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Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top-10 Prospects Entering May

Joel ReuterFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2016

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top-10 Prospects Entering May

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Chicago Cubs went 3-4 last week, splitting a four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at home before dropping two of three contests to the Milwaukee Brewers on the road. That earned them the No. 29 spot on this week's MLB power rankings.

    As we make our way through what will likely be another long year on the North Side, more and more attention will be paid to a farm system that was ranked No. 4 in all of baseball by Baseball America entering the season.

    What follows is a look at the team's current top-10 prospects and how they performed at the minor league level over the past week. This series will be updated weekly, with a stock "up," "even" or "down" indication given to each prospect based upon what direction their performance is trending.

    For this week's article, each player's stock will be a reflection of his performance over the first month of the season as a whole, not just his performance over the past week.

     

    Note: Prospects rankings according to Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    *No. 3 prospect SP C.J. Edwards (shoulder) spent last week on the disabled list. He will not be included here until he is active. He is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20.2 innings on the season at Double-A Tennessee.

    *No. 5 prospect RF Jorge Soler (hamstring) spent last week on the disabled list. He will not be included here until he is active. He is 1-for-1 with a double on the season at Double-A Tennessee.

No. 12 Prospect: SP Paul Blackburn, Single-A Kane County

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    2014 Stats

    4 GS, 2-0, 3.10 ERA, 5 BB, 13 K, 20.1 IP

     

    Overview

    All things considered, it was a solid first month of full-season ball for Paul Blackburn, as he is finally being stretched out a bit after recording just 66.2 innings of work over his first two seasons as a pro.

    Still just 20 years old, Blackburn will likely spend the entire season at Single-A Kane County, but there is an outside chance he earns a promotion to Daytona if he keeps pitching the way he has. Either way, there's a lot to like about his upside at this point.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Up

No. 11 Prospect: SP Kyle Hendricks, Triple-A Iowa

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    Morry Gash

    2014 Stats

    5 GS, 3-1, 4.11 ERA, 8 BB, 29 K, 30.2 IP

     

    Overview

    The first month of the season has been a mixed bag for Kyle Hendricks, as he has three quality starts so far with a pair of subpar outings sandwiched around them.

    He allowed just two hits and no runs in six innings of work in his first start last week, but he was hit hard in his second start, as he allowed 10 hits, two walks and four earned runs through six innings.

    The 24-year-old remains the team's most big-league-ready pitching prospect, and he should get a look in Chicago at some point this season, whether it's in September or sooner.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, W, ND, 12.0 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 10 K

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Even

No. 10 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, High-A Daytona

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    Morry Gash

    2014 Stats

    7 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 1.29 ERA, 3 BB, 8 K, 7.0 IP

     

    Overview

    Sidelined for the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Arodys Vizcaino is finally back on the field and showing off the electric arm that has made him such a highly-regarded prospect throughout his pro career.

    The team opted to send him to High-A to open the year, allowing him to build some confidence in his return to the mound, but they will likely promote him aggressively moving forward, and he could be in the Chicago bullpen by midseason.

    Given the closer issues the Cubs have already dealt with, it's not out of the question to think Vizcaino could be closing for the big league club in the second half. He has the stuff for the job, and the early returns here in 2014 are definitely promising.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2 G, 1 SV, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Up

No. 9 Prospect: 1B Dan Vogelbach, High-A Daytona

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    2014 Stats

    22 G, .225/.311/.325, 2 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 11 R

     

    Overview

    slimmed down Dan Vogelbach is off to a slow start this season, but he is also coming off of his best week so far and may finally be heating up here as we head into May.

    The 21-year-old has some of the best raw power in all of minor league baseball, but he also brings a disciplined approach to the plate, evidenced by his 73/89 BB/K mark last season and 9/10 ratio so far this year.

    The organization will be patient with him considering he's currently blocked at first base by Anthony Rizzo and may in fact wind up being a trade chip, but for now he's just another weapon in a deep farm system.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    9-for-22, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Down

No. 8 Prospect: 3B Jeimer Candelario, High-A Daytona

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    2014 Stats

    21 G, .197/.329/.324, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R

     

    Overview

    One of the youngest players at every level of his development so far, 20-year-old Jeimer Candelario is off to a rough start in his first taste of action at High-A Daytona. However, the team will give him plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments.

