MLB.com’s Top 21 Cubs Prospects for 2013

The week long look at the Cubs farm system continued Wednesday when Jonathan Mayo and MLB.com published their rankings of the top prospects in the National League Central.

As expected Javier Baez topped MLB.com’s Cubs list with Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Brett Jackson and Arodys Vizcaino rounding out the top five. Seven of the 21 prospects were not in the organization last year and seven pitchers made the list.

The Cubs have made improvements to their system and the work turned in by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod and Tim Wilken has been reflected in the positive press the organization has received off-season.

The Cubs have added potential impact players and power pitchers to the system but a majority of the players have not completed a full year of pro ball. The upcoming season will be a very important one down on the farm.

MLB.com’s Top 21 Cubs Prospects for 2013

  1. Javier Baez, SS
  2. Albert Almora, OF
  3. Jorge Soler, OF
  4. Brett Jackson, OF
  5. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
  6. Dillon Maples, RHP
  7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  8. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  9. Junior Lake, IF/OF
  10. Matt Szczur, OF
  11. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  12. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
  13. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  14. Josh Vitters, 3B
  15. Robert Whitenack, RHP
  16. Duane Underwood, RHP
  17. Paul Blackburn, RHP
  18. Gioskar Amaya, 2B
  19. Alberto Cabrera, RHP
  20. Trey Martin, OF
  21. Arismendy Alcantara, SS

MLB.com sees right-handed pitcher Matt Loosen as one of the players in the Cubs system that is “under the radar.” Jason McLeod likes what he has seen in the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander. Loosen spent all of 2012 with the D-Cubs after making two starts in Double-A in 2011. Loosen posted an 11-5 record in 23 starts with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Loosen stuck out 110 batters, walked 46 and gave up 83 hits in 112 2/3 innings.

MLB.com predicted that Javier Baez will be the Cubs’ minor league hitter of the year and Pierce Johnson could be the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year. Johnson has a big arm and a huge ceiling.

Cubs Prospect Rankings for 2013

The top three prospects in the Cubs system are widely considered among the top 50 in the game and while they have garnered most of the attention, it should be noted that the system as a whole took steps forward last year. The improved rankings from Baseball America (13), Keith Law (5) and Minor League Ball (10) reflect the talent that has been added over the past two years … now the trick for the Cubs is to turn projected talent into Major Leaguers.

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  • Vivid_Reality

    Vogelbach is at least top five for me. He has a major league quality bat regardless of his size.

    • Ripsnorter1

      But he’s not top five for Keith Law. Law used to scout for the St. Louis Cards. Here’s what he says…

      “I should mention Dan Vogelbach here, since I’m so often asked about him: He has 80-grade raw power and he has a pretty good idea at the plate, but he’s a brutal athlete with no position. So unless the Cubs follow the Astros to the American League, I don’t see how or where they use him, assuming that pitchers don’t take advantage of his lack of flexibility and limited coverage on the outer half.”

      My take: Vogelbach might learn to cover the outer half and become Prince Fielder, too. Too early to tell.

      • mutantbeast

        BTW, Law didn’t watch VBoom at Boise last year then. 4 of his 11 HRs were to the opposite field.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Law doesn’t deny his power. He denies his plate coverage and his ability to play the field.

  • Tom U

    He pitched a No-Hitter for the Cubs in 1972

    Happy Birthday Burt Hooton!

    • Ripsnorter1

      You know how to ruin a guy’s day!

      John Holland, Cubs GM… a name that will forever go down in infamy! He dealt away Lou Brock. And he dealt away Burt Hooton as well.

      Hooton was drafted by the Cubs out of Texas–#2 pick of the 1971 draft. He had 12 starts in AAA Tacoma, and came up to the bigs. I saw his first start. He fanned Lou Brock to open his career. The man had stuff.

      After four years with the Cubs, insanity inevitably took over–in the front office, of course. They dealt him to LA Dodgers for Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon. Who you ask? I’ll tell you in a minute. But Hooton immediately went 18-7 for the Dodgers that year.

      Solomon pitched 6 innings for us and was dealt to the Cards for Ken Crosby (16 games, 8.41 ERA before he was released and career was over). Another nice trade…..Solomon went on to go 36-42 with a 4.00 ERA. He never did us any good.

