June 27, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) hits a double in the third inning against the New York Metsat Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE
Chicago Cubs Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review
Moving forward with our mid-season reviews of our pre-season Top 20 prospect lists, we stay in the National League with a look at the Chicago Cubs. Remember, this is the pre-season list. It is not a new list.
This list was originally published January 6th, 2012.
1) Brett Jackson, OF, Grade B+: Still showing impressive power/speed combo, 22 steals with 20 doubles, 11 triples, 14 homers, overall line .259/.338/.485 in Triple-A. However, 143 strikeouts in 371 at-bats is very worrisome.
2) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Grade B+: Yonder Alonso: .255/.334/.359. Anthony Rizzo: .342/.405/.696 in Triple-A, .323/.357/.527 in 24 major league games. He seems to have fixed his problems from last year.
3) Javier Baez, SS-3B, Grade B: Stock way up now that we see him on the field. .323/.381/.589 with 10 homers, 19 steals in 180 at-bats for Low-A Peoria. Impatient, just seven walks, but tremendous bat speed is carrying him forward.
4) Matt Szczur, OF, Grade B-: Borderline B. Hitting .292/.391/.405 with 46 walks, 49 strikeouts in 291 at-bats for High-A Daytona, 38 steals in 50 attempts. Showing more patience but less home run power this year.
5) Trey McNutt, RHP, Grade B-: 4.66 ERA with 49/34 K/BB in 75 innings for Double-A Tennessee, 83 hits, 12 homers. Scouting reports aren't any more impressive than the numbers at this point, stock continues to decline.
6) Dillon Maples, RHP, Grade B-: Hasn't pitched at all this year, rehabbing an injury.
7) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Grade B-: Mashing so far, hitting .342/.403/.694 on the year, 12 walks, 15 strikeouts in 111 at-bats, just promoted to short-season Boise from Arizona Rookie League.
8) Junior Lake, SS, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Hitting .285/.337/.423 with 20 walks, 71 strikeouts in 274 at-bats in Double-A, 12 steals in 21 attempts. Still showing very intriguing tools, has made some progress but remains raw, especially on defense.
9) Welington Castillo, C, Grade C+: .272/.380/.426 for Triple-A Iowa, .206/.270/.353 in the majors. Still has the good defensive tools, likely have a career as a backup.
10) Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP, Grade C+: 5.09 ERA with 56/38 K/BB in 106 innings in Double-A, 122 hits. A disappointment, I thought he could break through, but he hasn't done much. Gets some grounders (1.71 GO/AO) but doesn't dominate.
11) Josh Vitters, 3B-1B, Grade C+: .299/.349/.504 with 30 doubles, 15 homers, 25 walks, 69 strikeouts in 375 at-bats for Iowa. Showing more power this year, but since it is the PCL, a bit of caution is warranted. I am working on a full report for him that will lay out my thoughts. Still just 22 years old, stock has certainly gone back up, but I'm trying to figure out how much.
12) Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Grade C+: Making jump from Dominican Summer League to Boise in the Northwest League and holding his own, .289/.358/.423 with 14 walks, 32 strikeouts in 149 at-bats. Has cooled off after a hot start.
13) Marco Hernandez, SS, Grade C+: .210/.249/.299 in 43 games for Peoria, .228/.246/.338 in 34 games for Boise. Has to do better than this, no matter how good his glove is. Still has time at age 19.
14) Chris Carpenter, RHP, Grade C+: Traded to Boston Red Sox, has been injured most of the season, pitching 11 innings at four levels.
15) Rafael Dolis, RHP, Grade C+: Good in Triple-A (2.92 ERA, 13/4 K/BB in 12 innings), not so good in the majors due to control problems, 6.44 ERA with 14/20 K/BB in 29 innings, 28 hits. Age 24, and will get more chances.
16) Zach Cates, RHP, Grade C+: I thought he was a big sleeper coming over from the Padres, but he's been ineffective, 7.45 ERA with 30/19 K/BB in 48 innings at three levels, 74 hits. Ugly numbers. Still getting some ground balls at least, 1.97 GO/AO.
17) Ben Wells, RHP, Grade C+: 3.60 ERA with 35/8 K/BB, 2.42 GO/AO in 40 innings for Peoria. Was looking good before going down with an elbow injury
18) Dave Sappelt, OF, Grade C+: .260/.316/.350 with four homers, 12 steals, 30 walks, 53 strikeouts in 369 at-bats for Iowa. I felt he was much better than this, but power is way down.
19) Ronald Torreyes, 2B, Grade C+: .256/.319/.369 with 22 walks, 23 strikeouts, 12 steals in 309 at-bats for Daytona. Another guy who has to hit better than this, even with a good glove.
20) Reggie Golden, OF, Grade C+: Torn ACL.
21) Gioskar Amaya, 2B, Grade C+: Hitting .328/.397/.540 with 15 walks, 27 strikeouts in 137 at-bats for Boise. Here is a breakthrough guy who is actually doing so, stock should be moving up.
22) Tony Zych, RHP, Grade C+: 3.19 ERA with 36/7 K/BB in 37 innings for Daytona, 32 hits, six saves. Promoted to Double-A, rough so far with 6.43 ERA, 10/4 K/BB but 11 hits in seven innings, tiny sample of course. Overall a successful full-season debut.
23) Shawon Dunston, Jr, OF, Grade C+: Overmatched at Boise, .185/.254/.323 with four walks, 14 strikeouts in 65 at-bats. Sent back to Arizona, .286/.352/.469 in 49 at-bats, five walks, 11 strikeouts. I'd hoped for better but everyone knew he was raw.
24) Aaron Kurcz, RHP, Grade C+ Traded to Red Sox, posted 3.04 ERA with outstanding 72 strikeouts in 50 innings in Double-A, 27 walks and 42 hits. Just went on the disabled list.
There was a ton of difficult-to-order C+ on this list pre-season, and several guys I felt could break through have not done so. On the other hand, the success of Anthony Rizzo is a cause for celebration, Baez looks excellent so far, and Vitters is getting himself noticed for good reasons again. Pitchers Brooks Raley, Nicholas Struck, Matt Loosen, and Michael Jensen have all pitched well enough to merit attention, and shortstop Arismendy Alcantara was having a very fine year in High-A until going on the DL earlier this month. He needs work on defense but has a strong arm and was hitting very impressively with a .302/.339/.447 mark with 25 steals, at age 20 in High-A.
The 2012 draft provides a quick injection of talent into the system, with Albert Almora leading the way, followed by college arm Pierce Johnson and a trio of promising prep right-handers, Paul Blackburn, uber-projectable Duane Underwood, and athletic Ryan McNeil. The Cubs went $373,800 over budget to sign everyone. And none of that includes Cuban import Jorge Soler, who at worst represents that the team is strongly committed to rebuilding the farm, and who at best could be a star.
The 2013 list is going to look considerably different.