Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.
Jim Callis will answer your Cubs questions beginning at noon ET.
Hi, everyone. I'm expecting a phone call in
an hour, so let's jam as many questions in here as possible. Before we
start, let me mention that I'm still juggling the 11-30 order. The Cubs
are a hard system to put in order because there are diverging opinions
on many of their prospects, both within and without the organization.
@Jaypers413 (IL): What have you heard about international 3B prospect Jeimer Candelario? Did he make your top 30?
Very promising switch-hitting bat. A long
ways away, but he could be a plus hitter with at least average power. He
will have to work hard to avoid a move to first base, however. He's in
the middle of the 11-30 range.
Keith (Manchester, CT): Thanks, Jim. I'm a big
fan of Javier Baez. Given the Cubs situation at 3rd, do they try to rush
Baez through the system, and either way, how quickly does he get to the
I am too. Baez has the potential to have a
very special bat. I don't think they'll try to rush him even though they
currently need a third baseman, because they have several 3B candidates
to sort through ahead of him (Vitters, LeMahieu, Flaherty, Lake). The
Cubs aren't afraid to push guys, either, and I think Baez' bat will
dictate how fast he moves. He'll start 2012 in low Class A, and if his
bat is as good as advertised, he could be knocking on the door in 2014.
Ben (Leland Grove): Between this year's top 10 and last year's, which do you prefer and why?
Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt, Josh Vitters,
Matt Szczur and Rafael Dolis were on both lists. So that makes it Chris
Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Carpenter, Hayden Simpson and Brandon Guyer
(2010) vs. Javier Baez, Dillon Maples, Welington Castillo, Junior Lake
and Dan Vogelbach (2011). I'll give a slight edge to 2011 because I like
Baez so much and Simpson is a huge question mark right now.
Laura (Chitown): Just how close was it for the top spot between Jackson and Baez?
Extremely close. There were three
candidates for No. 1. In order of ceilings, it would be Baez, Szczur,
Jackson. In order of certainty, it would be Jackson, Szczur, Baez. I
think you can defend lining those guys up in any order.
Harry (Chatham, IL): Thoughts on Tony Zych?
Really like him and thought he was a steal
in fourth round. He could move quick, especially if he maintains a
consistent slider to go with his plus-plus fastball velocity. He'll make
the Top 30. The Cubs' relief prospects, if you include guys who
probably move to the bullpen in the future, jump out more than their
Ben Badler's Imposter (NC): This is an outrage, Jim! How did Candelario miss out? Just look at that plate discipline.
I know this is tongue in cheek, but I'll
submit that BB totals in the Dominican Summer League don't tell you a
lot about plate discipline. Pitchers can't exactly subtly pitch around
hitters—they usually miss the zone by a wide margin.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): I know Bryan
Lahair is old for a prospect - but he did have
a monster year last season, and did play extremely well for
the Cubs when they brought him up in September. Do you
foresee any scenario where the Cubs forego the free agent market and
just give Lahair a shot to take the 1B job next season. I think given a
chance he could run with it. He just
might be one of those late bloomers who needs a chance a
la Nelson Cruz. What are you hearing?
LaHair has played enough in the majors that
he didn't qualify for the list. He tore up Triple-A but it also was his
sixth year in Triple-A. I don't think the Cubs will have LaHair as Plan
A, but if 2012 is a total rebuilding year (which it should be), I think
he'll get a chance to earn some playing time. The odds that he's
another Cruz are pretty long though.
Davey (Willmette): Any chance Shawon Dunston Jr. is as good as his bonus would indicate, or was this a pure nepotism pick? Thanks.
Not a nepotism pick, as Sr. doesn't work
for the team and you would pay his son $1.275 million just because the
dad was a former No. 1 overall pick by the Cubs. Our reports on Dunston
weren't as good as what the Cubs saw in him. He had a down spring, but
they see an athletic center fielder who will hit.
Barry (Atlanta GA): Did SS Marco Hernandez come close?
He wasn't one of the 15 or so players I
considered for the Top 10, but he is in the next group after them. I'd
just like to see him play higher than Rookie ball before I go crazy on
him. He's a promising hitter with the tools to stay at shortstop. We'll
know a lot more once he plays in Class A in 2012.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Now that Bud Selig has stepped in, what kind of compensation are the Red Sox likely to receive in exchange for Theo?
I tackled this in last week's Ask BA, and
still think it ultimately will come down to Selig not wanting to place
premium value on executives. Not sure if Boston will get one or two
players, but I don't believe it will be a frontline prospect. If I were
the Red Sox, I'd target guys like catcher Steve Clevenger and lefty
reliever Jeff Beliveau.
Mike (Chicago): With a new emphasis on the farm
system, do you think the cubs will still scout the Pacific Rim still,
also have they signed anybody recently from the Pacific Rim that has
promise since the players they have signed have had mixed results?
I believe the Cubs will remain active all
over the globe. They're pleased with several international prospects,
including Pacific Rim signees such as righthander Dae-Eun Rhee and
outfielders Jae-Hoon Ha and Pin-Chieh Chen.
