Minor League Ball’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2014

John Sickels released his list of the top prospects in the Cubs’ organization on Wednesday. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant topped Sickels’ ranking of the best players in what he labeled a “dramatically improved system.”

The Cubs’ front office has made improvements to the organization in a short amount of time. The Cubs have a rather deep system that remains light in the pitching department. Sickels thinks the Cubs have four potential All Stars in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler while players like Jeimer Candelario, Dan Vogelbach, Mike Olt and Arismendy Alcantara have the potential to be big league regulars.

On the pitching side, Sickels likes the additions of C.J. Edwards, Neil Ramirez, Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro and he is high on the 2013 draft class that included Rob Zastryzny and “promising arms” like Tyler Skulina, Scott Frazier, Trey Masek, David Garner, Zack Godley and Sam Wilson.

John Sickels provided interesting comps to Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Sickels acknowledged the comp to Gary Sheffield for Baez’s bat speed is accurate but he thinks Baez “can be a Giancarlo Stanton-type hitter.” Sickels comps for Bryant were a cross between Ryan Braun and Troy Glaus. Bryant “should be a devastating power hitter” and has “a higher floor” than Baez according to John Sickels.

John Sickels assigns letter grades to all of the players in his rankings. Sickels sees an ‘A’ prospect as an elite talent that has a “reasonable chance to become stars or superstars.” A ‘B’ prospect has a “good chance to enjoy a successful career” and some could “develop into stars.” A ‘C’ grade “are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for.”

Minor League Ball’s Top 21 Cubs Prospects for 2014

2013 Minor League Ball’s Ranking in Parenthesis (NA – not available, NR – not ranked)

Key – Player, Position, Minor League Ball Grade, 2013 Ranking

  1. Javier Baez, SS – A (1)
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B – A (NA)
  3. Albert Almora, OF – A- (2)
  4. Jorge Soler, OF – B+ (3)
  5. C.J. Edwards, RHP – B+ (NA)
  6. Arismendy Alcantara, INF – B (19)
  7. Pierce Johnson, RHP – B (10)
  8. Jeimer Candelario, 3B – B (15)
  9. Dan Vogelbach, 1B – B (4)
  10. Christian Villanueva, 3B – B- (8)
  11. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP – C+ (5)
  12. Mike Olt, 3B – C+ (NA)
  13. Neil Ramirez, RHP – C+ (NA)
  14. Matt Szczur, OF – C+ (9)
  15. Josh Vitters, OF – C+ (13)
  16. Kyle Hendricks, RHP – C+ (NR)
  17. Corey Black, RHP – C+ (NA)
  18. Rob Zastryzny, LHP – C+ (NA)
  19. Ivan Pineyro, RHP – C+ (NA)
  20. Paul Blackburn, RHP – C+ (17)
  21. Kevin Encarnacion, OF – C+ (NR)

Other Top Prospects

  • Gioskar Amaya, 2B
  • Yasiel Balaguert, OF
  • Dallas Beeler, RHP
  • Shawon Dunston Jr., OF
  • Jacob Hannemann, OF
  • Brett Jackson, OF
  • Eloy Jimenez, OF
  • Eric Jokisch, LHP
  • Dillon Maples, RHP
  • Brett Marshall, RHP
  • Jefferson Mejia, RHP
  • Armando Rivero, RHP
  • Gleyber Torres, SS
  • Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
  • Logan Watkins, INF
  • Ben Wells, RHP

John Sickels indicated the Cubs have about 15 other prospects that could be mentioned. He also pointed out due to limited playing time players like Eloy Jimenez, Jefferson Mejia and Gleyber Torres “are hard to get a valid feeling for” but each player has a “very high ceiling.”

All in all it was a very good year for the Cubs’ farm system. Now it is up to the front office to make sure the players stay on track and keep improving on their way through the minor leagues.

Baseball America released their ranking of the Cubs’ system in November, along with the best tools in the organization. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook is due out at the end of the month. And Baseball Prospectus’ list of the Cubs’ system is due to publish in the very near future.

The CCO will release our ranking of the top players in the Cubs’ farm system during Spring Training.

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