MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball on Friday night, and the top system in baseball placed six players in the top 100.
After Kris Bryant was named the top prospect in the game by Keith Law earlier this week, MLB Pipeline ranked Kris Bryant as the second best prospect in the game behind the Twins’ Byron Buxton.
MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 prospects for the 2015 season: OF Byron Buxton (Twins), 3B Kris Bryant (Cubs), SS Carlos Correa (Astros), SS Francisco Lindor (Indians), SS Addison Russell (Cubs), RHP Lucas Giolito (Nationals), SS Corey Seager (Dodgers), LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers), 3B Joey Gallo (Rangers) and RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets).
The six players from the Cubs’ system in the top 100 are Kris Bryant (2), Addison Russell (5), Jorge Soler (22), C.J. Edwards (47), Kyle Schwarber (49) and Albert Almora (57).
The Pirates have the most prospects in the top 100 with seven followed by the Cubs and Twins with six … the Royals, Red Sox, Rangers, Mets and Diamondbacks have five players in the top 100 while the Rockies, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, Blue Jays and Astros each have four players in MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the top 100 prospects in the game.
(2) Kris Bryant, 3B
Kris Bryant finished the year with a .325/.438/.661 slash line that included 34 doubles, one triple and 43 home runs with 110 RBI for a 1.098 OPS in 138 combined games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. In 68 games with the Smokies, Bryant batted .355/.458/.702 with 20 doubles, 22 home runs, 58 RBI and a 1.160 WHIP. And in 70 games with the I-Cubs, Bryant hit .295/.418/.619 with 14 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs and 52 RBI for a 1.036 OPS
Kris Bryant led the minor leagues in home runs (43), extra basehits (78), total bases (324), slugging percentage (.661) and OPS (1.098). Bryant did not go without a hit for three straight games and he did not reach base, with either with a hit or a walk, in 14 of the 138 games he played in over two levels in the minors.
Kris Bryant will compete for the Opening Night job at third base in the spring while seeing time in the outfield. Bryant is ticketed to begin the 2015 season with Triple-A Iowa and if all goes as planned he will be called up once the Cubs grab the extra year of control.
(5) Addison Russell, SS
Addison Russell hit .294/.332/.536 in 50 games with Double-A Tennessee. Russell collected 11 doubles, 12 home runs and finished with a .868 OPS. Russell batted .295/.350/.508 with 14 doubles, one triple and 13 home runs for a .858 OPS in 68 games in the Cubs and Athletics’ systems during the 2014. Russell spent the early part of the Arizona Fall League season with the Mesa Solar Sox. Russell batted .196/.260/.348 with one double, two home runs and a .608 OPS in 11 games before the Cubs shut him down and sent him home for the year.
Addison Russell is expected to begin the season as the shortstop for Triple-A Iowa. Russell is expected to see time at second and third base during Cactus League play.
(22) Jorge Soler, OF
When Jorge Soler was on the field last season, he was really good both offensively and defensively. Soler tore up the Southern League after spending a majority of the first half of the season rehabbing in Arizona. Soler batted .415/.494/.862 in 22 games with the Smokies. Soler hit nine doubles, a triple and six home runs for a 1.355 OPS. Soler was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, reunited with Manny Ramirez and continued to produce at the plate. Soler hit .282/.378/.618 in 32 games with 11 doubles, a triple and eight home runs for a .996 OPS.
What was impressive about Soler’s minor league numbers last season is that he had more extra basehits (40) than singles (28) while walking (33) almost as many times as he struck out (48) in 236 plate appearances.
Jorge Soler spent September with the big league team and cooled off after an extremely hot start. Soler batted .292/.330/.573 in 24 games with eight doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .903 OPS. Soler walked six times and struck out 24 times in 97 plate appearances. Soler failed to reach base either with a walk or a hit in four of the 24 games he played in at the big league level.
Jorge Soler is expected to patrol right field for the Cubs throughout the 2015 season.
(47) C.J. Edwards, RHP
A strained right shoulder cut C.J. Edwards season short a year ago, and the 23-year old right hander said he learned how to better prepare for the rigors of professional baseball after dealing with the injury last year.
When Edwards was on the mound he put up solid numbers and was very good in the Arizona Fall League on a limited pitch/innings count.
C.J. Edwards was 1-2 in 10 starts for Double-A Tennessee with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Edwards allowed 30 hits with 46 strikeouts in 48 innings. In the AFL, Edwards was 1-0 in six starts with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Edwards gave up eight hits with eight walks and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Over three minor league seasons and 50 games, 49 starts (237 innings), C.J. Edwards has allowed two home runs.
C.J. Edwards will start the spring in big league camp but he will end it in minor league camp and he’s likely going to begin the 2015 season in Double-A Tennessee’s rotation.
(49) Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
Kyle Schwarber played in five games for Boise after signing with the Cubs. Schwarber ripped up the Northwest League to the tune of a .600/.625/1.350 line with a double, a triple and four home runs for a 1.975 OPS in five games. Schwarber was promoted to Kane County, where he not only performed at the plate but received a crash course in catching from Mark Johnson. Schwarber recently said while he was with the Cougars he figured out just about everything he was doing behind the plate was wrong.
Schwarber played in 23 games for the eventual Midwest League Champs and batted .361/.448/.602 with eight double, four home runs and a 1.050 OPS. Schwarber finished the year with Daytona. The soon-to-be 22-year old (March 5) hit .302/.393/.560 with nine doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 26 walks and 38 strikeouts for a .952 OPS.
In 72 games, Kyle Schwarber batted .344/.428/.634 with 18 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs and a 1.061 OPS. And Schwarber walked 39 times in 311 plate appearances with 57 strikeouts.
Kyle Schwarber could start the 2015 season with Double-A Tennessee but a more realistic start to his first full year of pro ball will be with High-A Myrtle Beach.
(57) Albert Almora, OF
After a slow start with High-A Daytona last season, Albert Almora was able to regain his focus and earned a promotion to Double-A Tennessee after 89 games. Almora ended up hitting .283/.306/.406 with 20 doubles, two triples and seven home runs for a .712 OPS during his time with the D-Cubs.
Almora continued working on his approach with Double-A Tennessee and struggled with producing results. Almora batted only .234/.250/.355 in 36 games with the Smokies. Almora hit seven doubles, two triples and two home runs for a .605 OPS.
Albert Almora ended the season with a combined .270/.291/.392 line in 125 games with 27 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and a .683 OPS. Almora’s defense continued to receive rave reviews for his defense and did not allow his numbers at the plate affect him in the field.
The Cubs should start Albert Almora at Double-A Tennessee and he could be Iowa’s centerfielder before the end of the year if he can stay on the field and produce at the plate.