01) Josh Vitters 3B-- 1 of the most controversial prospects in baseball right now. Most in the community seem to be down on him. Yes his Shawn Dunston like 12 BB in 458 AB is appaling but what gets overlooked is he SO a respectable 65 times or 14.2% of the time. He's got a smooth RH swing which I've read is 1 of the prettiest in the minors. He is still the 1 player in the system who could be an elite player. He will have to improve on his walk rate but he's still just turned 20 and has struggled at each level initially but has made the adjustments which leads me to believe he will improve.
02) Starlin Castro SS-- Huge riser in the system who offers a lot to like. Once he fills out his frame he will add power to go w/ above average speed. Good defender who's PD is improving. I normally don't do much comparing to current ML players but I can see something along the lines of Yunel Escobar offensive profile w/ maybe a few more SB. .280ish 15 hr 15-20 sb if everything comes together (in a perfect world).
03) Brett Jackson CF-- Power/Speed combo guy who BA seemed to imply he may have been a better prospect in the Midwest League then Vitters. Matt Swain at chicagonow.com called him Grady Sizemore lite. Not outta the question but that's setting our sites pretty high. He's gonna K a lot but he draws walks. How much he strikes out will ultimately control his offensive ceiling.
04) Andrew Cashner RHP-- Not sold on him as a starter just yet. All depends on if he can develop his CU to ML average. Electric FB/Slider combo. At the least he should become a dominant reliever. His high 90's FB and wipe out slider could play much the same as Broxton's imho if he ends up in the pen.
05) Hak Ju-Lee SS-- Had an outstanding debut in SS-A ball ranking as the Northwest League #1 prospect. I think the Derek Jeter comp was just plain stupid but he could be a high average/lots of SB top of the order type hitter w/ good D. While his debut went great I'm holding off on getting to excited untill I see more. Has a real nice skill set. Could end up better then Castro if he fills out his wiry frame.
06) Jay Jackson RHP-- Sleeper from the '08 draft is paying off nice on the Cubs $90,000 investment. Has a nice mix of pitches 92-94 FB, late biting SL, CU, and CB. Could be a #2 starter. 1 concern for me is overall he had a 3.25 bb/9 over 127 ip but take out his stellar 4 bb in 38.33 ip in the FSL and his 42 bb in 88.67 ip and his bb/9 rises to 4.26. So it will be interesting to see how that plays next year at AA/AAA.
07) Kyler Burke RF-- 21 and in his 2nd go around in the Midwest League leaves me cautious about this breakout season. But from what I've read about his PD taking a huge step forward combined w/ BA ranking him as the best strike zone discipline in the Cubs system (which for the Cubs system that might not be saying a whole lot LOL) leaves me optimistic. I think if this step forward is for real he could end up being better then Brett Jackson and filling in as a prototypical RF. Great arm should hit for more power and savvy on the base paths.
08) Chris Carpenter RHP-- 92-95 FB that can hit 97. Good hard curve. Like w/ Cashner it's the CU that will ultimately determine if he can start or has to move to the pen. He gets good reviews from scouts. Fell on draft day in 08' due to TJ surgery. Could be a real steal.
09) Dae-Eun Rhee RHP-- Coming off TJ surgery. Has good FB 90-92 touching 94 and not outta the question he could add some velocity after the TJ surgery. Solid-average curve and plus CU. Could end up w/ 3 plus pitches. It all depends on how he comes back from surgery but could be a riser if he's OK. A persoanl favorite of mine.
10) Logan Watkins 2B-- Thought I would take a lot of flack for putting him in my top 10 but I applaud BA for putting him in their top 10. Not sure he's #7 but still pleasantley surprised at the aggresive ranking. Great athlete who can hit for average w/ plus speed. Could fill out and hit for more power in the future but still just projection at this point. Another favorite.
11) Ryan Flaherty 2B-- 22/23 in Low A takes some shine off his season but if he can carry it to higher levels will move up on prospect lists. 20 HR shows that his power is for real.
12) Jeffrey Antigua LHP-- Low 90's FB solid CB. I don't have a whole lot of info on the young lefty but his numbers are nice and has good control displaying good pitching IQ.
13) Chris Archer RHP-- 21 at Low A and ranked in the top 20 in the Midwest League. Mid 90's FB may end up in the pen. Put up great numbers will reserve a higher ranking after I see what he does at higher levels.
14) D.J. LeMieu IF-- Had disapointing season at LSU and didn't show much power in his debut but had good hit tool and OBP. Need to see more but if he can hit for power like his 6'4 frame suggests he could move up.
