Three Cubs Prospects Ranked Among the Top 50 in Baseball and Other News, Notes and Rumors

Three of the top players in the Cubs’ system were ranked among the top 50 prospects in the game by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. Javier Baez made quite a leap in one year and made it into the top 20. The top prospect in the Cubs’ system checked in at number 16 while Albert Almora (39) and Jorge Soler (42) also made the top 50. Like last year, the Cubs had only three prospects listed in the top 100 in the game.

The Cubs have not officially announced the signing of Scott Hairston. According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs are working to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Jon Heyman provided a little clarity on the contract Hairston agreed to last week. The two-year deal is worth a guaranteed $5 million and includes $1 million in incentives that could push the total contract to $6 million.

… And could Carlos Marmol be traded before Opening Day?

Tuesday was a relatively quiet day for the Cubs as the team prepares for the start of Spring Training … it is too bad that the same cannot be said about the rest of the game. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park on February 10 with the first workout now scheduled for February 12. Position players report on February 16 with the first full squad workout on February 17 … 11 days until pitchers and catchers and 24 days until the Cubs kick off their Cactus League schedule.

Cubs Prospects

Jonathan Mayo unveiled his list of the top 100 prospects in the game on Tuesday night. For the second straight year, the Cubs placed three players in the top 100 but this year all three made it into the top 50.

Javier Baez cracked the top 20 and was ranked as the 16th best prospect in the game … and Baez is one of four position player prospects that received a future projection of 7 (2-8 or 20-80 scouting scale).

Albert Almora, the Cubs first round pick in last June’s Draft, came in at number 39 while Jorge Soler was ranked as the 42nd best prospect in the game.

SolerAlmoraBaezJavier Baez will likely begin the year with the Daytona Cubs and do not be surprised if he receives a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Albert Almora and Jorge Soler appear to be on track to start the season with the Kane County Cougars. Soler is on the 40-man roster and should be in big league camp.

Jonathan Mayo’s Top 100 Prospects List

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago … here are the highlights:

  • Levine thought Starlin Castro looked a little taller when he saw him at the Cubs Convention and when asked if Castro would stop playing the game hard now that he has been paid, Levine responded with, “This guy wants to be the next Derek Jeter.”
  • The Cubs missed out on Justin Upton because they did not have enough tradeable young talent.
  • Levine guessed that Dave Sappelt would be designated for assignment, and not Tony Campana, in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Scott Hairston.
  • Scott Hairston may end up as the Cubs’ backup first baseman when the season starts. Levine pointed out that the Cubs really do not have anyone in the system that could fill in at first base if Anthony Rizzo were to miss an extended period of time.
  • Levine knows “the Cubs would ideally like to deal” Alfonso Soriano. Levine sees a platoon in right field of Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz. At this point a team would have to lose one of their run producers before the Cubs would be able to deal Soriano.
  • Carlos Marmol should be gone before Opening Day according to Levine and he feels a team will step up and give the Cubs what they are asking in return for Marmol. Levine indicated later in the chat that the Cubs are likely to be asking for pitching or a third base prospect in return for Marmol.
  • As for Matt Garza, Levine thinks Garza would have to pitch into May or June in order for the Cubs to max-out their return for him. There is still a possibility the Cubs will sign him to a long-term extension.

News and Notes

With Spring Training approaching, don’t forget to follow @BoysOfSpring on Twitter and check Tim Sheridan’s site for updates from Mesa.

Rick Porcello remains an intriguing trade target according to Ken Rosenthal.

Brent Lillibridge signed a minor league contract with the Cubs this off-season that included a non-roster invite to big league camp. Lillibridge has a legitimate shot at making the team due to his versatility and the fact he hits from the right side. Lillibridge tweeted Tuesday that he is itching to get on a field and itching to show the Cubs what he can do.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"You can be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball." - Cal Ripken Jr.
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  • daverj

    Neil,

    Is that a real baseball card with the Cubs current prospects? … very cool!

  • Vivid_Reality

    Might just be my bias but Vogelbach got robbed on that top 100 list. His power potential and hitting success in the minors thus far makes him a 75-100 prospect, easily.

    • mutantbeast

      Agreed. Ive seen Vogelboom in Az, and his power is everything its reputed to be. Kid had 10hr in 35 g in Boise last year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 30 at Kane Co if he gets 500ab. Maybe the raters are looking at his defense or his body type.

  • Tom U

    Scott Hairston has no first base experience in either the majors or the minors

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hairssc01.shtml

    • Tony_Hall

      Bruce Levine at our service. If you look at the current roster, Schierholtz, DeJesus would be my choices if we are going to make up names to back-up 1B on the roster.

