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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Tony_Hall

    Let’s take a look at the NA’s and NR’s in the Top 31.

    16 of the 31….sounds like the system is getting better.

    Albert Almora, OF (NA, 60, Medium)
    Jorge Soler, OF (NA, 65, High)
    Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (NA, 60, High)
    Pierce Johnson, RHP (NA, 50, High)
    Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP (NA, 45, Low)
    Arismendy Alcantara, SS (NR, 50, High)
    Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP (NA, 55, Extreme)
    Christian Villanueva, 3B (NA, 50, High)
    Alberto Cabrera, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
    Paul Blackburn, RHP (NA, 50, High)
    Duane Underwood, RHP (NA, 50, High)
    Gioskar Amaya, 2B (NR, 50, High)
    Barret Loux, RHP (NA, 45, Medium)
    Matt Loosen, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
    Lendy Castillo, RHP (NR, 45, Medium)
    Trey Martin, OF (NR, 50, High)

    • DWalker

      Thats my big gripe with where they ranked the system. only moved up 1 place, but the system has greatly improved. Either they over ranked it last year, or they are under ranking it this year, or both. I am also a little surprised Almora only rates a 60 and maples a 50 on their list, I guess maybe in some cases risk is also included in potential?

      • mutantbeast

        Maples I can understand, his mechanics really need some work. Almora, OTOH, appears to be seriously underrated.

        • Ripsnorter1

          You are speaking about A level players in which not one of them has as many as 200 ABs in the minors.

          Cubbie Kool-Aid can be a powerful intoxicant.

      • daverj

        It’s an interesting result that the Cubs only moved up 1 place even though the system is much stronger than last year.

        Where would you put the Cubs in a ranking of minor league systems?

        Here are my thoughts … with the caveat that I’m ranking based on the top 10ish prospects per system as I don’t know the depth in each system.

        I think the Top 3 in order are the Cards, Mariners and Rangers.

        I think the next 3 would be the Padres, Rays (after picking up Myers and Odorizzi) and Twins.

        After that, I think arguments could be made for each of the Pirates, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Mets, and Marlins as that group is pretty close.

  • Ripsnorter1

    To continue our discussion….

    Who led MLB in SB in 2012?

    Mike Trout.

    How many SB led MLB in 2012?

    49

    How many ABs did it take him to steal that many bases?

    559

    What was his success rate?
    49 SB, 5 CS

    Tony Campana had 30 SB, 3 CS in 174 AB. That’s approximately the same SB% as Trout, but Campana ran much, much more often.

    That is ELITE SPEED.

    • Tony_Hall

      Apples and Oranges….how many times did Trout pinch run….I will bet zero.

      Campana pinch ran his way to more stolen bases.

      No one is saying that Campana is not a base stealing threat, and that when he gets on base, he isn’t a game changer.

      What people are saying is he can’t steal 1B.

      I posted this on the other thread but here it is again.

      —–
      I would love to see him all of sudden have enough pop in his bat to make the outfielders play only in and not shallow, the infielders not play in, to cheat on a grounder and defend the bunts.

      If he could do that, then his avg and OBP would go up, as he would get more infield hits on grounders to the holes as he would just beat them out, the corners may not be able to play in to stop the bunt, so he could bunt for more hits. He would be able to hit singles between the infield and outfield as there would be more space. If he could actually drive the ball to the gaps and hit the ball to the wall, he could get inside the park HR’s on what would be routine doubles.

      None of this will happen unless he has gotten stronger to have more power to drive the ball better. And it won’t matter what team he is on, if he can’t drive the ball. He will be a one trick pony, who is best suited to pinch run.

      ——

      If he can improve his OBP to a respectable level and sustain that level, he could be very good….but how is his IF any less big than the prospects so many people call IF’s.

      • paulcatanese

        The difference is, I would pay money to see
        Campana play, I would not pay to see Zambrano, Aram, and a few others that were with the Cubs.
        And one never knows, they may slip a metal bat in Campana’s bag, after all big time Sammy used a corked bat, and probably a few enhancements, don’t know whether I would pay to see him either.
        It’s all in ones personal priorities. Entertainment on a clean scale.

        • Tony_Hall

          I would pay money to see Castro play…but not Campana.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Just FYI….

        Campana had just 7 SB as a pinch runner last year.

        • Tony_Hall

          You actually looked that up….

      • Cubs4ever

        The issue isn’t if he can drive the ball. That is not his game! He does need to improve his OBP. He just needs to get on 1st base. Lets compare Campana’s 2010 season to 2 other speed guys. Campana in 2010 had 550 PA’s and had 27 xtra base hits. Bourne in that same year had 605 PA’s with 33 xtra base hits. Billy Hamilton had 605 PA’s this year with 38 xtra base hits. It is about getting on 1st base not getting stronger and driving the ball. His legs are his weapon.