      Geoff Zahn…2-8 for us with ERA over 4.50 before being released by the Cubs. Twins picked him up and immediately made him a starter…for the next nine years (including Angels). Had some nice years: 18-8…13-7…ERAs of 3.12 and 3.73 and 3.03 and 3.57 and 3.33 and…….

      It was a real nice trade for the Dodgers.

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

        Great stuff Rip, as always I feel smarter after reading your post!

        I guess bad trades are just part of the “Cubbie Curse.” Which ones can we think of that turned out well it us? Sutcliffe? Sandberg? ARam, Lofton?

        • Ripsnorter1

          The Aram/Lofton trade was a great trade. But…

          Lofton? They should have kept this guy. I loved the guy. He hit .327 for us, slugged .471 and stole bases. So after a rental in which he helped us immensely, we dump him to save money and play Corey Patterson.
          Where’s my Anacin?

          If you’re talking John Holland, he made a few good trades. Fergie Jenkins from the Phillies for Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson. Buhl went 6-8 for the Phils (after winning 13 for the lowly Cubs the year before) and he was finished. Jackson was a good pitcher. He won 15 for the Phils that year with a 2.99 ERA. So we paid enough. We also got Aldofo Phillips–great potential unrealized–and John Hernstein–.176 hitter in 20 ABs and released.

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            Wasn’t there another player in the lofton trade? A 1B if I remember right. He was the guy that tripped the Milwaukie sausage with his bat during a race. lol
            And yes that was a great trade, turned us around that year. I screamed bloody murder when Lofton was traded. We have struggled ever since for a good leadoff guy.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are sooooooo correct!

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            I said that we traded Lofton, but you are right, we just let him go instead of paying him what he was worth. I’m still mad about it. I mean, we could have really used him over the years. He just continued to hit over 300 with some power and steal bases for years after he left us.

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

            But it was a Borne situation. Would you sign/extend a person in their 30’s that’s whole game is based on their legs?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Kenny Lofton
            2002—611 Plate Appearances, 539 AB…that’s full time.

            2001–576 PA….517 AB

            2000..640…543 AB

            1999–561 PA…465 PA

            1998….698 PA….600 AB

            He didn’t miss all that much time. Yes, he was 36. And he just hit .327 for us, and was really the only big bat we had going for us while everyone else was choking away…..

          • mutantbeast

            Never understood getting rid of Lofton, considering his numbers even warranted playing LF, at least his Avg/OBP did. And his defense was always fairly good, especially during his Cleveland days.

          • Rational Logic

            It’s pretty simple, we had a really good prospect, who was hitting .300 with 20-20+ potential before he was hurt in mid 2003.

            Hindsight always sucks. Given what we knew at the time, letting a more expensive, aging Lofton go and making room for Corey Patterson was the right move at the time. I can’t stand when people argue with hindsight – be realistic.

            You probably think the Cubs were idiots to take Mark Prior over Joe Mauer, too…

          • Ripsnorter1

            At the time I thought they were nuts, and it proved to be correct. Moises Alou was hurt all the time. Keep Lofton to be a 4th OF, and he’d play for 600 PA. A no-brainer…..

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            agree Rip, I also think that Patterson was still too questionable to get rid of a great leadoff man with the skills of Lofton.

          • gary3411

            Pretty sure Joe Mauer was taken before Mark Prior.

          • Rational Logic

            My mistake, you’re right – just meant in general that you can’t say a move was wrong or dumb ten years later, you have to judge it based on the knowledge known at the time. Had CP become an all-star gold glove CF with 30 HR’s a year, nobody would complain.

          • Tom U

            That was Randall Simon.

          • Ripsnorter1

            He was a hit machine. SImon did not come in the Aram trade, though We trade Ray Sadler for him.

          • mutantbeast

            I always heard Adolfo was supposed to be the next Willie Mays. Only in Chicago.

        • mutantbeast

          Matthews, Dernier, Bowa , Rich Bordi , Ruthven for Dejesus and spare parts.

        • daverj

          Dare I say his name … The George Bell for Sosa deal turned out pretty well for the Cubs.

          The Steve Trout and Dennis Eckersley deals were nice trades and keys to ’84.

