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  1. #1
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    Baseball America's Cubs' Top Ten Prospects List

    Optimism reigned when the Cubs gave their a front office a full makeover last offseason. New president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president of player development and scouting Jason McLeod had built two World Series champions with the Red Sox. Hoyer and McLeod also had revitalized the Padres farm system when they went to San Diego.

    Because Chicago had focused on the short term in the last years of GM Jim Hendry's tenure and were left with an old and overpriced roster, fans understood that the club was going to have to get worse before it could get better.

    That's exactly what happened in 2012. Winning at the major league level wasn't a priorityóor a common occurrence. The Cubs' victory total dropped for the fourth straight season, culminating with a 61-101 record that was their worst in 46 seasons.

    For all the losses, there was plenty of good news. Chicago's priority was to procure some impact talent, and they found some.

    The Cubs spent the No. 6 overall pick in the draft and $3.9 million in bonus money on center fielder Albert Almora, one of the most polished high school position players in recent memory. To restock an organization seriously bereft of pitching, they spent their next seven choices on arms, starting with Missouri State righthander Pierce Johnson.

    A week after the draft, Chicago landed Cuban slugger Jorge Soler with the biggest deal for an amateur in franchise history. Soler received a nine-year, $30 million big league contract that included a $6 million bonus, then teamed with Almora in the Rookie-level Arizona League.

    At the trade deadline, the Cubs picked up righthander Arodys Vizcaino from the Braves in a deal for reliable veterans Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm. Vizcaino never would have been available if he hadn't had Tommy John surgery in March, but Chicago was thrilled to grab someone who ranked among the game's better pitching prospects before he got hurt.

    Those were the headline moves, but there were several more. The Cubs spent heavily on three international pitchers, with $1.5 million Dominican righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua generating positive reviews and $6 million Cuban lefthander Gerardo Concepcion getting shelled in low Class A and removed from the 40-man roster in December. They imported Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa from Japan in December for a two-year deal worth $9.5 million.

    Of the many trades Epstein and Hoyer made in their first 14 months on the job, with one of their best coming three months before the season began. They shipped Andrew Cashner, Chicago's 2008 first-round pick, to the Padres for Anthony Rizzo, whom they had drafted in Boston. Rizzo was the biggest threat in the Cubs lineup after they called him up in late June, batting .285/.342/.463 at age 22.

    There were more comings and goings in the front office, too. Vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita, who had been with the organization since 1995, was fired as part of a mid-August shakeup.
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today...3/2614527.html

    1. Javier Baez, SS

    This is basically a unanimous projection. Thereís an outside case for Albert Almora or Jorge Soler, but neither has the upside of Baez, and he also had the best minors season of the 3 also. No surprise here. Iíd be pretty shocked if Baez wasnít in the top 10 of baseball next year. He had a rough A+ end to 2012, but he absolutely owned the Midwest League and I anticipate heíll spend the first half of 2013 mashing A+ and eventually getting a call to AA at the very end of the season. As with every young minor league player, he needs to walk a little more and strike out a little less, but heís absolutely got the powern and defensive chops to be a routine all-star at short.

    2. Albert Almora, CF

    Almora garners the ďbest hitter for averageĒ and ďbest defensive OFĒ awards from BA as well, which is pretty interesting to note. A line of .347/.363/.480 in rookie ball isnít awe-inspiring: he walked 2 times in 80 PA. Generally, players that donít walk in rookie ball just donít need to (they are crushing all of the pitches that are in the zone because players at this level are usually not any good). Thereís probably some truth to that here: Almora struck out only 8 times in 80 PA, so he wasnít overmatched. He just wasnít demolishing the league. An .843 OPS in rookie ball doesnít scream ďhuge success,Ē and he was outperformed in that league by Vogelbach and even Justin Marra (who is a real sleeper prospect). The tools are really there, but Almora seems like heís got a decent flame-out chance, though he could still be a huge bust and end up bouncing around due to his ability to play the OF and run. Iíll feel a lot better if Almora proves he can either take a walk or get some more XBH next year, which he totally can. Almora should start the season in A, and probably end it there too, with a late promotion to A+ if the season goes swimmingly.

    3. Jorge Soler

    Soler wasnít the top power prospect in the system this year (Vogelbach might be in the discussion for top in all of the minors), but Soler is a legit threat to hit 35-40 HR in the big league. He had pretty good plate discipline in 2012, but only 5 HR in 149 PA. Itís a small sample size, to be sure. There isnít enough American professional data on him to be certain of anything (same with Almora, to be fair), but Soler has the tools commensurate with a Top 50 player on I could easily see him sitting at 40-60 in baseball. Heíll start the year at A, maybe A+, but heíll be aggresively promoted this year until he reaches a level he canít hit (I bet AA). Iíd be loathe to start him in AA but would have no problem with A+, I guess.

    4. Arodys Vizcaino

    Jim Callis is really bullish on Vizcaino being a starter, apparently. If Vizcaino was 100% certain to start, I could get behind this (and heíd actually probably be the #2 prospect on the team). To give you an idea of how high Callis is on this guy, Jim has Vizcaino as the best fastball AND best curveball in the system. Having two plus pitches is quite the accomplishment. His minor-league peripherals indicate heís got as good a chance as any to be a dominant, front-end starter, except for the TJS he had last year (March 20). If his future is as a starter (and I think it is), heís got a chance to be really good. Itís also important to note that his age-22 season is still this year. He doesnít necessarily have to make it to the big-league for a few years to still be a well-regarded prospect (though if he doesnít have it by 2015, heís probably cooked). Heíll probably spend this year rehabbing through the low minors, with a call-up to the majors when/if weíre well out of it in September.

