What does the future hold for the Chicago Cubs? Much of that depends on the maturation of their prospects. Throughout January, MLB has been releasing its 2013 prospect watch lists. Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler were all graded among the Top 50.
Baez came in at No. 16. Jurickson Profar and Francisco Lindor are the only shortstops who graded higher. Since Starlin Castro plays shortstop, Baez could end up as a third baseman. At age 20, he projects as an above-average hitter with plus power and an above-average arm. His estimated time of arrival is 2014.
Almora came in at No. 39. He’s projected as the No. 9 overall outfielder prospect. At age 18, Almora projects as an above-average hitter with average power and speed. He also projects as a plus fielder. If Brett Jackson falters, Almora may get the next opportunity to become the center fielder. His estimated time of arrival is 2015.
Soler came in at No. 42. Soler is another outfielder who could replace David DeJesus in right field. At age 20, Soler projects as an average hitter with plus bat speed, above-average power and an above-average fielder with an above-average arm. His estimated time of arrival is 2015.
Keep an eye on Dan Vogelbach. Vogelbach is a first baseman who projects as an above-average hitter with above-average power. In 2012, Vogelbach had 17 homers in 245 minor league at-bats. Since Anthony Rizzo has a firm grasp at first base, Vogelbach may replace left fielder Alfonso Soriano in 2015.
These grades should offer fans encouragement. However, once these players reach the big leagues, success isn’t guaranteed. Josh Vitters and Jackson are former first-round picks who struggled in their debuts. In 2011, both players were considered among the top prospects at their respective positions.
Not a bad farm system. Watch for more reinforcements from the 2013 June Amateur Draft. Management should add pitching depth behind Arodys Vizcaino. Groom some other pitchers for the bullpen.