Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects 2012

As you might have heard, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 or appeared in one since 1945. Their win total just declined for the third year in the row, and they finished 2011 with the second-worst record and fourth-oldest roster in the National League. Their farm system can’t offer many immediate solutions.

Yet optimism runs rampant among Chicago fans, thanks to a front-office makeover that began with the firing of Jim Hendry in mid-August. Hendry was the most accomplished general manager in the franchise’s modern history, building five winning teams and three playoff clubs in nine full seasons. But his increasing focus on the short term eventually left the Cubs with an aging roster, a bloated payroll and no obvious way to escape.

Owner Tom Ricketts actually dismissed him four weeks before the move was announced, but Hendry stayed on to conclude negotiations with the most expensive draft class in franchise history. Chicago handed out seven-figure bonuses to shortstop Javier Baez (first round), first baseman Dan Vogelbach (second), outfielder Shawon Dunston Jr. (11th) and righthander Dillon Maples (14th) while spending a total of $12 million. By comparison, it paid $8.7 million in bonuses in the previous two drafts combined.

The Cubs also have been aggressive seeking talent in Latin America and Asia, and Ricketts’ commitment to player development attracted interest throughout the industry. Theo Epstein mentioned it as a major factor in why he decided to leave the Red Sox, where he won two World Series in nine years as GM, to become Chicago’s president of baseball operations in October. He received a five-year, $18.5 million contract.

“As the Cubs’ draft went on, we were sitting around in our draft room and we could tell what they were doing,” Epstein said at his introductory press conference. “We said, ‘Hey, they get it, they’re finally getting it.’ . . . That got my attention, the attention of a lot of other people in the game.”

Padres GM Jed Hoyer and vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod also took notice. Hoyer and McLeod, who helped build those championship teams in Boston before revitalizing the farm system in two years in San Diego, assumed the same roles in Chicago a week after Epstein came aboard. The Cubs continued to bolster what had been one of baseball’s smallest front offices by hiring well-regarded Diamondbacks pro scout Joe Bohringer as director of pro scouting.

The team also retained most members of the previous administration, with the notable exception of respected longtime scout Gary Hughes, a special assistant who resigned out of loyalty to Hendry. Vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita, who has overseen the farm system and international scouting, received a four-year contract extension prior to Epstein’s arrival. Tim Wilken, who had been director of amateur and pro scouting, now will focus on the draft.

Epstein and Co. have their work cut out for them. The big league club has more bad contracts than young cornerstones and will need at least a year to rebuild, even with the Cubs’ vast resources. Outfielder Brett Jackson is ready to play in the majors, but the system’s other blue-chip prospects, Baez and outfielder Matt Szczur, are at least a couple of years away.

1. Brett Jackson, of
2. Javier Baez, ss
3. Matt Szczur, of
4. Trey McNutt, rhp
5. Dillon Maples, rhp
6. Wellington Castillo, c
7. Rafael Dolis, rhp
8. Junior Lake, ss
9. Josh Vitters, 3b/1b
10. Dan Vogelbach, 1b

Best Hitter for Average D.J. LeMahieu
Best Power Hitter Dan Vogelbach
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Matt Cerda
Fastest Baserunner Matt Szczur
Best Athlete Matt Szczur
Best Fastball Rafael Dolis
Best Curveball Trey McNutt
Best Slider Kevin Rhoderick
Best Changeup Dae-Eun Rhee
Best Control Dallas Beeler Best
Defensive Catcher Welington Castillo
Best Defensive Infielder Elliot Soto
Best Infield Arm Junior Lake
Best Defensive Outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha
Best Outfield Arm Anthony Giansanti

Catcher Geovany Soto
First Base Dan Vogelbach
Second Base Zeke DeVoss
Third Base Javier Baez
Shortstop Starlin Castro
Left Field Josh Vitters
Center Field Matt Szczur
Right Field Brett Jackson
No. 1 Starter Matt Garza
No. 2 Starter Andrew Cashner
No. 3 Starter Trey McNutt
No. 4 Starter Dillon Maples
No. 5 Starter Dae-Eun Rhee
Closer Carlos Marmol

2002 Mark Prior, rhp Yankees
2003 Hee Seop Choi, 1b Kia (Korea)
2004 Angel Guzman, rhp Cubs
2005 Brian Dopirak, 1b Astros
2006 Felix Pie, of Orioles
2007 Felix Pie, of Orioles
2008 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
2009 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
2010 Starlin Castro, ss Cubs
2011 Chris Archer, rhp Rays

2002 Bobby Brownlie, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Ryan Harvey, of Red Sox
2004 Grant Johnson, rhp (2nd round) Out of baseball
2005 Mark Pawelek, lhp Out of baseball
2006 Tyler Colvin, of Cubs
2007 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
2008 Andrew Cashner, rhp Cubs
2009 Brett Jackson, of Cubs
2010 Hayden Simpson, rhp Cubs
2011 Javier Baez, ss Cubs

Mark Prior, 2001 $4,000,000
Kosuke Fukudome, 2007 $4,000,000
Corey Patterson, 1998 $3,700,000
Josh Vitters, 2007 $3,200,000
Luis Montanez, 2000 $2,750,000

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