    5. Brett Jackson

    I think this is a little high (though I think Iím higher on Jackson than many Cubs fans). Jackson can be a productive player in the big leagues, and probably even start without getting much better. I think thereís almost no chance heíll ever be a star in the league (his contact is just too poor, heíll strikeout way too much), but strikeouts arenít nearly as bad as people think they are and he can still hit for average and power (fun fact: he had a higher OBP last year than Darwin Barney despite hitting .175). Jackson is probably going to be an average to below-average MLB regular, which has some value. I donít think that he should be ahead of a few guys on this list, though. Heíll start the season at AAA but will come to the majors in short order.

    6. Pierce Johnson

    Johnson was the second 1st round pick the Cubs had (Duane Underwood was the third) in last yearís draft. He basically didnít throw last year, so this is all projection. Heís had injury problems in college (great) but apparently has nice heat (92-94) and a curve/change as well. Weíll see.

    7. Dan Vogelbach

    I thought this was pretty low. Vogelbach is absolutely a prospect in the majors, even if he canít field. Vogelbach had the 6th highest wOBA last year, IN THE ENTIRE MINOR LEAGUES. 2 people ahead of him were 33 and 32 in Mexican Leagues; they donít count. His ISO power numbers last year were 2nd in the entire minors: only Joey Gallo hit for more power. Vogelbach is one of 5 or 10 best hitting prospects in baseball, no question. Thereís incredible value in that, even if heís only a DH. Heíll get every chance to play 1B whatever level heís at (A to start this year, most likely), and if he hits anywhere near what he did last season I wouldnít be surprised if he was knocking down the door in 2014.

    8. Jeimer Candelario

    Iím pretty low on Candelario. Heís another high-projection guy who already has whispers of being a 1B, which means heís going to have hit like crazy to be successful. Maybe he grows into his frame and starts mashing the ball. Iím betting he doesnít (and there are whispers of poor effort, too). It is cool thatís heís a switch hitter, though.

    9. Kyuji Fujikawa

    This is just Jim Callis getting cute.

    10. Arismendy Alcantara

    Already injured, poor plate discipline, relatively low power, ďtoolsyĒ SS. I donít know, maybe thereís something Iím not seeing (switch-handedness), but a guy who has had 4 years of minor league instruction but STILL lacks some plate discipline just seems like a stretch to me. Iíd be glad to proven wrong.
    http://www.obstructedview.net/commen...teresting.html


    The top article is from Baseball America, and the second is from Obstructed View.com, which is a pretty nice Cubs website. It has the projections, along with pretty good commentary from one of the columnists on Obstructed View. I hope this is worthy of a topic since not much is going on right now.

    Jimmy <3

  2. #2
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    If I was a celeb (or someone prospecting to be one) I would want Baez's PR agent. I think at least Soler can challenge him in offensive upside, and Almora's total package can get there in perception as well. If you buy him all the way as a SS then ignore what I just said.

    That said, dream away on Baez as his 2012 is the most exciting season from a prospect here in a while.

  3. #3
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    Vogelbach had the 6th highest wOBA last year, IN THE ENTIRE MINOR LEAGUES. 2 people ahead of him were 33 and 32 in Mexican Leagues; they donít count. His ISO power numbers last year were 2nd in the entire minors: only Joey Gallo hit for more power.
    I didn't know either of those things.

  4. #4
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    WTH is this?

    6. Pierce Johnson

    Johnson was the second 1st round pick the Cubs had (Duane Underwood was the third) in last yearís draft. He basically didnít throw last year, so this is all projection. Heís had injury problems in college (great) but apparently has nice heat (92-94) and a curve/change as well. Weíll see.
    Johnson was supplemental pick #1, Blackburn was supplemental #2, Duane Underwood was our regular round #2 pick. A nice Cubs website that doesn't even know basic facts about our draft?


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by A New Era View Post
    WTH is this?



    Johnson was supplemental pick #1, Blackburn was supplemental #2, Duane Underwood was our regular round #2 pick. A nice Cubs website that doesn't even know basic facts about our draft?
    I believe he's referring to that all 3 were first round talents that slipped for various reasons.

  6. #6
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    No he wasn't. He ****ed up. It happens.

  7. #7
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    So horrible! Wow! Hang him!

  8. #8
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    "Baez" and "buy jizz" sound so similar yet they're so different

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PriorToWood View Post
    So horrible! Wow! Hang him!
    I don't think he should hang, but I do think he's got a crap website.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by A New Era View Post
    I don't think he should hang, but I do think he's got a crap website.
    Obstructed View? It's probably the 2nd best Cubs blog (distant 2nd).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tryptamine View Post
    I believe he's referring to that all 3 were first round talents that slipped for various reasons.
    I would guess that this is the case considering the fact that nobody has three first round picks.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by A New Era View Post
    WTH is this?



    Johnson was supplemental pick #1, Blackburn was supplemental #2, Duane Underwood was our regular round #2 pick. A nice Cubs website that doesn't even know basic facts about our draft?
    He was saying they were all 1st round value
    #WhyNot?

    People ask me, "Why here? Why Kentucky?", I said "Why not"? It can be done here. It will be done here. Lay the foundation. Recruit and develop. Prepare to win. Day by day. Play by play. A new era of high performance. Why Kentucky? Why not? -Mark Stoops

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1908_Cubs View Post
    He was saying they were all 1st round value
    That's what I took it to mean as well, though I can see why that wasn't clearly understood.

  14. #14
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    The most mundane things get talk here. First this Andrus stuff yesterday, now some throwaway line from a somewhat reputable blog...I took it to mean first round talents as well.

  15. #15
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    Interesting to not see Maples on there. Some sites rate him pretty high while others fail to mention him at all. Personally I don't believe he is top 10 right now.

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