Re-Ranking the Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIMay 25, 2012

Re-Ranking the Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects

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    During these gloomy days on the North Side, Chicago Cubs fans can only continue to hope that the future is bright for their beloved team.

    The only way that will happen, though, is with a strong farm system, something that Theo Epstein and his team will hope to build over the years.

    For now, the Cubs have a lot of really talented prospects on the cusp of making a name for themselves, but it all really depends on how they will translate to the big leagues.

    For now though, these are were the team's 10 best prospects currently stand.

     

    Any stats found in this article were provided by Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

10. Josh Vitters

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    Once a bright spot in the Chicago Cubs' future plans, the star of third baseman Josh Vitters is fading by the day.

    Once thought to be the successor of longtime third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Vitters has continued to fail to make the jump to the big leagues.

    Things are not looking good for Vitters right now either. He is currently batting .267 in Triple-A Iowa, striking out a total of 30 times through 150 at-bats.

    The thing with Vitters is that he is just 22 years old, a fact that often seems to be surprising given how long fans have been hearing his name.

    Vitters still has a chance to turn things around, but at this point the Cubs have to give him a chance in the bigs before they really start wasting their time on this project.

9. Dillon Maples

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    The Chicago Cubs haven't seen much of prospect Dillon Maples yet, but as Dan Kirby of ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com puts it, "The Chicago Cubs best pitching prospect is 19 years old, was the 429th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft and hasn’t pitched a full season of pro ball yet."

    Expectations are high for Maples, but there is still a long road ahead before the 14th-round draft pick enters the fold at Wrigley Field.

    The Cubs are desperate for young pitching in their near future, and Maples may be the guy who can come in and be a solid contributor to this pitching staff when the team is ready to fight for contention two or three years down the line.

    Hopefully Maples can continue to grow and stay within the hype. Otherwise, the Cubs may have to once again start looking into where their pitching will be in the future.

8. Dan Vogelbach

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    There is still a long road ahead with Dan Vogelbach, as well as figuring out where he could potentially fit into the Chicago Cubs' future plans if first baseman of the future Anthony Rizzo pans out.

    Vogelbach comes with a lot of potential, especially in terms of power. According to Yahoo! Sports, Vogelbach dominated his senior season, "Winning the state championship, hitting .457 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs along the way."

    Some have even gone as far as comparing him to former Milwaukee Brewer-turned-Detroit Tigers' slugger Prince Fielder.

    If Vogelbach can get anywhere close to that, the Cubs will be one happy club in the future.

7. Welington Castillo

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    Perhaps Welington Castillo technically shouldn't be on this list since he has been up with the Chicago Cubs for a good part of this season, but fact of the matter is he has been hurt as of late.

    Castillo has been fortunate enough to see some playing time while Geovany Soto struggled and faced injuries, but an injury of his own has kept him from proving that he deserves to be up in the big leagues permanently. 

    Castillo was typically a top prospect for the Cubs over the last few seasons, but in his brief 27 plate appearances, he batted a mere .185 this season.

    Those are not the numbers the Cubs want to see from their likely successor to Soto, so they have to hope that he will either develop in the minors a bit more or will come back strong after his injury stint.

6. Trey McNutt

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    If you followed the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox Theo Epstein compensation drama, then you likely have a very good understanding of who Trey McNutt is.

    The 22-year-old Double-A pitcher is doing well this season, having an ERA of 2.67 with 21 strikeouts in just over 30 innings.

    The potential on McNutt is definitely still there, but after the Cubs continually shot down Boston's insistence of acquiring the young pitcher, they better think about moving him up to the next level, or even to Wrigley sooner than later.

    The hype is there, but now is the time for the Cubs to truly test it.

5. Javier Baez

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    The Chicago Cubs' first-round selection of the 2011 MLB draft, Javier Baez has the potential to be a strong infielder for the club once he finally arrives.

    Minorleagueball.com lists Baez at either shortstop of third, with the latter probably being more likely given Starlin Castro being a pretty much a staple for many years to come.

    The good thing for the Cubs is if Josh Vitters doesn't pan out, they may have an immediate backup plan waiting in the wings.

    It will really remain to be seen how Baez does once he really starts to play more often in the higher leagues, but for now, the Cubs have to hope their first-round pick will pay off.

4. Rafael Dolis

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    Move over Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis is in the house.

    Alright, well maybe it is a bit early to be calling for Dolis to be the closer of the future, but for now he is doing the best he can to put himself in that position for the future.

    Dolis has four saves thus far this season, as well as just walking 13 batters through 24.2 innings. He will need to get those walk numbers down, but right now he has the potential to be the Cubs' next big relief pitcher.

    He is already up with the Cubs, but considering he doesn't yet truly have a stable position in the bullpen, one can argue that he is still considered a prospect at this point.

3. Matt Szczur

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    The Chicago Cubs have some nice pieces for their outfield in the near future. One of which includes Matt Szczur, who is naturally a center fielder.

    Given the Cubs' potential solution at center field already waiting in the wings, the Cubs would likely need to use Szczur in one of the corners.

    Szczur is another one of those guys that really need to be tested. The upside is huge, but there is no telling if he will be like Starlin Castro or Josh Vitters in terms of potential and results.

    Nonetheless, the Cubs have some pieces to play with, and they should be excited to see what will end up happening with this potential outfield of the future.

2. Brett Jackson

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    Despite having a ridiculously strong spring that almost landed himself a spot on the big-league roster, outfielder Brett Jackson hasn't done his potential justice this season in Triple-A.

    He is currently batting .228 through 162 at-bats with just 13 RBI. For a guy who was looking like a positive contributor on offense, the Cubs must be getting worried that Jackson is potentially falling off in production.

    Then again, he could just be going through a slump.

    No matter what happens, it would be surprising if the Cubs didn't at least give Jackson a call up to the majors at one point during the season.

    The Cubs need to begin to assess their future, which ultimately includes Jackson.

1. Anthony Rizzo

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    Are you the least bit surprised to see Anthony Rizzo in the top spot of this list?

    You shouldn't be, as the guy is just tearing up the minor leagues.

    Through 169 at-bats, Rizzo is batting .355 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI. Those numbers just jump off the page, and it would be quite surprising if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer didn't fold soon enough in bringing him up.

    Heck, they have to. Rizzo appeared in 49 games last year for the San Diego Padres and hit miserably, batting just .141 with nine RBI.

    If the Cubs see a similar pattern when they end up calling him up, they may realize that Rizzo just isn't fit for the big leagues.

    While fans are hoping he will be a force to be reckoned with, the Cubs must make sure that their top guy is ready to perform now.