    He hit .256/.346/.396 with 35 doubles and 11 home runs at Single-A Kane County last year, but the most impressive number of all may have been his 68/88 BB/K ratio, as he flashed plate discipline well beyond his years.

    A full season at High-A seems likely, and while his positional future role with the big league team remains up in the air, he has the tools to develop into a plus offensive player.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4-for-19, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Down

No. 7 Prospect: 2B Arismendy Alcantara, Triple-A Iowa

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    22 G, .301/.310/.554, 7 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 13 R, 6 SB

     

    Overview

    Arismendy Alcantara turned in a breakout season last year at Double-A Tennessee, posting an .804 OPS with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 31 steals, earning a spot in the Futures Game in the process.

    That performance has him eyeing a big league debut at some point in 2014, and he is off to a very good start so far in his first taste of Triple-A action. A five-hit game on Sunday certainly didn't hurt his batting average, and he does not appear to be pressing in an effort to earn a call to Chicago.

    "I mean, I'm ready for everything right now," he told Mark Emery of MiLB.com. "I just want to play the game. If they call me, I go; but if they want me to play more here, it's OK, I don't worry. I just want to play the game and try to do my job. If I do my job, they will call me, you know?"

     

    Last Week's Stats

    10-for-22, 1 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Up

No. 6 Prospect: SP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee

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    2014 Stats

    2 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 12 BB, 6 K, 8.0 IP

     

    Overview

    Pierce Johnson made his season debut on April 22 after starting the season at extended spring training while recovering from a mild hamstring injury.

    The No. 43 pick in the 2012 draft, Johnson went 11-6 with a 2.74 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 118.2 innings while splitting the year between Single-A and High-A in 2013. The Cubs saw enough for him to open this season at Double-A, but they have to be careful not to rush the 22-year-old.

    Given the early-season injury and the fact that he's struggled with his command here over his first two starts, his stock is down at this point. His future remains incredibly bright, though, as he is a high-floor guy with the potential to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm.

      

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, L, ND, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 12 BB, 6 K

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Down

No. 4 Propsect: CF Albert Almora, High-A Daytona

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    19 G, .269/.284/.385, 6 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R

     

    Overview

    While his numbers were solid, last season was a somewhat of a disappointing one for Albert Almora, as a broken hamate bone and a groin injury limited him to just 61 games. He made up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League, though, and the team saw enough to promote him to High-A Daytona to open the 2014 season.

    He just recently turned 20, but he is already one of the more polished prospects in the organization, and he is expected to be a leader once he arrives in Chicago, both on and off the field.

    A promotion to Double-A this season is not out of the question provided he picks up his production a bit, and he remains on pace to take over the everyday center field job at some point in 2016 if all goes according to plan.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-for-23, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Even

No. 2 Prospect: 3B Kris Bryant, Double-A Tennessee

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    23 G, .300/.434/.575, 7 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 17 R, 5 SB

     

    Overview

    Kris Bryant can flat-out hit; that much is for sure 59 games into his professional baseball career. The question now is: how long before the Cubs pull the trigger on promoting the slugger?

    The No. 2 pick in last year's draft, Bryant hit .336/.390/.688 with 25 extra-base hits in 128 at-bats after signing last summer, and he then followed that up by winning Arizona Fall League MVP honors in the offseason.

    He may wind up in the outfield over the long term, especially if Mike Olt proves that he can be the everyday guy at third base. But Bryant's bat is going to carry him to the majors one way or another in the not-too-distant future.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    9-for-29, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Up

No. 1 Prospect: SS Javier Baez, Triple-A Iowa

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    14 G, .164/.207/.327, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 1 SB

     

    Overview

    Between an ejection for arguing balls and strikes, a sprained ankle that landed him on the seven-day DL and a whopping 21 strikeouts in 55 at-bats, it has not been a good start to the 2014 season for Javier Baez.

    That said, the potential is still there for Baez to not only turn things around at the Triple-A level, but also for him to earn a call-up to Chicago at some point this season.

    The team's Minor League Player of the Year last year and the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball heading into the season, Baez has the bat speed and the raw power to be an offensive force. He has to work on his approach at the plate, though, and cut down on his strikeouts.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-for-25, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock (for the month)

    Down

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