Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

0 of 10

    USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Cubs turned in a 3-3 performance last week, splitting series with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. However, that wasn't enough for them to climb out of the No. 30 spot in 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 his performance is trending.

     

    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 hitting .333/.407/.625 with seven doubles and seven RBI in 24 at-bats at Double-A Tennessee.

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

1 of 10

    2014 Stats

    9 GS, 5-1, 2.37 ERA, 8 BB, 39 K, 49.1 IP

     

    Overview

    The No. 56 pick in the 2012 draft, Paul Blackburn entered the season with just 66.2 innings of work under his belt in his first two professional seasons, as the team had brought him along very slowly.

    They're starting to stretch him out at Single-A Kane County though, and he has a 1.00 ERA and 0.722 WHIP over his last three starts. The 20-year-old still has a good deal of developing to do, but his ceiling is high and his stock is certainly on the rise.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

     

    Stock

    Up

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

2 of 10

    2014 Stats

    9 GS, 5-3, 3.21 ERA, 14 BB, 56 K, 56.0 IP

     

    Overview

    The 2013 season was a breakout campaign for right-hander Kyle Hendricks, as he went 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.058 WHIP between Double-A and Triple-A.

    His 3.21 ERA this season is inflated by a rough first start in which he allowed six earned runs in 4.2 innings, as he is 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA in eight starts since. He is positioning himself well for a second-half call-up, especially if the team moves Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel at the deadline.

    "I've gotten better recently at spotting my fastball to both sides of the plate and changing the eye level of batters," Hendricks told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 10 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, Double-A Tennessee

3 of 10

    2014 Stats

    A+: 9 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 1.00 ERA, 4 BB, 10 K, 9.0 IP
    AA: 7 G, 1-0, 0 SV, 3.68 ERA, 1 BB, 10 K, 7.1 IP

    Note: Vizcaino was promoted to Double-A Tennessee on May 6.

     

    Overview

    Arodys Vizcaino ran into his first real trouble this past week, as he allowed three hits and three earned runs in an inning of work on Thursday to Double-A Mobile.

    Still, he's been impressive in his return to the mound after missing the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. He earned a promotion from High-A to Double-A after just nine appearances, and he should continue moving quickly towards the Chicago bullpen in the weeks ahead.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    3 G, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

     

    Stock

    Down

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

4 of 10

    2014 Stats

    45 G, .255/.326/.370, 7 2B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 20 R

     

    Overview

    Slugger Dan Vogelbach has finally started to heat up at the plate for High-A Daytona, homering in both games of a Saturday doubleheader and turning in a 3-for-3 performance in Game 2.

    Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com talked to Vogelbach after his impressive Saturday, as he has looked to slow things down at the plate:

    I've been trying to slow the game down and I was able to do that in the second game, taking it pitch by pitch, not at-bat by at-bat. I'm going to miss pitches that I should've hit and I'm going to chase pitches that I shouldn't swing at, but I need to move on after each at-bat. I'm not trying to do too much; you can't get three hits in one at-bat.

    He has some work to do to get back to the level he was performing at in 2013, when he posted an .824 OPS with 19 home runs and 76 RBI, but last week as certainly a step in the right direction.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    8-for-24, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

5 of 10

    2014 Stats

    45 G, .196/.289/.348, 8 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R

     

    Overview

    Jeimer Candelario is still hovering below the Mendoza Line with his batting average, but the 20-year-old took a step in the right direction this past week with a trio of multi-hit games.

    He turned in his best single-game performance of the season in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader, going 2-for-4 with a double, home run and four RBI to help Daytona to an 8-4 victory.

    His offensive game is still a work in progress, but with an advanced approach at the plate and plate discipline beyond his years (20/34 BB/K) he has the tools to bounce back from his slow start to the season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    8-for-32, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R

     

    Stock

    Even

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

6 of 10

    2014 Stats

    46 G, .281/.321/.520, 14 2B, 6 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 28 R, 10 SB

     

    Overview

    Added to the 40-man roster this past offseason after a breakout season in 2013, Arismendy Alcantara has positioned himself for a call-up to Chicago sometime in the near future thanks to a nice start to the season in Triple-A.

    He capped off a solid week by going 4-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBI and four runs scored on Monday. He's now hitting .324/.425/.706 with six extra-base hits in his last 10 games.

    "He's learning what his role is and the kid works hard and he's got a lot of ability," Triple-A hitting coach Brian Harper told Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register.

    The 22-year-old is currently tied for 12th in the Pacific Coast League with 89 total bases.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    8-for-24, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

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

7 of 10

    2014 Stats

    6 G, 5 GS, 1-1, 4.39 ERA, 24 BB, 22 K, 26.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Pierce Johnson was sidelined by a hamstring injury to start the season, and he has dealt with some serious control issues here in the early going.

    After walking just 43 batters in 118.1 innings last season, he has already handed out 24 free passes in 26.2 innings at Double-A Tennessee so far this season.

    He looked much better his last time out, throwing four no-hit innings and walking just two, and hopefully that is something he can build off as he looks to get back on the fast track to Chicago.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

     

    Stock

    Up

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

8 of 10

    2014 Stats

    43 G, .266/.287/.364, 11 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R, 3 SB

     

    Overview

    After tallying multiple hits in an impressive six straight games, Albert Almora has cooled off once again, going just 5-for-26 (.192 BA) over his last seven games.

    The 20-year-old was promoted aggressively to High-A Daytona this year after playing just 61 games for Single-A Kane County last year due to injury. Granted, he did hit .329/.376/.466 with 24 extra-base hits in 249 at-bats last season, but it was still a big jump for him, nonetheless.

    Dealing with some ups and downs now in the low minors should only help him in the long run as he looks to take over as the Cubs' everyday center fielder at some point in 2016.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    7-for-31, 1 2B, 2 RBI

     

    Stock

    Down

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

9 of 10

    2014 Stats

    49 G, .337/.431/.641, 13 2B, 14 HR, 43 RBI, 42 R, 6 SB

     

    Overview

    Kris Bryant just keeps piling up the extra-base hits, as he currently leads the Southern League in hits (61), home runs (14), runs scored (42) and total bases (116) while ranking second in OPS (1.072).

    Despite the excitement stemming from his red-hot start, Cubs farm director Jaron Madison acknowledged that Bryant still has some work to do in the minors while talking to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Everybody’s excited. He’s excited. But those guys understand it’s going to take some time. They still have things they need to work on...For Bryant, he’s in his first pro season, and he’s trying to figure out how to get through a full season, playing every day, not playing three or four times a week.

    That said, it has to be getting harder and harder to keep him down as each productive week passes.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    10-for-22, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

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

10 of 10

    2014 Stats

    39 G, .225/.287/.437, 9 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 22 R, 4 SB

     

    Overview

    After hitting .172 with 22 strikeouts in 58 at-bats during the month of April and turning in an equally rough start to May, Javier Baez has finally caught fire at the plate.

    The 21-year-old is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, and he has five multi-hit games over that span. He's been particularly dialed in of late, going 5-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in his last two games.

    Farm director Jaron Madison talked with Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune about what Baez has had to do to adjust to how pitchers are approaching him this season:

    He has made some adjustments to his approach. He's just understanding how they're going to pitch him, and it's just a maturity process for him because he's young. People know he swings hard. So they're going to try to throw him off-speed stuff and see if he can chase. Now he's starting to learn to let those pitches go and get something to hit, and it will start clicking.

    Baez finally looks to have turned a corner here in 2014, and that's great news for Cubs fans hoping to see him in Wrigley Field at some point this season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    15-for-34, 8 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Up