When the 2011 MLB amateur draft came along, the Chicago Cubs, like all other teams, set their sights on drafting the best players to help build their organization. Whether utilizing these draftees as trade pieces or grooming them to one day be called up to the big leagues, the ultimate goal is to best equip their team for a run at the World Series.
The following slideshow will highlight the Cubs' top three prospects that were chosen in the 2011 MLB amateur draft, but not the organization's overall top prospects.
The three players to be discussed were the Cubs’ first-round, second-round and 14th-round picks in last year’s draft, and they are also listed on Baseball America’s organizational top 10 prospects for the Chicago Cubs.
So, let’s begin with the Cubs’ first round draft pick, ninth overall, Javier Baez.
By all accounts, Javier Baez is deserving of the high praise and recognition he has garnered. He has excellent bat and base-running speed, which should allow him to sustain a high batting average and on-base percentage as he makes his way through the minors.
While his power is adequate for his size and position, most baseball scouts believe this aspect of his game could, and should, improve as he matures. There, however, you have a question of his position as he makes his way up the Cubs’ farm system.
Not to say that some do not believe he could play third base, but in order to reach the majors with the Cubs, he may indeed need to change positions. Since the Cubs already have a budding star in Starlin Castro at shortstop on their roster, Baez would be remiss to believe he will stay at short if or when he is called up to the North Side, regardless of Castro’s defensive liabilities.
For a statistical update, last year Baez appeared in two games for the Class A Short-Season Northwest League Boise Hawks, going 1-for-6. Prior to moving to Boise, he spent a brief three-game stint with the Cubs in the Arizona League, where he went 4-for-12 with two doubles and two steals.
**The Northwest League resumes play in June, where Javier Baez’s status as a team member is “Active.”
Dillon Maples’ selection by the Cubs in the 14th round of last year’s amateur draft was both surprising and expected. Maples, a two-sport star in high school, had the opportunity to go to college to play both baseball and football.
His indecision on whether his future would entail being a two-sport athlete in college or devote himself to playing baseball caused some scouts to label him as “undraftable.” If he had decided to focus on pro ball prior to the draft, he was projected to have been drafted in the first round.
It was with this luck that he fell to the Cubs in the 14th round. But at a cost.
In an article by MLB.com, Cubs Beat Writer Carrie Muskat wrote that it took the Cubs shelling out $2.5 million to convince him not to attend the University of North Carolina to play baseball and football.
According to a scouting report of MLB.com’s Prospect Watch by Jonathan Mayo, Maples throws a fastball in the low to mid 90s and a hard curve. And while he does have problems with his command and does not currently sport a changeup, most scouts believe both of these issues can be remedied, leading him to become a front-end starter.
However, his troubles with command and lack of changeup are the not the biggest of concerns that some baseball insiders have with Maples. Dillon has a delivery that many believe could cause him issues with durability that, unless his mechanics are changed, Maples could see himself not as a top starter but a star reliever at best.
The best way to describe Dan Vogelbach is a 19-year-old Prince Fielder. Vogelbach is 6’0", 250 pounds with big power to all fields. He is light on his feet for his size and patient at the plate for his age.
A testament to his power is a 508-foot bomb at Chase Field in the 2010 Perfect Game Power Showcase. At that same event, he showed tremendous speed for his size by being clocked at a time of 7.06 seconds in the 60-yard dash.
Do not let his physical build divert you from seeing his talent and potential as the Cubs' other "first baseman of the future" (Anthony Rizzo being the other). Since Rizzo is the immediate “first baseman of the future,” the Cubs can take their time in grooming Vogelbach rather than rushing him up the minor league ranks.
Thus, depending on Rizzo’s play, if both perform as expected, the Cubs could require a King’s ransom if another team wished to pry either of these two prized first basemen away from the organization.
However, having these two prospects at the same position could pose a problem for the Cubs, especially if they decide Bryan LaHair is their new “first baseman of the future.” But, then again, it is a nice problem to have.
**If you would like to see Dan Vogelbach's monster shot, skip to the 6:39 mark of the video; for the 60-yard dash, go to the 1:09 mark.