View From The Bleachers

July 18, 2012

Top 20 Prospects Update

Filed under: Featured,Minor League — Norm @ 12:00 pm

It’s about time for another update on VFTB’s Top 20 Prospects. The position prospects are doing pretty well while the results have been ugly on the pitching side. The past draft hopes to rectify that as the Cubs signed a number of high upside arms led by Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and Duane Underwood.

First, the hitters:

Despite all of Brett Jackson‘s strikeouts, he’s been producing in the PCL. I just don’t think he’ll be able to produce like that in the majors with a K rate so high. Shades of Dallas McPherson, if you’re familiar with him.

The top two picks of the Cubs 2011 draft, Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach, are both crushing the ball in the early stages of their careers. You’ll see Baez somewhere around the Top 25 Prospects in the game when next years Top 100’s come out. Kevin Goldstein recently said he’s become the top offensive prospect in the Midwest League with scouts putting a 70 on his hit and power tool.
Although Vogelbach is hitting, you won’t see him on any Top 100’s. As a 1B only player, likely a DH, you really need to hit and hit and hit some more. He’ll have to do this year in and year out for the pro’s to believe.

Ahhhhh….Matt Szczur. Cub fans love them some Szczur. I admit, he’s doing better than I thought he would thanks to a complete turnaround in his walk rate. Still doesn’t have much power and needs to be in AA, but his stock is slightly up in my book.

Josh Vitters is also doing much better than I had imagined he would…his approach has always been the issue with him, and his walk rate isn’t so terrible while keeping his K’s in check. His BABIP is on the high side for him, so there may be some good fortune involved, but we’ll see Vitters in Chicago by the end of the year.

Skipping down to Arismendy Alcantara…he’s a guy I brought up on the last update that’s really impressing. He’s one of the younger guys in the league and has a chance to stick at SS and is on his way to a .300 hitting, 10 homer, 30 stolen base season.

And the pitching….

I’ll start at the bottom with some pitchers who have jumped into the running for Top 20 for next year. Michael Jensen is one of the few Cub pitchers with a K rate over 7 per 9 innings. Not that impressive, but combined with a low home run rate and good walk rate, he’s showing that he’s someone to keep an eye on.

For everything I said about Jensen I can say about Nick Struck, but Struck is doing it in AA. The Cubs rushed him in 2011, giving him innings in High A, AA, and AAA where he struggled. Back to a more appropriate level in 2012, his numbers are promising.

Alberto Cabrera is a future bullpen guy; potentially in high leverage situations. Back in Spring Training he was throwing 95+ with good movement and he is just carving through hitters this season. Might see him this year and could be a fixture in the pen beginning in 2013.

In his 4th year in the organization, Jose Rosario is starting full time for the first time in his professional career and is not disappointing. We need to see what happens in higher levels, but he’s putting up numbers in line with both Jensen and Struck, except that he’s giving up a few more hits along the way.

Back to the top, Dillon Maples hasn’t pitched yet as he’s been nursing an injury. I believe he’ll be throwing at some point in the next couple weeks. Trey McNutt was recently moved to the bullpen which was the expected path for him. Dae-Eun Rhee was a favorite of mine that has struggled in AA. One thing I noticed with him, McNutt, and Eric Jokisch; once they hit AA their strikeout rates plummeted. Gerardo Concepcion looks to be a bust; but he’s young and I wouldn’t give up on anyone until they have to. Dolis looks like he’ll have a career as a RP so long as he can carry over those K’s to the big leagues. Ben Wells was in the running as my top Cubs pitching prospect, but Tommy John ended his season.

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  • bonesinis

    That has to be the worst minor’s pitching collection ever. Holy Stink Bomb Jim Henery! Thank God Theo/Jed went on a pitching draft tear this year. That is amazingly horrible.

  • Norm Bothwell

     Yeah…it’s pretty terrible.

  • Jarred B.

    When will Solar start playing and what league will he begin in? Also on an updated Prospect list where would he rank? 

  • jswanson

    How in the s*** is Big Dan sitting in the 4 spot?  Must be that stolen base. 

  • Dusty Baylor

     Whither Matt Loosen?  8-3 with a 2.79 ERA at Daytona…WHIP is 1.000, K/BB is 2.68, K/9 is 8.6

  • Norm Bothwell

    Within the next week, and probably starting in Arizona.
    He’s probably going to be battling Almora for the #2 spot next year, #3 at the worst.

  • Norm Bothwell

     He was pretty high up in our cumulative rankings…I forget where we each had him individually. Definitely on the high side…

  • Norm Bothwell

    Well I could have gone on and one with listing all the pitchers, but had the draw the line somewhere…he’s a bit older than the others and he’s still in A ball, so he’s a tick behind the other non-ranked guys I mentioned…

  • Dusty Baylor

     Valid point I suppose.  He was a 23rd round pick in only his 3rd season.

  • Cubs Future

    Maybe because you guys knew that he was going to get a triple too.  This guy has hidden speed.  It is easy to see why couldn’t see it.  LOL

  • Cubs Future

    There are a few pitchers that will show up on the radar soon as some will become good relievers and some will turn up the notch for being a starter.  But definitely some fresh blood from the draft and upcoming trades will help.  There will always be some busts and some late bloomers, but that is why there is always next year.  Another year of a draft and some more trades to liven up the minor league system.

  • Norm Bothwell

     PJ Francescon, Brooks Raley, Frankie Del Valle and the relief version of Jay Jackson are a few others that probably deserve a mention.

  • Noah_I

    I think that’s a good sign of how much better the system has gotten, though.  I’d bet next year Vogelbach will end up in the 11-20 range.  At least offensively, the only prospect who has really been something of a disappointment has been Brett Jackson, and that’s only because he has failed to take a step forward with all the K’s, not really due to a regression.  Baez, Candelario, Vitters, Szczur and Lake have all been, to some degree or another, better than expected.  And we get to add Almora and Soler to that list.

  • Cubs Future

     Heard he was supposed to report to Arizona Today.  So maybe we will hear something.

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