Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (12) | 2012 (14) | 2011 (16) | 2010 (14) | 2009 (27)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] NL Central
AAA: [66-78] Pacific Coast League – Iowa
AA: [76-62] Southern League – Tennessee
A+: [75-51] Florida State League – Daytona
A: [55-80] Midwest League – Kane County
A(ss):  [41-35] Northwest League — Boise

Graduated Prospects
Junior Lake (OF); Chris Rusin (LHP); Hector Rondon (RHP); Blake Parker (RHP)

The Run Down
Twins and Astros fans might take umbrage with this statement, but from a fantasy perspective, the Cubs have the most exciting farm in the minors.  It starts with Javier Baez, of course, but the impact potential runs throughout this top ten, with every prospect bringing at least one high-end fantasy tool to the table.  And I could’ve gone deeper too, with upper-levels arms like Arodys Vizaino and Neil Ramirez set to surface this season, and top latin talent, Eloy Jimenez, lurking at the instructional level.  Plain and simple:  this system is stacked.  Some of you know that I was raised a Cardinals fan, and that the Redbirds are still my team.  As such, I should be taken seriously when I tell you that the future of the Cubs is really friggin’ bright, and it is near, and it scares the piss out of me.

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1.  Javier Baez, SS:  Javier Baez punishes baseballs.  If you’ve never witnessed the 21-year-old punish a baseball, please do so now.  Want more?  Here’s more.  Now take a moment to towel off.  My unhealthy adoration of Javier Baez is well documented (thanks Sky).  Coming off a 2013 during which he hit .282/.341/.578 with 37 homers and 20 stolen bases in 577 PA between High-A and Double-A, Baez comes in at #7 in my top 25 for 2014.  The cumulative 2013 line doesn’t tell the whole story, though.  Baez actually struggled out of the gate at Daytona, and didn’t really start heating up until late-May.  From there he just went bonkers, drilling 9 long balls in June, and forcing a call-up to Double-A in early July.  Through 54 games at Tennessee to finish the year, he collected 20 additional homers and posted an ISO at .344.  Simply put, you’re going to want Baez on your squad when he surfaces at Wrigley this summer.  If you’re looking for 2014’s Trout/Puig-type impact arrival, this is a good place to start.  ETA:  2014

2.  Kris Bryant, 3B:  The 2nd overall pick last June, Bryant is another Cubs prospect capable of significant fantasy impact as soon as he surfaces.  After appearing at three levels (Rk, A-, A+) and posting a 1.078 OPS along the way, the Cubs sent the 22-year-old to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .364/.457/.727 and claimed MVP honors.  30+ HR potential and a hit tool that could have him batting near .300 will make Bryant a coveted fantasy piece for years and years.  He’ll begin 2014 at Double-A Tennessee, where we might begin to see the Cubs using him at a corner outfield post — Chicago has a stable of infielders on the way up, and while Bryant is a capable defender at the hot corner, he figures to fit into their long-term plans as an outfielder.  ETA: Late 2014

3.  Jorge Soler, OF:  Another Cubs prospect with 30+ HR potential?  Another Cubs prospect with 30+ HR potential.  Soler’s 2013 was shortened after suffering a broken leg, which sets him back developmentally, but the long-term outlook has not been damaged.  The 21-year-old Cuban should be ready for upper levels baseball by mid-season.  ETA:  2015

4.  Arismendy Alcantara, SS:  In a full season at Double-A Tennessee, Alcantara hit .271/.352/.451 with 55 XBH (15 HR) and 31 SB in 571 PA.  The 22-year-old is often overlooked, lost among the big names of this farm system, but make no mistake, there is potential here to help across the board in fantasy from a middle infield position.  Alcantara will get started at Triple-A Iowa to begin 2014, but he’ll be considered for a big league role as soon as there’s a need. ETA:  2014

5.  Albert Almora, OF:  Almora has the type of hit tool that’s going to make noise at every level, but after an injury-shortened full-season debut, there remain questions about the 19-year-old’s potential in the power and speed departments.  The speed, actually, is unlikely to ever be a useful weapon for him, but scouts are still hopeful that the power will make considerable progress as he pushes through the minors.  He’ll get a High-A assignment this spring, and his performance at Dayton in his first true full season of pro ball will be a good indicator as to the type of impact Almora can bring to the fantasy game.  ETA:  2015