        • Tony_Hall

          Didn’t mean drive the ball out of the park, but drive the ball through infield would be nice. Defenses respect his speed, but not his bat. So they cheat.

          Example – Guys like Rod Carew and Pete Rose would drop in singles in holes all the time. Defenses would then “cheat in” to try and stop those hits and those guys would then hit it over their head on a line drive to show the defenses that they can’t cheat-in. Campana doesn’t have the ability to drive the ball over the outfielders head when they play-in.

    • mutantbeast

      What is Mike Trouts OBP? Trout was an MVP candidate. Campana is closer to being DFAd than being MVP.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I did not intend to compare Mr. Trout’s other capabilities to Mr. Campana’s other talents. I merely intended to show the reader that Campana is actually better than the very best base stealer in all of MLB. I would think that would be, from the stats I posted, undeniable.

        There is no question that Mike Trout is a far superior MLB player.

        • Cubstein

          Campana’s stats were a smaller sample than Trout’s. But even if you say he’s a better base stealer, which its undeniable he’s a good bases stealer, that’s about all he brings to the table. Need a little more than just the one dimension, especially when that one dimension is base stealing.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I agree…he’s one dimensional. But what the whole point of the discussion is that Campana at least offers one ELITE dimension, and Sappelt offers none. And if we have to DFA somebody, it should be some zero dimensional player rather than a one dimensional player like Campana.

          • Cubstein

            Sappelt offers at least respectable OBP and SLUG for a backup whereas Campana does not. Those are more important skills in baseball than base stealing. Whether or not Trout steals all those bases last year he’s still considered one of the elite players. But if he only stole the bases, he’s not considered anything other than maybe a utility player.

  • Tom U

    A very Happy 82nd Birthday to Mr. Cub Ernie Banks!

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    The kid (Tony Campana) is pure entertainment though. I don’t know if a team can afford to keep him on the 40 man if he doesn’t improve his OBP, but wow, is he exciting to watch. He steals bases when they KNOW he’s going.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Tony Campana OBP = .308
      Darwin Barney OBP = .299
      ian Stewart OBP = .292
      Geo Soto OBP = .284
      Steve Clevinger = .260
      Josh Vitters = .192

      If we can afford Barney, then …..
      Stewart may be your starting 3B in 2013..again…just like he was in 2012.

      • gary3411

        If campana can play gold glove second base, sign the guy for 8 years!!

      • Tony_Hall

        Not sure Barney will be around long, if he doesn’t improve that number this year. And Campana is, at best, an average defensive player.

        We all know that Stewart won’t be around long if that number doesn’t improve.

        Soto is gone.

        Clevenger is going back to Iowa on the same bus as Vitters.

        • GaryLeeT

          Speaking of Stewart possibly being gone. I am not sure what the Padres intentions are, but Headly wasn’t extended, and this was his last arb eligible year. I wonder what would it take to pry him away.

          • Tony_Hall

            I wanted Headley last year over Stewart. I would love to see Headley at 3B. Think what Petco does to hitters and imagine summer at Wrigley…

          • daverj

            I could be wrong but I thought Headley had 1 more arb year in 2014. Still, he might be available, but the cost in prospects would likely be pretty high.

          • Tony_Hall

            Headley is not a FA until after the 2014 season.

  • calicub

    I’ve heard Baez’s defense has been improving but never realized he was the best defensive INF’r. People in fact have griped about it and only until recently have scouts been saying his defense is developing enough to warrant remaining at SS. It’ll be interested to see where TomU stands on all this when the real list comes out on CCO.

    Also, any reason Reggie golden doesn’t have scouting rankings?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      BA provided one additional prospect for each team in a booklet that came with the handbook. Those prospects did not have the BA grade or risk factor.

    • Tom U

      Sorry for the delay calicub, but I just got in from work.

      To put things into perspective, the Chicago Cubs minor league system employed nearly 300 players last season. That a lot for one person to cover, let alone a national scout who has to do the same for 30 teams.

      So on a national level, the scouting service will usually concentrate on the players considered “high level” prospects when making their rankings. Its just a way of managing the piles of information that they have to sift through.

  • Cubs1967

    So Marshall was traded for a non top 30 prospect, a OF rumored to be released, & Wood?
    Wow!

    • Tony_Hall

      The rumors are on blogs, not the FO. Let me show you another way to look at it.

      1 year of Marshall traded for

      Wood and his 26 Starts last year or more than Marshall was ever able to do as a starter and his 4 more years of controll as either a SP or lefty bullpen arm.

      Sappelt – An OF on our 40 man roster and has 2 years of options left, and 5+ years of control.

      And a 2B prospect, who with the improved depth of our system, wasn’t able to hang on to the Top 30 spots but is likely our 3rd best 2B prospect behind Watkins and Amaya.

      All that for 1 years of LH set-up guy, who was replaced internally with James Russell.

      WOW!!!! I have a hard time believing they got so much in return, now that I look at again.

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