I'm sure the McNutt ranking will be contraversial. I'm sure most will either have BJax or Archer #1 with McNutt coming 3rd. From my standpoint I see McNutts FB/SL grading out better then Archer's with both of their CU being roughly equal but McNutts improved command as the season wore on gives him the edge imo. 2 things to be noted McNutt had only 127 IP and 20 years old coming into AA this year and I feel he has more upside remaining then Archer.
With the overall rankings this is just a rough draft that I plan to re-post just before BA come sout with their top 10. So don't be overly concerned with exact placing but look more at the players on the list.
1. Trey McNutt RHP - Strong build (6'4 205) with a FB siting 92-98 and a hard slider with both pitches grading out as plus-plus. CU shows promise and command improved as the season wore on. Attacks hitters with a bulldog mentality. Has the stuff to be an ace with a conservative upside of a #2. Worse case senario he could close but I see no reason why he won't continue to start.
2. Brett Jackson CF - 5 tool talent. I've used Grady-lite comps but I'm not sure if he will ever post high BA. Strikes out to much but draws a ton of walks. After a 8/19 start upon his promotion to AA only hit .258 (209 ABS) the rest of the way. Very streaky hitter. Profiles more as a solid regular on a 1st divsion team then an A.S. Solid all around game that to me profiles more as a Mike Cameron type offensively. Won't be the defender Cameron is but get's good jumps with accurate arm that is plenty for CF.
3. Chris Archer RHP - Velocity saw a jump to go with his bat splintering SL. FB has average life and his SL ranges from average to plus. Fantastic season 15-2 2.34 9.4 K/9 between high A and AA. Saw a regression in command when promoted to AA going from 3.2 BB/9 in high A to 5.0 in AA. In high A he was attacking hitters and trusting his stuff then seemed to go back to nibbling to much. Get's ground balls and keeps the ball in the park. Upside of a good #2 but will be more of a 3/4 or bullpen arm unless he can take long term steps forward with his command.
4. Hak-Ju Lee SS - Had a nice season in his full season debut. Ranked as the 13th best prospect in a loaded Midwest League. Seems scouts expected more but I think it was pretty much everything you could have hoped for. I did a season in review post and here is the link:
Hit .282, walked 8.9% of the time, and stole 32 bases (82% success rate) showing he has the skills to be a good lead off hitter. In my review I said he could end up moving Castro to 2B and it seems that might not be the case from what scouts said. Even if he moves to 2B he would combine with Castro for a good DP combo as well as a nice 1-2 hitter at the top of the line up. If he can just add a little power his offesive ceiling could realy take off.
5. Josh Vitters 3B - Stock has been on the decline since being drafted. Has not been allowed to play a full year at any level to date. Has struggled initially at each level but has come back to hit. PD was improving and was just starting to hit (.303 33 ABS) in AA when a hand injury sidelined him for the year. Just 21 it seems he's been around forever and was rushed to AA at 20. Needs to spend every minute of 2011 in AA and let's really get a chance to see what he can do.
6. Chris Carpenter RHP - Potential innings eating # 3/4 starter. Has good stuff 91-94 mph FB that can touch 97 with good life creating lot's of groundballs. Mid 80s slurve with bite and depth. Solid CU. Needs to work on command.
7. Jae-Hoon Ha OF - Had an excellent season in a stacked Midwest League. Did not make the league's top 20 according to BA but probably would have in another year. Posted an .802 OPS and his power started emerging as the season went on. Has good speed while posting .150 ISO and +18 wRC (or basically saying he was 18% better then the league average). Put's easy wood on the ball but 3.2% walk rate will need to improve as he advances. Overall I like the direction he's headed and if he can improve his ability to work counts could be a real good player.
8. Jay Jackson RHP - Stock down after a disapointing season that saw him give up a ton of HR. Nice 4 pitch mix but will need to improve his HR% to succeed at the ML level.
9. Rafael Dolis RHP - Elite stuff starting with a very heavy mid 90s FB that reportly can touch triple digits. 85-87 mph wipeout slider that is a 2nd plus pitch. CU is a work in progress. Considering he just started pitching in 2006 he put up a real promising season overall and held his own in AA with only 226 IP coming into the Southern League. Generates a ton of groundballs. With the hard stuff he offers you'd like to see a better then 6.6 K/9. Still learning to pitch and did post a better K/9 (7.3) after his promotion to AA. Needs to work on his control to reach his potential. Still questions about his ability to start long term but with his 2 hard pitchs could be a late inning reliever.
