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

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Cubs have been playing some good baseball of late, as they are 12-8 in their last 20 games. With series wins against the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins last week, they climbed to No. 25 in this week's MLB power rankings.

    The amateur draft also took place last week, and the Cubs took Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber with the No. 4 overall pick. They stocked up on pitching from there, and once those players sign and begin their pro careers, they could find themselves included in these prospect updates.

    For now, 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 the direction in which 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. 6 prospect SP Pierce Johnson (calf) spent last week on the disabled list. He will not be included here until he is active. He is 1-1 with a 4.39 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 24 walks in 26.2 innings on the season at Double-A Tennessee.

No. 13 Prospect: 3B Christian Villanueva, Triple-A Iowa

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    55 G, .222/.279/.384, 17 2B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 20 R

     

    Overview

    Coming off a nice all-around campaign in 2013 in which he had 41 doubles and 19 home runs, Christian Villanueva has put himself in a good position to make his major league debut at some point during the 2014 season.

    Where the 22-year-old fits into the team's long-term plans remains to be seen, as he's currently behind Mike Olt and Kris Bryant on the third base depth chart. He could wind up being a trade chip, though he will need to pick up his production for Triple-A Iowa to increase his value.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2-for-19, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R

     

    Stock

    Down

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

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    2014 Stats

    12 GS, 5-2, 2.72 ERA, 14 BB, 47 K, 59.2 IP

     

    Overview

    After an impressive three-start stretch in which he posted a 1.00 ERA and a 0.722 WHIP, Paul Blackburn has run into some trouble in his last three starts.

    He failed to make it out of the first inning on Wednesday, allowing one hit, three walks and two earned runs in just 0.2 innings.

    He followed that up by going five innings and allowing three hits and three runs (two earned) on Sunday, a better showing than his previous two outings but still not good enough for him to avoid picking up his fourth loss of the season.

    It's no big surprise that a 20-year-old is going through some ups and downs in his first year of full-season ball, as Blackburn still has a ways to go as far as his development is concerned.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, L, ND, 5.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K

     

    Stock

    Down

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    11 GS, 6-4, 3.90 ERA, 19 BB, 64 K, 67.0 IP

     

    Overview

    Kyle Hendricks already has as many losses this year as he tallied all of last year, when he was 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and a 1.058 WHIP during a breakout performance.

    Acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Ryan Dempster deal, Hendricks does not have much more room to improve as far as his development is concerned. His stuff is not eye-popping by any means, but he has proved capable of getting hitters out every step of the way so far.

    A busy trade deadline could very well open up a spot for him in the rotation to show he belongs in the conversation for a spot to kick off the 2015 season. If nothing else, expect him to get a late-season call-up to see some action out of the bullpen.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, L, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

     

    Stock

    Down

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    A+: 9 G, 0-0, 1 SV, 1.00 ERA, 4 BB, 10 K, 9.0 IP
    AA: 11 G, 1-0, 1 SV, 2.38 ERA, 3 BB, 13 K, 11.1 IP

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

     

    Overview

    Arodys Vizcaino has done a great job recovering from his worst outing of the season back on May 22, as he has allowed just one hit in 5.1 scoreless innings over his past five appearances.

    He picked up his first Double-A save on Wednesday and now has a 1.77 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 20.1 innings of work between High-A and Double-A.

    With the big league bullpen rounding into form over the past few weeks, there is no longer any reason to rush him to the majors, but if he keeps dominating the way he has, there will be no reason to keep him down either.

     

    Last Week's Stats

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

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    58 G, .276/.360/.419, 13 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 30 R

     

    Overview

    After a slow start to the 2014 season, Dan Vogelbach has finally started to heat up at the plate. He is batting .371/.488/.600 with six extra-base hits in his last 10 games, and he raised his OPS 58 points in the last week alone.

    That has put him well on his way to another impressive season at the plate. He posted an .824 OPS with 19 home runs and 76 RBI last year.

    "It wasn't a great start, for me and for the team," Vogelbach told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "But things have picked up. I told myself I was going to approach this season at-bat by at-bat. There's a lot of season and a lot of games left."

     

    Last Week's Stats

    10-for-25, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    2014 Stats

    56 G, .202/.290/.348, 10 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 24 R

     

    Overview

    On the strength of a pair of multi-hit games last week, Jeimer Candelario has finally pulled his season average above the .200 mark. He still has a lot of work to do to get back to the level he was at last year, but it's a step in the right direction.

    It's important to remember that Candelario will play the entire season at the age of 20, and this is already his second year of full-season ball.

    He posted a .742 OPS with 35 doubles and 11 home runs for Single-A Kane County last year, and while his offensive game is still maturing, there is no denying his tremendous upside. Look for him to continue raising that average back to a respectable range by the second half of the season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    6-for-25, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    2014 Stats

    58 G, .269/.307/.519, 14 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 35 R, 10 SB

     

    Overview

    Arismendy Alcantara opened the season as the No. 76 prospect in all of baseball after a big 2013 season, and after a slow start, he has put up impressive numbers for Triple-A Iowa over the past few weeks.

    He currently leads the Pacific Coast League with eight triples and ranks 10th with 112 total bases. He continues to bring an impressive combination of power and speed to the second base position.

    The 22-year-old will get a chance at some point in 2014 to show what he can do at the big league level, and when he does, he'll be auditioning for a shot at the everyday second base gig in 2015.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-for-22, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    56 G, .250/.273/.333, 13 2B, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 27 R, 4 SB

     

    Overview

    Albert Almora is in the midst of his first real prolonged period of struggling at the plate as a pro, as he is currently mired in a 16-for-81 (.198 BA) slump over the past three weeks or so.

    The 20-year-old has been praised for his overall polish on the field and his maturity and leadership skills off of it since being taken with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 draft, so there is no real concern with how he'll handle this adversity.

    Still, he needs to turn things around and continue climbing the organizational ladder if he is going to be the team's everyday center fielder by 2016, as many expect him to be.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    6-for-32, 3 RBI, 5 R

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    62 G, .356/.461/.716, 18 2B, 21 HR, 54 RBI, 55 R, 8 SB

     

    Overview

    After a pair of home runs over the weekend, Kris Bryant is now at 21 home runs on the season, and it took him just 225 at-bats to get there.

    It's been roughly a year since he was taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. Over that span, he has tallied 353 professional at-bats, hitting .348/.436/.705 with 32 doubles, 30 home runs and 86 RBI.

    There's certainly something to be said for letting a hitter see the same pitcher two and three times by leaving him at the same minor league level, and the Cubs organization has made it clear that it likes to see its prospects deal with adversity in the minors.

    However, at this point, there is really not much left for Bryant to prove at the Double-A level. He's a man among boys right now, and it may not be long before he gets the call to Chicago.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    10-for-24, 3 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    50 G, .230/.292/.426, 10 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 25 R, 8 SB

     

    Overview

    Slowly but surely, Javier Baez has started to come around at the plate after a disastrous April saw him hit just .172 with 22 strikeouts in 58 at-bats.

    Even when he was posting a .920 OPS with 34 doubles, 37 home runs and 111 RBI last season, there was some serious swing-and-miss to his game, as evidenced by his 147 strikeouts. Still, his elite bat speed and his tremendous raw power make it hard to project him as anything but a star at the plate.

    There is no reason to rush him to the majors, so he'll get all the time he needs in Triple-A to rebuild his confidence and regain his dominant form. That being said, a call-up at some point in 2014 is a very real possibility, especially if he catches fire like he was prone to doing last season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-for-15, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Even

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