We present to you our final Top 15 Prospect list, this time for the Chicago Cubs who have been building a minor league system filled with position players with huge upside. Thanks go out to Jacob R. Misener at Cubbies Crib for providing us with the list and his comments.
Triple-A: Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Double-A: Tennessee Smokies (Southern League)
High-A: Daytona Cubs (Florida State League)
Class-A: Kane County Cougars (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Boise Hawks (Northwest League)
Complex-Rookie: AZL Cubs (Arizona League)
Foreign-Rookie: DSL Cubs (Dominican Summer League), VSL Cubs (Venezuelan Summer League)
Brett Jackson – OF
Date of Birth: August 2, 1988
Height/Weight: 6’2″/220 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (31st overall) of the 2009 draft
Analysis: Jacob says: “Jackson has widely fallen out of favor with Cubs management and fans alike due to his widely-noted struggles during his career and several reports indicate that this is his last shot to make a statement. Last season, he appeared at the big league level briefly, but spent the majority of the season splitting time between Double and Triple-A ball, where he hit just .210/.296/.330. This is a make-or-break season for Jackson, and all signs point to his tenure with the Cubs coming to a close relatively soon.”
Scouts still think that Jackson has major league potential as well as the ability to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases. He strikes out far too much but if he can get his contact hitting under control, he just might have a shot.
2014 Prognosis: Jackson will either be with the Cubs to break camp or in Triple-A Iowa.
Alberto Cabrera – RHP
Date of Birth: October 25, 1988
Height/Weight: 6’4″/210 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2005
Analysis: Jacob says, “The right-hander began the year with Double-A Tennessee and before the season was up, he was on the hill for the Cubs as a reliever. In the minors last season, he went a combined 10-6 with a 3.79 earned run average, making 33 appearances – 18 as a starter. In 133 innings, he allowed 128 hits while punching out 126 batters.”
Cabrera has struggled with injuries but has seemed to find his groove. He projects as a two-pitch pitcher with a very good fastball that touches 98 mph and a decent slider that could be another plus pitch for him.
2014 Prognosis: More from Jacob: “He could prove to be a nice middle relief man for Chicago as early as this season. If he struggles in Spring Training, he’ll likely get more time in the minors, probably with Triple-A Iowa.”
Matt Szczur – OF
Date of Birth: July 20, 1989
Height/Weight: 6’1″/195 lbs
Acquired: 5th round of the 2010 draft
Analysis: Jacob says, “A former two-sport athlete at Villanova, Szczur was once one of the top talents in the Chicago organization. He has taken some time to mature, though, and continues to work his way toward the Friendly Confines. Last year in Double-A, he batted .281/.350/.367 while adding 27 doubles and 22 steals, as well. He could still prove to be a valuable asset moving forward for the Cubs.”
Szczur has great speed as well as a solid hit tool and he couples that with a great understanding of the strike zone which enables him to get on base a lot. He’s a decent defender although his speed makes up for the fact that he’s still working on his routes to the ball. He appears to have some more power than he’s shown (according to Bernie Pleskoff) but it hasn’t shown up in the games yet.
2014 Prognosis: Triple-A Iowa for Szczur.
Jeimer Candelario – 3B
Date of Birth: November 24, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’1″/180 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010; $500,000 signing bonus
Analysis: Jacob says, “Expect Candelario to be a solid utility infielder. His outstanding plate presence gives the Cubs a solid bat off the bench. While his defensive ability is expected to improve by leaps and bounds, there simply isn’t space in the everyday lineup for him, assuming Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez pan out as expected. There may also be teams around the MLB that are willing to trade for him, with him having spent time at both corner infield positions, as well as designated hitter.”
Candelario has an excellent approach from both sides of the plate and it shows in his excellent walk and strikeout totals in his first full-season with the Kane County Cougars. He shows the potential for a solid hit tool as well as at least average power while his arm is above average in the field. He doesn’t run well and might not have the range the Cubs might hope for at third base.
2014 Prognosis: With Bryant in the system above him, there’s no hurry for Candelario to move up quickly. He’ll likely play for Daytona in 2014.
Dan Vogelbach – 1B
Date of Birth: December 17, 1992
Height/Weight: 6′/250 lbs
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2011 draft
Analysis: Jacob says, “For now, Vogelbach will continue to improve upon his defense and athleticism in the Chicago farm system where I ultimately think he will be used as a trade chip to an American League team that could use his bat as a designated hitter. Until then, scouts will continue to awe at the raw power Vogelbach possesses in hopes that he can adjust to upper-level pitching and begin to feel comfortable at first base.”
Vogelbach has impressed with his huge power but will also have to watch his weight. He’ll never be a good runner but he shows very advanced plate discipline. His defense is fringe average and, as a first baseman, is going to have to get to the majors with his bat, something he’s already showing the potential to do.
2014 Prognosis: Vogelback only had 50 at bats in the Florida State League so we could see him there for another couple of months before he moves up to Double-A Tennessee.