The Cubs’ major league team may be struggling mightily, but what about prospects in the minors? Here is a quick analysis of the Cubs’ top prospects so far, as ranked by Baseball America, around the country.
First, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler are both playing for the A+ Daytona Cubs. Baez has 12 strikeouts and only 2 walks in 10 games. Baez is slugging 0.429 with 2 singles, 3 doubles, 2 triples and a home run. From what I have read, Baez is trying to crush the ball every at bat and it is causing him to strike out often. So, I would say Baez needs to learn some plate discipline before he gets moved up.
Jorge Soler, on the other hand, has only 4 strikeouts and 4 walks, with 10 singles. He seemed to be doing well before he lost his mind and went after an opposing player with a bat, earning a five-game suspension. Theo Epstein said the Cubs are working with Soler to help him channel his emotions more appropriately. Hopefully, they work with someone other than the sports psychologist that could never help out Carlos Zambrano.
Baseball America’s fifth-rated Cubs prospect is Brett Jackson, who is currently playing for the AAA Iowa Cubs. Going into this season, the concern for Jackson was his strikeouts. After appearing in 10 games this season, Jackson has struck out 13 times with only 9 hits in 43 plate appearances. I am about to the point where I’m not going to call Jackson a prospect anymore, unless he can somehow gain some plate discipline.
Rounding out the Baseball America top 5 Cubs prospects are Albert Almora and Arodys Vizcaino, both currently on the disabled list. The Cubs look for Almora to be back in late May, playing with the Midwest League Kane County Cougars. Vizcaino, on the other hand, may return after the All-Star Break after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He will probably be in the bullpen, whenever he does return.
Overall, I’m optimistic about Soler and Baez. I’m thinking that the season is young and they will make the proper adjustments. When it comes to Brett Jackson, however, I’m thinking what you see is what you get. Unfortunately for the Cubs, that isn’t much. The name that I didn’t mention at all was former prospect Josh Vitters, who only played in 1 game for Iowa before being placed on the disabled list with a sore back. I feel 90% confident that Cub fans will forget the name Josh Vitters when it comes to third base prospects and start thinking about Jeimer Candelario and Arismendy Alcantara.
After a record-breaking defensive season that resulted in his first Gold Glove, Darwin Barney doesn’t have a lot of room for improvement defensively. However, Barney finished 2012 in the bottom half of nearly every offensive category amongst second basemen. It would be nice to think that maybe he has made adjustments; maybe this year will be different. But, now at age 27 and starting his third full season with the Cubs, it seems that Barney is who he is. For this reason, I’m not even running a projection on Barney. I’m just using his 2012 stats:
On another note, die-hard Darwin Barney fans should watch as much of him as they can this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if Barney is traded after this year. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2014 and a free agent in 2017. By 2015 or 2016, Cub fans should be seeing an infield made up of Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Jeimer Candelario, and Arismendy Alcantara. If Barney can repeat his defensive showcase from last year, other teams would love to trade for a guy that they have control of for three more seasons.