      Of course I remember someone mentioning Soriano a few years ago, and Paul said a line that still makes me laugh, he said we would never get an out at 1B, as he would hop to catch the ball and not have his foot on the base…

      But seriously, if Rizzo went down, we would have Brad Nelson and Justin Bour as fill in options, that I would have to believe we would use before Hairston.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

        You forgot about Rohan who would probably be plan B if something happened to Rizzo.

      • http://www.facebook.com/tom.barker.16547 Tom Barker

        Even though I hate him, Stewart played a ton of 1B in Colorado, he is even good defensively.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I was talking to Mike QQuade and he said Soriano can play 1B for the Cubs. After all, he put DJ LeMahieu over there for his ML debut after DJ hadn’t played there since Little League…..LOL. But I would have no reservations about putting Soriano at 1B in an emergency. Soriano came into the minors as a SS, and MLB as a 2B. He can get by well enough to survive a few games.

    At least Levine agrees with me that Campana should be kept and someone else DFA’d. Sappelt could be DFA’d and retained by the Cubs. And if we lost him, I do not think it a great loss as he cannot hit RHP, is not a SB threat, and has but little power. The most HRs he has hit in a MiL season was just 10. He’s like Schierholtz in that area: not enough pop. Do you realize that Sappelt slugged a mere .376 in Iowa last year in 550 AB?Don’t forget, folks, that’s the PCL, where the offensive stats are inflated. I am sorry folks, but that isn’t going to cut it at the ML level. DFA him. He won’t be going anywhere.

    Lillibridge can play 1B. I figure he makes the team due to his versatility.

    • triple

      You’ve just sold me on the DFA Sappelt instead of Campana case! I originally figured it would be Castillo and Campana, but you make plenty of sense. However, isn’t Sappelt a guy that Theo & Jed brought into the organization, as opposed to Campana?

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yes, Team Theo traded for Sappelt, and Campana is a JHendry leftover. It could spell doom…..

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          C’mon Rip…”doom.” Campana stays, Campana goes, it will make very little difference as he isn’t a difference maker. You say that like they might DFA Castro or Rizzo or Shark…

          • Ripsnorter1

            “Doom”–for Campana, not the Chicago Cubs, ie, if they have to choose between two players, they might ask themselves, “which is a JHendry holdover, and which one did we trade for? Campana is a JHendry holdover. Let’s DFA him and keep the player we traded for.” Doom for Campana.

            Sorry I didn’t make that more intelligible.

          • triple

            Honestly, I think the best thing that can happen for Campana’s career is to be DFA and get picked up by a team that’s really willing to give him some playing time. If he stays on the Cubs, his career definitely will go nowhere!

          • Tony_Hall

            Please tell me what team is going to give him regular playing time.

            262/306/300/605

            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.

          • triple

            I understand you and agree with you 100%. I don’t think he’s gonna get the opportunity with the Cubs. My initial thought in the talk about the need to DFA 2 guys was that Campana and Castillo will be gone. And I’m still really not off that either. I’m not at all trying to make a case for the Cubs to give him more playing time like others here. Don’t get me wrong, I like his speed, and he’s an exciting player because of that, but you don’t gotta tell me that he needs to get on base. That’s what Captain Obvious is for!

            But maybe Seattle, Houston, Miami, or Colorado decides to pick him up and give him playing time. Hell for all I know, maybe the Cubs DFA him and nobody picks him up and he gets stuck back in the minors with the Cubs. Or a solid team picks him up for a PR and late inning defensive replacement which is obviously where he will fit in best. And maybe that team actually teaches him how to get on base like the Cubs haven’t. So I don’t really get your initial response about wanting to know what team will pick him up. All I said was he’ll never amount to anything if he remains a Cub. So do you think he’s gonna turn the corner with the Cubs? Or do you think he’s gonna sit on the bench or stay in AAA in the Cubs organization or in another?

          • Tony_Hall

            By what team will give him a chance, I was implying what type of team. The Cubs are rebuilding and can’t justify it, the best teams can’t justify more than a pinch runner, so it would be an Astros type team, Seattle, Colorado, Florida like you mentioned. Maybe, but I dont’ think there are many fits for him for any substantial playing time.

            I would try to hold on to him, if possible, and send him to Iowa to keep working getting on base.

      • paulcatanese

        I have to say that I am confused here. Being a huge Campana fan, and that being said, I wonder what the plan is for Campana, he continues to hang on with the Cubs and yet he is not mentioned in their plans nor is he being used.
        Sappelt does put the ball in play and I thought the same as you with being brought in by present FO.
        Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that Campana is still around, but continues to be a mystery as to why, and how he would be used.

        • Ripsnorter1

          It’s simple, Paul. Team Theo doesn’t want him, but they don’t want anyone else to have him either.