      • RickinMSP

        The first Cubs game, I ever went to, I was 8 at the time, Geoff Zahn was the starting pitcher. I was excited to see him pitch because I knew they got him in the Burt Hooton deal so he had to be good. Not so much though, not yet anyway. As Rip said, Zach did have some very solid seasons, just not for the Cubs.
        I also saw Randy Hundley play in that game. Unfortunately it was for the Padres.

      • Tom U

        In a career path somewhat similar to former Cubs GM Dallas Green, with shades of Jim Hendry, John Holland was responsible for building the Cubs minor league system that produced some of its more popular and successful players to this day.

        Among the players brought in by Holland were Billy Williams, Ken Hubbs, Ron Santo, Glen Beckert, Paul Popovich, Fred Norman, Don Kessinger, Ken Holtzman, Joe Neikro, Bill Stoneman, Oscar Gamble, Billy North, Bill Bohnam, Rick Reuschel, Dennis Lamp, Ray Burris, Mike Krukow, Donnie Moore, Bruce Sutter, Burt Hooton, and Lee Smith.

        However, several pressures from ownership forced Holland into some disastrous moves we now know as “Cubbie Occurrances”. The success of the 1969 Cubs, coupled with the labor strife of 1972 and 1973 Andy Messersmith decision led to the Cubs dealing Holtzman, North, and Hooton among others.

        Holland was replaced by “Salty” Saltwell, who further dismantled the Cubs in his year at the helm while owner William Wrigley was gong through divorce proceedings.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Popovich came in with the Adolpho Phillips to Montreal trade. That man carried a glove.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Oscar Gamble!

          I need another dose of Anacin….

          Never got a decent chance with the Cubs. Called up at age 19 to the Cubs. He obviously had talent. Immediately dealt to the Phillies for….Johnny Callison. Callison had the one half decent year for us 19 HR, 68 RBI, .264 BA–and fell off a cliff. Oh my achin’ head!

          Gamble found himself at age 23 and he hit 20 HRs. He did have his career year in Chicago–for the White Sox. 31 taters and .297 BA.

          • Tom U

            Not to cause your head to hurt any more, but if it wasn’t for Saltwell, the Cubs could have had an late 70’s infield of Bill Madlock, Ivan DeJesus, Manny Trillo, and Andre Thornton from third to first.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Ohhhh. Dumping a Hall of Famer like Bill Madlock for…..hand me the Motrin….a washed up Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveras was total insanity. Ohh my achin’ head!

          • mutantbeast

            don’t get me started on trading either Madlock or Thornton, neither which made any sense.

          • mutantbeast

            Oscar was a DH. Didn’t have the durability to play the field and hit at the same time. admittedly, he had some good offensive years(especially with the Yankees), but w/o the DH, Oscar never would have lasted.

  • Tom U

    Caribbean World Series Update

    It will be Mexico who faces the Dominican Republic today in the Caribbean World Series finals, as the Yaquis destroyed Puerto Rico last night 10-0. Former-Cub Marlon Byrd was 2-4 with 2 doubles and 3 RBI, while first baseman Barbaro Canizares slugged a two-run home run.

    http://tinyurl.com/bkc3tvy

  • Tom U

    Here is a link to an article on outfielder Matt Szczur

    http://po.st/KyqyDd

  • mutantbeast

    Saw Kieth Laws assessment on Vogelboom. Says he has no position and isn’t talented enough to find one. Ive seen Vogelboom, yes hes limited to 1st base defensively, so that means the Cubs need to push for the NL to adopt the DH. Kid will become a real fan fave when he gets to Wrigley watching him launch 30-40 bombs per year, and from what Ive seen this kid can do it. Understands the strike zone also, actually homered as many times as he struck out at Boise last year.

    • gary3411

      I hope they trade him to AL for pitching, no DH coming to National League any time real soon and banking on it happening in 4-5 years is not smart. Get rid of him as soon as some AL team starts drooling, or even an NL team with no 1B.

      He may also be used to trade for King Felix or Price next offseason, or another chip if we are looking like contenders in the middle of 2014 or 2015 seasons.

      I hope he has a HUGE year this year.

      • Tony_Hall

        I think your a day late and many millions short on King Felix…

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I watched him play a few games last year and he can really hit a ball! Reminded me of some of the Dave Kingman homers. I agree about the defense too, He handled first ok, I don’t think he should be rated as having no position.