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

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2013

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

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    It was a good week for the Cubs minor league system, as top prospects Dan Vogelbach and Kris Bryant were both promoted, and a number of other top guys enjoyed terrific weeks as well.

    That should provide even more reason for optimism moving forward on the North Side. Even while the big league club suffered through a 1-5 week, the future looks incredibly bright for the Cubs.

    The Cubs may not be legitimate contenders until 2015, but once their top prospects arrive, they should have the young core to sustain their success for some time. For now, here's an updated look at how the team's top prospects performed this past week and whether their stock is trending up or down.

    Top prospect rankings according to MLB.com Prospect Watch.

    *No. 3 prospect RF Jorge Soler (fractured left shin) is currently sidelined and will not be included until he's active. He was hitting .281/.343/.467 with eight homers and 35 RBI at the time of the injury.

    *No. 6 prospect SP Arodys Vizcaino (recovering from Tommy John surgery) is currently sidelined and will not be included until he's active.

    *No. 9 prospect OF Junior Lake was recently called up to the majors, so he will no longer be included here. He was hitting .295/.341/.462 with four home runs and 18 RBI at the time of the call-up.

    *No. 13 prospect CF Brett Jackson was demoted to Double-A upon returning from a strained quad and is hitting .218/.295/.341 with 90 strikeouts in 252 at-bats. He won't be included until he at least returns to Triple-A, as it's safe to assume his stock is down after being demoted.

No. 14 Prospect: 3B Christian Villanueva, Double-A Tennessee

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    2013 Stats

    .268/.324/.472, 38 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 64 RBI, 54 R

    Overview

    Acquired from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster trade last July, Christian Villanueva continues to pound out extra-base hits and is looking more and more like a candidate for September call-up.

    Still just 22, he leads the Southern League with 38 doubles and has added 16 home runs as well. Somewhat undersized for a third baseman at 5'11" and 160 pounds, he could be an option at second base long-term now that Kris Bryant and Mike Olt are in the fold at the hot corner.

    Last Week's Stats

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

    Stock

    Up

No. 12 Prospect: SP C.J. Edwards, High-A Daytona

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    2013 Stats

    18 GS, 8-2, 1.83 ERA, 34 BB, 122 K, 93.1 IP at Low-A Hickory

    4 GS, 0-0, 1.84 ERA, 5 BB, 20 K, 14.2 IP at High-A Daytona

    Overview

    A 48th-round pick in the 2011 draft, C.J. Edwards has been one of the biggest breakout pitchers in minor league baseball this season, and he may very well wind up being the best player the Cubs acquired in the Matt Garza deal with Texas.

    After allowing six base runners in 3.2 innings of work in his previous start, Edwards had his best outing as a member of the Cubs organization on Thursday, allowing just one base runner over five innings of work.

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, 5 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K, ND

    Stock

    Up

No. 11 Prospect: 1B Dan Vogelbach, High-A Daytona

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    2013 Stats

    .284/.364/.450, 21 2B, 17 HR, 71 RBI, 55 R at Low-A Kane County

    .296/.367/.556, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R at High-A Daytona (Promoted on August 13)

    Overview 

    Dan Vogelbach continues to display some of the best raw power in all of minor league baseball. After hitting 17 doubles and 21 home runs last season, he's continued his assault on minor league pitching this year.

    The big first baseman earned a call-up to High-A Daytona on Tuesday, and while his future in Chicago remains up in the air with Anthony Rizzo blocking his path at first base, for now, he's just another valuable piece in a deep Cubs farm system.

    Last Week's Stats

    8-for-27, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R

    Stock

    Up

No. 10 Prospect: CF Matt Szczur, Double-A Tennessee

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    2013 Stats

    .280/.351/.366, 23 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 66 R, 21 SB

    Overview

    More of an athlete than a baseball player, Matt Szczur was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 draft following a two-sport (football) career at Villanova, and he has continued to develop into a solid all-around ballplayer in the minors since this time.

    He's hit in 12 of his last 14 games, and while he doesn't have much power, he gets on base and has plus speed. He could get a crack at the center field job next year if David DeJesus winds up being traded, and if nothing else, he's at least passed former top prospect Brett Jackson on the outfield depth chart this year.

    Last Week's Stats

    6-for-25, 1 2B, 2 R

    Stock

    Even

No. 8 Prospect: 2B/SS Arismendy Alcantara, Double-A Tennessee

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    2013 Stats

    .267/.343/.435, 30 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 61 RBI, 58 R, 27 SB

    Overview

    By all accounts, it's been a breakout campaign for 21-year-old Arismendy Alcantara, as he's shown a terrific combination of power and speed in his first season at the Double-A level this year.

