Let me start by running down the Baseball America list. If you have read CubbiesCrib in the past three months, none of these names are new to you.
1. Chris Archer – Pitcher of the Year for the Cubs. Could be in Wrigley in 2011.
2. Brett Jackson – Best power in the Cubs system. Could be in Wrigley in 2011.
3. Trey McNutt – Possibly the biggest surprise of last season. You’ll hear this name again.
4. Hak-Ju Lee – Shortstop of the future, if he isn’t traded first.
5. Josh Vitters – If Baseball America hasn’t given up on him, neither should we. Could be in Wrigley in 2011.
6. Chris Carpenter – Starting pitcher who has had a lot of success. Could be in Wrigley in 2011.
7. Matt Szczur – He also plays wide receiver. Which will he pick? Keep an eye on the NFL labor situation.
8. Hayden Simpson – And he hasn’t even pitched a professional inning yet. He could go through the system quickly.
9. Rafael Dolis – I apparently undervalued this guy. I’ll be watching him closely in 2011.
10. Brandon Guyer – Good defensively, breaking out offensively. Could be in Wrigley in 2011.
Comparing to the 2009 list, the following names are missing. Numbers are last year’s rankings.
1. Starlin Castro – Promoted to the Cubs.
4. Andrew Cashner – Promoted to the Cubs
5. Jay Jackson – This surprises me. I thought he’d drop, but not out of the top 10. This is a sign of just how deep the Cubs really are
7. Logan Watkins – Had a rough year at the plate. Don’t write him off, though.
9. Ryan Flaherty – Did nothing wrong last year. He just got pushed down the list.
10. D.J. LeMahieu – Did nothing wrong last year. Also just pushed down the list.
And that means we can welcome to the list Chris Archer, Trey McNutt, Matt Szczur, Hayden Simpson, Rafael Dolis, and Brandon Guyer.
The biggest surprise for me is that Rafael Dolis rose to number 9 on the list. I had him pegged as an interesting prospect, one who has a lot of potential but who needs a ton of polish. As a result, I was in favor of the Chris Davis trade scenario that included Dolis. After seeing this, however, I may have to rethink that.
I’ll be referring back to this list and writing on it quite a bit more, but I don’t want this article to get overly long. Before I wrap up, lets take a look at the Cubs Projected 2014 Lineup, and compare it to the Project 2013 Lineup from last year’s list. This is highly speculative, but let me point out a few things we can glean from it.
First, Baseball America now sees Cashner as a starter, not a closer, and a very good starter at that. I’m not sure I agree, but I’ll wait until I see his changeup before I comment further.
Second, Colvin is at first because the Cubs have a lack of first base talent, and because Jackson, Guyer, and Szczur all project higher than him in the outfield. Knowing what Colvin can do, that’s encouraging.
Third, look at the starting rotation. Carlos Zambrano is the Number 4 starter, by 2014? When last year he was projected Number 1 in 2013? That isn’t all due to age, and I don’t think it has that much to do with Zambrano’s melt down, not after how he finished the year. In large part, that is due to just how good Cashner, Archer, and McNutt can be. I’m not sure I agree with this. Hayden Simpson is likely to factor in there somewhere, quite possibly as the Number 1. Last year’s projected 2 and 3, Jay Jackson and Chris Carpenter, will have something to say about it as well.