Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 21

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 21

0 of 10

    USA TODAY Sports

    There is just one week remaining in what has been a fantastic minor league season for the Chicago Cubs, with top prospects turning heads at every level.

    Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, Arismendy Alcantara and Matt Szczur have all risen from the ranks of top prospect to big league contributors, and there will likely be more debuts come September.

    As members of the 40-man roster, Jorge Soler and Arodys Vizcaino both have a solid chance of getting the call, while the biggest question that remains is whether Kris Bryant will debut in 2014 or early 2015.

    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

1 of 10

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Last Week

    7-for-25, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 RBI, 7 R, 1 SB

     

    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 20-year-old was taken with the No. 24 pick in the 2013 draft, and he signed in time to hit .326/.387/.437 with 15 extra-base hits in 215 at-bats last season. It's his offensive game that is going to carry him to the majors.

    "McKinney has outstanding hand-eye coordination, a sweet left-handed swing, bat speed and a mature approach. He should continue to hit as he climbs the ladder, and he barrels balls so easily that he should develop at least average power as he fills out," Jonathan Mayo wrote of McKinney on his MLB.com Prospect Watch page.

    He's hit a combined .265/.356/.419 with 24 doubles, 11 home runs and 69 RBI this season, and he has shown an advanced enough approach that there's no reason to think he can't open 2015 in Double-A.

     

    2014 Stats

    High-A (OAK): 75 G, .241/.330/.400, 12 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 42 R, 5 SB
    High-A (CHC): 46 G, .308/.402/.455, 12 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 36 RBI, 25 R, 1 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

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

2 of 10

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    6-for-29, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    The 2014 season has not been a coming-out party for Dan Vogelbach by any means, but it also hasn't been a step back, and it's important to remember that he's still just 21 years old.

    Ranked as the No. 4 first base prospect in the league by MLB.com's Prospect Watch, Vogelbach has hit .285/.374/.481 in 325 career minor league games.

    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 .200/.289/.310 in 145 at-bats on the year against southpaws.

     

    2014 Stats

    127 G, .267/.355/.427, 27 2B, 1 3B, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 69 R

     

    Stock

    Down

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

3 of 10

    Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    Last Week

    1 GS, ND, 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

     

    Overview

    Signed to a $1.625 million bonus during the international signing period last year, Jen-Ho Tseng has looked like the prize of a class that also included the highly touted duo of Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres.

    The 19-year-old pitched for the Chinese Taipei team in the last World Baseball Classic, and he has looked like a man among boys at times for Single-A Kane County this year.

    He has a 1.66 ERA with a sparkling .144 opponent batting average over his past eight starts, and he has given up more than three earned runs in a start just once this season.

     

    2014 Stats

    18 G, 16 GS, 6-1, 2.45 ERA, 74 H, 15 BB, 83 K, 99.0 IP

     

    Stock

    Up

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

4 of 10

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Last Week

    Did Not Pitch

     

    Overview

    Arodys Vizcaino has not pitched since Aug. 15, but he still appears to be in good position for a September call-up, as he has thrown the ball very well after a rocky start to his time with Triple-A Iowa.

    He has eight consecutive scoreless appearances under his belt, holding opponents to a .229 average over that span, and his stuff remains some of the best in the organization.

    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 the long-term answer at closer. He has prototypical ninth inning stuff, with a fastball that can touch triple digits and a wipeout slider, and whatever role he ends up in, he should be able to make a significant impact.

     

    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

    Even

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

5 of 10

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    15-for-30, 4 2B, 7 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R

     

    Overview

    After flying through two levels, Kyle Schwarber had cooled off at the plate since joining High-A Daytona, but he exploded offensively last week.

    He's currently riding a 12-game hitting streak, over which he is hitting .457/.490/1.109 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 13 RBI, as there may not be a hotter hitter in minor league baseball right now.

    "I've been putting in [extra work], trying to figure out my swing—thanks to my coaches for helping me figure things out—and just trying to figure out mechanical things, [like] head movement," Schwarber told Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com. "I'm trying to keep it still more, not having such a violent load, just calm down the load a little, make it smoother."

