Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 20

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 20

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    With just two weeks left in the minor league season, it's fair to say that 2014 has been a rousing success for the Chicago Cubs down on the farm.

    Prospects Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks and Arismendy Alcantara have all seen significant time at the big league level and shown flashes of what promises to be a bright future on the North Side.

    As rosters expand in September, there will likely be at least a few more significant call-ups, with 40-man roster members Jorge Soler and Arodys Vizcaino the two most intriguing names of that group.

    For now, 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: RF Billy McKinney, High-A Daytona

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Last Week

    6-for-24, 4 2B, 6 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    The "other prospect" acquired in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, Billy McKinney may not have the ceiling of Addison Russell, but he's a highly regarded young player in his own right.

    The No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft out of high school, McKinney hit .326/.387/.437 with 15 extra-base hits in 215 at-bats after signing last year. That was enough for him to open the season as the No. 2 prospect in the A's system, according to Baseball America.

    He has not hit for as much power since moving to the Cubs organization, but his offensive game as a whole has been impressive, and he has put himself in a great position to open the 2015 season as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-A (OAK): 75 G, .341/.330/.400, 12 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 42 R, 5 SB
    High-A (CHC): 38 G, .313/.399/.443, 10 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 18 R, 0 SB

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    8-for-23, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R

     

    Overview

    Dan Vogelbach is coming off a strong week, and he will look to finish strong in what has been an up-and-down season for the big slugger.

    Ranked as the No. 4 first base prospect in the league by MLB.com's Prospect Watch, the 21-year-old is hitting .286/.370/.468 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 54 games in the second half of the season for High-A Daytona.

    It's been mentioned here before, but his inability to hit left-handed pitching is something that will have to be improved moving forward. He's batting just .206/.292/.324 in 136 at-bats on the year against southpaws.

     

    2014 Stats

    119 G, .271/.359/.428, 27 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 65 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 8 Prospect: SP Jen-Ho Tseng, Single-A Kane County

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    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    Last Week

    1 GS, ND, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

     

    Overview

    While Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres were viewed as the highlights of an impressive crop of international signings for the Cubs last summer, it's right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng that has looked like the prize of the class so far.

    The 19-year-old was signed to a $1.625 million bonus, after turning heads as an 18-year-old pitching for the Chinese Taipei team in the World Baseball Classic, and he's been a revelation here in his first pro season.

    He has a 1.69 ERA with a sparkling .137 opponent batting average over his past seven starts, and while it appears he will spend all of 2014 at the Single-A level, he could move quickly if he continues to pitch like this in the high minors next season.

     

    2014 Stats

    17 G, 15 GS, 6-1, 2.52 ERA, 70 H, 15 BB, 78 K, 93.0 IP

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 7 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, Triple-A Iowa

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Last Week

    2 G, 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

     

    Overview

    After a rocky start to his time with Triple-A Iowa, Arodys Vizcaino has recorded eight straight scoreless appearances, holding opponents to a .229 average over that span.

    As a member of the 40-man roster, and a potential piece of the 2015 bullpen from the onset, there's a very good chance he's among the team's September call-ups.

    Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop have done a commendable job at the back end of the big league bullpen this season, but Vizcaino still looks like he has a good chance of being the long-term answer in the ninth inning. He certainly has the stuff for it, with a fastball that can touch triple-digits and a wipeout slider.

     

    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: 15 G, 0-0, 16.1 IP, 0 SV, 6.06 ERA, 10 BB, 15 K

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 6 Prospect: C/OF Kyle Schwarber, High-A Daytona

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    8-for-25, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 R

     

    Overview

    Kyle Schwarber has slowed down a bit since getting the call to High-A Daytona, but he's still hitting a combined .333/.433/.576 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs and 39 RBI in 59 games to kick off 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.

    His selection was viewed as a bit of a reach at the time, but it allowed the Cubs to sign some lower picks for over-slot, and it gave them an advanced bat that could help in the rebuilding process quicker than perhaps any other available bat.

    There are still questions about where he'll play defensively, as he is splitting time between catching and the outfield, but his bat should play anywhere, and it may not be long before he catches up to the other top prospects.