    A shortstop by trade, he's made the move to second base, where he could unseat offensively-challenged Darwin Barney at some point next season if Barney continues to hit like he has this year. For now, though, Alcantara has his sights set on a promotion to Triple-A Iowa before the season comes to an end.

    Last Week's Stats

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

    Stock

    Down

No. 7 Prospect: SP Pierce Johnson, High-A Daytona

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    2013 Stats

    13 GS, 5-5, 3.10 ERA, 22 BB, 74 K, 69.2 IP at Low-A Kane County

    9 G, 7 GS, 6-1, 2.36 ERA, 21 BB, 47 K, 45.2 IP at High-A Daytona (Promoted on June 20)

    Overview

    Selected with the No. 43 pick in last year's draft as a high-floor college arm, Pierce Johnson has quickly emerged as the Cubs top pitching prospect, and he's actually pitched even better since being promoted to High-A Daytona back in June.

    He could even see a late-season promotion for a few starts in Double-A before the season is over, too. And if he continues to pitch this well, he profiles as a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm with upside in the grand scheme of the Cubs rebuilding plans.

    Last Week's Stats

    2 G, 1 GS, 9.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 13 K, 2 W

    Stock

    Up

No. 5 Prospect: 3B Mike Olt, Triple-A Iowa

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    2013 Stats

    .333/.333/.750, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R at Double-A Frisco

    .213/.317/.422, 15 2B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 37 R at Triple-A Round Rock 

    .115/.181/.230, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R at Triple-A Iowa

    Overview

    Entering the season, Mike Olt looked like a potential Rookie of the Year candidate for the Rangers if they could find a way to get his bat into the lineup, but things have not gone well for the 24-year-old slugger in 2013.

    He struggled with vision issues early on, and he's never really gotten his bat going at any point this season. However, he showed what he's capable of last year, when he had a .977 OPS with 28 home runs and 82 RBI in Double-A. The Cubs are now hoping he can return to that form and be a big bat in the middle of their rebuilding efforts.

    Last Week's Stats

    2-for-23, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R

    Stock

    Down

No. 4 Prospect: 3B Kris Bryant, High-A Daytona

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    2013 Stats

    .167/.143/.333, 1 2B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 R at AZL Cubs

    .354/.416/.692, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 13 R at short-season Boise

    .360/.385/.760, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R at High-A Daytona (Promoted on August 12)

    Overview

    Many Cubs fans were disappointed when the team opted to draft Kris Bryant with the No. 2 overall pick in this past June's draft as opposed to taking Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray.

    Gray looks to have a bright future as well, but Bryant has absolutely destroyed minor league pitching since signing. After hitting .329/.493/.820 with an NCAA-high 31 home runs and 62 RBI in 62 games at the University of San Diego, he crushed short-season pitching before skipping Low-A Kane County altogether with a promotion to High-A Daytona this past week.

    It's looking more and more like we could see him in a Cubs jersey at some point in 2014.

    Last Week's Stats

    9-for-25, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R

    Stock 

    Up

No. 2 Prospect: CF Albert Almora, Low-A Kane County

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    2013 Stats

    .329/.376/.466, 17 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 39 R

    Overview

    Ranked as the No. 16 prospect in the game in Baseball America's Midseason Top 50 list, Albert Almora has dealt with some injuries this season, but when he's been on the field, he's put up solid numbers in his first full pro season.

    After missing time early with a broken hamate bone, he's been sidelined since August 4 with a groin injury. That likely won't throw off his development much, though, as he remains one of the more advanced high school bats to come along in the past few years.

    Last Week's Stats

    Did Not Play (groin injury)

    Stock

    Even

No. 1 Prospect: SS Javier Baez, Double-A Tennessee

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    2013 Stats

    .274/.338/.535, 19 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 59 R, 12 SB at High-A Daytona

    .287/.350/.616, 12 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 38 RBI, 29 R, 7 SB at Double-A Tennessee (Promoted on July 6)

    Overview

    Javier Baez continues to show why he is one of the top prospects in all of baseball, as he has done nothing but improve upon his already lofty status entering the year.

    With some of the best bat speed in all of minor league baseball, he's clubbed 31 home runs and driven in 95 runs over two levels this season, and he looks like a legitimate Minor League Player of the Year candidate. His over-aggressive approach at the plate likely means he'll open 2014 in the minors, but he could claim an everyday job before next season is over.

    Last Week's Stats

    9-for-25, 4 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R

    Stock

    Up

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