Top Baseball Prospects for 2014 and Beyond
Now updated for 2014's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
Remember: this page is the result of an automatic process that re-sorts and re-ranks players often.
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Top Cubs Prospects for 2014
Current Overall SB ranking shown in grid below.
A nominal shortstop, Puerto Rican mini-Cub Javier Baez also looks just fine at second and third, and has one of the highest overall upsides of any infield prospect in baseball. His ultimate position will probably come down to some mix of organizational need and how his body develops.
A solid all-around athlete, there's no reason to yet believe he won't stick at shortstop, thanks to a strong arm, soft hands and good feet. He hasn't yet shown the power for a corner, though, so his best route to the majors is definitely the middle of the diamond. He's not very widely known yet, but wait another year and Cubs fans will be clamoring for a Castro-Baez (or perhaps Baez-Castro) infield combination. They should sample one or the other sometime in 2014.
More Scouting Book Info on Javier Baez
SB 8 BA 5 SC 13 BP 4 SN ES 7 ML 7
Seen by many as the best pure hitter in the 2013 draft class, San Diego's Kris Bryant is a polished college prospect who looks like a quality middle of the order bat. In Chicago, he'll get a long look at third base, due to positional needs, but he may still end up at first base, despite his good arm. That might dim his prospect star a little, and it gives bears some easy ammunition, but long-term it really shouldn't matter: his bat is good enough for any position, and he looks to be a solid piece in the Cubs' rebuilding effort.
More Scouting Book Info on Kris Bryant
SB 15 BA 8 SC 10 BP 17 SN ES 15 ML 9
The Cubs number one pick in 2012, outfielder Albert Almora projects to be a Northside star one day soon. Signed when he was only 18, he's not quite ready yet, but he's already got scouts drooling: his across-the-board toolset is solid, and he's still improving. His leadership ability and poise are especially impressive, as he performed very well under the highest possible levels of pressure throughout his award-laden high-school career. Outpacing older players during his first shot at A-level ball last season, Almora slashed a very mature .329/.376/.466. He'll probably spend most of 2014 at high-A Daytona in an attempt to slow him down a little, but it probably won't work: he should be in AA sometime this summer, and he looks like a probably Futures Game star from the get-go.
More Scouting Book Info on Albert Almora
SB 29 BA 36 SC 8 BP 25 SN ES 28 ML 18
A sleeper prospect in from the Rangers' system, right-hander Carl (CJ) Edwards was drafted as an afterthought in 2011's 48th round, but rose quickly enough through the ranks to gain the attention of the rebuilding regime in Chicago.
Edwards derives a quality mid-90's fastball (somehow) from his slight frame, complementing it with quality off-speed pitches. His plus curve has thus far infuriated lower-level pro batters. While it'll be awhile before he shows the stamina to get deep into ballgames, his ability to handle heavy workloads is really the only question mark here. He's one of the best under-hyped prospects in baseball.
More Scouting Book Info on CJ Edwards
SB 32 BA 28 SC 44 BP 81 SN ES 67 ML 42
A tall and lanky teenager who arrived in the DR in the winter of 2011, outfielder Jorge Soler is one of the most promising Cuban prospects in baseball today. He's already shown off his tools in Dominica, and while he looks like a centerfielder right now, physically, his height and young age make it quite possible he'll be a corner fielder when he finishes growing. And if his loopy power swing develops as expected, he'll hit like one too.
He's already showing signs of MLB videogame level power at the plate, and his very strong arm is certainly real. His iffy contact skills and lack of patience at the plate, though, are equally clear indicators that he's still a rather rough gem. One bonus for his future home in The Show: the youngster already has an electric personality in his toolbox, which means he could be a real cover boy come 2015 or so.
More Scouting Book Info on Jorge Soler
SB 39 BA 41 SC 53 BP 45 SN ES 26 ML 49
Pierce Johnson is a wiry righthander snapped up by the Cubs in 2012's Supplemental Round after a few too many ballclubs were frightened away by a forearm strain. Silly ballclubs: Johnson is a legit first-round talent who brings a solid mix of three quality pitches to the mound already, and his 95mph fastball could be a real plus pitch as long as he can maintain its natural motion even when using it exclusively down in the zone, which he still struggles to do consistently. If he develops as expected, Johnson could be a solid part of a revitalized Chicago rotation come 2015 or so.