6.  C.J. Edwards, RHP:  Through 24 starts between Low-A and High-A, Edwards posted a 1.86 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a K/9 at 12.0.  The 22-year-old arrived in the Cubs org via Texas as a part of the Matt Garza swap last summer.  His stuff is great, and the results have been outstanding, but there are still questions about the body, and the long-term projection given some physical limitations.  At 6-2, 155, Edwards is awfully skinny, and that aspect of his profile have folks concerned about durability.  For as long as he’s healthy and successful, though, the Cubs will continue to bring him along as a starter.  If he can prove he can hold up physically over a starter’s workload, Edwards can definitely become a high-impact fantasy starter.  ETA:  2015

7.  Dan Vogelbach, 1B:  Like Edwards, there are concerns about Dan Vogelbach’s body, but these concerns are quite the opposite.  You see, Vogelbach is sorta tubby.  Even so, he can really hit, as evidenced by his .284/.375/.449 line in 2013, and there’s room for that sort of bat in the big leagues, regardless of girth.  There’s big time power potential here, too, and if everything goes as planned, Vogelbach should develop into a Matt Adams-type 1B.  He’ll begin 2014 at High-A Daytona.  ETA:  2015

8.  Mike Olt, 3B/1B:  Olt’s prospect status has been on a Trevor Bauer-like plummet over the past year, and there are plenty of reasons — an eye issue, approach concerns, mechanics concerns — why his fall from grace is warranted.  Still, it’s hard to forget that less than two years ago Olt was viewed as a high-impact talent with skills to hit for average and power.  At 25-years-old, there’s not much time left for him to correct his path, but I believe he’s capable of becoming a fantasy-relevant 3B this season, and the Cubs will give him the opportunity to do so.  ETA: 2014

9.  Pierce Johnson, RHP:  Johnson is probably the safest SP prospect in this org, although his ceiling isn’t of the high-impact variety.  The 22-year-old features a bat-missing fastball-curve combo, and he’ll be bringing it to the upper-levels in 2014.  If all goes well, he’ll be on track for arrival sometime in 2015, projecting like a mid-rotation starter with upside in fantasy thanks to a whiff-inducing hook.  ETA:  2015

10.  Jeimer Candelario, 3B:  Candelario’s full-season debut wasn’t special (.256/.346/.396, 11 HR), but scouts aren’t discouraged, and he still receives positive reviews with regard to approach and power potential.  The 20-year-old will step up to High-A in 2014, where the Cubs hope to see the tools begin to translate into measurable success.  Candelario is a serious breakout candidate in 2014, and it’d be wise of dynasty leaguers to keep an eye on his progress in Daytona.  ETA: 2016


For a retrospective look at the Cubs farm, peep their 2013 MiLB preview.

  1. Alan says:

    Okay I need a cigar now.

    You rather have alcantara or gary sanchez in a vacuum?

    • @Alan: In a dynasty Sanchez still brings more upside, but it’s close…

  2. Count de Monetball says:

    No words…

  3. Luis says:

    Great piece, Scott. Getting ready for the draft of my 20 team, Dynast league. We get 20 keepers each year and the draft is in a couple weeks. I have the 1st pick of the draft. I believe that, for me, its a decision between Tanaka and that kid Polanco from Pittsburgh. That’s even if he’s available. ESPN hasn’t added him to their player list which is killing me. You wouldn’t happen to have an idea if they are going to do another player update soon, would you? Sorry if that question made you look at the screen like I’m a dummy. Ha.

    I have a few good positional prospects on my young team (Javier Baez, M. Adams, M. Davidson, Bradley Jr. Cecchini, etc.), but I don’t really have good, young pitching. I traded for Danny Hultzen before the start of last season and his injury really hurt, which is why I’m leaning towards Tanaka. Do you believe he’s the real deal? I gave you the names of my prospects so you can get an idea of how deep we’re picking prospects up. Baez was my first round pick in last years draft. That kid from the Mets, Rafael Montero, is there. But I’m not sure if hes number pick worthy.

