Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (4) | 2013 (12) | 2012 (14) | 2011 (16) | 2010 (14)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] NL Central
AAA: [74-70] Pacific Coast League – Iowa
AA: [66-73] Southern League – Tennessee
A+: [67-69] Florida State League – Daytona (2015 Myrtle Beach)
A: [91-49] Midwest League – Kane County (2015 South Bend)
A(ss): [41-35] Northwest League – Boise (2015 Eugene)
This is about as stacked as a system can get. There’s upside all over the field including the graduated prospects listed above. Granted, they are still prospects and where everybody ends up playing is a good question. Heading into 2015 we’ll all wait for the arrival of Kris Bryant and later in the year we’ll be chomping at the bit for Addison Russell’s debut. Meanwhile, Javier Baez might be one of the most polarizing players on this team and there’s a chance he could start the year in the minors. But that would just give fellow sophomore Arismendy Alcantara some more time at the keystone and he’s no slouch either. Even the rotation looks good with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta one-two. Can the bespectacled one take this team to the promised land? *grabs popcorn*
Top Ten Fantasy Prospects
1. Kris Bryant, 3B | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Bryant is arguably the best fantasy prospect in the game right now. I say arguably because I have him #2 behind Buxton on my personal Top 50. Besides putting up video game numbers last year between Double-A and Triple-A, Bryant is hitting .435 with six home runs in 26 plate appearances this spring. He has also helped numerous elderly people cross the street, has striking eyes, and craps diamonds. The power is double-plus and some have graded it 80, meaning 35-40 homers are in the cards. Whether that type of power comes this season or not is to be determined, but folks seem pretty confident with his NFBC ADP of 106. The Cubs would be silly to promote him any earlier than April 17th, the cutoff for saving themselves a full year of his services down the road, so try not to get caught up in discussions of him on the Opening Day roster.
2. Addison Russell, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2015
Like Bryant, Russell is one of the best fantasy prospects in the game. You’re looking at a high-average, 20-homer player at the shortstop position with 10-15 steals tossed in for fun. The Cubs landed him from the A’s in the Jeff Samardzija deal, giving their already stacked infield another great piece. Russell missed some time with a hamstring injury early last year, but came back strong with solid numbers as a 20-year-old in Double-A. There’s a chance we see him in the majors late in 2015 and starting at short for the Cubs in 2016, but the Cubs will have to move some pieces around to make that happen. I’m looking in Starlin Castro’s general direction.
3. Jorge Soler, OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2015
Soler is a player that should be targeted in redraft leagues since he’ll be the right fielder on Opening Day. He has the typical right field profile and could produce 25+ home runs as soon as this year. I’m drafting him as an OF3 in 2015 and pursuing him aggressively in keepers and dynasties. Injuries and questions around his makeup dogged him in the minors, but the 23-year-old Cuban has the makings of a fantasy stud in the HR and RBI departments. He’s projected to hit fourth this year (behind Rizzo) and that lineup is only going to get better down the road.
4. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Baseball America tagged Schwarber as the best pure hitter and best power hitter of the 2014 draft class. The 4th overall pick pretty much tattoos baseballs so it’s easy to see how he got that label. He’s a good grab early in dynasty first-year player drafts this offseason regardless of whether he ends up as a full-time catcher or not. The 22-year-old could provide plus hit and plus power (.280/25 HR) and if he catches just enough to keep that eligibility while playing some left field, all the better. Expect to see him in Double-A to start this year with his MLB debut in late 2016.
5. Albert Almora, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Almora is a center fielder who gets some love for his defense on traditional prospect lists, but should still be targeted in fantasy leagues thanks to an above average hit tool coupled with average power. That could look like a .280 hitter with 15-20 homers and a handful of steals at the highest level. Almora was one of the youngest players in Double-A in 2014, and struggled in a 36-game stint. He’ll head back to Double-A to start 2015 with a chance to show he can make the necessary adjustments against better quality arms.
6. Billy McKinney, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2016
Remember the Samardzija deal from the Russell blurb? I know it was so long ago. McKinney was the “other guy” that came over from the A’s. McKinney can hit, and there is the chance he hits for an average in the .290-.300 range. He can also run a bit and hit for at least average power. All in all it’s a pretty well-rounded profile either as a starter or a fourth outfielder. The 20-year-old should get a shot at Double-A this season.
7. Gleyber Torres, SS | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
Torres was a J2 signing in 2013 and like McKinney has a hit tool that stands out. Coming from the shortstop position, this could be a little more valuable than in the outfield, but you’re also looking at a longer ETA with Torres. He could see a full season assignment this year as an 18-year-old though, and his advanced makeup and feel for hitting could speed up the overall clock. The real shame is that the Cubs don’t have anybody that can keep the shortstop position warm for him while we wait.
8. Dan Vogelbach, 1B | Age: 22 | ETA: 2016
Vogelbach’s big draw is his plus power and above average hit tool which could lead to some 20-homer/.280 average seasons from the first baseman. His bat will have to carry him to the majors since he really is limited to first base, but so far he’s shown he can handle the stick with 20+ doubles and 15+ homers each of the last three years, including his most recent stint in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. He’ll head to Double-A to start 2015 and could make a case for top 5 in this system next year if the power continues to surface against tougher competition.
9. Pierce Johnson, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2016
Johnson has #3 starter upside with a plus fastball and curve combo that could lead to some nice strikeout totals. He missed time with leg injuries in 2014, but still logged 91 innings at Double-A. He’ll likely head back there to start 2015 where he’ll look to improve his command and control. There’s a bit of bullpen risk attached to Johnson, but he has the stuff to be a high-leverage reliever if that’s where he indeed ends up. I had a really hard time choosing between Johnson and C.J. Edwards at this spot, and opted for the guy with more innings under his belt at Double-A.
10. Eloy Jimenez, OF | Age: 18 | ETA: 2018
Similar to Torres, there’s a longer wait attached to Jimenez but the end result could be worth it. He was another of the 2013 J2 signees and offers a classic right-field profile not unlike current Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler. Jimenez had a shoulder injury this past year, but it doesn’t appear to be anything serious. Right now Jimenez is a big kid with big tools. Time will tell if his he can refine his approach and develop into an everyday MLB player.