|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2010 Prospect
30 scouting reports on every team
|1.||Starlin Castro, ss Born: March 24, 1990 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 175|
|Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006 • Signed by: Jose Serra|
Background: Clubs rarely ask
players to make the jump from Rookie ball to high Class A, but that's
exactly the challenge the Cubs presented Castro with in 2009. After
he and Junior Lake shared shortstop duties in the Rookie-level
Arizona League in 2008, Chicago wanted both to play regularly and
sent Lake to low Class A Peoria and Castro to Daytona—skipping two
levels in the process. Simply holding his own as the youngest regular
in the Florida State League would have been a significant
accomplishment, but Castro did much more. He won MVP honors at the
FSL all-star game by going 4-for-4 with an inside-the-park home run,
and made the league's postseason all-star team. He singled in his
lone at-bat in the Futures Game before earning an August promotion to
Double-A Tennessee. Castro hit .303 in the Southern League playoffs,
then moved on to the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to
establish himself as an elite shortstop prospect. The Cubs, who
signed him for $50,000 out of the Dominican Republic, thought Castro
had all-star potential but never expected him to be this good this
Strengths: Castro's performance has drawn him comparisons with the likes of Tony Fernandez, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada—and even Derek Jeter. Castro covers the plate well for a young hitter and does a nice job of staying inside the ball and using the entire field. He consistently puts the barrel of the bat on the ball and has a knack for making adjustments. He has no trouble hitting breaking pitches, usually taking the first one from a pitcher he hasn't seen before, sizing it up and attacking the next. Though he had just 32 extra-base hits in 2009, Castro has the power potential to double that total once he matures physically. He has added 15 pounds in the last year and Chicago envisions him growing to 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He has strong hands and wrists, and he's starting to pull and drive more pitches. He has the plus speed to make things happen on the bases. Castro excels defensively as well, with range to both sides, body control and arm strength to make any play. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop in the Florida State League. The Cubs also like his instincts, charisma and work ethic.
Weaknesses: Castro just needs time to fill out and polish his game. He made 39 errors last season, which isn't a high number for a young shortstop but shows that he needs to play more under control. He makes so much contact that he doesn't draw many walks, though he does work counts. He's still learning to look for pitches he can drive in certain situations. He needs to hone his basestealing technique after getting caught in 11 of 39 tries in 2009, though he did go 6-for-6 in Double-A.
The Future: Castro's stellar AFL performance further accelerated his timetable. He'll probably open 2010 back in Tennessee because Darwin Barney is slated for Triple-A Iowa, but there's rumbling that Castro could be in Chicago by season's end. He has all the ingredients to become the Cubs' first all-star shortstop since Shawon Dunston in 1990.
|2.||Brett Jackson, of Born: Aug. 2, 1988 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: California, 2009 (1st round) • Signed by: John Bartsch|
Background: The Cubs thought
Jackson had the best bat speed and some of the best power available
in the 2009 draft class, but he lasted 31 picks because other teams
questioned his ability to make consistent contact. The Cubs took him
with their first pick and he signed quickly for $972,000. He had a
smashing pro debut until he tweaked his right wrist on a practice
swing in late August.
Strengths: More than just a slugger, Jackson is the best athlete in the system. His quick bat and the loft in his swing give him well-above-average raw power. He uses his plus speed well on the bases and in center field, and he also has solid arm strength with good accuracy on his throws. He plays with constant energy.
Weaknesses: Jackson will accrue his share of strikeouts but can keep them under control if he doesn't get too aggressive. He has enough natural power that he doesn't have to chase pitches out of the zone of swing for the fences to produce home runs.
The Future: After using five different regular center fielders in the last five years, the Cubs are seeking stability. They may send Jackson to Double-A to start his first full pro season, and he could reach Chicago by the end of 2011.
|3.||Josh Vitters, 3b Born: Aug. 27, 1989 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 200|
|Drafted: HS—Cypress, Calif., 2007 (1st round) • Signed by: Denny Henderson/Tim Wilken|
Background: The No. 3 overall pick
in the 2007 draft, Vitters signed for $3.2 million. Managers rated
him the best hitting and power prospect in the Midwest League last
summer, when he arrived in low Class A a year behind schedule after
developing tendinitis in his left hand in 2008. He struggled when
promoted to high Class A at age 19.
Strengths: Vitters has an extremely compact stroke for a power hitter, using his exceptional hand-eye coordination to easily put the fat part of the barrel on balls. He's a potential .300 hitter who could have 25-30 homers a year. He has the hands and arm strength to play third base, and he has improved his agility and footwork since signing.