    • Luis says:

      @Luis: There’s also Alex Meyer available. That 6’9″ pitcher from Minny, who should be pitching in the majors this year and its a great park to own a pitcher in, even if it is in the A.L. Some guy in my league has owned Gary Sanchez for at least 18 months now. Guys scoop up these young players and don’t let them go. And again, how has Sanchez been owned for a year and Polanco not be available. Even this kid Meyer, who I like, is available and not Polanco. GP might be able to win a job outright in spring training, although I doubt it.

      • @Luis: Yeah, Polanco should surface this season — I have notes on both he & Tanaka in my top 25 prospects for 2014… Meyer is a great pitching prospect with more upside than Tanaka, but I still lean toward the safer option & that’s Masahiro…

    • @Luis: Sorry, but I dunno anything about ESPN’s player universe… Tanaka would be a great get if you’re light on pitching… I think he’s the easy choice…

      • Luis says:

        @Scott Evans: Thanks. That’s what I was thinking, but my only worry is pitching in that park in that division worries me. I really like Meyer. I have a second, 1st round pick towards the end of the round and I think if Meyer is there, I’m going to pick him up. What do you think of Enny Romero’s chances of joining the Rays rotation are this year? Especially since it sounds like theyre going to try and trade Price before the season starts. And what do you think of his upside?

        • Luis says:

          @Luis: One last thing: Erik Johnson. What do you think of his upside and making the rotation this year? He’s also available.

          • @Luis: Again, not huge upside — more of a safe prospect than a impact prospect — but I like Johnson more than Romero & he figures to be in the Sox opening day rotation…

        • @Luis: I like Romero more than Odorizzi, and I think he probably makes his way into the Rays rotaish one way or another… the upside isn’t huge, but he’ll be fantasy-relevant at times this year…

          • Luis says:

            @Scott Evans: Who would you take in draft? Erik Johnson or Meyer?

  4. Shake N Bacon says:

    So it’s safe to say that Alcantara will probably end the season as the Cub’s starting 2b? You don’t think he’ll push Starlin to 2b, do you?

    In my 12-team keeper league, would a Baez callup warrant spending a majority of my FAAB $ on him? Typically in the past in this particular league, when a big time prospect is called up, you can only get him by putting down all $100 you have in FAAB. This was true for Heyward, Wil Myers, Harper, Puig.

    The thought of having a 30+ homer hitting SS/3B with decent speed is very salivating!

    • @Shake N Bacon: I think Alcantara at SS & Castro at 2B is plausible, but the vice versa scenario is equally likely… if Heyward/Harper/Myers/Puig commanded that sort of FAAB investment, then you should be prepared to go all in on Baez… he’s that good.

      • Eddie says:

        @Scott Evans: Does this mean that you see Baez most likely surfacing first at third base? I really want to draft him this year, but am a little worried that Epstein would use the position switch as an excuse to delay arrival time… Out of the way, Starlin!

        • @Eddie: 3B is his most likely landing spot, yes.

      • Shake N Bacon says:

        @Scott Evans: Looks like I’ll be saving up my FAAB, even though I have crappy waiver priority. It’s worth a shot. Luckily we don’t have any die hard Cubs fans in the league. But assuming Yahoo does a post about him once he gets called up, I think anyone alive and breathing will know he’s the real deal.

        Thanks for reply Scott!

  5. Dan says:

    Will Jose Abreu block Keon Barnum from contributing if he pans out?

    Thoughts on Realmuto and Katoh?

    • @Dan: Chicago would make room for Barnum at DH/1B if he pans out, but I’m thinking he’s a long shot to do so…

      Long way to go on Katoh, but I hear exciting things — impressive tools & instincts in a small package…

      Patience will be key with Realmuto… I think he’ll be a fantasy-relevant catcher, but maybe not until he’s been in the bigs for a few seasons… eventually shouldn’t hurt you too bad in AVG & should offer up decent pop

  6. The Thumb says:

    What’s the best bat comp for Baez? I’ve heard Sheffield before, does that stand true?