More Scouting Book Info on Pierce Johnson
SB 90 BA 87 SC 85 BP 91 SN ES ML 100
A smallish shortstop in the Cubs system, the switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara is a toolsy Dominican who's been impressing scouts with his improving bat and solid defense. The octosyllabic shortstop raised his slash line to a career-best .302/.339/.447 with 25 steals in 2012 while playing at high-A Daytona, the toughest level of his life to date. That's enough to raise eyebrows. In the field, Alcantara has played all over the infield but looks most comfortable at short, where he shows above-average range and a strong arm. He'll be pushing for AA duty in 2013, and could be a factor from the Cubs bench the year after that.
More Scouting Book Info on Arismendy Alcantara
SB 93 BA 100 SC 88 BP 83 SN ES 71 ML 89
A rapidly-maturing slugger who rose to attention in the Rangers system, Mike Olt ('Mike Olt!') is a legit third-base candidate whose defense is already passable, though his first-step could use some improvement. Olt hit .288/.398/.579 with 28 dingers at AA Frisco in 2012, good enough to enter discussions as a 2013 starting possibility in Arlington, despite the lack of any clear position at which for him to play. After a full year of trade rumors, he finally landed in Chicago at 2013's midseadson in the trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas. In the smaller park and with a young team growing up alongside his bat, his career is in a good place.
More Scouting Book Info on Mike Olt
SB 97 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The Yankees top international signee back in 2007, righthander Arodys Vizcaino got a taste of MLB ball in 2011 and was looking like he would be back to stay in 2012, at least until x-rays found irreparable damage in his elbow, necessitating TJ surgery to replace his shredded ligaments. Pre-surgery, his fastball hovered in the low 90s, but could get even harder once he is fully recovered. He is known to complement his heat with an already-superb curve and a developing change, which he'll hopefully remember how to throw come 2014.
He's special enough to not write off, and may end up looking like a steal for the Cubs one day.
More Scouting Book Info on Arodys Vizcaino
SB 119 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A tree-trunk of a young man, Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach won't win any sprints or high-jumping contests, but lordy, lordy, the boy can hit baseballs. Plus contact, plus-plus power to all fields, and a bucketful of moon-shots every day in batting practice: these are the things young Vogelbach is made of. In the NL, a man this large (the Cubs list him at 250lbs, but they're being very polite) is destined for first base, like it or not, and thankfully Vogelbach does show good hands and footwork around the bag.
More Scouting Book Info on Dan Vogelbach
SB 140 BA SC 80 BP SN ES ML
Showing no certain confidence in the mercurial Carlos Marmol, the Cubs outbid several other teams in 2012's offseason to secure the services of Japanese veteran closer Kyuji Fujikawa. Fujikawa, who finished 48 games for the Hanshin Tigers in 2012, did so while posting a miniscule 1.32 ERA and 1.028 WHIP while striking out eleven batters per nine innings of work. And those numbers aren't aberrations: Fujikawa's career ERA over six seasons in Japan is only 1.36, and he's struck out five times as many men as he 's walked. While it's always iffy to assume an 'overpowering' pitcher in Japan can turn the same trick in America, Fujikawa at least brings closing experience in many bigger-game situations than the Cubs are likely to see in the next few years.
More Scouting Book Info on Kyuji Fujikawa
SB 145 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Jeimer Candelario is a corner infield prospect who's been rapidly moving up the planning charts for the Chicago Cubs. After showboating in the DSL as a seventeen year old in 2011, Candelario found his level in A ball in 2012, slashing .281/.345/.396 with 20 extra-base hits in 71 games with Boise. The following season, at A-level Kane County, Candelario produced at a respectable .256/.346/.396, easily adjusting to the better pitching. Questions linger about whether Candy can really handle the defensive requirements of third base. If he can't, there's a different question: can he hit with enough power to man first base productively? These questions will get answered over the next couple of years as he attempts to work his way into high and double-A ball. Lots of upside here, though there are many potential pitfalls along the way, too.
More Scouting Book Info on Jeimer Candelario
SB 158 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Don't let that ugly .175/.303/.342 line from his Wrigleyville cup of coffee influence you too much. Brett Jackson is still a toolsy centerfielder who will have a chance to blossom in slow-growing Chicago. A well-rounded player without a single defining skill, the .297/.388/.551 line he stroked at AAA Iowa in 2011 is more typical of his results in pro baseball to date. Jackson's mix of plus speed and mature plate discipline portends a leadoff role, though his developing power might make him slot into the six hole just fine, too. He's primed and equipped for an opportunity in MLB, probably the only Cubs prospect really ready to do so, so he should get another chance in 2013.
More Scouting Book Info on Brett Jackson
SB 163 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A smallish IFA import from Guadalajara, Mexico, Christian Villanueva moved slowly through the Ranger system for a few years before being shipped north to Chicago at 2012's trading deadline. CV, who was a malnourished-looking 150lbs when he signed, has been bulking up as hoped, adding strength while still smashing baseballs with quick, easy power. Even his smooth defensive play hasn't suffered: he still looks pretty capable of covering shortstop if necessary.