     

    2014 Stats

    Low-A: 5 G, .600/.625/1.350, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
    Single-A: 23 G, .361/.448/.602, 8 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 17 R
    High-A: 31 G, .262/.388/.411, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 21 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 5 Prospect: SP C.J. Edwards, Double-A Tennessee

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    Last Week

    1 GS, ND, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 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 pitched six innings his last time out, reaching that mark for the first time since April 20, and his 71 pitches thrown also represented his highest total since returning to the mound.

    With the end of the minor league season rapidly approaching, the team has no reason to push him, but he could get a chance to make up for lost time in the Arizona Fall League.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 7 GS, 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 23 H, 13 BB, 30 K, 34.0 IP
    AZL: 2 GS, 0-0, 1.59 ERA, 2 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 5.2 IP

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 4 Prospect: RF Jorge Soler, Triple-A Iowa

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Last Week

    3-for-28, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R

     

    Overview

    After missing over two months with a hamstring injury, Jorge Soler had been on an absolute tear since returning to the lineup.

    He was hitting .380/.483/.793 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 41 games over three levels, landing in Triple-A and positioning himself for a September call-up as a result.

    He hit a bit of a wall this past week, but there is still a decent chance he makes his big league debut this year, as his status on the 40-man roster helps his case.

    "(Soler) has been playing great, and is locked in now, and great at-bats, great attitude, playing good defense," GM Jed Hoyer told Carrie Muscat of MLB.com. "We have to decide if he's had enough at-bats or not."

     

    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: 25 G, .241/.337/.542, 10 2B, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 16 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 3 Prospect: CF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Last Week

    7-for-19, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 3 R

     

    Overview

    A .391/.413/.644 line with 12 extra-base hits over a 20-game span was enough for Albert Almora to earn a call-up to Double-A, despite what was a relatively disappointing season to that point.

    The 20-year-old enjoyed his best week since being promoted this past week, as he continues to make the necessary adjustments while the team aggressively promotes him.

    "He certainly has had some good streaks and had the great streak in Daytona that preceded his move to Double A," Director of Player Development Jason McLeod told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "And he also has battled himself sometimes too. Development-wise, it still has been a good year for him. We always like to see how some guys go through adversity and how they come out of it."

    The outfield situation has gotten crowded, with Arismendy Alcantara making the move out to center field, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber potentially headed to the outfield and Billy McKinney pushing his way into the picture as well.

    That being said, Almora still remains highly regarded for the intangibles he brings as a natural leader, and he still profiles as the team's long-term center fielder.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-A: 89 G, .283/.306/.406, 20 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 55 R, 6 SB
    Double-A: 22 G, .226/.253/.321, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 13 R

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 2 Prospect: SS Addison Russell, Double-A Tennessee

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last Week

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

     

    Overview

    The prize of the July trade season for the Cubs, Addison Russell was as good a return as the team ever could have hoped for when it came to dealing Jeff Samardzija, and he's already impressed in his brief time with the organization.

    Still just 20 years old, Russell has not only reached the Double-A level but is putting up terrific numbers there.

    From a defensive standpoint, he's viewed by most as the best option at shortstop long-term. Whether that ends up being the case remains to be seen, but he's talented enough to make a serious impact wherever he winds up playing in the field.

    The A's were grooming him as the replacement for Jed Lowrie, who is a free agent at the end of the season, and the way he's going, a debut with the Cubs at some point in 2015 is not out of the question, either.

     

    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): 37 G, .294/.344/.510, 7 2B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 23 R, 2 SB

     

    Stock

    Even

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

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week

    4-for-22, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R

     

    Overview

    Kris Bryant sees his stock trending down this week not because of production, but because of a toe injury that could cost him some time here as the minor league season comes to a close.

    After the original MRI was inconclusive, it was revealed on Sunday that his injury is nothing more than a bruised toe, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. He's currently listed as day-to-day.

    Even after he hit his 40th home run of the season earlier in the week, his chances of a September call-up still seemed to be rather slim, due in part to him not being on the 40-man roster.

    Regardless of whether or not he sees Chicago in 2014, he'll have every chance to win a starting job out of camp next spring. It wouldn't be surprising to see him unseat Byron Buxton as the No. 1 prospect in baseball heading into 2014, and his debut could be met with even more fanfare than that of fellow top prospect Javier Baez.

     

    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: 56 G, .306/.417/.648, 13 2B, 18 HR, 45 RBI, 47 R, 7 SB

     

    Stock

    Down