          Simple. If they let him go, he might pull a Colvin and DJ LeMahieu on them. Both hit for Colorado, while Mr. Ian Stewart managed a tidy .206. Kinda embarrassing to the Wonder Boys.

          • John_CC

            Come on man! Why didn’t you chime in on the reports of how the system has gone from dismal to #10? I’m sure the “Wonder Boys” as you refer to them are really embarrassed about DJ and Colvin. Colvin would be the platoon splitter RF at best and DJ would be a utility IF. No harm no foul. Like you always say: fuggetaboutit!

          • Ripsnorter1

            #10 system? That’s just that guy’s opinion.

          • John_CC

            Yeah, just “some guy” who’s work is to evaluate every MLB team’s minor league system. So I’ll continue to put more stock in that guy’s opinion than yours.

          • Ripsnorter1

            That’s perfectly fine with me. You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

          • Ray Ray

            In 2007 Hardball Times ranked the Cubs as having the #4 farm system in all of baseball. They actually said they had some of the best pitching depth in the minors. So there you have it!

          • Ripsnorter1

            Nice post. Thank you for that.

          • Dorasaga

            I’m giving you a LIKE. That says it all for the “opinions.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            Since no really is answering your question I will. The guys that are coming up to hopefully help this year from AAA or AA maybe about 6 guys.

            I think that you will see Jackson, Vitters, Whitenack, Stuck, Vizcaino, and maybe Watkins with the big club this year. That is not including Lake, Lynch and Rohan.

            You never asked for superstars just guys that are ready. Guess what we have about 10 at least in AAA that may get a look.

            That is not counting any of the guys we invited in on minor league deals that may click and totally rework who we have on our bench. So actually we are not in bad shape in the upper minors just not any of our top 10 prospects are there yet.

          • paulcatanese

            John, not to get into any more than a discussion, but the only player that is of
            a quality ability, so far, and I stress so far,
            has been Rizzo, all of the rest still have to prove themselves. Don’t misunderstand, I think Rizzo is a gem.

          • Ripsnorter1

            And even Rizzo is borderline platoon player. He hit .208 vs. LHP last year. He may very well improve, but as of yet, he has not proved he can hit LHP.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Neither one of those guys is setting the world on fire. I doubt Theo and Jed have thought twice about that deal. The front office is smashing home runs left and right, having just turned a graveyard into a top 10 farm system in one year. In a few years Theo and Hoyer will be the guys that brought a world championship to the north side and LaMahieu, Colvin and Campana will be platoon and utility players somewhere else, in Campana’s case, most likely in AAA.

          • Ray Ray

            Who are these home runs they are hitting all over the place? So far they are prospects just like Colvin and LeMahieu were.

          • calicub

            Rizzo, proliferation of competent FO, systemm wide plan of attack, improved defensive shifts, actual coaching for players on the ML roster to improve the quality product on the field, like Barney and Fonzie, Recieved quality over quanity in return for other veteran contracts like Soto, Johnson, Dempster, Baker, etc. Not only avoided a cancer like ARAM but got rid of others like big Z. Avoided burdensome K’s (contracts) on the open market two years in a row, increased resistance to the demands of the community (yes ricketts is a huge part of this, but don’t think Theo isn’t in his ear explaining how park factor and playing at night is extremely beneficial, etc). The organization is light years beyond light years beyond where they were two years ago (yes i meant to add two light years). I doubt they would have been able to this without smacking all those home runs all over the place

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Well said…

          • Ripsnorter1

            Those home runs are in A ball or lower at this time.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Soler, Rizzo, Almora, Loux, Villanueva. Whether or not they all pan out remains to be seen but they are certainly better farm players than what we had. We actually have some young guys to look forward to. When Theo arrived that was absolutely not the case with the exception of Baez and Cashner…

          • Ray Ray

            Almora was a draft choice just like Corey Patterson. So far he is unproven. Soler was an expensive international sign who is also unproven. These were not over the top gm home run signings. Are you kidding me mentioning Loux? He has a medical issue in his arm and that is the reason he was not signed out of A&M and the Rangers gave him up so easily. The only trade that I thought went in the Cubs favor so far was Rizzo for Cashner…and I stress the words so far. Theo hasn’t set the world on fire. They lost 100 games and hasn’t added any long term assets who are sure things.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I forgot to mention Vizcaino. Although he’s another guy with arm issues but I like the deal they made for him.

            And Loux remains to be seen. If he can stay healthy he could be a great pick-up.

            I have said time and again I don’t judge them by the 100 loss season. There is a long term plan and it begins by stocking the farm system with talent. They are well on their way to doing that. They haven’t made any moves as of yet to impact wins and losses last year or this year. We had to get better on the farm and the front office has done that.