      • Count de Monetball says:

        @Scott Evans: Alright Scott, now you are just messing with me. Don’t be dropping Miggy comps less you are absolutely serious. I’m a cub fan for God sakes that kind of false hope could give me a heart attack…

          • Ra'zball Al Ghul says:

            @Scott Evans: What about Adam Jones as a comp? Both pull with authority, similar BABIP to AVG gaps, both swing at everything and both have very low BB #s and high K #s.

            • @Ra’zball Al Ghul: I don’t find forcing player comps to be a useful exercise… skill set reminds me of Miggy…

              • Ra'zball Al Ghul says:

                @Scott Evans: alright alright you did it – you got me crazy excited about this Baez kid! The only reason I included the Adam Jones note is that he is an example of a guy who had high Ks and low BBs in the minors and made it all work in MLB. Thanks man, keep up the stellar work

  7. The Thumb says:

    Also, when’s the Yankees post coming? Does Judge have Stanton potential?! (Patiently waits with fingers crossed)

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:

        @Scott Evans: i thought you were doing these from weakest top 10 up to best? If that’s so, CUBS (whom i thought were at least top 5 farm) are worse than NYY?, of whom i thought they’d be at best mediocre. Am interested how high Jagielo (just drafted him) is, and to see if Gumbs went up, team I inherited Dec already had him as one of very man MI prospects.

        • @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: reverse order of BA’s 2013 org ranks, which were released last March… it’s vaguely worst to best, but there’s some inconsistency to it because it’s dated…

          • Count de Monetball says:

            @Scott Evans: I was kind of wondering the same thing. as Aubrey. Not that it would really add anything to your analysis for FBB purposes, but have you ranked all the teams farm systems based on fantasy outlook? After you have finished your awesome series, it would be interesting to see how you rank the teams farm systems for 2014 from a FBB standpoint (with each team linked to your individual analyses). Just a thought, I enjoy your write-ups and always want more :)

            • I’ve been meaning to do a fantasy-specific org rank, which we’d use to determine the order we’d roll these out next offseason… hopefully I can get to that early in April.

  8. mindicohn says:

    Being offered Almora for my Tanaka in Dynasty. Might be some others involved but is that a good start…

      • mindicohn says:

        @Scott Evans: thx Scott… just anxious to rebuild inherited team…this helps a ton…

        Also have c.seager Goodwin mondesi r.liriano alfaro olt and owings in minors..
        Arms – gray taillon Crick and Webster

        • @mindicohn: Yeah, I’ve been there & understand the desire to make things happen quickly, but it’s always best to take a patient approach in these dynasty formats… the rest of your farm seems pretty solid, by the way…

  9. seph meier says:

    In a keeper league where you can only draft one minor leaguer and they have to be up by the all star break who would you take? Baez? Buxton? Springer? (Taveras may be gone already) or someone else?

    • @seph meier: Springer is your safest option in that format… I’d still be tempted to go with Baez or Taveras, but there’s less certainty with their ETAs…

      • seph meier says:

        @Scott Evans:

        Thank you! Hard to argue with his projections from the other day. He should come cheaply too in my league.

        Big big win for the hawks yesterday!!

        • @seph meier: Anytime, Seph… and what a game that was yesterday — best effort from the Hawkeyes all year!

  10. JJ says:

    Hey Scott,
    I have my first pick coming up in a 12 team H2H 5X5 keeper league(we keep 10).Standard yahoo scoring. We have changed it a bit this year by adding a NA(not active)slot in order to hold onto a top prospect which will work just like a DL slot in yahoo.
    Who do you like best for my squad?


    Top Prospects

    My team


    Thanks for your help

    • The Thumb says:

      @JJ: Ugh is there a bat you could have kept over Hamels? Sanchez is by far the best available player but with your lineup and the fact that you already have 3 aces, you need a hitter. With 120 players off the board, I’d go Jose Abreu. He has too much upside (especially in a keeper) and you need power.

      • JJ says:

        @The Thumb:
        Lawrie was on my squad last year as well. I actually debated between keeping ROSARIO vs HAMELS vs LAWRIE for quite some time.

    • @JJ: I must agree with thumb, Abreu would be the best guy to target… if you’re focused on prospects, I like Springer & Taveras.

