Releases Updated Cubs’ Top 20 Prospect List


Prospecting season is upon us and as usual, baseball industry folk compose their lists that provide insight in to the world of scouting and player development. The wealth of knowledge that is available is outstanding – it’s like Christmas in February!

Jonathan Mayo, the author behind the Cubs’ top 20 prospets list in 2012, is at it again having updated his list for the 2013 season. While some of the player who populate that list come as a shock, others (mainly the top 3) fall exactly where you’d expect them to.

The 2013 list looks like this:

  1. Javier Baez
  2. Albert Almora
  3. Jorge Soler
  4. Brett Jackson
  5. Arodys Vizcaino
  6. Dillon Maples
  7. Pierce Johnson
  8. Christian Villanueva
  9. Junior Lake
  10. Matt Szczur
  11. Daniel Vogelbach
  12. Jae-Hoon Ha
  13. Jeimer Candelario
  14. Josh Vitters
  15. Robert Whitenack
  16. Duane Underwood
  17. Paul Blackburn
  18. Gioskar Amaya
  19. Alberto Cabrera
  20. Darien Martin

No shock that as usual, Javier Baez is top dog in the Cubs’ prospect picture with Almora and Soler rounding off the top 3. I still believe that Soler and Almora are interchangeable in some respects as Soler possesses a strong bat, but Almora is the younger, more rounded player. Age accounts for a lot in scouting terms, after all.

Brett Jackson placed ahead of Vizcaino for various reasons I assume, but the main one may be immediate impact talent. Vizcaino is coming off injury and will need significant time to rehab to his full potential, whereas Jackson just needs to make adjustments to his swing and gain a little more experience to be a regular starter. Comparing a pitcher to an outfielder is a little bit like comparing apples to oranges, but I’d personally have Vizcaino ahead of Jackson based on talent in their respective positions alone. Viz has some seriously nasty pitches in his arsenal but takes on considerable risk because of the nature of his injury.

July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World batter

Jae-Hoon Ha

hits a two-run home run during the second inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Worth noting is the appearance of Jae-Hoon Ha on this list. The Korean right handed OF has been making waves in AA ball the last two years often preying on left handed pitching. His defense is solid and it seems he’s taking to the challenge of pro ball very well. AA tends to be where a lot of players either sink or swim, and his .273/.352/.385 triple slash line suggests that he can handle higher caliber pitching with no serious struggles. Compliment that with no errors in 121 total games in the OF and you can bet we’ll be seeing more from him in the future.

At number 7 overall, Pierce Johnson is another name worth nothing on this list. The 6’3″ right handed bullpen hurler made a quick jump from rookie ball to short A in 2012 and showed his prowess with a 13.5 SO/9. These numbers are obviously skewed because of a small sample frame, but taking the leap in levels in one season showing little to no growing pains has some significant value in the eyes of the Cubs’ brass.

Dillon Maples also made a significant leap on the list to number 6 from 12 last season. No one can question his jump on the list as his mechanics are supremely sound and his changeup is something to marvel at, but his health is questionable at best. Injury prone and slightly fragile, Maples will need to work hard off the field to stay in the top 10.

Trey McNutt, who was number 7 on last season’s list, is no where to be found. This could be due to the influx of pitching talent that is rising through the system or due to a drop in his performance. Frankly, I’m unsure – likely a little bit of both.

Prospecting and list making are a very sketchy science at best as everyone will grade different attributes differently, but these lists lay out the basic parameters for which players to watch in the upcoming season. They’re fun to read, look in to, and make your own assumptions from.

Oh, and if reading the list didn’t make you excited for baseball season already? There’s only 5 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.