Double A Stats: 416 AB .262/.313/.454 31 2B 15 HR 57 RBI 4 SB
I’m higher on Villanueva than most writers. Its clear that Villanueva will be in the majors in the couple of years, but the question is whether it will be with the Cubs or not. The infield is the deepest position for the Cubs and they may not have room for Villanueva. The other prospect acquired in the Ryan Dempster deal last July, Villanueva has shown a lot of gap power thus far, doubling 31 times. He has also shown a fair amount of power despite playing in the pitcher friendly Southern League. It will be interesting to see what the Cubs will do with Villanueva because he is a great talent that may have to find playing time with another club.
9. Junior Lake Age: 23 Level: MLB ETA: 2013 MLB.com ranking: 9
Triple A Stats: 156 AB .295/.341/.462 10 2B 4 HR 18 RBI 14 SB
MLB Stats: 101 AB .317/.349/.475 4 2B 4 HR 9 RBI 1 SB
The only current major leaguer on this list, Lake also may be the most versatile player. He can player 2B, SS, 3B and every outfield spot. This is the exact reason why he is likely to stick in the major leagues for a very long time. Mayo said about Lake “In terms of tools, Lake has plenty of them. Now it’s just a question of him using them consistently at the upper levels.” This has been seen by many Cubs fans so far from Lake. He has all the talent in the world, but makes a lot of unnecessary mistakes, including a bevy of errors, that show he has a ton of work still to do.
8. Pierce Johnson Age: 22 Level: High A ETA: 2015 MLB.com ranking: 7
Single A Stats: 13 G/ 13 GS 69.2 IP 74 K 3.10 ERA
High A Stats: 7 G/ 6 GS 36 IP 34 K 2.50 ERA
Johnson, a three pitch pitcher (Fastball, Curveball, Changeup), is quietly making his way up the Cubs minor league ladder, posting good numbers at both levels he has pitched at. Pierce has been even better at High A than he was at Single A and could start next season with the Tennessee Smokies. He figures to be a rotation piece for the Cubs in the coming years.
7. Arodys Vizcaino Age: 22 Level: None ETA: 2014 MLB.com ranking: 6
A name that has flown under the radar with fans is that of Arodys Vizcaino. The hard throwing righty, who was acquired in the deal that send Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta, had Tommy John surgery last season and has yet to throw a pitch since becoming a member of the Cubs organization. Vizcaino has major league experience, posting a 4.67 ERA in 17 relief appearances back in 2011. Vizcaino may be put in the rotation of Triple A Iowa when he joins them next season, but expect him to appear in a relief role with the Cubs, potentially as the closer.
6. Arismendy Alcantara Age: 21 Level: Double A ETA: 2014 MLB.com ranking: 8
Double A Stats: 427 AB .272/.346/.440 29 2B 13 HR 59 RBI 26 SB
Although some fans didn’t learn of him until after watching the Futures Game, Alcantara is making his mark with the Smokies. The second baseman, who hit an upper deck home run in the Futures Game, has been reliable at the plate and the field and figures to be a big piece of the Cubs in the coming years.
5. Kris Bryant Age: 21 Level: Short Season A ETA: 2016 MLB.com ranking: 4
Rookie League Stats: 6 AB .167/.143/.333 1 2B 0 HR 2 RBI 0 SB
Short Season A Stats: 65 AB .354/.416/.692 8 2B 4 HR 16 RBI 0 SB
The Cubs first round pick in this year’s draft, Bryant has impressed since joining Boise. Speculation has begun that a call-up to Daytona is in the cards and if he has success there, he could start next season with Tennessee. Power is Bryant’s main tool and many believe he could hit 40 home runs in his prime.
4. Mike Olt Age: 24 Level: AAA ETA: 2013 MLB.com ranking: 5
Double A Frisco Stats: 12 AB .333/.333/.750 2 2B 1 HR 2 RBI 0 SB
Triple A Round Rock Stats: 230 AB .213/.317/.422 15 2B 11 HR 32 RBI 0 SB
Triple A Iowa Stats: 64 AB .125/.188/.234 2 2B 1 HR 3 RBI 0 SB
A curious case who was a headliner in the Garza deal, Olt has struggled since he was acquired. He is hitting under the Mendoza line combined with the three minor league teams he has played with this season. He is a high strikeout, high power guy who could fit as the Cubs third baseman of the future, depending on how things pan out with his development.
3. Jorge Soler Age: 21 Level: High A ETA: 2015 MLB.com ranking: 3
High A Stats: 210 AB .281/.343/.467 13 2B 8 HR 35 RBI 5 SB
One of three high profile Cuban signings last season, Soler is the only one who has yet to play in the majors, but has also been regarded as the one with the highest potential. He was having a good season with Daytona, but is sidelined likely for the rest of the season after suffering an injury, meaning he likely start there next season, rather than Tennessee, which was formerly expected. He is also good defensively, with Mayo saying, “A solid runner, Soler has an above-average arm, giving him both the offensive and defensive profile for a prototypical right fielder.”
2. Albert Almora Age: 19 Level: A ETA: 2015 MLB.com ranking: 2
Single A Stats: 249 AB .329/.376/.466 17 2B 3 HR 23 RBI 4 SB
Many view Almora as the Cubs top prospect and I think it’s neck and neck between him and Javier Baez. Almora is tearing the cover off of the ball at the age of 19 and his gaudy numbers are no fluke. He may come to the majors quickly as a five tool outfielder in centerfield.
1. Javier Baez Age: 20 Level: AA ETA: 2014 MLB.com ranking: 1
High A Stats: 299 AB .274/.338/.535 19 2B 17 HR 57 RBI 12 SB
Double A Stats: 135 AB .267/.327/.570 8 2B 11 HR 30 RBI 5 SB
One of the undisputed power bats the Cubs have stocked in the system, Baez has shown monster power at both levels he has played at. He has hit 28 home runs, the most of anyone in the Cubs system and has made it to Double A at age 20. Only Starlin Castro has made it to that level at such a young age in recent memory. However, he still has a long way to go before reaching the majors. He is hitting .267 at Double A, raising his average 40 points in the past couple of weeks. He also needs to work on his plate discipline. He struck out 78 times in 299 at bats with Daytona. If he keeps up with his power and improves his plate discipline, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a September call-up in 2014 for Baez.