Chicago Cubs: Top 10 Prospects

Chicago Cubs

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, 2008.

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1. Josh Vitters, 3b
2. Geovany Soto, c/1b
3. Tyler Colvin, of
4. Jose Ceda, rhp
5. Sean Gallagher, rhp
6. Donald Veal, lhp
7. Josh Donaldson, c
8. Jeff Samardzija, rhp
9. Tony Thomas, 2b
10. Kevin Hart, rhp
Best Hitter for Average Tony Thomas
Best Power Hitter Josh Vitters
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Sam Fuld
Fastest Baserunner Leon Johnson
Best Athlete Tyler Colvin
Best Fastball Jose Ceda
Best Curveball Casey Lambert
Best Slider Alessandro Maestri
Best Changeup James Russell
Best Control Mark Holliman
Best Defensive Catcher Welington Castillo
Best Defensive Infielder Josh Lansford
Best Infield Arm Josh Lansford
Best Defensive Outfielder Sam Fuld
Best Outfield Arm Kyler Burke
Catcher Geovany Soto
First Base Derrek Lee
Second Base Tony Thomas
Third Base Aramis Ramirez
Shortstop Ronny Cedeno
Left Field Alfonso Soriano
Center Field Felix Pie
Right Field Tyler Colvin
No. 1 Starter Carlos Zambrano
No. 2 Starter Rich Hill
No. 3 Starter Sean Gallagher
No. 4 Starter Ted Lilly
No. 5 Starter Donald Veal
Closer Carlos Marmol
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Kerry Wood, rhp Cubs
1999 Corey Patterson, of Orioles
2000 Corey Patterson, of Orioles
2001 Corey Patterson, of Orioles
2002 Mark Prior, rhp Cubs
2003 Hee Seop Choi, 1b Kia (Korea)
2004 Angel Guzman, rhp Cubs
2005 Brian Dopirak, 1b Cubs
2006 Felix Pie, of Cubs
2007 Felix Pie, of Cubs
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Corey Patterson, of Orioles
1999 Ben Christensen, rhp Out of baseball
2000 Luis Montanez, ss Orioles
2001 Mark Prior, rhp Cubs
2002 Bobby Brownlie, rhp Indians
2003 Ryan Harvey, of Cubs
2004 ^Grant Johnson, rhp Cubs
2005 Mark Pawelek, lhp Cubs
2006 Tyler Colvin, of Cubs
2007 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
^ Second round
Mark Prior, 2001 $4,000,000
Corey Patterson, 1998 $3,700,000
Josh Vitters, 2007 $3,200,000
Luis Montanez, 2000 $2,750,000
Bobby Brownlie, 2002 $2,500,000
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Chicago Cubs

After coming within five outs of making the World Series in 2003, the Cubs spiraled downward. They blew the National League wild card in the final week of the 2004 season, then dropped to 79 victories in 2005 and 66 in 2006 despite expecting to contend in both years.

The farm system regressed as well. Chicago topped Baseball America's organization talent rankings at the outset of the 2002 season, then steadily slipped to third, seventh, 10th, 15th and 18th over the next five years as injuries, trades and attrition took their tool.

Desperate to reverse their fortunes in 2007, the Cubs had no other choice last offseason but to plunge into the free-agent market. Chicago doled out contracts totaling $297.7 million to 10 free agents—and it worked.

Returnee Aramis Ramirez and newcomers Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa and Cliff Floyd played significant roles as the Cubs won 85 games, just enough to squeak by in the NL Central.

The farm system also played a significant role, as several homegrown products who had come up in previous seasons took steps forward. Carlos Marmol went from a 5.99 ERA as a starter in 2006 to a 1.43 ERA as an untouchable setup man in 2007. Rich Hill and Sean Marshall solidified the rotation by posting identical 3.92 ERAs and combining for 18 wins.

Ryan Theriot unexpectedly claimed the shortstop job and, along with former Louisiana State double-play partner Mike Fontenot, injected some much-needed energy into the lineup.

Geovany Soto performed so well during his September callup that he started two of the Cubs' three playoff games behind the plate. Kevin Hart also earned a postseason roster spot after opening eyes in September.

Chicago will continue to rely heavily on veterans as it tries to build on its 2007 turnaround, though a few youngsters will get the opportunity to contribute. The catching job is Soto's to lose. Hart and Sean Gallagher will compete for jobs at the back of the rotation and in long relief, and Billy Petrick also will factor into the bullpen. Felix Pie, who lost his rookie status while serving as an extra outfielder, could play a more prominent role.

The Cubs haven't signed a position player who developed into an all-star for them since Joe Girardi in 1986, but they have high hopes for Soto, Pie and four players taken by highly regarded scouting director Tim Wilken in his two drafts for the team.

Both of Wilken's first-rounders, third baseman Josh Vitters (2006) and outfielder Tyler Colvin (2005), and two other 2006 draftees, catcher Josh Donaldson and second baseman Tony Thomas, appear on this Top 10 Prospects list.

While general manager Jim Hendry and his crew are on much firmer ground after the reversal of fortune, change is still afoot.

The Tribune Co., which bought the team from the Wrigley Family in 1981, plans on selling the club in order to relieve some of its debt. The process is moving slower than expected and is unlikely to occur before the start of the 2008 season, but the Cubs are expected to become the first MLB team to fetch $1 billion dollars if, as planned, Wrigley Field is included in the transaction.

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