Weaknesses: Vitters makes contact almost too easily, as he rarely walks and gives away at-bats by putting balls in play that he should let go by. Though he has gotten better defensively, there's still concern that he doesn't have the quick first step and range to play third base. He's a below-average runner. The game comes so easily to him that some observers question how diligent he is about addressing his shortcomings.
The Future: By pounding Arizona Fall League pitching, Vitters made a case for opening 2010 in Double-A. He's on course to hit the majors by the end of 2011.
|4.||Andrew Cashner, rhp Born: Sept. 11, 1986 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 210|
|Drafted: Texas Christian, 2008 (1st round) • Signed by: Trey Forkerway|
Background: Cashner turned down the
Cubs as a 29th-round pick from Angelina (Texas) JC in 2007, then
signed for $1.54 million as a first-round pick out of Texas Christian
a year later. He won the Florida State League championship clincher
in his pro debut and finished his first full season in Double-A.
Strengths: With his frame and power stuff, Cashner is reminiscent of Kerry Wood. His fastball sits at 92-95 mph and touches 98 when he starts, and he has operated in the upper 90s as a reliever. His 81-85 mph slider breaks like a power curveball. He works down in the zone, allowing just two homers in 120 pro innings.
Weaknesses: Chicago wants to develop Cashner as a starter, but some scouts believe he's destined to be a reliever. His delivery is sound but not fluid, and he often battles his command. His changeup has the potential to become an average pitch, but he needs to use it more often. The Cubs kept him on tight pitch counts after he missed the start of last season with a strained oblique, so he has yet to prove he can pitch deep into games.
The Future: Whether he's a frontline starter or a closer, Cashner should be a big part of Chicago's future. He'll likely begin 2010 in Double-A and could make his big league debut later in the year.
|5.||Jay Jackson, rhp Born: Oct. 27, 1987 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 195|
|Drafted: Furman, 2008 (9th round) • Signed by: Antonio Grissom|
Background: Jackson looks like one
of the steals of the 2008 draft after lasting nine rounds and signing
for $90,000. A two-way star at Furman, he breezed through his pro
debut and opened his first full season in Double-A. His only speed
bump came in late July, when he was demoted for violating an
unspecified team policy.
Strengths: Jackson has good feel for four pitches that are average or better. His best offering is a fastball ranging from 90-95 mph. His mid-80s slider and high-70s curveball are distinct pitches that rate as above-average at times. He also has an effective changeup. He has a long arm action, but he's so athletic that he repeats his high-three-quarters delivery easily. He's fearless and fields his position well.
Weaknesses: Jackson sometimes overthrows, costing him command. Because he's not tall, he has to stay on top of his pitches to keep them down in the zone. His changeup lags behind his other pitches and could use refinement. The Cubs believe his indiscretion was a one-time incident, and he responded well, earning a late-season start in Triple-A.
The Future: Once Jackson throws quality strikes on a more consistent basis, he'll be ready for the big league rotation. He'll probably return to Double-A to start 2010.
|6.||Hak-Ju Lee, ss Born: Nov. 4, 1990 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 170|
|Signed: Korea, 2008 • Signed by: Steve Wilson|
Background: More active than most
clubs in the Far East, the Cubs spent $725,000 to sign Lee out of
Korea in June 2008. He injured his elbow before coming to the United
States, requiring Tommy John surgery, delaying his professional
debut. He recovered quickly, ranking as the top prospect in the
short-season Northwest League in his first pro summer.
Strengths: Lee has four above-average tools, starting with plus-plus speed that he used to lead the NWL with 25 steals. He's a gifted hitter who stays inside the ball and sprays line drives all over the field. His patience and quickness enhance his ability to get on base. He gets to balls that a lot of shortstops can't reach, and he has the actions, hands and arm strength to make difficult plays.
Weaknesses: Lee doesn't possess much power and needs to get stronger, though he does sting the ball with authority. For a player with his profile, he'll have to make more contact. He can get flashy and sloppy at times, especially on defense, where he led NWL shortstops with 27 errors.
The Future: Lee is more athletic than Starlin Castro, which could push Castro to second base when they're double-play partners in Chicago. The Cubs haven't ruled out skipping Lee a level to high Class A in 2010.
|7.||Logan Watkins, ss Born: Aug. 29, 1989 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 170|
|Drafted: HS—Goddard, Kan., 2008 (21st round) • Signed by: Brandon Mozley|
Background: Watkins generated
little predraft hype in 2008 and appeared headed to Wichita State out
of high school before the Cubs selected him in the 21st round and
gave him a stunning $500,000 bonus. He has been worth every penny so
far, batting .326 in two pro seasons. He led the Northwest League in
plate appearances per strikeout (10.3) in 2009.