          • Ripsnorter1

            DJ LaMehieu hit .297, slugged .410 with an OBP of .332.

            Compare that with our 3B Luis Valbuena. Mr. Valbuena hit .219, slugged a pathetic .340 and his OBP was .310.

            I would prefer the bigger bat myself.

            As for Mr. Colvin, .290 BA, .531 slugging and .321 OBP. That .531 slugging was enough to put Colvin #12 in MLB in slugging, just ahead of #13, Prince Fielder.

            Mr. Colvin’s numbers exceeded those of Mr. David DeJesus, who slugged .403.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Colvin was 338 Avg at home, 244 away. 380 OBP at home, 274 away. 652 slugging at home, 413 away. I like the guy and he needed a change of scenery, but if he wasn’t playing half his games in thin air then I believe you get a product similar to what we had become used to in Chicago.

            DJ on the other hand was more consistent and honestly I do wish we had him, but where would he play? I wouldn’t put Darwin on the bench for him? Is he a 3rd baseman? I don’t think on a daily basis. He’s a utility guy. I won’t lose any sleep on a utility guy.

            Would I prefer to have those two than Stewart last year? Yes. However, if Stewart is 100% healthy what he can do remains to be seen. He hasn’t been 100% in years and last time he was, he was a year removed from batting close to 300 and hitting 20 home runs (albeit in Colorado). I’m not writing him off just yet.

            Everybody looks better in Colorado. Anytime you trade hitters to that team they are going to have career years.

          • Tony_Hall

            Colvin outside of Coors Field slugged 413….see how much higher his slugging is than DeJesus’s awful 403….you would never know one guy is a leadoff hitter with a 350 OBP and the other is a middle of the order bat….hitting in Coors Field.

          • Ripsnorter1

            But my point was……Team Theo doesn’t just release Tony Campana, even though they don’t want him on the ML club, so that they won’t be embarrassed by what he could do on another team.

            Campana has ELITE SPEED. ELITE!
            Frankly, he’s probably the best in all of MLB in this one category: STOLEN BASE SPEED.

            So it would be DUMB, DUMB! to release him.

            The Cards would pick him up in a heartbeat, and they’d have a guy stealing 100 bases for them.

          • Tony_Hall

            It is not dumb to release a player who can’t get on base, has no power and is not a defensive upgrade over an average fielder.

            I would love to see Campana find a way to get on base more, but he is not gonna do it. He is better suited for a team who can afford to use a roster spot for a player who can pinch run every game at some point and then play D if they have a below average fielder to replace. Keep in mind, we are talking about the 40 man roster right now, not the 25 man. He is on the bubble for the 40 man.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I agree with everything you say, except I don’t hold out any hope for Stewart even making the team in 2012–and that knowing that we don’t have any other 3B but him!

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I do agree with you on that Rip. And I appreciate your stats and opinions I don’t always see eye to eye but you are diplomatic and pragmatic. Seem like a pretty classy guy.

          • Ripsnorter1

            And I love talkin’ baseball with you! You’re a classy guy yourself!

          • GaryLeeT

            Good Lord, you guys need to just get a room already.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Lol! A little positivity or complement isn’t so bad Gary. I wanted Rip to know that while I chime in an disagree with him regularly I appreciate his attitude.

          • http://www.facebook.com/tom.barker.16547 Tom Barker

            Everyone hits better in Col, except Ian Stewart. DJ is a young Matk DeRosa. Simply put, they did not do their homework.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            In 2009 Stewart his 25 HR and .464 slugging, not a bad season. I had thought the exact comparison of DJ. He will be missed. Did that deal turn out to be poor. Yes, it’s one they would probably take back. But it’s not one that anybody is losing sleep over…

          • John_CC

            Way to cherry pick your stats and ignore the obvious home away split. Look, I liked col in :-) and wanted him to play more when he was a cub. But the fact is he was not and would not be making a big difference in the future. Who cares? Its such a stale argument.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

    1B is the easiest position to play defensively.

    • GaryLeeT

      Hmmmm. The fact that all the grounded infield outs have to go through 1st base, it would seem like that would not be true. Since there a more right handed batters than left in the League, and without looking up any stats, it would stand to reason that right field would see the least amount of action.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        1B, LF, RF, 2B, 3B, CF, SS, C.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    By the way–ya’ll–who led all of MLB in slugging in 2012?

    Giancarlo Stanton.

    Yup. He’s 23.

    I’d give Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Brooks Kieschnick, and Hak-Ju Lee for him. And I’d throw in Luis Valbuena and Ian Stewart.

    Shoot. I’d throw in Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, too.

    I really would.