Quite a bit has changed, so why not look at the Cubs’ top prospects through a third of the season and after the draft?
1. Javier Baez, SS/3B
2. Albert Almora, CF
3. Jorge Soler, RF
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Brett Jackson, CF
6. Dillon Maples, RHP
7. Josh Vitters, 3B/OF
8. Junior Lake, SS/3B
9. Matt Szczur, CF
10. Arismendy Alcantara, SS
More names to watch: Ben Wells (P), Gerardo Concepcion (P), Jose Rosario (P), Alberto Cabrera (P), Jeff Beliveau (P), Tony Zych (P)
Javier Baez A SS/3B
Baez played a little last year, but has lit up the Midwest League since joining Peoria in June. In 16 games (and 58 ABs), Baez has hit .310/.394/.569 with 4 HRs and 7-7 in SB attempts. This isn’t coming out of nowhere, as he projected for plus power and at least an above average bat. The biggest concern for Baez entering last year’s draft was his plate discipline, which has been great thus far. The sample size is small, but this could be the middle of the order bat the Cubs are looking for. Add in plus defense at third (he’ll probably move off of short), and Baez could be a future MVP candidate.
Albert Almora Unsigned Rookie CF
Almora doesn’t have a major hole in his game. He has a great arm and is fast, but nowhere close to a burner. He’ll stick in center with the chance to play well above average defense there while possessing a bat that would work in a corner. He has a great approach at the plate and is advanced for his age. He should hit well and provide 20 or so home runs.
Ceiling: Perennial All-Star, Top-10 MVP
Jorge Soler Unsigned Cuban FA RF
Soler is a Cub, he just isn’t one (yet). Expect him to spend time in Arizona working with training staff on getting back into baseball shape and start working baseball activities before being assigned to a team.
With that said, Soler is a guy to dream on. He bring plus-plus power and a plus arm to the table. He’s 6’3″ but is an above average runner that will slow down as he fills out. There are a wide array of opinions on how good of a hitter Soler will be and even larger questions about his approach, simply because there’s been very little scouting work done in games. Wherever he starts (think A ball or short-season), he’s a must follow. If the approach is good and the hit tool is solid, expect comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton to start coming. But that’s a long way off.
Anthony Rizzo AAA 1B
Rizzo has been destroying AAA pitching for more than a year now and has made adjustments and shortened his swing since being demoted by the Padres. He’s hit 22 home runs and has 39 extra-base hits while hitting .367/.426/.747. The power numbers are exaggerated by the Pacific Coast League (a notorious hitters league), but should show up at Wrigley in spades along with his disciplined approach. Rizzo also profiles as an above-average defensive first baseman.
Ceiling: All-Star, Top-10 MVP
Brett Jackson AAA CF
Jackson is similar to Almora in that he has all the tools, but none of them rank much higher than above average. He will probably hit in the .250s but will make up for it with a strong walk rate that should put his OBP around .340. Jackson can play center and has a good arm for the position, and should be a threat on the bases. The only thing that could hold Jackson back is his propensity to strike out, as he could get to 200 in a season in the majors.