Baseball Prospectus Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2014

Baseball Prospectus released its list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs organization. Jason Parks has not made it a secret how much he likes the Cubs’ system. Baseball Prospectus thinks the Cubs have the second best system in baseball behind only the Minnesota Twins.

Javier Baez topped Baseball Prospectus’ ranking of the Cubs system. And Jason Parks handed Baez an ’8′ for power potential. Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and C.J. Edwards rounded out the top five.

The Cubs system has improved by leaps and bounds in just over two years. Not only has the front office added potential impact talent to the system, many consider the Cubs to have one of the deepest organizations in the game. The hard work has just begun as the organization must develop the players in order for them to reach, and in some cases pass, their projections.

Jason Parks concluded his look at the Cubs’ system with a parting thought: “Through the amateur draft, trades and international market, the Cubs have built one of the strongest systems in baseball, with high-impact talent that everybody knows and better depth than people might realize. The farm will rank No. 2 in the minors, just behind the Twins and just ahead of the Pirates.”

Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2014

2013 Ranking in Parenthesis, NR – not ranked, NA – not available
  1. Javier Baez – SS (2)
  2. Kris Bryant – 3B (NA)
  3. Albert Almora – CF (1)
  4. Jorge Soler – RF (3)
  5. C.J. Edwards – RHP (NA)
  6. Arismendy Alcantara – IF (NR)
  7. Pierce Johnson – RHP (7)
  8. Dan Vogelbach – 1B (5)
  9. Christian Villanueva – 3B (9)
  10. Jeimer Candelario – 3B (NR)
Prospects on the Rise
  • Paul Blackburn – RHP (NR)
  • Mark Malave – C (NR)
  • Rob Zastryzny – LHP (NA)
Factors on the Farm

The Cubs have three players in the system Baseball Prospectus thinks could contribute at the big league level in 2013.

The Cubs are hoping Mike Olt (3B) is ready to compete for the third base job in the spring. Baseball Prospectus thinks Olt should rebound from last season but he has work to do with higher level pitching. Jason McLeod said last weekend the Cubs will know during his first live batting practice session of the spring if he is back to the old Mike Olt. Parks pointed out Olt needs to get off to a fast start in the spring.

Arodys Vizcaino (RHP) is not 100 percent healthy yet but is expected to be ready in the spring. The Cubs have mentioned a bullpen job is in Vizcaino’s immediate future and Parks thinks Vizcaino’s “plus-plus fastball and hard curve should allow him to excel in a late-innings role.”

The player to be named later in the Matt Garza trade might make his way to the majors this season. Neil Ramirez (RHP) could end up in a rotation or in a bullpen. Ramirez is a hard thrower (upper 90s) with “multiple breaking ball looks and a surprisingly decent changeup with sharp action.”

Top Talents in the Cubs’ System – 25 and Under

(Born 04/01/88 or later)

  1. Javier Baez
  2. Starlin Castro
  3. Kris Bryant
  4. Anthony Rizzo
  5. Albert Almora
  6. Jorge Soler
  7. C.J. Edwards
  8. Arismendy Alcantara
  9. Pierce Johnson
  10. Junior Lake

With a majority of BP’s breakdown by subscription only, here are a few of the highlights of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system. BP uses the 2-8 scale to grade players tools, the same as the 20-80 scouting scale.

