24. Trey McNutt, RHP (4, 50, High)
  25. Josh Vitters, 3B (9, 45, Medium)
  26. Barret Loux, RHP (NA, 45, Medium)
  27. Matt Loosen, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
  28. Lendy Castillo, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
  29. Marcus Hatley, RHP (26, 45, Medium)
  30. Trey Martin, OF (NR, 50, High)
  31. Reggie Golden, OF (17)

Baseball America’s Grade Scale and Risk Factors

BA Grade Scale

  • 75-80: Franchise players and No. 1 starters
  • 65-70: No. 2 starters and perennial all-stars
  • 55-60: First-division regulars and No. 3 starters and elite closers
  • 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.
  • 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.

Risk Factors

  • Safe: Has shown realistic ceiling in big leagues.
  • 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.

Baseball America also provides scouting grades (20-80) for each team’s top prospect. Javier Baez grades out as 60 (batting), 65 (power), 50 (speed), 55 (defense) and 65 (arm).

27 players in the top 31 are homegrown and four were acquired in trades or in the Rule 5 Draft and 11 of the 31 have been added to the system since October of 2011.

Baseball America predicted that Paul Blackburn will be the Cubs’ breakout prospect for the upcoming season due to his solid stuff and advanced pitchability … and Jose Arias is the sleeper in the Cubs system according to BA. The right-handed pitcher already throws 91-94 and he is starting to figure out how to pitch.

Best Tools in the Cubs System

  • Albert Almora – Best Hitter for Average
  • Dan Vogelbach – Best Power Hitter
  • Logan Watkins – Best Strike Zone Discipline
  • Matt Szczur – Fastest Baserunner
  • Matt Szczur – Best Athlete
  • Arodys Vizcaino – Best Fastball
  • Arodys Vizcaino – Best Curveball
  • Alberto Cabrera – Best Slider
  • Brooks Raley – Best Changeup
  • Kyle Hendricks – Best Control
  • Chadd Krist – Best Defensive Catcher
  • Javier Baez – Best Defensive Infielder
  • Junior Lake – Best Infield Arm
  • Albert Almora – Best Defensive Outfielder
  • Jorge Soler – Best Outfield Arm

Cubs Prospect Rankings for 2013

Coming Soon: The CCO’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2013

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