A Cubs Top Prospect List

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MinorLeagueBaseball.com has a posted an early look at the Cubs 2011 Top Prospects list, and after the break I’ll run down a few items of note from that list.   There will be several of these lists coming out in the coming months, and I’ll give time to some of them here.  In my opinion, the one to watch for is Baseball America’s, coming in January, but it will be interesting to see how the various lists stack up against each other over as we wait for spring training.

If you skipped the intro paragraph on that list in your eagerness to get to the list of prospects, you’ll be happy to know that B+ is a very high grade for this scorer.  He isn’t knocking Brett Jackson.  On the contrary, he’s putting Brett in a position that I basically agree with.  The same goes for Chris Archer.  But… Trey McNutt?  Who is Trey McNutt?

Stop me if you heard this one before.  Trey McNutt was drafted by the Cubs in 2009 despite flying well under the radar at a lower level college in the south.   Unlike Hayden Simpson, however, Trey McNutt was taken in the 32nd round from Shelton State Community in Alabama.  I would type out his minor league history, but he’d probably be promoted again before I got finished.  By the end of 2010 he had pitched in five (5) leagues, finishing with AA Tennessee.  His three starts in Tennesse were disappointing… if you by disappointing you mean a 3-1 K/BB ratio in 15 innings of work.  Granted, he gave up some hits, but his control and strikeout numbers pretty much stayed put.  I don’t think it’ll take him long to advance to AAA next year, and then it is only a question of how long it takes him to build enough endurance to get a crack at Wrigley.  I am sure we’ll be talking more about this guy as the season moves on.

Hayden Simpson checks in at 7 on this list, sight unseen.  That should reassure the doubters that I’m not the only one who believes in this pick.  I can’t wait to see him pitch.

Marquez Smith and Josh Vitters have the same grade, and I’m not sure why he lists Smith as a catcher when Smith has never played that position in the Cubs organization.  I would have to disagree with ranking Vitters this low, however.  Vitters is only a year older than Starlin Castro.  When you factor in his injuries, it is way to early to label this guy as a disappointment, bust, or anything else of that nature.  The 2011 season is a big one for him, no doubt about that, but I think we should see how he performs in 2011 before we start writing him off.

There are a lot of pitchers on that list that you may not be familiar with.  Basically, anyone with a good arm that could become something if they develop the discipline and secondary pitches got a fairly high ranking.  I don’t exactly agree with that metric.  A great arm is a great arm, but I need to see that a pitcher can throw strikes, work effectively with runners on base, and not walk too many before I get too excited.  A lot of the C+ pitchers on this list are interesting and worth watching, but I’m not sure I’d rank them as yet.

On the other hand, I have no idea why Ryan Flaherty missed the cut (and had D.J. LeMahieu ranked over him?  I like LaMahieu, but over Flaherty?).  Logan Watkins, who some project as the second baseman who will move Castro to third, didn’t make the list in any capacity.  He did struggle in Peoria this year, but since that did represent his first full length minor league season, I think we need to wait a little before we knock him off the list completely.  I’d still list him as a solid C+, maybe a B- on this system.

And this is only the first of more lists to come, and there is plenty of stuff on this list to talk about yet.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Rule 5 Draft, even if it historically has not been significant.