Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 5

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 5

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    A 3-2 week that included a series win against the rival St. Louis Cardinals was enough for the Chicago Cubs to climb three spots in this week's MLB power rankings to No. 26.

    That at least gives them some momentum going into the Crosstown Classic against the Chicago White Sox this coming week.

    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 his 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

    6 GS, 3-1, 3.16 ERA, 6 BB, 23 K, 31.1 IP

     

    Overview

    The strong start to his first year of full-season ball continued for Paul Blackburn this past week, despite the fact that he picked up his first loss of the year last Monday.

    Still just 20 years old, the right-hander allowed three hits and one run in five innings of work to take the tough-luck loss. He followed that up with his second quality start on Sunday, going six innings and giving up six hits and three runs.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, W, L, 11 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 10 K

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    2014 Stats

    6 GS, 3-2, 4.25 ERA, 10 BB, 37 K, 36 IP

     

    Overview

    After an impressive three-start stretch that saw him give up just four runs in 20 innings of work, Kyle Hendricks has turned in back-to-back subpar outings.

    The 24-year-old is in his first full season at the Triple-A level after making six starts there down the stretch last year, and he remains one of the team's more big league-ready pitching prospects. He was 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.058 WHIP last season, and if he can regain that form he could find himself in Chicago at some point in 2014.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, L, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    9 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 1.00 ERA, 4 BB, 10 K, 9 IP

     

    Overview

    Sidelined for the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Arodys Vizcaino is being brought along slowly by the Cubs as he returns to the field, as he is at High-A Daytona to open the season.

    He's been nearly untouchable in nine appearances, allowing just six hits and one run in nine innings of work, and it may not be long before he earns a call-up to Double-A Tennessee. He's yet to pitch on less than two days rest though, so more frequent use will be the next big test for him.

     

    Last Week's Stats

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

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    2014 Stats

    26 G, .242/.321/.337, 3 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 14 R

     

    Overview

    On the strength of a 3-for-4 game on Wednesday that included a double, Dan Vogelbach raised his batting average from .225 to .242 this past week, as he looks to kick things into gear offensively.

    The slugger slimmed down this offseason, looking to prove he can be more than just a future DH, and his impressive raw power and solid overall approach at the plate make him a valuable offensive trade chip if nothing else.

    The team has no reason to rush the 21-year-old, so expect him to stay in Daytona unless he really goes on a tear and forces their hand.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-for-15, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    2014 Stats

    25 G, .212/.343/.400, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 9 R

     

    Overview

    Jeimer Candelario had his best game of the season last Monday, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run and six RBI, and he added his third home run of the season later on in the week.

    The 20-year-old hit .256/.346/.396 with 35 doubles and 11 home runs at Single-A Kane County last season, and he still has plenty of developing to do offensively. His advanced approach at the plate should allow him to continue making adjustments and steadily climb the ladder though.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4-for-14, 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    27 G, .275/.290/.490, 8 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 14 R, 7 SB

     

    Overview

    A Futures Game participant last season, Arismendy Alcantara was the Cubs' breakout prospect of the year, posting an .804 OPS with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 31 steals in a full season at Double-A Tennessee.

    Defensively, he made the move from shortstop to second base last year, and he could make a run at the starting job there in Chicago next season. For the time being, he'll continue his development in Triple-A with Emilio Bonifacio, Darwin Barney and Luis Valbuena all seeing time at second for the big league club.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    3-for-21, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Down

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, and he picked up his first win of the season on Saturday.

    The team was cautious with him his first two starts, limiting him to four innings, but it stretched him out to six innings his last time out, and he pitched well.

    The right-hander was 11-6 with a 2.74 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 118.2 innings last season, and while he may not be a future ace, he has a very high floor and should at the very least be a serviceable middle-of-the-rotation arm.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    2014 Stats

    23 G, .247/.265/.344, 6 2B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 12 R

     

    Overview

    Albert Almora turned 20 just a few weeks back, and despite injuries limiting him to just 61 games last season, the Cubs continued to move him aggressively through the season by starting him at High-A Daytona this year.

    The results were great when he was on the field last year, as he hit .329/.376/.466 with 24 extra-base hits in 249 at-bats.

    A natural leader who is expected to be a key piece of the future both on the field and in the clubhouse, Almora could be in position to be the everyday center fielder at some point in 2016 if things play out as planned.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2-for-15, 1 RBI, 2 R

     

    Stock

    Down

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

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    2014 Stats

    29 G, .295/.417/.543, 8 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 21 R, 5 SB

     

    Overview

    The No. 2 pick in last year's draft, Kris Bryant hit .336/.390/.688 with 25 extra-base hits in 128 at-bats after signing last summer, and he has continued to rake this season with a bump up to Double-A this year.

    He had a big game on Saturday in what was an otherwise quiet week, going 4-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. 

    For a slugger, his 18/35 BB/K ratio on the year is solid, and at this point he looks to be slightly ahead of top prospect Javier Baez as far as being big league ready, despite the fact that he is a level below him in the team's minor league system.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    7-for-25, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    20 G, .149/.232/.311, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 3 SB

     

    Overview

    The 2014 season has not been a pretty one for the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball and the Cubs' top prospect Javier Baez. His 6/31 BB/K ratio so far may be the most troubling stat of all.

    That after he hit .282/.341/.578 with 34 doubles, 37 home runs, 111 RBI and 20 steals to claim the team's Minor League Player of the Year honors last year.

    For what it's worth, team president Theo Epstein does not necessarily view his early-season struggles as a bad thing.

    “You want everyone to go through adversity in the minor leagues because it’s important for them to learn how to deal with failure and come back even stronger,” Epstein told Jesse Rogers of ESPN.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2-for-19, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB

     

    Stock

    Down