Strengths: An all-state quarterback and defensive back in high school in Kansas, Watkins is a quality athlete. He has an unorthodox stance with high elbows, but whips the bat through the zone and makes contact easily. He uses the whole field and is a skilled bunter. He has plus-plus speed and an above-average arm, making him capable of playing almost anywhere on the diamond. He's a hard worker whose intensity rubs off on his teammates.
Weaknesses: Watkins needs to get stronger to hit the ball with more authority. He can get too aggressive running at times, and too passive at others. He waits on balls too much at second base, relying on his arm to make plays.
The Future: Watkins merits a look at shortstop and center field, but Chicago hasn't figured out how to make that happen. The Cubs like the way he interacts with Hak-Ju Lee, and if they play together in low Class A in 2010, Watkins faces another season at second base.
|8.||Chris Capenter, rhp Born: Dec. 26, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 215|
|Drafted: Kent State, 2008 (3rd round) • Signed by: Lukas McKnight|
Background: The highest-drafted
prep pitcher in 2004 who opted for college, Carpenter turned down the
Tigers as a seventh-rounder. He had Tommy John surgery as a Kent
State freshman in 2005, then a second elbow procedure the next year.
His medical history made him available to the Cubs in the third round
Strengths: Carpenter throws his fastball at 91-94 mph and touches 97. It has very good life for a four-seamer, inducing lots of groundballs. He also has a mid-80s slurve that flashes the bite and depth of a slider. His changeup gives him a potential solid third pitch. He's a diligent worker with a frame built for innings.
Weaknesses: Carpenter's stuff can be so lively that he struggles to control it. He needs to stay on top of his breaking ball to make it a true slider, and his changeup will develop more quickly if he uses it more often. While his health may always be a concern, he has had no physical problems since a tired arm in the summer of 2007.
The Future: As long as he stays healthy, Carpenter has a bright future. He'll return to Double-A to open 2010 and contend for a big league rotation spot the following year.
|9.||Ryan Flaherty, ss Born: July 27, 1986 • B-T: L-R • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 200|
|Drafted: Vanderbilt, 2008 (1st round supplemental) • Signed by: Antonio Grissom|
Background: After playing second
fiddle to Pedro Alvarez in the Vanderbilt lineup, Flaherty went 41st
overall in the 2008 draft and signed for $1.5 million. He has ranked
third in his league in homers in each of his two pro seasons. His
father Ed has won two NCAA Division III College World Series as the
head coach at Southern Maine.
Strengths: Flaherty made significant improvements in 2009. Formerly a dead-pull hitter, he started driving balls the other way, giving him solid power to all fields. He has a polished lefthanded swing and hit .309 in the second half. His arm strength went from subpar to average, and he did a better job of turning double plays. His instincts and makeup enhance his tools.
Weaknesses: Flaherty is seeking a defensive home after splitting 2009 between second base, shortstop and third base. He's a below-average runner who lacks the range for shortstop. He may not be quick enough for second base, and some scouts question whether he has enough power and arm to profile at third base.
The Future: Chicago has yet to decide what level and what position Flaherty will play at in 2010. If he doesn't settle into one position, he could have value as a lefthanded-hitting version of Mark DeRosa.
|10.||D.J. LeMahieu, ss Born: July 13, 1988 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 185|
|Drafted: Louisiana State, 2009 (2nd round) • Signed by: Steve Riha|
Background: LeMahieu starred in the
Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008, but his play slipped last
spring. He played his way off shortstop and hit just five homers for
Louisiana State, though he led the Tigers in batting (.350) as they
won the College World Series. The Cubs took him in the second round
and signed him for a $508,000 bonus.
Strengths: LeMahieu may be the purest hitter in the system, staying inside the ball and drilling line drives to the opposite field. He could develop average power as he fills out and turns on more pitches, which he started to do after Peoria hitting coach Barbaro Garbey helped him reduce the front arm bar in his swing. As a defender, he has a solid arm and good hands.
Weaknesses: Though Chicago moved LeMahieu back to shortstop, he's doesn't have the range to stay there. Some scouts wonder if he'll have enough quickness for second base or provide enough offense to play regularly elsewhere. He's a fringe-average runner.
The Future: LeMahieu has some similarities to Ryan Flaherty, and the two could shift around the infield together in high Class A in 2010. The Cubs believe in LeMahieu's bat, and he could move quickly if he finds a position.
|Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects|
|Pre-Order the 2010 Prospect
30 scouting reports on every team