John Sickel’s Releases Cubs Top 20 Prospect List
It is a known fact that the Chicago Cubs have been one of the worst teams in the Major Leagues over the past few years. They will once again have a Top 10 pick (for the fourth straight year) in July’s MLB Draft. Since 2010 the losses have been piling up. The Cubs lost 87 games in 2010, 91 games in 2011, 101 games 2012, and 96 games in 2013 for a grand total of 373 losses in the last four seasons. Most would think they would continue this trend given their history of being the “Lovable Losers.” However, since Theo Epstein has taken over as President of Baseball Operations he has turned the Cubs farm system into one of the best Minor League Systems in the league.
Minor League Baseball’s John Sickels released the Cubs top 20 prospects today and it will give Cubs fans some hope for the future. Here are the Top 20 with grades for each player:
A Grade Players1. Javier Baez 2. Kris Bryant 3. Albert Almora
B Grade Players4. Jorge Soler 5. C.J. Edwards 6. Arismendy Alcantara 7. Pierce Johnson 8. Jeimer Candelario 9. Dan Vogelbach 10. Christian Villanueva
C Grade Players11. Arodys Vizcaino 12. Mike Olt 13. Neil Ramirez 14. Matt Szczur 15. Josh Vitters 16. Kyle Hendricks 17. Corey Black 18. Rob Zastryzny 19. Ivan Pineyro 20. Paul Blackburn This list is very impressive given that in 2011 Brett Jackson was their top prospect and is not even seen on this list. Mr. Epstein has acquired eight of these players via trade including three from the Matt Garza deal (who spent only three months in Texas).
Javier Baez tops the list and could possibly reach Wrigley by mid-summer of 2014. Sickels mentions that he could provide Giancarlo Stanton like power. Sickels also praises Kris Bryant, who was drafted this past summer, as a combo of Troy Glaus and Ryan Braun. Bryant could potentially make his debut as a September call-up, but being so young with little pro experience the Cubs may wait to give him time to mature.
Arismendy Alcantara broke through in his 2013 season and has opened the eyes of many scouts. He possesses some pop as well as pretty good speed that could make him a valuable second baseman by late 2014.
One name that stands out to me as a “C” prospect is Arodys Vizcaino. Once a top pitching prospect for the Braves, he has battled injuries (including Tommy John surgery) and hasn’t pitched in a game since 2011. Vizcaino was projected as a starter, but injury issues have relegated him to a solid option out of the back end of the bullpen. Only time will tell how well he will be able to bounce back and get some innings in.
Cubs fans should be very excited about the future. With 24 year old Anthony Rizzo and 23 year old Starlin Castro the Cubs are starting to put together a core of players that will hopefully be competitive for a long time. With the number four pick in this years draft they will look to add to an already impressive farm system and will likely not be competitive again in 2014; granting them another top 10 pick in 2015. Many fans want the front office to buy high priced free agents, but they are doing the right thing by building from within and will spend the money when the time is right.