Projecting What Type of Player Each Top-10 Cubs Prospect Will Be
In about a week, some of the Cubs' top prospects will be taking the field and mixing it up with the big league squad with the hopes that when spring training breaks, they will trade in their life of riding buses and staying in motels for flying first-class and staying in five-star hotels.
The unfortunate reality is that no matter how well some of those top prospects play during spring training, they will find themselves back in the minors. A ton of development is necessary to prepare a ball player for the rigours of playing in the show.
There really is no way to determine whether a prospect will make an impact at the major league level or not. In fact, the majority of prospects fail to play a single inning in the big leagues. With that being said, here is a look at the top 10 Cubs prospects, and a prediction of what kind of player they will be at the big league level.
The top-10 prospect list used for this piece was done by Jon Sickels on minorleagueball.com.
10. Pierce Johnson, RHP
Pierce Johnson was the Cubs' supplemental first-round pick in 2012. He split time between Rookie and Low-A ball last season and pitched a total of 11 innings. Not much to go on there.
He has a solid makeup, good fastball and a good curve. He projects as a middle to back-of-the-rotation pitcher. In 2015, he may be the Cubs' No. 4 or No. 5 starter.
9. Matt Sczcur, Outfield
Depending on who you speak to, you may hear people talk about how great they think Sczcur is, or others will tell you how they aren't too impressed with him. However, there is no denying what he has accomplished so far.
When he has jumped a level, his stats don't look too impressive, as he is probably going through an adjustment period. But once he adjusts, his stats show significant improvement, especially in his OBP.
There is still some questions on what kind of player Sczcur is going to develop into. He could be a reserve outfielder just as easy as an everyday outfielder and future leadoff hitter for the Cubs.
8. Christian Villanueva, 3B
Christian Villanueva was received by the Cubs in the trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers in 2012.
Scouts love this guy. He's a slick-fielding third baseman who is a bit of a free swinger at the plate, but he has a great bat and solid power. He will be a starting third baseman with All-Star potential someday. It's just not a guarantee it will be with the Cubs due to Starlin Castro and top prospect Javier Baez looking like the future left side of the infield.
7. Dillon Maples, RHP
John Sickels summarizes Dillon Maples quite nicely in his Cubs top prospect list. He states that Maples has the ability to be a No. 2 pitcher some day, but he has some mechanical and command issues that he has to work out.
Only time will tell, but Maples has the potential to be a top-end to middle-of-the-rotation type of pitcher.
6. Brett Jackson, Outfield
Brett Jackson has the ability to be an everyday outfielder at the major league level. While he doesn't have any tools that jump off the page at you, he is a solid all-around ballplayer. His strikeouts were a concern, so he worked this winter on revamping his swing.
If he can get the strikeouts under control, he will be with the Cubs sometime in 2013 and could be a very solid outfielder for years to come.
5. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Ardoys Vizcaino is one of the more interesting prospects in the Cubs organization. He was the top pitching prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization before being traded to the Cubs.
Vizcaino has tons of potential, if he can stay healthy. His latest injury caused him to miss the entire 2012 season with Tommy John surgery.
Vizcaino has the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but with his injury history, don't be surprised if he ends up as a setup man or a closer eventually.
4. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Depending on what scouting reports you read on Vogelbach, many of them come to the same conclusion regarding who Vogelbach reminds them of: Prince Fielder.
Right now, Cubs fans in unison just said, "Wow." Prince Fielder is not a name you toss around when doing a player comparison.
This kid is a serious hitter with a ton of power. His glove over at first base isn't too bad, either. It won't be long before Vogelbach is putting pressure on Anthony Rizzo for ownership of the first base job at Wrigley.
3. Jorge Soler, Outfield
Jorge Soler has excellent speed and power and could easily develop into an All-Star-caliber outfielder some day.
He's only 20 years old, and according to ESPN Chicago, the Cuban defector has already signed a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs. In that same report by ESPN Chicago, Soler draws comparisons to a young Sammy Sosa. Not too shabby.
2. Albert Almora, Outfield
Not only was Almora a top-10 prospect for the Cubs in 2012, but he was also ranked on MLB.com's top 100 prospects list and also ranked as a top-10 outfield prospect.
He has some lofty expectations, but it looks like Almora will be roaming the outfield of Wrigley Field sooner rather than later. He definitely has the potential to be an All-Star-caliber player some day, and he's been drawing comparisons to a young Carlos Beltran.
1. Javier Baez, SS
Javier Baez is the consensus No. 1 prospect and crown jewel of the Cubs organization. He is a natural shortstop, but with already Starlin Castro entrenched there and the hole at third base, he may find himself at the hot corner with the Cubs.
Baez has a high ceiling, and he's been drawing comparisons to Gary Sheffield. He doesn't have the crazy-looking bat wave that Sheffield had, but after watching his swing, you can certainly see similarities.