At A-level Hickory in 2011 he was overshadowed by Jurickson Profar, but Villanueva quietly put up a very impressive offensive line of his own, with 17 homers and 32 steals (in 38 attempts). His base-stealing fell off a cliff last season, but he still produced offensive numbers. He still has a lot to prove, especially once he sees some quality breaking stuff at higher levels, but if that power/speed combination holds up as his body blossoms, he could soon become a high-impact contributor in the new-look Cubs offense we're all waiting to see come 2014 or so.
More Scouting Book Info on Christian Villanueva
SB 256 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Originally drafted by the Dodgers in 2007, Matt Szczur passed on LA and went to Villanova University, where he played both baseball and football. (His complete college CV would read something like WR/RB/QB/KR/OF/2B/SS/Catcher.) Redrafted by the Cubs three years later, he thankfully dedicated himself to baseball and performed very well. Spending most of 2012 in high-A ball, Szczur (it sounds a lot like 'scissor') stroked a .295/.394/.407 line before bellyflopping during his AA dip in the pool. A small fielder but a fast one, with all the tools you'd expect from his background: good reflexes, smart and athletic, and generally durable. His centerfield defense needs work, but he'll probably have all year to work on that.
More Scouting Book Info on Matt Szczur
SB 282 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The Chicago Cubs made Vitters the third overall pick in the 2007 draft, and while he's not yet lived up to expectations, the hope in Hopeland is that he'll develop 25-homer power soon, because Theo really needs someone to replace the departed Aramis Ramirez. He's not a perfect prospect, though: in addition to wishy-washy discipline (he strikes out four times as often as he walks), one cause for concern is that he might need to move from third base to left field, but if he continues to maintain his overall offensive numbers at higher levels of play, the Cubs will find room for him somewhere.
More Scouting Book Info on Josh Vitters
SB 314 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Missouri is known for developing quality arms, and Canadian Rob Zastryzny is no exception. Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of 2013, Zastryzny is univerally praised for his advanced pitchability, which is especially good for a pitcher whose fastball tops out in the low-90's. Zastryzny commands it very well, though, and is able to add and subtract velocity with good control. His change and slider are a bit sloppier, but as he sharpens up his ability, the great and repeatable arm action he already possesses should make those pitches more effective than their raw stuff would suggest. A bit of a dark horse prospect, he's an interesting case study in how good the new Cubs regime will be at talent identification.
More Scouting Book Info on Rob Zastryzny
SB 329 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Cuban lefthander Gerardo Concepcion is a young phenom who's been quiet all winter, while arranging his citizenship in Mexico, working out in the Dominican Republic and generally getting ready for his new life in America. That life will have a North Side address, now, as the new Cubs brain trust scooped him up when nobody else was looking.
No fifth starter, Concepcion was the Rookie of the Year in the Cuban National League last season with the Industriales. In his first and final year in Cuba, Concepcion posted a 3.36 ERA in sixteen starts and five relief appearances. He defected in Rotterdam last winter. Comparisons to Aroldis Chapman are inevitable, though Noel Arguelles might be a better choice. In Concepcion's case, either comparison is almost fair. Concepcion can't come close to Chapman's heat, and he's even less polished, but he does bring similarly wicked stuff from a similarly tall, wiry frame. He got shellshocked a bit from his first exposure to US ball in 2012, but he's young enough that he should have time to adjust. That might take a couple of years.
More Scouting Book Info on Gerardo Concepcion
SB 389 BA SC BP SN ES ML
2011 was a pitching-deep draft, so Dillon Maples, who might have gone in the first few rounds any other year, fell all the way to round 14, which means he might end up being the steal of the season. The Cubs, who also had to spend second round money to talk him out of UNC, end up with a short-arming righthander with bulldog attitude and a selection of developing fastballs and breaking balls. His sometimes-great changeup, though, is what will take him to the big leagues. If the Cubs can harness his stilted delivery, he should move quickly. He's very polished for such a young player.
More Scouting Book Info on Dillon Maples
SB 426 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A toolsy outfielder with plus speed and defensive polish, Dominican Eloy Jimenez was generally considered the prime prospect of the 2013 international signing season. While he's played primarily center field thus far, his general athleticism and toolset suggest he could handle pretty much any place on the diamond, other than perhaps catcher. One of many high-upside signings that could redefine the rebuilt Cubs by 2016 or so, Jimenez will first have to work his way up from rookie ball. We can't wait to see him.
More Scouting Book Info on Eloy Jimenez
SB 431 BA SC BP SN ES ML