Warren (Texas): How does Dae-Eun Rhee profile
as a prospect after 2011? I thought he might be in the Top 10, and was a
little surprised he wasn't. Approximately where did he fall in the Cubs
Top 30? Thanks for the chat.
He was a Top 10 candidate who just missed.
His stuff really bounced back by the end of 2011, looks like he has put
the Tommy John surgery fully behind him and has a chance to be a No. 3
Michael (Chicago): I heard about the new draft
rules that may be coming and do you think that will hurt what Epstein
wants to do since Boston spent a lot of money when he was in charge?
We'll see what the new CBA brings with the
draft. It may restrict draft spending in some manner, but I believe
teams still can find ways to be aggressive and that Epstein and Co. will
do exactly that. Owner Tom Ricketts is fully on board.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What are you
hearing about Ryan Flaherty? He was on his way to a .300, 25 HR, 100 RBI
season at AA till he got promoted - but then didn't fare so well in the
PCL. Is he on the radar at all as a prospect? Any future for him down
the line as a major league 2B? Thanks for the chat!
He is, though he's also tough to peg. He
was a Top 10 candidate who just missed. I like his lefthanded power, but
he has no chance to play the middle infield and may be no more than
adequate at third base. He needs to get a lot of time at third to see
what he can become, but Vitters and LeMahieu need reps there to.
Flaherty probably winds up being a corner utility guy.
Ben (Leland Grove): How many of the top 10 do you anticipate will make the top 100?
Jackson, Baez, Szczur. That might be it.
Ty (Midwest): From 1 to 10, how concerned are you at Baez's demeanor?
Maybe a 3. He's immature at times, but what
18-year-old isn't? I haven't heard anything to indicate he's a bad
person or has a red flag that will prevent him from reaching his
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What made Jackson
the # 1 over Baez? If Baez has the highest ceiling and Jackson's tools
across the board are
more around major league average - wouldn't it seem that Baez should be
ranked higher? Is it just that he hasn't played, and Jackson has a
couple of seasons under his belt?
Jackson is a potential 20-20 center field
with average or better tools across the board, and he's nearly big
league ready. He's going to be more than just an average big leaguer.
Baez has higher upside but a longer ways to get there. You can argue for
either guy. We don't hold lack of pro experience against anyone—our
lists are based solely on long-term major league value, factoring in
ceiling and likelihood of reaching it.
Jon (Peoria): What is it that separates Dolis from Carpenter?
More consistent fastball velocity, significantly better slider, more success in 2011.
Harry Pavlidis (Chicago, IL): Chris Rusin —
how does he project? I get the nagging feeling that he's becoming a
nibbler since his stuff isn't all that great. Does he have the command
to pull that off?
He has some of the best command in the
system and is the Cubs' best lefty starting prospect, but his lack of
overpowering stuff makes him a back-of-the-rotation guy.
JD (AZ): Jim, will Pin-Chieh Chen figure into the Cubs top 30 and does he have a big enough bat to man a corner OF spot?
Right now, he's in my just-missed group.
The Cubs have a middle-of-the-pack farm system, but if we went 50 deep,
they'd have one of the best 31-50 groups in the game. Chen is a slappy
hitter without a lot of physical strength or projection, so he's going
to have to stick in center to make it.
Don (Rosemont, IL): I know that he's not eligible for this list anymore, but if you had the choice, would Andrew Cashner be a starter or reliever?
I'd give him every chance to be a starter. If he can't cut it, he's the closer of the future.
Jesse (IL): Jim, question about Daniel
Lockhart, Keith's son and their 10th round draft pick. The Cubs liked
him enough to give him a sizeable bonus, is he a sleeper type we should
keep an eye on?
Yes, he's a sleeper. Lefthanded-hitting
infielder who makes good contact and has some athleticism. Maybe a
second baseman in the long run.
Grant (Chicago): Are Lake's AFL numbers an aberration, or a predictor of things to come next year?
I don't believe much in AFL stats for a
variety of reasons . . . the parks favor hitters, teams usually don't
send many top pitchers to Arizona, relatively small sample size, etc.
Lake always has had big tools and played well in high Class A this year
before tailing off in Double-A. I'd be more impressed if he had handled
Double-A than I am by his AFL performance.
Dan (Boise): Would you rather have Baez or Lindor as your future infielder?
It depends on what you want. If you want a
slick-fielding shortstop with a solid bat for the position, that's
Lindor. If you want a third baseman with a potential elite bat, that's
Baez. Both are hard to find. To answer your question, I'd say Lindor
just barely. Really on the fence on that one. If I thought Baez would
stay at shortstop for sure, it would be him. He has a chance but most
scouts think he'll move.
Bob (Mundelein, IL): Is Hayden Simpson worthy of being in the top 30 after the year he had?
He's going to make the Top 30 because I
think he has to get a mulligan for 2011, when he pitched with a stress
reaction and a small tear in his elbow, both of which have healed. I'd
describe him as another draftee that the Cubs were higher on than the
majority of clubs. Really don't know what to make of him until we see a
fully healthy Simpson in pro ball.
