Fall and Instructional League Report and Post-season Top Prospects: October 1-14, 2012

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The Arizona Instructional League, an informal league similar to extended spring training, has ended, and some Cubs prospects are impressing on a very talented Mesa Solar Sox team that features some of the best prospects in the game.

Arizona Instructional League final statistics for top prospects will be posted next week, as our friends at The Cub Reporter have unofficially recorded box scores.

Mesa Solar Sox – Javier Baez and Matthew Szczur are obviously the top prospects participating on the Cubs part, though other great prospects such as Houston’s Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart, and Detroit’s Nick Castellanos are in that same category of Solar Sox stars.  Baez hasn’t been getting on-base at a high clip – his OBP and Average are sitting at an equal .294, though note the 4 game sample size – but has really been raking it up as far as slugging is concerned.  One of the best offensive prospects in the game, Baez has two doubles and two homers to go along with his lone single in seventeen at-bats.  Baez struggled at Advanced-A Daytona this season after being called up from “Low”-A Peoria, but has been getting back into his mid-season form in a league typically described as being between the AA and AAA levels.  In fact, his first at-bat home run was off of an experiences major leaguer, Tyler Chatwood.  Despite his .765 OPS and uber-prospect status, there is one problem when it comes to Baez.  He plays shortstop, and there just happens to be a guy you might have heard of by the name of Starlin Castro occupying that position long-term on the North Side.  Inevitably, the Cubs gave Baez a shot at third base, and it wasn’t pretty, as he committed two errors in the game and almost made another.  Baez has still primarily played shortstop in AFL action, but he could very well be converted to third base full time by next season.  Mesa’s presumed third baseman, Nick Castellanos, was moved to the outfield because Cabrera occupies third in Detroit much like Castro does at short in Chicago.  As for Szczur, he has yet to develop that power the Cubs expected from the then-two-sport prospect when they drafted him, but he has been getting on base at a .421 clip and has stolen three bases.  Szczur was at one time part of a Jim Hendry dream outfield that was also to include Tyler Colvin and Brett Jackson, but now with Almora and Soler in the system and Colvin gone to Colorado, it looks as if only Jackson  may be part of that, while Szczur will have to get going to his potential soon to try to beat him out.  Szczur came into the season on the Top 100 prospects list by Baseball America.  Unfortunately, Szczur fell out of the picture, not even qualifying for the Top 20 prospects list for the Florida State or Southern Leagues alone.

The World Series Dreaming Post-season Top Prospects List

  1. SS-3B Javier Baez
  2. OF Jorge Soler
  3. OF Albert Almora
  4. RHP Arodys Vizcaino
  5. OF Brett Jackson
  6. 3B Christian Villanueva
  7. 1B Daniel Vogelbach
  8. OF Matthew Szczur
  9. 3B Josh Vitters
  10. RHP Pierce Johnson
  11. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  12. SS Arismendy Alcantara
  13. RHP Juan Paniagua
  14. 2B Gioskar Amaya
  15. RHP Dillon Maples
  16. 2B Junior Lake
  17. RHP Paul Blackburn
  18. SS Marco Hernandez
  19. 3B Jeimer Candelario
  20. RHP Nicholas Struck
  21. LHP Gerardo Concepcion

Baez is an easy pick to top the list, as one of the best prospects in baseball.  It has already become quite clear that Albert Almora is favored over Jorge Soler by Baseball America, but I disagree.  I see Almora as a guy that can do it all, but no single aspect of his game – except his instincts – is breathtaking, and I mean that in no way to degrade Almora, because he is as good as he at all things combined, he’s still a likely future star, and a great one at that.  Soler on the other hand, he will do it all, maybe some things not as well as Almora, or perhaps his on-base skills will never be great, but his offensive ceiling is noticeably higher, especially when it comes to power.  Vizcaino is easily our top pitching prospect, while Brett Jackson has lost a bit of stock, but I still see him as higher than Christian Villanueva, who passed Szczur throughout the season and is evidently a better prospect than Vitters.  Vogelbach does not have a spot in the Cubs future unless the NL adds a DH, but his offensive potential is undeniable and he could be quite the trade chip a few years down the line.  Johnson makes it in to round out the Top 10.  10-20 are almost interchangeable.

Nine of the Cubs top 20 prospects (in italics) were acquired during the Epstein-Hoyer regime, a clear sign of the direction the Cubs are going in, and pretty phenomenal for a one-year period.

About Jackson Scofield

I cover the minor leagues for World Series Dreaming. You probably don't read my articles. Also have been doing Chicago Fire coverage, press pass and all, for ChiCitySports. Studying Journalism with a focus in sports at Columbia College Chicago. Go Hawks (The hockey team, but go Boise too)!

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