    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 he was viewed as one of the more polished bats in the class.

    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: 39 G, .314/.417/.613, 9 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 29 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

6 of 10

    Last Week

    1 GS, ND, 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

     

    Overview

    C.J. Edwards missed over three months with a shoulder injury earlier this year, and he has been playing catch-up ever since, but he finally seems to be hitting his stride for Double-A Tennessee.

    Over his last two starts, he's pitched 11 scoreless innings, allowing just six hits and three walks while striking out eight.

    The former 48th-round pick was acquired as the centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade with the Texas Rangers last July, and all told, he went 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 116.1 innings in 2013.

    Questions remain about his size and whether he'll be able to stick in the starting rotation, but his stuff is for real and he'll get every chance to prove he can be a starter for the Cubs long term.

     

    2014 Stats

    Double-A: 8 GS, 1-1, 2.31 ERA, 25 H, 15 BB, 37 K, 44.2 IP
    AZL: 2 GS, 0-0, 1.59 ERA, 2 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 5.2 IP

     

    Stock

    Even

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

7 of 10

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week

    10-for-25, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R

     

    Overview

    After missing over two months with a hamstring injury, Jorge Soler has been on an absolute tear since returning to the lineup, and he has put himself in position for a September call-up as a result.

    Since returning from injury, he's hitting a combined .339/.435/.695 with 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 54 games over three levels, and he's currently playing alongside fellow top prospect Kris Bryant in Triple-A.

    Not only is Soler on the 40-man roster, but he is also earning $2 million this season in the third year of the nine-year, $30 million deal he signed after defecting from Cuba, so the Cubs would no doubt like to see if he's ready to step into a significant role in 2015.

     

    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, 1 3B, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 13 R
    Triple-A: 31 G, .278/.376/.593, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 21 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

8 of 10

    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Last Week

    10-for-28, 3 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R

     

    Overview

    After some early struggles following his promotion to Double-A, Albert Almora has finally started to put things together over the past two weeks.

    The 20-year-old is hitting .362/.362/.553 with six extra-base hits in his last 12 games, and it's his advanced approach to the game as a whole and his ability to adjust that have made him such a highly regarded prospect.

    "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."

    Even with a crowded outfield situation long term, he still looks like the center fielder of the future and a potential team leader long term.

     

    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, .259/.278/.384, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 19 R

     

    Stock

    Up

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

9 of 10

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Last Week

    10-for-32, 3 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R

     

    Overview

    The Cubs' trade for Addison Russell has a chance to be one of the defining moments of the Theo Epstein era, as he looks to have all the makings of a future superstar.

    The 20-year-old is hitting .304/.353/.582 with 12 extra-base hits and 19 RBI in his last 20 games, and while the organization won't push him, there is reason to believe he could reach the big leagues at some point next season.

    The consensus is that he has the best defensive profile among the team's trio of shortstops, but he could wind up playing second base or even outfield long term, depending on how everything plays out.

    Regardless of where he winds up, his bat should play, as he profiles to bring a good mix of power and speed to go along with a high contact rate and plus batting average/on-base numbers.

     

    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): 44 G, .297/.339/.560, 10 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 31 R, 2 SB

     

    Stock

    Up

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

10 of 10

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week

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

     

    Overview

    After dealing with a toe injury and seeing his stock down for the first time in a long time last week, Kris Bryant went right back to slugging this past week.

    In his first full professional season, Bryant is hitting .333/.443/.682 with 34 doubles, 43 home runs and 108 RBI in 466 at-bats.

    There is still some swing-and-miss to his game, as he has 152 strikeouts on the year, and his defense at third base is average at best. However, his power would play in the majors right now, and he should immediately become one of the most productive third basemen in the game.

    The team has made no indication that he'll receive a September call-up, but he'll have every chance to win a starting job next spring regardless. Look for him to challenge for the title of No. 1 prospect in baseball heading into 2015 and to be the NL Rookie of the Year front-runner.

     

    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: 63 G, .307/.426/.661, 14 2B, 21 HR, 50 RBI, 52 R, 7 SB

     

    Stock

    Up