1. Javier Baez, SS
  • Age/DOB – 21/ Dec. 1, 1992
  • The Tools – 8 power potential; 6+ potential hits; 7 arm; 6 potential glove
  • Strengths – Elite bat speed, elite hands, plus hand-eye coordination, can make hard contact to all fields, natural ability to barrel the ball, raw power is elite, arm is plus-plus, superstar profile
  • Weaknesses – Baez can get impatient at the plate and attempt to hit bad balls out of the park. Baez will expand and chase. Baez has slick actions in the field, can get overly passive and let the balls play him. Baez makes ill-advised throws.
  • Overall Future Potential – High 7, perennial all-star player
  • Realistic Role – High 6, first-division all star
  • ETA – 2014
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
  • Age/DOB – 22/ Jan. 4, 1992
  • The Tools – 7+ power potential, 5+ potential hit, 6+ arm, 5 glove
  • Strengths – Excellent size and strength, good athlete, elite raw power, highly leveraged swing built for over-the-fence production, plus arm, glove should play to average
  • Weaknesses – Hit tool could limit full utility of power tool, can get tied up inside by quality stuff, more swing and miss could come against better arms
  • Overall Future Potential – 7, all-star player
  • Realistic Role – 6, first-division player
  • ETA – Late 2014
3. Albert Almora, CF
  • Age/DOB – 19/ April, 16, 1994
  • The Tools – 6+ potential hit, 6 potential power, 5+ arm, 6+ potential glove
  • Strengths – High-level baseball skills and instincts, natural bat-to-ball ability, can make contact to all fields, hit tool projects to be plus or better, shows advanced approach, above average raw power, glove in center is easy plus, quick reactions, proper reads help range
  • Weaknesses – Concerns about durability, game power is several grades from projection
  • Overall Future Potential – High 6, first-division all star
  • Realistic Role – High 5, above-average player
  • ETA – 2015
4. Jorge Soler, RF
  • Age/DOB – 21/ Feb. 25, 1992
  • The Tools – 7 power potential, 5+ potential hit, 7 arm, 5 glove
  • Strengths – Elite raw power, extreme strength, game power could play to plus-plus, could play above average, arm well above average, glove plays
  • Weaknesses – Struggles with adjustments at the plate, questionable pitch recognition, focus has been a question
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, first-division player
  • Realistic Role – 5, Major League regular
  • ETA – 2015
5. C.J. Edwards, RHP
  • Age/DOB – 22/ Aug. 3, 1991
  • The Tools – 7 potential fastball, 6 potential change-up, 6 potential curveball
  • Strengths – Loose, easy delivery, near elite release, ball explodes out of his hand, fastball very comfortable in the 92-95 mph range, change-up projects as plus offering, curveball currently misses bats, good makeup
  • Weaknesses – Long and slender frame, very narrow at the waist, body does not project to hold much strength or additional mass, fringe fastball command
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, no. 3 starter
  • Realistic Role – 5, late-innings reliever
  • ETA – 2015
6. Arismendy Alcantara, IF
  • Age/DOB – 22/ Oct. 29, 1991
  • The Tools – 6+ run, 6 arm, 5+ potential glove, 5+ potential hit, 5+ potential power
  • Strengths – Plus athlete with good present strength, excellent hands, creates plus bat speed and above-average power, makes hard contact, multi-dimensional offensive threat, above-average glove at second, five-tool talent
  • Weaknesses – Swing from the right side lacks same punch, some swing and miss, hit tool might only play as average
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, first-division player
  • Realistic Role – 5, Major League regular
  • ETA – 2014
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  • Age/DOB – 22/ May 10, 1991
  • The Tools – 6 fastball, 6 potential curveball, 5+ potential change-up
  • Strengths – Prototypical starter’s body, long, lean and athletic, very good arm strength, fastball is plus, low-90s velocity that routinely pops mid-90s on the gun, breaking ball is easy plus, low-80s hammer curve with serious snap, average change-up with projection
  • Weaknesses – Below-average command at present, can lose zip on fastball, change-up is clear third offering
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, no. 3 starter
  • Realistic Role – 5, no. 4 starter
  • ETA – 2015
8. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  • Age/DOB – 21/ Dec. 17, 1992
  • The Tools – 7 power potential, 6+ potential hit
  • Strengths – Big boy strength, big boy raw power, doesn’t sell out swing for game power, generates impressive bat speed with quick, strong stroke that is short to the ball, makes pitchers work and doesn’t give away outs
  • Weaknesses – Bat-only profile, doesn’t project for much defensively, even at first base
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, first-division player
  • Realistic Role – 5, Major League regular
  • ETA – 2015
9. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  • Age/DOB – 22/ June 19, 1991
  • The Tools – 7 glove, 6 arm, 5+ potential hit, 5+ potential power
  • Strengths – Broad-shouldered with good present strength, hands are exceptional in the field, can make every play in, side or back, shows bat speed and some power potential
  • Weaknesses – Can get pull happy, can struggle against quality off-speed pitches, bat profiles as average
  • Overall Future Potential – High 5, above-average player
  • Realistic Role – 5, Major League regular
  • ETA – 2014
10. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  • Age/DOB- 20/ Nov. 24, 1993
  • The Tools – 6 potential power, 5+ potential hit, 6 arm, 5 potential arm
  • Strengths – Good present strength, fluid swing from both sides of the plate, shows excellent bat speed and quick path to the ball, very mature approach
  • Weaknesses – Body could escape him, below-average run, range will be suspect at third, glove is below average at present
  • Overall Future Potential – 6, first-division player
  • Realistic Role – 5, Major League regular
  • ETA – 2016
Cubs 2014 Prospect Rankings

The CCO will release our list of the top prospects in the Cubs system during Spring Training.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • gary3411

    Anyone else find it odd that they say C.J. Edwards’ realistic role is a late-innings reliever? Just don’t see how this guy ends up anything worse than a very good 3 or even 2 after literally absolutely dominating anything he has faced in his pro career.

    Especially when Johnson’s realistic role is a No. 4 starter and he’s ranked 2 spots behind?

    • Brp921

      I would think it might be a durability issue due to his weight.

    • Tony_Hall

      Not at all. Realistic is just that, and not many SP in the minors are above reliever in this category. Even most position players are not much above major league regular, as even the Cubs have only 3 position players above major league regular.

    • Tony_Hall

      It is also the difference between floor and ceiling.

      Johnson’s floor is much higher than Edwards, but Edwards ceiling is higher than Johnson, but less likely to meet that ceiling.

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

        I was wondering the same things. Sounds like these ratings are very much tempered for enthusiasm.

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  • CubbyDenCritic

    No way we see Bryant this year…..the guy has to get a year of bats in the minors……don’t want another BJax scenario of rushing your main prospect up too soon.

  • mutantbeast

    I still say the NL will adopt the DH. Therefore, keep Vogelbomb. 19HR in 283ab, even at A ball, is impressive power.

  • mutantbeast

    Amongst the position players, I can see Baez, Bryant and Almora as at least average bigleague regulars. The wild card amongst the position players is Soler. If he becomes anything like Yasiel Puig, the team takes a huge leap forward. Amongst the pitchers, Pierce Johnson is the key, since hes the most likley candidate right now with potential to be an upper tier starter. I still find Edwards relatively small frame a concern. There arent too many sucessfull big league starters who are stringbeans.

  • Dorasaga

    I have no idea why Javier is always rated by outsiders as having better skills than K.Bryant. The two prospects are born the same year, and promoted to the same level in the same year. I also observed, via news reports, that Kris has always been a more mature player than Baez. Like Ron Santo said, whether one makes it or not, it all comes down to his mental.