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, 2009.

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1. Starlin Castro, ss
2. Brett Jackson, of
3. Josh Vitters, 3b
4. Andrew Cashner, rhp
5. Jay Jackson, rhp
6. Hak-Ju Lee, ss
7. Logan Watkins, 2b
8. Chris Carpenter, rhp
9. Ryan Flaherty, ss/2b/3b
10. D.J. LeMahieu, ss/2b
Best Hitter for Average Hak-Ju Lee
Best Power Hitter Brett Jackson
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Kyle Burke
Fastest Baserunner Jose Valdez
Best Athlete Brett Jackson
Best Fastball Andrew Cashner
Best Curveball Jay Jackson
Best Slider Andrew Cashner
Best Changeup Casey Coleman
Best Control Casey Coleman
Best Defensive Catcher Robinson Chirinos
Best Defensive Infielder Starlin Castro
Best Infield Arm Junior Lake
Best Defensive Outfielder Sam Fuld
Best Outfield Arm Kyler Burke
Catcher Geovany Soto
First Base Derrek Lee
Second Base Starlin Castro
Third Base Aramis Ramirez
Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee
Left Field Josh Vitters
Center Field Brett Jackson
Right Field Kyler Burke
No. 1 Starter Carlos Zambrano
No. 2 Starter Jay Jackson
No. 3 Starter Chhris Carpenter
No. 4 Starter Ryan Dempster
No. 5 Starter Randy Wells
Closer Andrew Cashner
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Corey Patterson, of Brewers
2001 Corey Patterson, of Brewers
2002 Mark Prior, rhp Padres
2003 Hee Seop Choic, 1b Kia (Korea)
2004 Angel Guzman, rhp Cubs
2005 Brian Dopirak, 1b Blue Jays
2006 Felix Pie, of Orioles
2007 Felix Pie, of Orioles
2008 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
2009 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Luis Montanez, ss Orioles
2001 Mark Prior, rhp Padres
2002 Bobby Brownlie, rhp Braves
2003 Ryan Harvey, of Rockies
2004 Grant Johnson, rhp (2nd round) Gary (Northern)
2005 Mark Pawelek, lhp Reds
2006 Tyler Colvin, of Cubs
2007 Josh Vitters, 3b Cubs
2008 Andrew Cashner, rhp Cubs
2009 Brett Jackson, of Cubs
Mark Prior, 2001 $4,000,000
Kosuke Fukodome, 1998 $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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Chicago Cubs

Cubs fans thought getting swept in consecutive Division Series in 2007 and 2008 was tough to swallow. But at least Chicago won 182 games in those seasons, the franchise's most successful two-year run since 1937-38, and made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since 1906-08.

The franchise still was left seeking its first World Series appearance since 1945 and its first championship since 1908, though. To help end those droughts, the Cubs decided their big addition would be mercurial Milton Bradley, who cost $30 million and was supposed to provide more balance to a predominantly righthanded-hitting lineup.

Instead, Bradley had his worst season since 2002 and damaged clubhouse chemistry, complaining throughout the year. When he criticized the team in September, the Cubs suspended him for the final two weeks of the season. His play and behavior were the most disappointing aspects of a disappointing season for Chicago, which finished 83-78 and swiftly fell out of contention after the all-star break.

It was the third straight winning year for a franchise that hadn't accomplished that feat since 1970-72, which is a step forward, but much more was expected after the Cubs opened the season with a $135 million payroll, the third-highest in baseball.

The most significant Cubs news of the year came off the field, however, when on Oct. 27 the Ricketts family completed its $845 million purchase of the club, as well as Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast SportsNet Chicago from the Tribune Co. Sam Zell had plunged the media conglomerate into bankruptcy after buying it in April 2007, though the team wasn't directly affected. The sale topped the major league record of $660 million paid for the Red Sox and related assets in 2002.

How much time the Ricketts family will give general manager Jim Hendry to get the Cubs back on track remains unclear, as does how Hendry will accomplish that task. Chicago dropped from first in the National League in scoring in 2008 to 10th last season, and has only one projected regular who will be younger than 30 in 2010. The rotation has holes to fill with Rich Harden declaring free agency and Ted Lilly recovering from shoulder surgery, and the bullpen is unsettled as well.

After contributing Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir, who combined for 21 homers, and surprise 12-game winner Randy Wells last season, the farm system doesn't appear to have any noteworthy reinforcements to offer for 2010. However, Cubs minor league talent is on the rise after a period of decline marked by weak drafts and the departure of top prospects in trades for veterans.

Recent first-round picks Josh Vitters (2007) and Brett Jackson (2009) have slugged their way through the lower minors. Five pitchers drafted in 2008 appeared in Double-A last summer, including the system's best three mound prospects: Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson and Chris Carpenter. The Cubs also are doing better work in Latin America and the Far East, as evidenced by shortstop phenoms Starlin Castro and Hak-Ju Lee.

Most of Chicago's best farmhands are at least a couple of years away from making an impact in the major leagues, so the Cubs may have to transition from trying to contend to trying to reload if they aren't able to quickly turn their fortunes around in 2010. That would mean more waiting for fans whose patience already has been stretched thin.

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