  11. claw dog says:

    Hey scott,

    I have the 1st and 4th pick in my minor league draft which should be starting within the next week. My 1st pick really is a no brainer with Buxton, but I was wondering who you would suggest for my 2nd pick. People available within the top 10 are Bradley, Bryant, and Lindor. I wasn’t sure whether or not you are like Grey and value batting much more over pitching since there is so much pitching. I’m not sure if that approach translates to prospects.

    Thanks for the help Scott

    • The Thumb says:

      @claw dog: If you get Buxton and Bryant your offense is in great shape for the next 10 years.

    • @claw dog: When considering prospects, position players tend to be safer bets to pan out than pitchers, so yeah, I’m with Grey on that… Lindor is not a fantasy prospect, so do not draft him, please — you should probably focus on fantasy-specific prospect rankings (like the ones here) rather than general prospect lists because guys like Lindor & Hedges are touted for defense… Bryant is fantastic… he’d be the guy I’d target if Taveras/Bogaerts/Baez are gone…

  12. Tom Jacks

    Tom Jacks says:

    Great list. Love the aggressive ranking for Alcantara and view as a solid MI sleeper.

    • @Tom Jacks: Thanks, Tom. It’ll be interesting to see if he pushes Starlin to 2B, or if Arismendy handles the keystone…

  13. fausto says:

    standard yahoo 5×5 h2h league. youre a cardinals fan, st. louis resident here, you think baez is draftable and by that i mean do you think he will see wrigley before september?. i read that epstein said baez is AAA bound for 2014 FWIW,

    • @fausto: Baez is worth a flyer in the late rounds of a 12-team mixed…

  14. Paul says:

    Longtime lurker, first time poster. I love what you guys do here and was wondering if I could get some feedback on a trade I just completed in my dynasty salary cap leauge.

    I give: Xander Bogaerts
    I get: Jurickson Profar, rookie draft picks: #1, #10, #11. Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu, as rookies, are eligible. I am adding these three picks to my #5 and #7 overall picks. I also take on Matt Kemp and his $139 salary for the next two years, until I option him (barring some miraculous return to form).
    As much as I love Bogaerts, I figure I can replace him with the surplus value of Profar, Tanaka+two prospects I get from the new picks and the other two picks I already had on rookie deals. I think Kemp and Bogaerts are likely to put up similar numbers this year, so I am essentially paying $139 for three first round picks this year.

    Anyways, what do you all think? I really appreciate the feedback.

    • Swfcdan says:

      @Paul: Kemp and Bogartes similar numbers this year? If Kemp gets hurt and misses half the season again I guess…

    • @Paul: I like it for you… love Bogaerts, but there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding his value, so I think you’ve done well here…

      • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:

        @Scott Evans: that seems like utter trade rape, even if Kemp gets so bad you just cut him. good for you, hope you wore a condom (it’s rare for a trade rape to be the first time for the rapee)

      • Paul says:

        @Scott Evans:

        What if Tanaka is unavailable with that pick, instead I take Bryant? Does that affect the quality at all?

        • @Paul: Bryant for 2015 & beyond… Tanaka for 2014… pick your pleasure…

  15. goodfold2 says:

    damn another whole team with everyone on it owned already in dynasty. Even with the restriction that anybody i win at all star break has to be kept on roster ROS (and bids come out of 2014 budget, money of which comes back post season, when player goes into minor system, and goes back to free or 400 K when brought up) souza’s looking like the MAN to grab come worst part of the year weather wise (mid july)

  16. Swfcdan says:

    Finally seen a Baez clip, ma goodness that is a swing. See he ‘only’ came at 8 in your midseason rankings last year, yet being a potential monster at SS could be first round potential (Tulo/Hanley). Is the reason more due to more risk/k rate/ than some of the other guys? Havent had a chance to get him in my offseason prospect drafts, interested to know if he is your no2 prospect now though. He just has more upside than Sano, and Taveras for me due to his position and power, only one I could see beating him out is Bogartes right now, and Baez has even more potential than he does.

    • @Swfcdan: Baez hit about 20 homers after my mid-season rankings, so don’t make too much of that…

      • Swfcdan says:

        @Scott Evans: Is there any red flags with his K rate/approach then? Or is he a definate trade target in keeper/dynastys as the 2nd ranked prospect behind Buxton.

