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Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 18

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 18

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The focus of Chicago Cubs fans in 2014 continues to be as much on cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, and Des Moines, Iowa, as it is on the city of Chicago.

    That's where the team's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates reside and where a number of the team's promising young prospects are currently playing on the path to the big leagues.

    With Albert Almora and Jorge Soler recently promoted and C.J. Edwards finally healthy and back pitching, each of the team's top six prospects are now playing in either Double-A or Triple-A, as the big league club is headed for an influx of high-end young talent.

    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 over the past week.

No. 10 Prospect: 1B Dan Vogelbach, High-A Daytona

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    3-for-18, 1 2B, 4 R

     

    Overview

    Dan Vogelbach got off to a slow start at the plate this season, but the big first baseman has turned things around in the second half.

    Ranked as the No. 4 first base prospect in the league by MLB.com's Prospect Watch, Vogelbach has hit .288/.392/.473 with 14 doubles and eight home runs since the beginning of June.

    He still needs to figure out how to hit left-handed pitching, as he's batting just .203/.295/.317 against southpaws compared to .307/.397/.485 against righties.

    He'll have plenty of time to develop, though, as he's still just 21 years old and is currently blocked by Anthony Rizzo at the big league level.

     

    2014 Stats

    106 G, .274/.365/.432, 23 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 55 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 9 Prospect: SP Jen-Ho Tseng, Single-A Kane County

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    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    Last Week

    1 GS, L, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

     

    Overview

    Jen-Ho Tseng has been perhaps the fastest-rising prospect in the Cubs system this season.

    The 19-year-old Taiwanese right-hander was signed to a $1.625 million bonus as part of a big international prospect class last year, and in his first pro season this year, he has quickly emerged as one of the team's top pitching prospects.

    After a rocky start his previous time out in which he allowed six hits and three runs in 5.2 innings of work, Tseng bounced back nicely last week to record his fourth quality start in his last seven games.

    Expect him to get a late-season bump to High-A Daytona for at least a start or two, and he could be in Double-A by the midway point of 2015 if he continues to pitch like he has so far as a pro.

     

    2014 Stats

    15 G, 14 GS, 6-1, 2.56 ERA, 65 H, 11 BB, 71 K, 81.0 IP

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 8 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, Triple-A Iowa

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Last Week

    2 G, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

     

    Overview

    After allowing three earned runs in three straight appearances heading into the Triple-A All-Star break, Arodys Vizcaino has now recorded five consecutive scoreless games, as he finally looks to be getting comfortable with his new team.

    It's worth noting that he's walked eight batters over 13 innings in Triple-A (5.2 BB/9) after issuing a total of seven free passes in 22.2 innings between High-A and Double-A (2.8 BB/9), so he still needs to work on his command before earning the call to Chicago.

    That being said, he's already on the 40-man roster, so there's no reason to think he won't get at least a cup of coffee in September when rosters expand.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-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: 12 G, 0-0, 13.0 IP, 0 SV, 7.62 ERA, 8 BB, 12 K

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 7 Prospect: C/OF Kyle Schwarber, High-A Daytona

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    4-for-20, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    He's not putting up quite as dominant of numbers since being called up to High-A Daytona, but considering Kyle Schwarber was playing college ball just a couple months ago, it's fair to say he's put together a good start to his pro career.

    The No. 4 pick in the June draft, Schwarber hit .358/.464/.659 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI for Indiana University this spring, and it's his advanced bat that made him such a high selection.

    He's been playing primarily left field since being promoted to Daytona after splitting time between catcher and the outfield during his first two stops.

    His future will likely be in left, but his bat plays anywhere, and from an offensive standpoint, he's not all that far behind the team's big guns. He knows how to draw a walk and makes consistent enough contact that he should continue to move quickly.

     

    2014 Stats

    Low-A: 5 G, .600/.625/1.350, 1 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
    Single-A: 23 G, .361/.448/.602, 8 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R
    High-A: 18 G, .242/.359/.333, 1 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 11 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 6 Prospect: RF Jorge Soler, Triple-A Iowa

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Last Week

    5-for-21, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    Jorge Soler missed over two months with a hamstring injury at the beginning of this season, falling behind the rest of the team's prospects as a result, but here in August it looks like there's at least a chance he's the first of the "core four" to reach the majors.

    That is due in large part to the fact that he's already on the 40-man roster after signing a big nine-year, $30 million deal following his defection from Cuba.

    He hit .463/.538/1.00 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 15 games after returning to the Double-A lineup, and that was enough for him to join Javier Baez and Kris Bryant in Triple-A Iowa.

    If free-agent-to-be Nate Schierholtz is moved through waivers, he could get the call and see some substantial at-bats in right field down the stretch.