10. Robinson Lopez RHP - Key player aquired in the Derek Lee deal. Elite velocity siting 93-96 at times but poor command leaves this pitch just average but with potential. CB shows promise with hard 10-5 break that could be a swing and miss pitch if he can refine it and be more consistent. The CU shows real promise in bullpen sesions according to Mike Newman of socutingthesally.com. Could have 3 average to above average pitches if things come together but right now is just a lottery tickett. Newman in his thoughts on BA "Sally" top 20 said he would esily taken Lopez over Trevor May, Robbie Ross and even Arodys Vizcaino. It will be interesting to see what the Cubs can do with him considering the strides they made with Cashner and Archer.
11. Reggie Golden OF - Profiles as a prototypical RF with well above average power and arm. Has above average current speed but will probably lose some as his body matures but should still be average. Has serious PD issues. Needs to work on recognizing breaking stuff. I know this is a small sample size but 7 K's in 15 Abs in rookie ball shows he has a lot of work to do. Golden is the quintessential high risk high reward player.
12. Darwin Barney SS - 4 average tools that play up because of instincts and intelligence. I like him and should be a usefull untility player who has been a winner. Not flashy but does all the little things right.
13. Robinson Chirinos C - Had a Geo Soto-esque breakout season at 26. I'm still a little skeptical but always showed power/on base skills throughout his minor league career.
14. Austin Kirk LHP - Quality stuff for this lefty with a FB sitting 88-91 and touching 92 that explodes on hitters. Improving CB and advanced CU for a player his age. Get's GB and throws strikes. Maybe a breakout player in 2011.
15. D.J. LeMahieu IF - Had a ridiculous 2nd half of the season ending with a .314 AVG. Best pure hitter in the system. He grew on me this year. Profiles as a UTL player now but if he can start turning on some balls and grow into some power could be an offensive minded 2B. The big question with him is will he ever develop power from his 6'4 185 frame.
16. Junior Lake SS - Seemed to figure some things out this season. Walk rate jumped from 3.7% last year to 8.1% this year is very encouraging. Flashed the ability to hit for power. Has the best arm in the organization. Will eventually have to move off SS but has the arm and range to play 3B. AA should be telling in 2011 if this step forward was for real. If he can continue to improve could jump up this list.
17. Su-Min Jung RHP - This is a player I'm far more bullish on then anyone else. I love this kid's arm. FB sits in the low 90's but can reach back and get 95 to go with a power curve that could be above average. CU is a work in progress. Command is the key here. Had a 2 month stretch where he was pretty dominant untill a 1 inning 6 walk outing skewed his numbers. I have tabbed him a breakout candidate for 2011 and if he can harness his control he could really take off.
18. Brandon Guyer OF - Solid all around skills. Had an outstanding season in 2010 ranking as the 14th best prospect in the Southern League according to BA. Has stole 60 bases while being caught only 10 times over the past 2 years. Profiles more as a 4th OF type.
19. Hayden Simpson RHP - Considered a reach in the 1st round this year but has a nice 4 pitch arsenal that he commands well. Small stature maybe a poor mans Roy Oswalt. Wilken has shown a knack for finding unknown arms. Has yet to make debut.
20. Ryan Flaherty IF - I'm just not a believer in his bat. This is actually a little high imo and will probably be moving down. Has power but at 24 still hasn't shown he can hit AA pithcing. Has been old for every level.
21. Ben Wells RHP - 7th rounder that got an over slot 530K to sign. Velo jumped to 90-94 in the spring. Has a hard slider and splitter. Could be a steal and reminds me some of Wade Davis.
22. Chris Rusin LHP - Curveball specialist that put together a nice season that saw him rise to AA. FB sits in the 87-89 range and is considered "lively". CU is a work in progress. Gets GB and throws strikes. Probably profiles better as a lefty releiver then a long term starter.
23. Brooks Raley LHP - Athletic lefty who has little left in the way of projection. Classic tale of 2 seasons. 2-5 5.93 pre-A.S. 6-1 1.87 post A.S. What is the reality? Probably somewhere in between the 2 splits. Stuff is average and may end up in the bullpen.