        • @Swfcdan: He’s one of 4 elite-level prospects (Buxton, Taveras, Bogaerts & Baez) and there’s an argument to be made that he’s #1… of course he’s a definite trade target in a keeper/dynasty.

          • Swfcdan says:

            @Scott Evans: Ok thought I heard some talk here the other week that he might bust due to his K rate, 147 K’s last year. Seems a very different prospect to the other 3 elite guys, much more risk but possibly the biggest upside of the 4.

            Anyway don’t own him in my keepers so you know, have Buxton in one then a draft soon approaching in my other longtime keeper. Hoping i’ll get Abreu in that, it’s either him or Appel I think.

            • @Swfcdan: You didn’t hear that talk from me. Baez is fairly low risk from my perspective.

  17. Theo says:

    As a Cub fan this is great stuff!
    Who is a better long term keeper?
    Taveras or Baez

    • @Theo: Baez brings more speed, a tick more power & potential MI eligibility… that’s enough to tip the scales his way…

  18. Coolwhip

    Todd25 says:

    Hey Scott, so i see you have Bryant pegged for a late season ETA this year. Thats crazy. So do you foresee a callup during the expanded roster for a cup of coffee and then potentially a chance to break camp for the next season??? i have the 2nd pick in my league’s coming (minors) draft. And i can almost guarantee the guy ahead of me is taking Tanaka. Sounds like all in on Bryant is the way to go since the usual suspects like Bogaerts etc are already taken.

    • @Todd25: My ETAs are always a bit aggressive with the high-impact talents… he’s gonna be ready by September, but that doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t favor service time & keep him down… and yeah, Bryant would be a great snag at #2…

  19. Buddo Chezuski says:

    Scott, great work!

    Would Matt Szczur be #11 on this list? Can you do a little blurb on him? Thanks so much.

    • @Buddo Chezuski: He’s more like #15, but this system is stacked… impressive athlete… should get a chance in Chicago this year… tools haven’t yet translated into a lot of success on the stat sheet… more BP pop than game pop right now… has a chance to surprise us in 2014/2015 (like Junior Lake last summer), but long-term role is most likely that of a 4th OF…

  20. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:

    it is funny for Cardinals fans to even regard the CUBS as anything but a glorified AAA team, but in the next 5 years it’s gonna get real ugly for the Reds again, and not at all easy for STL.

    • @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: Important to keep in mind that the Cubs, Cardinals & Pirates all have top-5 systems… don’t fool yourself, the Cards aren’t going anywhere… just prepare for the NL Central to be the best division in baseball.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:

        @Scott Evans: so the order you are doing these in has gone off of worst to first then? That’ll be a change then, as it’s been the worst or near worst division for the near while (I still say it’s been better than NL West, had they played each other a lot)

          • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:

            @Scott Evans: based on this year, they appear to do theirs (at least the last ones were done like this this year) by division. they recently finished with AL west, which was their last division.

  21. Sky

    Sky says:

    I still have no power at home so I’m reading this from work. The blinds are closed, the door has been locked and the ‘Careless Whisper’ sax is looping in the background. I hope the windows don’t steam up too much…

    • @Sky: Sky you’re steaming up my office windows… and I’m in Chicago…

    • And this whole “no power” fiasco is rather confusing, by the way… I didn’t realize they had electricity in the Pacific Northwest…

      • Sky

        Sky says:

        We’re powered by pachouli oil. The .gov cut our rations.

        • @Sky: Ha! I wonder if there’d be a way to harness the hydroelectric capabilities of all the bong rips…

          • Sky

            Sky says:

            OMG, Scott this is the greatest idea ever. We’re going on Shark Tank together. I’ll bring Billy Bong Thornton!

            • I think I need to move out by you so we can commence an undetermined period of research first. Our Razzball entries may suffer, but it’s for a greater good.

              • Sky

                Sky says:

                My main concern would be about halfway through the testing phase, we forget what we’re doing and hope on a Magical Mystery Tour bus and are never seen again.

                • Definitely valid. I’m just spitballin’…

                  • Sky

                    Sky says:

                    Which would be fine by me. Just get to listen to the Beatles more than I already do.

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