Top Baseball Prospects for 2015 and Beyond
Now updated for 2016'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 2015
Current Overall SB ranking shown in grid below.
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 and even in the outfield, due to positional depth. He may even end up at first base, despite his good arm. While that might dim his prospect star a little, and it gives bears some easy ammunition, long-term it really shouldn't matter: his bat is good enough for any position, and he looks to be a very solid piece in the Cubs' league-leading rebuilding effort.
More Scouting Book Info on Kris Bryant
SB 1 BA 8 SC 10 BP 17 SN ES 15 ML 9
The Cubs farm, circa late 2014, might be the richest farm system of the last decade. A Florida prep infielder with a plus power bat and better than average speed, shortstop Addison Russell will probably grow out of the position very soon, but he'll look quite good as a third baseman, too. No matter where he plays, he's one of the best hitting prospects in this or any system, and while he might not be quite as far along as a few of the other Chicago prospects, his ceiling is of the highest order. When he arrives, it'll be with a big, sweet thump.
More Scouting Book Info on Addison Russell
SB 4 BA 14 SC BP 7 SN ES 3 ML 12
A nominal shortstop, Puerto Rican mini-Cub Javier Baez also looks just fine at second and third. With one of the highest overall upsides of any position player in baseball, there's really no question he'll end up an everyday MLB asset somewhere or other. His ultimate position will probably come down to some mix of organizational need and how his body develops.
That said, there's no reason to yet believe he can'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 remains 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'll get one soon enough.
More Scouting Book Info on Javier Baez
SB 10 BA 5 SC 13 BP 4 SN ES 7 ML 7
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 12 BA 41 SC 21 BP 45 SN ES 26 ML 49
The best left-handed power bat available in the 2014 draft, Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber is one of the newest proto-stars in a dazzlingly-deep farm system that's starting to blossom in Chicago. Schwarber's bat led Indiana to its first Big Ten Championship since 1932 (sic). His very good bat speed generates lightning-bolt power, while his batting eye seems strong enough to keep his game from decaying into a single dimension. Behind the plate, he shows a strong if sometimes-erratic arm and a good head for the game, but there are enough questions about his receiving and framing skills that a move to an outfield corner is more than a possibility. The Cubs will give him a chance behind the plate, too, though, because if he can stick there, his bat could propel him to All Star status.
More Scouting Book Info on Kyle Schwarber
SB 34 BA SC BP SN ES ML
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 57 BA 100 SC 56 BP 83 SN ES 71 ML 89
A sleeper prospect 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 59 BA 28 SC 37 BP 81 SN ES 67 ML 42
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 73 BA 36 SC 83 BP 25 SN ES 28 ML 18
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 108 BA 87 SC 64 BP 91 SN ES ML 100
The Athletics drafting a high-school player with their first round pick? Times have changed in the land of Moneyball. Now a member of the Cubs' farm, Billy McKinney is an advanced bat from Texas who might enjoy a quick rise through minor-league baseball, assuming his coaches find a fielding position for him.
More Scouting Book Info on Billy McKinney
SB 114 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 148 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 177 BA SC 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 179 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 196 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 197 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Sometime in the last decade or so, the Braves got very very good at identifying catchers. Victor Caratini, a product of the PR Baseball Academy, was another in the fast-growing line of top-notch backstops grown in Atlanta's system. A reliable defensive target, he's received a great deal of praise for his framing and blocking ability, and his arm, while not a full-bore cannon, is better than many MLB catchers already. At the plate, he's a viable switch-hitter, a disciplined and well-rounded talent who projects as a 10-20 home run guy in the future. (He hit .377 with six home runs and a .549 slugging percentage in 175 ABs with Miami Dade.) Now a member of the Cubs, Caratini zips up the depth chart: he's nearing heir-apparent status.
More Scouting Book Info on Victor Caratini
SB 295 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 299 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 331 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 371 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 391 BA SC BP SN ES ML