Time for another review of how the prospects that John Sickles picked as our top 20 are doing.
1. Brett Jackson AAA- We've talked to death about Jackson's struggles this year but it bears repeating. Jackson has struck out an amazing 33.8 % of the time this year. It's an insanely high number and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. In fact, he struck out 45 % of the time in June. What's amazing is that June was a very productive month as he hit .282/.352/.545. Overall he has still managed a wRC+ of 115 and an .833 OPS. It's hard to get a feel for Jackson right now but its never good to have a prospect get exposed with a major flaw in his game before major league pitchers get the chance to exploit it.
2. Anthony Rizzo MLB- You already know the story here.
3. Javier Baez A- Baez has the highest ceiling of anyone in our system right now and just yesterday was ranked # 25 overall by BA. He is sporting a wRC+ of 146 which is awesome. Nobody thinks he will stay at SS long term but he has flashed some serious athletic ability in the field and if he can't be a SS he should make a damn fine 3B. Now, there are a few things to point out though. One is that much like Brett Jackson Baez has some swing and miss to his game, he currently is striking out in 22.3% of his AB's and strikeouts were one of the question marks scouts had for him when he was drafted. He is walking at a 5.8 % rate and sporting a .342 babip.
4. Matt Szczur High A- I really really like this guy's chances. In his second full season of pro ball Szczur has made huge improvements to his plate eye and is drawing walks at a 12.7 % rate. He has stolen 26 bases at a 76 % success rate and is sporting a nifty 130 wRC+ in the FSL which is a heavy pitchers league. KG may not approve but I sure do and think the Cubs have found their leadoff hitter.
5. Trey McNutt AA- He's a bust as a starter so lets try him out in the pen. Not a top 15 prospect for me anymore.
6. Dillion Maples AZL- Hasn't pitched yet but should make his debut later this month.
7. Dan Vogelbach AZL- For a guy like Vogelbach to be a legit prospect he needs to rake. He plays 1B and doesn't play it that well so he needs to just beat the piss out of the ball for us to consider him legit. So far he is doing just that. Through 49 AB's Vogelbach is hitting .388/.434/.694. Over half of his hits have been for extra bases and I wouldn't be surprised to see him move up a level before too long.
8. Junior Lake AA- Lake was having a great season but is stuck is a horrible slump that has seen him sport a .418 OPS in his last 10. Currently he is sporting a 106 wRC+. It's hard to know what we have with Lake but if he flames out the Cubs will probably try him on the mound as he has the strongest IF arm in our system.
9. Welington Castillo AAA- Castillo has been up and down between AAA and the majors this year. He has hit well in Iowa posting a .863 OPS and not so well in the bigs. Still think he and Clevenger will be a nice duo for the near future.
10. Dae Eun Rhee AA- Rhee has totally collapsed this year as a prospect. They should find the AA pitching coach and shoot him. Rhee went from a 8.25 K/9 last season in Daytona to a 4.29 this year while allowing a ton of HR's.
11. Josh Vitters AAA- Vitters is generating a lot of discussion both at this blog and elsewhere on the internets. There are those who believe he has figured it out (me) and those who think he will never be anything more than league average. Either way its hard to classify this year as anything but a breakout season for Vitters. His line of .300/.352/.505 is good for a 116 wRC+ and his next BB will tie his career high. The power is up, the the walk rate is up and he still has a very pretty swing for a RH hitter than the Cubs fell in love with in 2007. I expect to see him up for a cup of coffee in Sept then get the job next season.
12. Jeimer Candelario Low A- Another breakout hitter in our system Candelario has been praised by scouts and is also putting up good #'s. He has a .329/.378/.513 line in Boise. It doesn't look like he can stay at 3B so maybe LF is in his future but if he keeps hitting like he is that won't be an issue. In addition to being the best hitter on the team Candelario is also the youngest (18). BA was hinting we might see him in the top 100 next season.
13. Marco Hernandez Low A- Hernandez tore up rookie ball last year but has struggled with the bat big time so far. This article sums up where he is at quite nicely. It's refreshing to see a player know their flaws and work to address them.
14. Chris Carpenter- Traded.
15. Rafael Dolis MLB- Back to walking guys in the big league bullpen.
16. Zach Cates A- The other guy in the Rizzo trade Cates has been pretty shitty this year so lets just say nice things about his start last night when he struck out 5 in 4.2 IP.Good Job Zach!
17. Ben Wells A- Sigh. My love affair with Wells is well documented but lets recap. In a system that I consider to have the worst pitching prospects in all of baseball we saw a kid with an ideal frame, a wicked sinker that was getting a 2.42 GO/AO rate, pinpoint control at 1.8 BB/9 coupled with an increasing K rate at 7.9 K/9 and velocity going from 90 up to 95. We saw all of that this year and then he blew out his elbow. Of course.
18. Dave Sappelt AAA- He is not doing well.
19. Ronald Torreyes High A- Torreyes woke up from his season long slump in June batting .330/.400/.523. He has always hit before this years so lets hope he can keep turning his saeson around.
20. Reggie Golden- ACL.
So there you have it. MB and I are working on a pair of our own rankings that we will post sometime here in the near future that should more accurately reflect the state of the farm system.