Cubs Have Power in the Minors and Other News from Down on the Farm

The top prospects in the Cubs’ system continued making headlines this past week. Baseball America included seven of the top players from the Cubs’ organization in its ranking of the top 100 prospects in the game. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant were ranked in the top eight with Baez listed as the fifth best prospect in the game.

Javier Baez added to his buzz Friday when he broke at least one car window during batting practice. And the young players in Cubs Camp have received a lot of attention already … and the Cactus League games do not begin until Thursday. Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Kyle Hendricks, Arodys Vizcaino, Arismendy Alcantara and Mike Olt figure to see a lot of playing time over the next month before the Cubs start reassigning players to minor league camp.

Baseball Prospectus released its second edition of the annual Top Tools Series on Wednesday. And the Cubs have two of the best power hitters in the minors according to Baseball Prospectus.

PrintBP named Javier Baez as the Top Power hitter and Kris Bryant was in the running for the top power hitter in the minors along with Joey Gallo (Rangers), Stephen Moya (Tigers), Miguel Sano (Twins) and Oscar Taveras. Baseball Prospectus said, “Among the prospects in the game with elite raw power, Baez takes the cake because of his ability to translate that power into game situations.” Baez has a chance to hit 35-40 home runs a year according to BP.

Once Javier Baez is ready for his call to The Show, the front office will have to figure out which position he will play. Baseball America recently ranked Baez as the second best shortstop prospect in the game, behind only the Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts. But most feel he will not play shortstop in the majors.

Javier Baez has enough bat for third base and would be rather special at second base if he is able to reach his projections. The Cubs are expected to expose him more to second and third base this spring. And Jason McLeod has liked what he has seen from Baez at second base in a very small sample size in the past.

Rick Renteria addressed the talent in the system with Comcast SportsNet. Renteria said, “The public perception and the reality of what we’re seeing out there – it’s legitimate. It’s something that the organization should be proud of. Guys in the system have done a great job in acquiring and developing talent that we have. It’s just showing in what people are reading and writing about.”

Theo Epstein cautioned earlier in the week that while the players in the system look good, they are called prospects for a reason. So while the young Cubs are receiving the ‘hype’ and a majority of the attention, the front office knows what they have … projectable impact talent that has yet to see a pitch in a Major League Baseball game.

Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth in December and he is in big league camp for the first time in his career. Kyle Hendricks completed his first live BP session Wednesday and he already has his future pitching coach in his corner. Chris Bosio likes what he has seen from Hendricks. Based on the way Bosio has talked about him, Hendricks will be in camp for a long time this spring.

While Hendricks is ticketed for Triple-A Iowa to start the season, Bosio wants to see how he pitches to big league hitters during the Cactus League games. Hendricks does not possess the stuff that creates buzz within the game. But he knows how to pitch and how to use his stuff to get hitters out. Hendricks mixes speeds (85-92 mph), has good location to both sides of the plate while keeping the ball down and has shown the ability to throw his change-up to all hitters.

Kyle Hendricks might not project as a top of the rotation starter. But until Major League Baseball goes to a one-game per week schedule it takes more than one pitcher to fill out a rotation. If Hendricks keeps progressing the way he has he could be a solid back of the rotation starter on a contending team.

News and Notes

According to Carrie Muskat, Dan Vogelbach lost 30 pounds this winter … and fans will not recognize him. Vogelbach is ticketed for High-A Daytona to start the season. Vogelbach checked in at No. 10 on Baseball America’s top first base prospects list.

According to a report from Jerry Crasnick, Javier Baez is shopping around for a new agent. Baez changed agents last year and is apparently looking for new representation again.

Arismendy Alcantara could end up the first prospect called up to the big leagues this season. Alcantara is in Major League Spring Training this year after being added to the 40-man roster over the winter. Alcantara is slated to begin the season as Javier Baez’s double play partner at Triple-A Iowa. Baseball America ranked Alcantara as the sixth best second best prospect after he cracked BA’s top 100 list earlier in the week.

Rob Zastryzny is attending Spring Training for the first time. And he was issued a familiar number in minor league camp.

Baseball America ranked Gleyber Torres the 28th best shortstop prospect in the game.

The Cardinals signed former Cubs’ minor league catcher Steven De La Cruz to a minor league contract. De La Cruz played for the Cubs in the Dominican Summer League in 2011 and 2012. The Cardinals are converting the 20-year old from a catcher to a pitcher.

As previously reported, 53 players are attending a minor league mini-camp at Cubs Park. The minor leaguers report to Cubs Park at the end of the month.

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  • calicub

    Baez –> Boras Corp. I’m calling it now

    • triple

      That would suck, but wouldn’t really surprise me.

  • triple

    Vogelbach dropping 30 lbs… WOW! It sounds like he is motivated to get moving through the system a little faster and earn more respect. I really hope this effects his defense in a positive way as it should (better flexibility, balance, and quicker feet should help in the field), and as long as it doesn’t detract from his swing/power, he may prove to be capable of playing first base at the major league level yet.

    • calicub

      I have high hopes for V-bomb. Unfortunately I think the FO would trade him before having Rizzo move to 3b or LF. And it’s not like the NL is going to adopt the DH by the time he’s ready.

      • paulcatanese

        Rizzo is a lefty,3b may not be an option.

      • Tony_Hall

        Rizzo is a 1B only. No where else he can play. Vogelbach might be slightly below average at 1B at best. He will never even be average defensively at 1B.

        Hope the NL adopts the DH in a few years.

    • mutantbeast

      Ive read V bomb is POD he was left off the top 100 rankings and is using it as motivation. Last time I heard something like that his name was some basketball player named Michael Jordan.

  • BillyFinT

    Congrats to Kyle Hendricks. It’s never easy to graduate from an Ivy L school while attending a pro sports routine.