24. Matt Szczur OF - 2010 5th rounder who is raw for a college player. After a nice debut returned to Vandy to play football which clouds his future. Has 80 speed and good on base skills. No power and fringy arm are his draw backs. Is a tireless worker who could make strides if he decides to focus on baseball.
25. Kim Jin-Yeong RHP - This ranking is purely based on scouting reports. Got 1.2m to sign and hasn't yet made it stateside yet. FB get's up to 92 with a CB, SL, and CU. Has above average control for a player his age.
26. Austin Reed RHP - Good debut from this 12th rounder who dropped that far because of signability issues. Inteligent pitcher who got Jon Garland comps. Has a nice 3 pitch mix. FB sits 88-91 that may get better as he matures. Ranked 11th on BA AZL top 20.
27. Matt Cerda 2B - Scrapy player who draws a ton of walks. Was playing 3B in the Midwest League because of Lee/Watkins but is really a 2B. Probably a role player at this point with his skills. Draws a ton of walks (68) but not much speed or power which limits his upside.
28. Casey Coleman RHP - Had a decent late season ML debut. Fringy FB, solid CB, and the best CU in the system combined with above average command. Profiles as a #5 or long reliever.
29. Logan Watkins 2B - Disapointing season that saw his AVG drop and Ks rise. Best tools are his plus speed and ability to draw walks. Could be a super UTL player. No current power clouds his future. Will look to rebound in high A next year.
30. Alberto Cabrera RHP - Intriguing arm that shows the potential for 3 average to above average pitches. Can hit 94 with the FB. Was putting together a great season in high A before being promoted to AA where he got rocked. Upon returning to high A he continued getting shelled. Solid preriphials with a 8.3 K/9 3.3 BB/9 7 HRA and 1.30 GO/AO that were skewed a bit by his late seaosn collapse. Just 22 and has promise.
**Daniel Sanchez SS - 16 year old, 6'2 170 Dominican SS, who signed for 500K. Has above average power and average tools the rest of the way. Should start next season in the DSL hopefully.
**Kyung-Min Na OF - Very similar player to Hak-Ju Lee. Recieved 725K last year out of Korea. At 18 probably should have played in rookie ball this year. Obviously over matched in SS-A ball. Like Lee he has no current power but has blazing speed and already offers ML caliber defense covering lot's of ground and sporting a great arm. Draws walks and is a great bunter. Probably needs to play in rookie ball in 2011 or worst case a 2nd go aorund in SS-A imho.
**Arismendy Alcantara SS - Very intriguing prospect who is a sleeper at this point. Put together a very solid season in SS-A ball as an 18 year old. Switch hitter who has some projection. Not real sure on his exact scouting report but I do like what I've seen so far. Probably ticketed to be Peoria's starting SS next year and hopefully I can watch him play next year.
Wellington Castillio C, Dae-Eun Rhee RHP, Micah Gibbs C, Kyler Burke OF, Brett Wallach RHP, Pin Chieh Chen 2B, Aaron Kurcz RHP, Pierre La Page 2B, David Cales RHP, John Gaub RHP, Jeffrey Antigua LHP
Overall I see Archer, Jackson, Carpenter, and Lee as solid regulars. We have some intriguing players in Ha, Dolis, Lopez, Golden, Lake, Jung, and Kirk, etc. but even if they hit their ceilings it's more solid regulars at best. This system lacks potential all-stars. McNutt I beleive has the potential to be an ace but we still need to see what he does in 2011 and even if he levels out he's another solid player. The system has lot's of speed but lacks power. Lot's of power arms with intriguie but many may end up in the bullpen. I understand that this is true of most Sp in the minors but the questions seem more prevelent with this stable of arms.
I like the system overall but the Cubs really need to spend heavily in the 2011 draft for high upside talent. Potentially Archer, both Jacksons, Carpenter, Chirinos, Barney, Guyer, and maybe McNutt could be on the roster by late 2011 leaving this system Houston Astros thin circa 2008 and before. in my "Mid Season Cubs Top 30" I thought this could be an elite system. Being honest I spent most of this year doing work on the BCB and Wrigley Bound and much less time on the MiLB players as I had in the past and overrated the system. This is realy a 20-25 system.
The 2011 draft will be really telling to where this system will be going.