Chicago Cubs Top Prospects Update – July 9, 2012

The first half and the Futures Game are over, so why not update the top prospects for the Cubs again? There isn’t much to update on Almora and Soler in terms of performance. Soler is signed and getting ready to start playing in games, and Almora has just signed, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America.

1. Javier Baez, SS/3B
2. Albert Almora, CF
3. Jorge Soler, RF
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
5. Arismendy Alcantara, SS
6. Josh Vitters, 3B/OF
7. Brett Jackson, CF
8. Junior Lake, SS/3B
9. Dillon Maples, RHP
10. Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
11. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF
12. Matt Szczur, CF

Javier Baez     Class A Peoria     SS/3B

Baez is continuing to crush the ball through his 122 at bats, hitting 5 home runs and 5 more extra base hits. His triple slash line of .303/.375/.484 is impressive for a first-year pro and is showing flashes of things to come. He has also stolen 14 bases while being caught only once.

Jeimer Candelario     Short Season A Boise     3B

Candelario is making his American debut after performing well in the Dominican Summer League. Over 89 at bats, the switch hitting third baseman is hitting .337/.379/.517 with 4 home runs. It remains to be seen if he sticks at third, but the bat could be very real.

Arismendy Alcantara     High A Daytona Daytona     SS

Yet another switch hitter, Alcantara is posting a line for a shortstop that causes roaring optimism. In 322 at bats, he is hitting .298/.334/.447 with 7 home runs, 20 more extra base hits, and is 25-29 in stolen bases. I have no idea where his defense is at short, but he could be the eventual second baseman of the Cubs if he keeps this up, or possibly be the guy who moves Starlin Castro to second.

Josh Vitters     Triple A Iowa     3B

Vitters is having an outstanding season in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, posting a .302/.356/.509 line. He has 13 home runs and 25 doubles to go along with it, and has walked 23 times in 318 at bats. While there should be an asterisk thanks to the PCL, Vitters is looking major league ready. Expect to see him in September.

Brett Jackson     Triple A Iowa     CF

If you look at Brett Jackon’s stats in Iowa, you might be fooled. He’s hitting .261/.339/.494 with 12 home runs, 28 more extra base hits, and is 20-24 in stolen bases. Looks fine, until you see that he has struck out 122 times in 318 at bats. Jackson probably isn’t a major league regular, but will have value in center field. He’s like a mix between Tyler Colvin and Drew Stubs with less power than either.

Junior Lake     Double A Tennessee     SS/3B

Lake was a toolsy mess last year and looked to be a long way from the majors, possibly not making it unless it was on the mound. He’s improved by leaps and bounds this year, posting a .286/.335/.404 line in 214 at bats with a more polished look at the plate. There’s still a long way to go, but the gap looks less like a canyon. Look for him to become a better all-around player next year with improvements on defense, approach, and on the bases (he’s 8-17 stealing bases).

Dillon Maples      Arizona Rookie League     RHP

Maples leads a weak crop of Cubs pitching, but has yet to pitch a professional inning. The 14th-round pick is better player than his draft position would indicate, which is obvious from his $2.5 million bonus last year. Maples is sitting out due to a minor injury to his arm/elbow and has been unable to pitch thus far. Young pitchers often get babied in the minor leagues, and it can take time to get up to speed after missing time. Expect Maples to make his pro debut by the end of the season. If he doesn’t, the rest on his body couldn’t hurt either.

Daniel Vogelbach     Arizona Rookie League     1B

Vogelbach is a big kid in the Adam Dunn kind of way. He showed up to spring training having lost weight since high school, a great sign for a player starting out his professional career, and has only recently started playing in games. But oh my, has he been good so far. He’s hitting .339/.391/.629 with 3 home runs and 8 other extra base hits in 62(!) at bats. He’s going to have to hit since he’s a first baseman, but so far, so good.

Jae-Hoon Ha     Double A Tennessee     CF

Ha was the Cubs’ representative at the Futures Game in Kansas City and hit a home run in the game. Ha profiles as a plus defender in center, and can also hit a little. He’ll never be a star, but he could be a solid, slightly above average hitter in center. He’s posting a .259/.326/.353 line thus far.

Matt Szczur     High A Daytona     CF

Szczur is a soon-to-be 23-year-old who missed time due to an injury this year, but has shown outstanding plate discipline in his second full year in the minors. He has 38 walks and 44 strikeouts to go along with a .271/.377/.383 line. It would be nice to see a guy that is a couple years old for the level hit for more power, but that may come with time. A move to double A would not be surprising.

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