15) Brooks Raley LHP-- Cubs paid $500,000 to buy him away from returning to college. Could be a real sleeper. FB sits at 88-91 (can dial it up to 93) but now that he will be a fulltime pitcher could add 20 lbs. to his frame and a few ticks to his FB. Solid SL and CU w/ great control. Could end up being a bargain. Profiles as a middle of the rotation starter. Maybe better w/ improved FB.
16) Jeff Gray RHP-- Mid 90's FB and Mid 80's SL. Great control and gets a ton of groundballs. Has the profile to be a top flight set-up man. IMHO will be just as valuable as a late inning reliever as Fox would have been as a UTL player. The Cubs badly needed a reliever who has this profile. Should be Marmol's set up man. I think Cub fans will be pleasentley surprised.
17) Chris Huseby RHP-- Put together an outstanding year out of the pen. Could be a usefull arm.
18) Junior Lake SS-- Horrible 18/138 bb/k ratio. But at 6'2 200 and still young (19 gonna be 20) I still hold out some hope for him. Could develop plus power and has good speed under way as evident by his 7 3B. MUST improve PD to ever hope of fullfilling his potential.
19) Darwin Barney SS-- Solid player who profiles as a UTL player.
20) Tyler Colvin OF-- Not sold on him as anymore then a 4th OF. Still strikes out way to much. Does offer some nice power/speed combo skills.
21) Su-Min Jung RHP-- Another product of the Cubs aggresive pacific rim scouting. Threw 27.67 IP in his debut this year. Still all projection at this point. FB sits in the high 80's touching the low 90's w/ room to add velocity and clean arm actions. Can spin the ball better then most international players w/ such limited expierence. CU is a work in progress.
22) Wellington Castillo C-- Another guy who had horrible PD. 15/71 bb/k ratio. BA said last year that he could be a Yadier Molina type but more dangerous hitter. LOL not looking good on that comp but still could be a usefull back up C w/ good defensive skills.
23) Matt Spencer OF-- Spencer has a protypical RF body (6’4 220), arm (threw 94 outta the bullpen in college), and power (19 HRs .488 slg). He strikes out to much and dosn’t control the strikezone well. Too inconsistent but could be a decent LH bat off the bench at some point next year. A more athletic and LH version of Fox. Probably a 4th OF.
24) Brandon Guyer OF-- Not real sure what to make of him. Plus-plus speed w/ raw power though hit only 3 hr after hitting 14 at Perioa the year before. Old for High A (23) but had great season but then hit 190 the rest of the way at AA.
25&26) Austin Kirk LHP @ Chris Rusin-- 2 lefties I admit I don't know much about but they were high picks.
OVERVIEW-- The Cubs system ranked 26th according to BA last year. Looks like they will move up to middle of the pack. Hard to say exactly where w/o seeing how every other system stacks up right now. I'm very cautiously optimistic right now. Lots of guys performed well at lower levels so I'm holding out hope they will carry it over to next season. I could see this system moving up to top 10 next year or falling back to bottom 5 that is how volitile this system can be.
No shortage of middle infielders. Possibly the deepest in all of baseball. The problem with the starters is outside of Jay Jackson the rest really look like they would be better off in the bullpen. Cashner would benefit with a move to the bullpen where his velocity would go up. I read a lot of reports that scouts said he had large velocity drop the later into games he went. I would rather have him as a dominant reliever then a ML average SP. Vitters I'm still higher on then most. He's still young. He needs to improve his walk rate sure but he's an aggresive hitter and to tell him to start taking to many pitches could actually stunt his growth. I think he'll be a Pablo Sandoval type hitter when all is said and done. Sandoval and Vitters numbers in Low A and High A are very similar along with there offensive profiles and agressive approach. Kung Fu Panda drew only 38 BB in his first 893 AB in Low/High A. Gray should be a nice addition as a set up guy who can strike guys out and get a lot of groundballs w/ excelent control, things the Cubs bullpen badly needs.
Overall the system is much improved. We have some real intriguing players who will be playing in the low minors. Hopefully with the new owner he will let the Cubs spend some more on the draft. The Cubs ranked 26th in baseball in money spent on the draft at just over 4 million. Of the 4 teams who ranked below them 3 didn't have 1st rounders and the other failed to sign their 1st rounder. For a big markett club like the Cubs we should be investing more in the draft and try to give some cash to talented players who are considered tough signs. The Red Sox, Angels, Phillies, and now the small markett Pirates regularly spend money on guys who are considered tough signs taken later in the draft and it shows in the talent in their farm systems. I'm happy with how the system is coming along but we still need to be taking more steps forward.