Randy (Naperville, IL): Is Ben Wells on your radar? What type of a prospect is he?
He is and will make the Top 30. He's a
potential mid-rotation starter with a heavy fastball, though as a 2010
Arkansas high school draftee, he's a few years away.
Shane (Miami): Jim - You have been espcially
high on Szczur, where some others in the industry have not. In the
summer you indicated in a weekly chat, that Szczur's upside was similar
to Ellsbury (possibly at the time not expecting him to hit 30+ Hr). Is
his ceiling something less of Ellsbury's power display of this year, but
similar speed, bat and other intangibles?
Yes. I could see Szczur being Ellsbury
without the 30 HR power. Szczur has a chance to be a plus hitter/SB
threat/center fielder with maybe average power and great makeup. Sign me
Matt (Chicago): I noticed that LeMahieu was left off the list. Do you think he has a viable shot at profiling as an everyday 2B or 3B?
Another guy who just missed. He's the best
pure hitter in the system but has yet to show the power to profile as a
good regular at third base, where he's an average defender. He's not
quick enough to be a big league second baseman. It all comes down to
developing power for LeMahieu.
Tim (Toronto): Kevin Rhoderick had a solid 1st pro season. If he can keep the walks down, does he have the upside of an 8th inning setup guy?
That's him. Interesting fastball and slider, needs to throw enough strikes.
Brent (Chicago): I know that we can't read too
much into the 2015 line-up, but why Zeke Devoss at 2B over Junior Lake?
Is there any way that Lake mans SS and moves Castro to 2B?
Lake is already big at 6-foot-3 and 215
pounds, and my thinking was he'll be too big and not quick enough for
the middle infield in the long run. I don't really see him as a big
Joe R. (Newport News, VA): Forgive my pessimism. Can you compare Javier Baez to how Lou Montanez was perceived when Montanez was drafted?
That's a name from the past (who has
returned to the Cubs system, too)! Here's our report on Montanez from
the 2000 Draft Preview: He hasn't received the recognition Gulliver
Prep's David Espinosa has, but Montanez still ranks among the top 15
players because of the shortage of quality shortstops. While he lacks
Espinosa's speed and athletic ability, scouts regard Martinez as the
better pure shortstop and have compared him to Blue Jays shortstop Alex
Gonzalez. He has excellent hands, glides effortlessly to balls and has a
smooth, easy release. If his lack of speed eventually pushes him to
third base, he has the bat to pull off the switch. The ball jumps off
his bat and he projects 25-30 home runs a year. Like Espinosa, he has
committed to Miami.
Sounds like Montanez was considered a more
likely shortstop (though he didn't stay there) with a promising bat, but
scouts are more excited about Baez' bat than they were about Montanez'.
Jon (Peoria): How does Jae-Hoon Ha compare with Jackson and Sczcur among CF prospects?
Right now, he's the best defender of the
three but lacks their offensive upside. Jackson has more power and
basestealing savvy, while Szczur is a better pure hitter and has more
BJP (Tulsa, OK - Tulsa (TUL)): What's the outlook for Dallas Beeler? Was he close to top 10?
I like Beeler. He's maybe the best prospect
in the system who has gotten almost no hype, and I considered him for
the Top 10. If everything works out, he could be a No. 3 starter with a
solid sinker/curve/changeup combo.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): The Cubs traded for two prospects previously ranked in BA's top thirty lists: Abner Abreau (Indians) and Michael Burgess
(Nationals). Do either make the Cubs top 30 this year?
Nope. Both have some power but don't do enough else to make it. Burgess is better than Abreu.
Dan (lansing): is Dustin Gieger a 11-20 guy?
Not yet, as he's still raw, but he does
have interesting upside with his power and third-base defense. He's not
on the Top 30 yet but I could see him making it next year.
Dan (Lansing): Just curious as to where you think Lee and Archer would have ranked if they were still with the organization?
Lee would have been near the top of the
list, probably No. 3 between Baez and Szczur. Archer had a rough year,
but so did all of the Cubs pitching prospects and I would have still
kept him ahead of McNutt, who's No. 4.
Jon (Peoria): How would you classify Jay Jackson's prospect status after the rough season he had in the PCL?
Let me put it this way: He's not on the Top 30.
Jon (Peoria): I contend that Vitters will
benefit the most from a regime change that will put more emphasis on
pitch selection and won't allow him to swing at anything he can reach.
Not really. I don't think one regime can
make a player more selective than another. I think plate discipline is
more innate than a lot of fans realize.
Bob (Mundelein, IL): As a follow-up to your
response to my question about Simpson earlier, when did the Cubs find
out that he had issues with his elbow? It seems like they should have
shut him down when he struggled in the MWL and didn't show nearly the
same stuff he had in college. Is this expected to just be a minor
Not until after the year. They say the elbow is fine now and he should be healthy in 2012.
I have to run now. Thanks for all the great
questions. For a lot more details on Cubs prospects (and those on the
other 29 teams), check out the 2012 Prospect Handbook
. Good for holiday gift giving too!