A lot of shifting through the system has occurred as of late, with Javier Baez being promoted from Peoria to Daytona, and the tandem of Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters being promoted from Iowa to Chicago.
Iowa Cubs – A Whole Lot of Nothing – Following the promotion of Jackson and Vitters, the Iowa roster was left void of talent. Coming into the season with the most intrigue in the system, with Rizzo, Jackson, and Vitters all on the roster, Iowa will have to wait for a Junior Lake promotion to have anything that could possibly be considered for a top prospects list. Brett Jackson finished his stint (this season) in Iowa with a .256/.338/.479 slash line good enough for a .817 OPS with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs. Unfortunately, Jackson also has the highest total of strikeouts in Organized Baseball, narrowly beating out Adam Dunn with 159 strikeouts (158 in Iowa, 1 in Chicago). Jackson went 2-4 with a strikeout, a walk, and a run in his MLB debut. Josh Vitters finished his Iowa season with a .304/.356/.513 line for a .869 OPS with 17 homers and 68 RBIs, but also had 23 errors, leading the team (Alfredo Amezaga was a distant second with 13, while Jackson only had 5). Castillo coming up after the deadline also didn’t help Iowa with the prospect spotlight.
Tennessee Smokies – Have Something – Junior Lake is a fringe prospect at best, though he has put up decent numbers at the level, but not enough to counter his 24 errors. The real prospect in Tennessee is newcomer Matthew Szczur, who has struggled in his first ten games at the level, with a dismal .389 OPS. Look for Szczur to turn to the corner soon as he adjusts to AA pitching.
Daytona Cubs – Something Big is Brewing – Javier Baez was just recently called up from Peoria, and has a .000 OPS in two games, with an error, but sample size and the “can’t get worse” principle apply here, especially given the fact that Baez was recently ranked the 15th best prospect in baseball by Kevin Goldstein. For what it’s worth, Castro went into the 2010 season ranked 16th. Baez finished his Peoria career with a .333/.383/.596 line for a .979 OPS, with 12 homers and 33 RBIs in just 57 games. Christian Villanueva went yard twice in his D-Cubs debut, and is another name to watch for.
Peoria Chiefs – Devoid of Talent – Peoria began the season without impact talent, then Javier Baez came along from extended spring training. Now, Baez is gone, and Peoria lacks talent. It is too early to write off Cuban right-handed Gerardo Concepcion, who has been limited to twelve starts due to his battle with Mononucleosis.
Boise Hawks – Something – Jeimer Candelario has struggled and has been upstaged from his spotlight by recently promoted Daniel Vogelbach, the Cubs’ second round pick in 2011. Vogelbach has posted a .362/.423/.596 line with two blasts in twelve games. A solid prospect, but unfortunately projects as a DH.
AZL Cubs – Most Talent in the System – The franchise’s second and third best prospects each play for the rookie-level AZL Cubs. Albert Almora, first round draft pick in 2012, and Jorge Soler, the big free agent signing from Cuba. Soler has been sidelined lately, but Almora has boosted his batting average to .286 for the league-leading team.