Cubs’ Top 10 Prospects – As Seen By Baseball Prospectus


Since it’s the off-season, the count down is on until pitchers and catchers report in to camp.

This countdown sits at 90+ days, so better buckle in for a long winter. Thankfully the good folks at FanSided keep me employed and my #1 fan (my Grandmother… hi Grandma!) will help pass the time.

Regardless, the good folks at Baseball Prospectus have graced us with a list of their top 10 Cubs prospects so we may share casual banter about who is tops and maybe even get in to a shouting match or two. Do shouting matches on twitter count? I seem to have more and more people tell me I’m stupid and don’t know baseball every day…. but I guess I’ll just keep publishing work about baseball.

There were a few surprises to come out from this publication from BP. Here’s the list:

1. OF Albert Almora

2. SS Javier Baez

3. OF Jorge Soler

4. RHP Arodys Vizcaino

5. 1B Daniel Vogelbach

6. OF Brett Jackson

7. RHP Pierce Johnson

8. RHP Duane Underwood

9. 3B Christian Villanueva

10. RHP Dillon Maples

Huh. Almora at the top eh? And Baez over Soler? Didn’t the Cubs just pay an ass-load of cash for Soler?

I share the same amount of shock that I’m certain a lot of folk had when this list was published. Better yet, not a day before I had written an entire column about how Soler was to be gracing the big leagues before Baez because of his better defense and fewer “wild card” tendencies.

But as I begin to look in to the reports and see the metrics behind the madness, it’s all starting to add up.

August 15, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder

Brett Jackson

(7) hits an RBI single in the second inning against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Almora takes the top spot simply because of the risks associated with both Soler and Baez. At this point in all three young player’s development, it’s impossible to see who will end up being a better player. For example, Baez is so aggressive in his fielding and batting that he could easily flame out and be nothing, or if it clicks in his head, could be an absolute monster in the big leagues. Jorge Soler‘s development plan is still very much a work in progress and his ceiling has yet to be be determined.

It’s simply risk vs safety. Almora is a disgustingly good baseball player who is much more level than the other two, and this makes him a greater impact prospect than Soler or Baez…. at least for now.

It was no shock that these three men would occupy the gold, silver and bronze medal position in the rankings – but the boys at BP prefer taking a stable player with a high ceiling and I tend to agree with that. For argument’s sake, Baez most certainly has the highest ceiling of all three players, but Soler and Almora are more likely to reach their maximum potential. Whether they achieve it ot not is another story all together, but the Cubs win either way.

Nice to see Arodys Vizcaino in that list despite his need for surgery. Classic Epstein/Hoyer move by taking on a player who can be had for cheap and had a good chance to break out as an impact player. Even nicer was seeing 4 pitchers total in that mix – an area the Cubs need to make significant improvements on.

Dan Vogelbach is another guy who I’m happy to see make that list. He’s now turning some heads with his hitting and could be viable as a nice little trade chip to an AL team as a DH a few years down the road. I’d even say he’ll be better than Brett Jackson because of his “true-feel” hitting style and ++ power.

In the future, look to see import Juan Carlos Paniagua crack that list and Duane Underwood to climb the ranks significantly. Scouts are loving what they see out of the RHP.

Overall, nothing but smiles from me looking at that list. Big turn around from the shoddy system the Cubs had in 2010 and it will only improve as the Cubs take the second overall pick in the 2013 draft.