     

    2014 Stats

    AZL: 7 G, .391/.500/.652, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R
    Double-A: 22 G, .415/.494/.862, 9 2B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 13 R
    Triple-A: 12 G, .265/.359/.647, 4 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 5 Prospect: CF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Last Week

    9-for-29, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R

     

    Overview

    After a relatively disappointing start to the season, Albert Almora caught fire at the plate for High-A Daytona, hitting .391/.413/.644 with 12 extra-base hits and 16 RBI in his last 20 games at the level.

    That earned him a call-up to Double-A, and after a 1-for-18 start, he broke out with a 4-for-6 performance last Monday.

    The 20-year-old remains the center fielder of the future in Chicago, and there's a chance he could take over the job full time by the 2016 season.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-A: 89 G, .283/.306/.406, 20 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 55 R, 6 SB
    Double-A: 11 G, .213/.260/.319, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 8 R

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 4 Prospect: SP C.J. Edwards, Double-A Tennessee

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    Last Week (Double-A only)

    1 GS, ND, 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

     

    Overview

    The centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade with the Texas Rangers last July, C.J. Edwards went 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 116.1 innings in 2013.

    A former 48th-round pick back in 2011, Edwards missed over three months with a shoulder injury earlier this year, but he is back healthy and pitching for Double-A Tennessee once again.

    He has not pitched beyond the fourth inning in three starts since returning to the mound, with two of those coming for the team's Arizona Rookie League squad, and the team will likely continue to be careful with him for the remainder of the year.

    The undersized right-hander still has the highest upside of any of the team's pitching prospects at this point, though, and he could still be in line for a 2016 debut.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 5 GS, 1-0, 2.63 ERA, 16 H, 10 BB, 25 K, 24.0 IP
    AZL: 2 GS, 0-0, 1.59 ERA, 2 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 5.2 IP

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 3 Prospect: SS Addison Russell, Double-A Tennessee

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last Week

    10-for-29, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    After getting off to a relatively slow start in the Cubs organization, Addison Russell has flashed some impressive power over the past couple weeks, with seven home runs and 15 RBI in his last 16 games.

    The 20-year-old hit .269/.369/.495 last season, with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases playing at the High-A level last year, and he's quickly adjusted to life in Double-A here this season.

    There was some hope in Oakland that he could step in as the everyday shortstop next year once Jed Lowrie departed in free agency. His arrival in Chicago may not come quite that soon, but a 2015 debut remains a very real possibility.

    He's viewed as a better defensive option than Javier Baez, and if his glove continues to develop, he may wind up pushing both Javier Baez and Starlin Castro to another position. The team could also slot Russell at second base, with Castro at shortstop and Baez at third base.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-A (OAK): 5 G, .188/.278/.188, 0 2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, 1 SB
    Double-A (OAK): 13 G, .333/.439/.500, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, 3 SB
    Double-A (CHC): 25 G, .293/.333/.566, 3 2B, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 15 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 2 Prospect: SS/2B Javier Baez, Triple-A Iowa

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    **Update**

    According to a tweet from his brother Gadi Baez, later confirmed in a tweet from Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago and a number of other sources, Javier Baez has been called up to Chicago and he will make his big league debut on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

     

    Last Week

    8-for-27, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R

     

    Overview

    Javier Baez entered the year with lofty expectations, but he hit just .217/.275/.415 with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 33 RBI while posting a 15/80 BB/K ratio over his first 56 games.

    He turned a corner in the middle of June, though, as he's hitting .303/.365/.584 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 45 RBI in his last 47 games with a much more acceptable 17/49 BB/K mark.

    Nine of his last 10 games have been played at second base, and that may be where he lands when he finally gets the call-up to Chicago. Long term, third base may still be his destination if Kris Bryant does in fact end up in the outfield.

    "There’s no hurry,” manager Rick Renteria told Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago about calling up Baez. “There’s no pressure to do anything right now. I think when the move is made with him—whenever that is—it will be because everybody’s drawn a clear consensus that the action we’ll take as an organization is right for him, and for us.”

     

    2014 Stats (Futures Game Selection)

    104 G, .260/.323/.510, 24 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 64 R, 16 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 1 Prospect: 3B Kris Bryant, Triple-A Iowa

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week

    8-for-24, 2 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB

     

    Overview

    Kris Bryant snapped an 11-game homerless streak on Monday, and after a brief slump saw him hit just .194/.326/.278 with 11 strikeouts in 36 at-bats over that span, he's back to raking at the plate.

    The 22-year-old now has 147 pro games and 527 total at-bats under his belt since signing with the Cubs, and he's hit .338/.429/.687 with 45 doubles, 45 home runs and 124 RBI during that time.

    He has the offensive tools to be a plus run producer in the big leagues right now, and while he may not see Chicago here in 2014, he'll get every chance to win an everyday job out of camp next spring.

     

    2014 Stats (Southern League All-StarFutures Game Selection)

    Double-A: 68 G, .355/.458/.702, 20 2B, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 61 R, 8 SB
    Triple-A: 44 G, .308/.407/.654, 12 2B, 14 HR, 34 RBI, 35 R, 5 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

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