It's that time of the year, so Fangraphs released their version of the top Cubs prospects list right behind Baseball Prospectus' list from a few days ago. In case you are wondering, I'm sure OV will have our own top Cubs prospects list just as soon as the search teams find DJ and we can chain him back up to his computer again.
But let's not steal Fangraphs' thunder right now, since I expect some other site to steal its thunder within a day or two anyway.
The Fangraphs Top 15 are (rank from BP):
- Javier Baez (2)
- Albert Almora (1)
- Jorge Soler (3)
- Dillon Maples (10)
- Dan Vogelbach (5)
- Arodys Vizcaino (4)
- Brett Jackson (6)
- Matt Szczur (NR)
- Christian Villanueva (9)
- Josh Vitters (NR)
- Marco Hernandez (NR)
- Jeimer Candelario (NR)
- Junior Lake (NR)
- Duane Underwood (8)
- Trey Martin (NR)
So there are a couple of interesting choices here. First, Dillon Maples is awfully high for a kid who pitched a total of 10+ innings for the organization last year. They love his potential:
As a pitcher, the scout said the North Carolina native is a “horse of a kid” with a plus fastball that can touch 95-97 mph with a plus 12-to-6 “wipeout” curveball. “It’s as good a breaking ball as I’ve seen… while scouting,” he added. “He has a chance to throw three plus pitches.” … The scout said Maples has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation starter. “He’s a very focus kid.”
So that's nice to hear about an organization as weak in the pitching department as the Cubs are. But at 20 years old, and only 10 innings last year, he's nowhere close to joining the rotation any time soon.
The other ranking that really stuck out to me was Josh Vitters even being included in this list. I think we pretty much found out that he is who we all feared he was, namely, not good enough to play in the majors. What's interesting is that Fangraphs seems to agree:
The third overall selection of the 2007 amateur draft, Vitters has been a disappointment during the first six seasons of his pro career. Although he’s always hit for a high average, his overly-aggressive approach will not allow him to hit for average in the majors.
He doesn’t have much power, and there are also questions about his ability to stick at the hot corner. The Pacific Coast League helped Vitters produce fairly solid offensive numbers but the bottom fell out when he reached the majors and he struck out more than 33% of the time. When I watched the young third baseman he took a four-pitch walk but none of the pitches were close to the strike zone.
The bolding is mine, but that's an awful lot of dumping on a guy you just ranked as the Cubs' #10 prospect. That does not speak well of anybody ranked below Vitters.
I also found it interesting and somewhat encouraging that three of the top six (Almora, Soler, and Vizcaino) were brought in by Theo and Jed, while the remaining three were part of Hendry's last draft so they didn't get much of any instruction in the Hendry-led see-fastball, hit-fastball approach that preceded Theo's Cubs Way of working the count and grinding out at-bats. So maybe we'll see a higher percentage of these guys work out over time. I don't know, I'm grasping at straws for positives here, people.