Introducing the final installment in the Cubbies Crib edition of the Chicago Cubs Top Prospects List. Starting from a list of candidates that contained about forty names, I whittled it down to a Top 21 that are being published in three installments of seven, starting at the bottom.
Ranking prospects is always a tricky business. The potential ceiling of the players has to be balanced against their actual production, the level at which they have played, their age, their position, and a number of other factors. I tend to favor players who have produced when given the opportunity, with a few notable exceptions. Keep in mind that, like all rankings, these are flexible. Any player is one breakout season away from jumping onto this list, or one miserable season away from falling off it.
And now, the Cubs Top 21, numbers 1 through 7.
1. Brett Jackson – OF
Key Stat: His OPS at Tennessee was 0.816. At Iowa, it was 0.939.
Projects As: A solid, everyday outfielder. He could be a 20HR, 20SB guy.
2. Matt Szczur – CF
Key Stat: We expected the 24 steals. The 10 HR were more of a surprise.
Projects As: Lead off hitter of the future.
3. Trey McNutt – RHP
Key Stat: Between the blisters and the rib injury, his 2011 stats probably don’t mean very much.
Projects As: Front of the rotation starter or closer.
4. Javier Baez – 3B/SS
Key Stat: As the 9th overall pick, both the upside and the expectations are tremendous.
Projects As: Third baseman of the future.
5. Robert Whitenack – RHP
Key Stat: In 11 the starts before his surgery, he posted a WHIP of just 0.940.
Projects As: A middle of the rotation starter.
6. Rafael Dolis – RHP
Key Stat: Double A batters hit just .227 off him, and he had an excellent GO/AO of 2.07.
Projects As: Most likely a closer, but he could yet be converted back into a mid-rotation starter.
7. Welington Castillo – C
Key Stat: In 2011, his CS rate of 29% was his lowest as a professional, but his OPS of 0.876 was his highest.
Projects As: At worst he should be a quality backup catcher, but I think there is a good chance he would be effective in a starting role.