Baseball America’s Top 31 Cubs Prospects for 2014

Baseball America’s 2014 Prospect Handbook arrived Wednesday with the Twins’ Miguel Sano on the cover and more positive news about the Cubs’ farm system.

Like Baseball Prospectus (No. 2) and Keith Law (No. 4), Baseball America ranked the Cubs’ organization in the top five in baseball. The Cubs system came in at No. 4 in BA’s Prospect Handbook, nine spots up from No. 13 a year ago. The Pirates, Red Sox, Twins, Cubs, Astros, Padres, Cardinals, Royals, Rangers and Mets make up Baseball America’s top 10.

Baseball America had this to say about the Cubs’ organization, “After building a very healthy farm system in Boston, Theo Epstein and company are doing the same in Chicago. It’s a very top-heavy system that drops off in talent quickly, but championship teams are built on star power.”

Baseball America’s list of the top players in the Cubs’ organization has a slightly-different look from a year ago. There are several additions as well as players that slipped out of the top 31 due to various reasons. Of the top 31 players in the Cubs’ system according to Baseball America, 24 are homegrown talent and the other seven were acquired in trades over the last two years.

Baseball America released its top 10 list for the Cubs’ system in November. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, C.J. Edwards, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler comprised the top five and each of the players found their ways on the individual lists of Baseball America’s editors.

Here’s how the Cubs’ young players fared on the individual top 50 lists:

  • John Manuel – Javier Baez (5), Kris Bryant (6), C.J. Edwards (23), Albert Almora (46)
  • Matt Eddy – Javier Baez (7), Kris Bryant (11), C.J. Edwards (39)
  • J.J. Cooper – Javier Baez (4), Kris Bryant (5), C.J. Edwards (27), Albert Almora (32), Jorge Soler (39)
  • Ben Badler – Javier Baez (5), Jorge Soler (22), Kris Bryant (23), Albert Almora (31), C.J. Edwards (46)

The Cubs’ system has shown improvement over the past two years and the front office has really built on the last draft Tim Wilken was in charge of in 2011. There are multiple players in the Cubs’ system that project as impact talent at the Major League level. The player development staff must keep those players on the right path through the system and up to the big leagues.

Cubs Top 31 Prospects for 2014

2013 Ranking in Parenthesis – NR – Not Ranked, NA – Not Available

BA Grade and Risk Factor in Parenthesis – Click Here for an explanation of Baseball America’s grade and scale and risk factor

  1. Javier Baez, SS (1, 70, Medium)
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B (NA, 70, Medium)
  3. C.J. Edwards, RHP (NA, 65, High)
  4. Albert Almora, OF (2, 60, Medium)
  5. Jorge Soler, OF (3, 65, Extreme)
  6. Pierce Johnson, RHP (6, 55, High)
  7. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/SS (10, 55, High)
  8. Jeimer Candelario, 3B (8, 50, High)
  9. Dan Vogelbach, 1B (7, 50, High)
  10. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (4, 55, Extreme)
  11. Kyle Hendricks, RHP (NR, 45, Low)
  12. Paul Blackburn, RHP (16, 50, High)
  13. Christian Villanueva, 3B (12, 45, Medium)
  14. Mike Olt, 3B (NA, 55, Extreme)
  15. Corey Black, RHP (NA, 50, High)
  16. Eloy Jimenez, OF (NA, 55, Extreme)
  17. Jacob Hannemann, OF (NA, 55, Extreme)
  18. Dillon Maples, RHP (18, 55, Extreme)
  19. Tyler Skulina, RHP (NA, 50, High)
  20. Rob Zastryzny, LHP (NA, 50, High)
  21. Ivan Pineyro, RHP (NA, 45, Medium)
  22. Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP (9, 45, Medium)
  23. Gleyber Torres, SS (NA, 55, Extreme)
  24. Dallas Beeler, RHP (NR, 45, High)
  25. Armando Rivero, RHP (NA, 45, High)
  26. Matt Szczur, OF (14, 45, High)
  27. Zach Cates, RHP (NR, 45, High)
  28. Ben Wells, RHP (NR, 45, High)
  29. Rubi Silva, OF (NR, 50, Extreme)
  30. Danny Lockhart, 2B (NR, 45, High)
  31. Dustin Geiger, 1B (NR, 45, High)
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.

As has been the case for the last three years, Baseball America provides scouting grades (20-80) for each organization’s top prospect. Baseball America graded Javier Baez with 60 batting, 75 power, 55 speed, 45 defense and 70 arm.

Kyle Hendricks could end up being the Cubs top rookie for the upcoming season as he should have an opportunity to crack the rotation. Corey Black could be the breakout prospect while Stephen Bruno is the sleeper in the Cubs’ system according to Baseball America.

Best Tools in the Cubs System
  • Albert Almora – Best Hitter for Average
  • Javier Baez – Best Power Hitter
  • Jeimer Candelario – Best Strike Zone Discipline
  • Jacob Hannemann – Fastest Baserunner
  • Jacob Hannemann – Best Athlete
  • C.J. Edwards – Best Fastball
  • C.J. Edwards – Best Curveball
  • Pierce Johnson – Best Slider
  • Kyle Hendricks – Best Changeup
  • Kyle Hendricks – Best Control
  • Will Remillard – Best Defensive Catcher
  • Christian Villanueva – Best Defensive Infielder
  • Kris Bryant – Best Infield Arm
  • Albert Almora – Best Defensive Outfielder
  • Jorge Soler – Best Outfield Arm
Top 15 Players in the Cubs System 25 and Under
  1. Javier Baez
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Starlin Castro
  4. Anthony Rizzo
  5. C.J. Edwards
  6. Albert Almora
  7. Jorge Soler
  8. Pierce Johnson
  9. Arismendy Alcantara
  10. Jeimer Candelario
  11. Dan Vogelbach
  12. Arodys Vizcaino
  13. Junior Lake
  14. Justin Grimm
  15. Kyle Hendricks
Cubs 2014 Prospect Rankings

Coming in March: The CCO’s Top 20 Cubs Prospects

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

[amazonjs asin=”1932391509″ locale=”US” tmpl=”Small” title=”Baseball America 2014 Prospect Handbook: The 2014 Expert guide to Baseball Prospects and MLB Organization Rankings”]

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne