Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 13
After taking a week off from the prospect stock watch, we're back this week, complete with updated rankings following the first half of the season and the MLB draft.
Up until this point, the rankings were based on the Baseball America Prospect Handbook's preseason rankings. But with the Chicago Cubs' top draft pick, Kyle Schwarber, signed and already tearing up minor league pitching, now seemed like a good time to update.
Schwarber is not the only newcomer to the top 10, though, as Taiwanese right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng also climbs the rankings with a terrific start to his pro career.
Heading in the other direction, right-hander Pierce Johnson falls out of the top 10 for the time being, as he has struggled with command issues this season and was recently demoted to Single-A Kane County.
Also falling out of the rankings is third base prospect Jeimer Candelario, who still has a bright future ahead of him at just 20 years old, but he also earned a demotion after hitting just .193/.275/.326 in 218 at-bats for High-A Daytona.
So here's an updated 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.
*No. 4 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. 11 Prospect: SP Kyle Hendricks, Triple-A Iowa
1 GS, W, 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Kyle Hendricks gets the nod here for his polished overall game, and while he may not have the ceiling of fellow Cubs pitching prospects like Corey Black, Paul Blackburn, Duane Underwood and others, his floor is fairly high and he seems like a safe bet to be a big league contributor in some capacity.
He has recorded four straight quality starts and gone at least five innings in each of his last 10 outings, as he is putting together a strong case to make his big league debut in the second half.
The team opted for Dallas Beeler to make the spot start during Saturday's doubleheader with the Washington Nationals, but it will want to get a look at Hendricks at some point to decide how he fits into the 2015 plans.
15 GS, 9-5, 3.52 ERA, 87 H, 23 BB, 86 K, 94.2 IP
No. 10 Prospect: 1B Dan Vogelbach, High-A Daytona
10-for-25, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R
Dan Vogelbach has looked much better at the plate since the Florida State League All-Star break, as he is hitting .345/.429/.618 with six double and three home runs in 14 second-half games.
He is well off his offensive pace from a year ago, when he posted an .824 OPS with 19 home runs and 76 RBI, but the 21-year-old is again flashing the tremendous raw power that makes him an intriguing prospect.
He'll likely spend the entire season with High-A Daytona, and his long-term role in the organization could wind up being as a trade chip. But for now, Vogelbach is just another potent bat in a system loaded with them.
76 G, .279/.367/.442, 19 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 39 R
No. 9 Prospect: SP Jen-Ho Tseng, Single-A Kane County
1 GS, ND, 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the organization to start the season, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Jen-Ho Tseng has been the fastest riser of any Cubs prospect this season.
The 19-year-old Taiwan native was signed last July for a $1.625 million bonus, but he did not make his pro debut until this season.
He pitched for Taiwan in the 2013 World Baseball Classic as a high schooler and has been up to the challenge opening his career in full-season ball.
With a low- to mid-90s fastball, plus curveball and decent changeup, he has the stuff to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. There is upside for more, though, and with his plus command, his floor is relatively high as well.
10 GS, 3-0, 3.22 ERA, 51 H, 7 BB, 51 K, 50.1 IP
No. 8 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, Triple-A Iowa
2 G, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Promoted to Triple-A on June 18, Arodys Vizcaino was touched up for four hits and two runs in 0.1 innings during his Iowa Cubs debut back on June 20.
He has rebounded with a pair of strong outings since and still looks to be on track to make his Cubs debut at some point in the second half.
It remains to be seen if the team will consider returning him to a starting role down the line or if his long-term future will be at the back of the bullpen. Regardless of what role he winds up in, Vizcaino's electric stuff will be an asset.
A+: 9 G, 0-0, 9.0 IP, 1 SV, 1.00 ERA, 4 BB, 10 K
Double-A: 14 G, 1-1, 13.2 IP, 1 SV, 2.63 ERA, 3 BB, 16 K
Triple-A: 3 G, 0-0, 2.1 IP, 0 SV, 7.71 ERA, 2 BB, 1 K
No. 7 Prospect: 2B Arismendy Alcantara, Triple-a Iowa
15-for-29, 4 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 1 SB
It may not be much longer before Arismendy Alcantara gets a chance to show what he's capable of at the big league level, as he's been on an absolute tear of late.
In his last 10 games, the 22-year-old is hitting .463/.489/.805 with nine extra-base hits and 11 runs scored. He's raised his batting average over .300 and now has an OPS approaching the .900 mark.
Alcantara currently leads the Pacific Coast League in total bases (163) and triples (10), and his mix of power and speed could make him one of the more dynamic offensive second basemen in the game once he does finally arrive in Chicago.
79 G, .305/.346/.547, 22 2B, 10 3B, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 57 R, 18 SB
No. 6 Prospect: C Kyle Schwarber, Single-A Kane County
9-for-22, 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 8 R
It didn't take long for this year's top draft pick to earn a promotion, as Kyle Schwarber played just five games for Low-A Boise before being bumped up to full-season ball at Single-A Kane County.
The No. 4 pick in the draft earlier this month, Schwarber signed a below-slot $3.125 million deal just days after the draft, helping the team save some money for a few above-slot deals a few rounds later.
Schwarber hit .358/.464/.659 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI for Indiana University this spring, and while there are still questions about whether or not he'll stick behind the plate, his bat has certainly looked like the real deal here in the early going.
A-: 5 G, .600/.625/1.350, 1 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
A: 10 G, .412/.512/.882, 4 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 11 R
No. 5 Prospect: RF Jorge Soler, Arizona Rookie League
8-for-15, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R
Finally back on the field after missing over two months with a hamstring injury, Jorge Soler has some catching up to do as far as his development is concerned. But the Cubs are confident his injury woes are behind him.
Theo Epstein, the team's president of baseball operations, talked to Tony Andracki of CSN Chicago about keeping Soler on the field and getting him back on the development track.
We did a full-body assessment. We tried to take a real close look in terms of whole body anatomy and bio-mechanically. We thought maybe there were some ways we could reprogram his posture and muscle distribution on his body - posterior and anterior - to allow him the way his feet work and hit the ground.
There are some small adjustments we can make to where it won't happen again, it won't become a chronic thing. He's put in the work to have that happen and we're just kind of easing him back into full game mode and hope it continues to go well. It won't be too long before he's in Tennessee.
The tremendous potential that earned Soler a nine-year, $30 million deal after he defected from Cuba is still there. It's just a matter of tapping into it, and the first step is keeping him on the field.
Double-A: 7 G, .333/.407/.625, 7 2B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R
AZL: 5 G, .533/.632/.867, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R
No. 3 Prospect: CF Albert Almora, High-A Daytona
12-for-31, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 2 SB
After a slow start to the year, Albert Almora finally seems to be gaining his footing at the High-A level, hitting .356/.396/.467 over his last 10 games.
He played just 61 games last year due to injury but showed enough when he was healthy and in the Arizona Fall League that the team aggressively promoted him to Daytona this season.
Almora is a natural leader who's been looked at as someone who will provide significant intangibles beyond his on-field production once he finally arrives in Chicago. Depending on how aggressive the organization wants to be with him, a promotion to Double-A at some point this year is not out of the question.
71 G, .259/.283/.341, 15 2B, 3 HR, 37 RBI, 37 R, 6 SB
No. 2 Prospect: SS Javier Baez, Triple-A Iowa
10-for-25, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R, 1 SB
Following a disastrous April, during which he hit just .172 with 22 strikeouts in 58 at-bats, Javier Baez has slowly but surely started to turn things around at the plate.
Though he was bumped from the top spot in the organization by Kris Bryant, he is still one of the best offensive prospects in minor league baseball and someone who has the tools to be a future superstar once he reaches the majors.
His numbers have steadily improved every month, and while he's not homering at the impressive rate he did last year, the tremendous raw power is still there.
2014 Stats (*Futures Game Selection*)
71 G, .239/.300/.432, 14 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 37 R, 14 SB
No. 1 Prospect: 3B Kris Bryant, Triple-A Iowa
10-for-25, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R
Kris Bryant has earned his place atop these rankings with one of the more dominant first-half performances the high minors have seen in recent years.
He was promoted to Triple-A Iowa June 19, and he has already homered five times in 41 at-bats over his first 11 games with his new club.
The Cubs appear set in their stance that Bryant won't see Chicago this year, but he is at the very least positioning himself for a serious chance at an everyday job out of spring training next year.
He is one of two Cubs headed to the Futures Game (along with Javier Baez), and after winning the Double-A Home Run Derby earlier this month, he will look to put on a show once again.
Double-A: 68 G, .355/.458/.702, 20 2B, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 61 R, 8 SB
Triple-A: 11 G, .317/.391/.758, 3 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 8 R, 0 SB