Re-Ranking Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects after the 2012 MLB Draft

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IJune 20, 2012

Re-Ranking Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects after the 2012 MLB Draft

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    There is always a lot of buzz that surrounds a player following a draft. How will he perform and where will he begin his professional career are the two main questions.

    What is becoming the all too common question in recent years is "will the player even sign?" In most cases after a lot of conjecture, the player will ultimately sign. But notable players like Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers are guys who waited a year and played in Independent Leagues before being drafted again. 

    Whether they have signed or not, or even thrown a ball this season, here are the Cubs' top 10 prospects going forward.

    Keep in mind, we'll be going by different rules than my monthly top 10 ratings. I usually only rate the players who have suited up this season, so guys in extended spring training were not included, nor would unsigned draftees. 

    But this is different, so let's see what the Cubs are working with. 

Honorable Mention: Dan Vogelbach, 1B

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    Dan Vogelbach can rip the cover off the ball, but he remains in extended spring training most likely until the short season gets underway.

    The young, stocky first baseman has Prince Fielder-esque power from the left side of the plate and could really have an impact if his weight doesn't get in the way.

    He runs fairly well for his size, which is certainly a good thing going forward.  

10. Paul Blackburn, RHP

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    Compensation picks really are a blessing in disguise. 

    While we don't know what will become of the high school arm Paul Blackburn, it was thanks to a compensation pick the Cubs received when Carlos Pena signed with the Tampa Bay Rays that the Cubs had the opportunity to take the right-hander.

    Blackburn, whose fastball sits in the low-90s, has signed and will likely report to Boise soon for short-season ball. 

9. Austin Kirk, LHP

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    Austin Kirk has been the victim of poor run support and an even more ineffective bullpen, leaving him with a 2-1 record through 13 games. He owns a 2.63 ERA through that time, and he has displayed good command throughout. 

    Being drafted out of high school, he has poise beyond his years and will likely climb the ranks before the season ends. He is not on anyone's radar, but he will be soon enough.

    Here's what his manager said about him (via Daytona Beach News Journal) after it was announced he would be starting in the Florida State League All-Star Game:

    "If he had the run support, he could easily have seven or eight wins. He's always been a hard worker, he's always prepared before a start, and the way he works and studies during his non-pitching days shows in the results he gives us game in and game out." 

8. Brett Jackson, CF

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    Brett Jackson is having a decent year in Triple-A, hitting .261 with eight home runs, 28 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He has struck out 94 times, and until he can be more patient he will remain in Triple-A. 

    There is no need to rush him as he will be 24 in August. 

7. Junior Lake, SS

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    Lake joined Double-A late, but he is off to a good start, hitting .301 with four home runs and a .357 OBP in 35 games this year.

    He is expected to rise quickly and could see time in Triple-A if he continues his strong play. 

6. Dillon Maples, RHP

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    Expectations around Maples are very high, even though he has not pitched in professional ball yet. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and two plus secondary pitches.

    He will join either Single-A or Low-A before the 2012 season concludes. 

5. Josh Vitters, 3B

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    What more can I say about Josh Vitters?

    Easily the Cubs' most touted prospect in recent years, he has climbed up the organizational ladder making stops at every level.

    He is starting to heat up in Triple-A, hitting .280 with 10 home runs and a .330 OBP in 69 games. After hitting .284 in May, he continues to play well, raising his average to .292 in June. 

    Hopefully he can keep it up, for everyone's sake.  

4. Albert Almora, of

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    The Cubs' first-round draft pick did not seem all too excited to be selected by the Cubs. His attention was focused on going to college, and he will need to prove himself if he wants to earn the hearts of Cubs fans. 

    He is a very talented young man with good credentials to his name, but until he signs all that means nothing. The hype brings up his stock. 

3. Jorge Soler, of

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    Who knows what Jorge Soler will become as a major league ballplayer. 

    Will he be like Wily Mo Pena? Or how about Miguel Tejada? Either way, the 20-year-old prospect has finally signed with the Cubs and will hopefully work his way up the ranks in no time. 

    He may not join any of the Cubs' professional teams this year, instead playing in the Dominican Summer League or perhaps in extended spring training. 

2. Javier Baez, SS

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    Javier Baez is hitting .317 with four home runs in 63 at-bats with the Peoria Chiefs; he also has seven stolen bases and 17 strikeouts to six walks. 

    Baez is an exciting young prospect who is just 19 years old. He could see time in Single-A Daytona if things continue to go well for him.  

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

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    Iowa Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is hitting .360 with 23 home runs and 59 RBI. He's only struck out 47 times and has comparatively drawn 21 walks. His call-up to Chicago is imminent and it is particularly exciting as he has not slowed down thus far. 

    But with interleague play over, it appears only a trade or a surprising roster move would create an opportunity for Rizzo.