FanGraphs recently released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs system, the first since the Cubs traded five minor leaguers to the Rays for Matt Garza.
The Cubs system took a hit when Jim Hendry dealt Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld to Tampa. But the Cubs picked up a nice package for Tom Gorzelanny from the Nationals … including former supplemental round pick Michael Burgess.
Here’s how the Cubs’ system stacks up according to FanGraphs … FanGraphs original rankings included Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer in the top 10. All of the movement in the system should result in updated prospects lists being released before pitchers and catchers next month.
FanGraphs Top 10 Cubs Prospects
1. Brett Jackson, OF
2. Trey McNutt, RHP
3. Chris Carpenter, RHP
4. Josh Vitters, 3B
5. Jay Jackson, RHP
6. Rafael Dolis, RHP
7. Hayden Simpson, RHP
8. Robinson Lopez, RHP
9. Reggie Golden, OF
10. Austin Reed, RHP
FanGraphs thinks the Cubs have the 19th best system out of the 30 big league teams.
Jackson will be 22 on Opening Day and has the potential to be an All-Star outfielder, as well as a 20-20 threat. According to FanGraphs, Jackson has plus bat speed and gets on base despite a high strikeout rate. Jackson can handle center but may end up in left.
McNutt will be 21 on Opening Day. The Cubs 32nd round pick in the 2009 draft has had two very successful seasons in pro ball. McNutt’s strikeout rates were outstanding at both levels and he improved his control as he was promoted up the system. McNutt is working on improving his change-up so he can remain a starter.
Carpenter will be 25 on Opening Day. Carpenter made it to Triple-A for the first time in 2010. Carpenter misses bats (7.52 K/9) but his control has been inconsistent in three seasons in the Cubs’ system. Carpenter has the potential to be a solid number three starter but his health could end up pushing him to the bullpen.
Vitters will be 21 on Opening Day. Vitters showed more patience at the plate last season and almost doubled his walk-rate from the year before … but it still low. Vitters has good power potential, good bat speed and can turn on pitches. FanGraphs said, “If a coach can finally get through to him with preaching patience and pitch selection, this former No. 1 pick could really explode. As it stands, he’s one of the more frustrating prospects in baseball.”
Jackson will be 23 on Opening Day. Jackson spent his third year in pro ball at the Triple-A level. Jackson has four pitches, a slider, a curveball, a changeup and a high 80s to low 90s fastball. Jackson could end up as a solid three or four in the rotation or in the bullpen.
Dolis is on the Cubs 40-man roster and will be 23 on Opening Day. Another converted position player in the Cubs’ organization, Dolis is still working on his command but when he’s on “he can dominate batters.” Dolis’ heavy fastball sits in the 90s (91-96) and he also throws a slider and a changeup. Dolis keeps the ball down and if he cannot make strides in his second and third pitches he could end up “as a high leverage reliever.”
Simpson will be 21 on Opening Day. Simpson throws four pitches … a 80s to low 90s fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. Simpson could end up in the middle of a big league rotation … but he has yet to throw a pitch in pro ball. After signing with the Cubs, a case of mononucleosis ended his season prematurely.
Lopez was acquired from the Braves for Derrek Lee last season. Lopez will be 20 on Opening Day. Lopez has spent time as a starter and reliever in his two seasons in pro ball. Lopez is raw and has trouble repeating his delivery, which leads to command issues.
The Cubs second round pick in the 2010 draft will be 19 on Opening Day. Golden played in just four rookie ball games after he signed last summer out of high school. Golden has a lot of raw tools and has the arm to be “considered a good fit for right field.”
Reed was the Cubs 12 round pick in the 2010 draft and will be 19 on Opening Day. FanGraphs said Reed is “slowly gaining recognition as a steal in the 12th round. Reed throws three pitches (fastball in the high 80s to low 90s, curveball and changeup) from a three-quarter, almost side-arm slot. Reed showed promise in a short amount of time.
Over the next few weeks, the CCO will feature several articles focused on the Cubs’ top prospects and minor league system. An updated prospect list is in the works as well as a look back at how Baseball America ranked the top Cubs’ prospects.