Last week Jonathan Mayo, of MLB.com released his list of Major league Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects. Matt Moore and Bryce Harper sit atop at spots one and two respectively, while Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and shortstop Javier Baez cracked the 2012 list. Below is a quick look at these fine Cub prospects, as well as the entire Top 100 list.
Click the image below for the full top 100 list from Jonathan Mayo
Brett Jackson – MLB Rank 33, OF Rank 5
The Cubs selected Brett Jackson in the first round (31st overall) of the 2009 draft out of the University of California, Berkeley. The 23 year old Jackson has moved quickly through the Cubs system splitting time at both Double-A Tennessee (67 games) and Triple-A Iowa (48 games) last year. Statistically, Jackson had nice season, highlighted by a
20-20 campaign. Sometimes a move in level can be tricky for a player, good news for Jackson and the Cubs this proved not to be the case, as his OBP and Slugging both increased with his move to Iowa. As in most cases a high OBP usually results in a higher strikeout rate, due to the amount of pitches a player sees per plate appearance. Jackson was no different and will look to improve on his 138 K’s in 431 AB’s. From a tools standpoint the left handed hitting outfielder can do it all. Offensively he has power, speed, and the ability to get on base. Defensively, he has a plus arm and good range, giving him the ability to play all three outfield spots. He will probably never be at the top of any given offensive category, but what Jackson has the ability to do is be an everyday Major League outfielder for several years with 20-20 potential.
2012 Outlook: Jackson will be given every opportunity to make the team out of spring training; however as of today the Cubs outfield is full. Two of the spots are filled by Soriano and Byrd, both of which are trade candidates so anything can happen between now and the beginning of the season. My guess is if he doesn’t break with the big club, he will be called up by the middle of summer.
Anthony Rizzo – MLB Rank 37, 1B Rank 1
The Cubs acquired 22 year old first baseman Anthony Rizzo from San Diego this winter in exchange for pitcher Andrew Cashner. He was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 draft out of Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. In 2011 Rizzo spent most of the year at Triple-A Tucson where he played 93 games.
Statistically, his numbers were everything you want in a first baseman. In only 356 AB’s Rizzo compiled a stat line of .331/26/101, while having an OBP of .404 and slugging .652, giving him an incredibly high 1.056 OPS. The only MLB player last year to match his OPS was Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. Rizzo’s minor league excellence earned him a cup of coffee with the Padres, where he struggled in 128 AB’s. Rizzo’s left handed power stroke is exactly what the Cubs have been lacking for as many years as I can remember. Anthony Rizzo will hit for power in the big leagues and has the potential to be a mainstay in middle of the Cubs order for several years to come.
2012 Outlook: The Cubs brass has stated Rizzo will begin the year in Iowa and Bryan LaHair will be starting at first base with the big club. With that said, if Rizzo impresses in spring training and LaHair struggles I would not be surprised if he gets a shot right away. I fully expect to see Rizzo with the Cubs at some point this season.
Javier Baez – MLB Rank 62, SS Rank 8
The Cubs selected 19 year old Javier Baez, in the first round (9th overall) of the 2011 draft out of Arlington County High School in Florida. Unlike Rizzo and Jackson, there are not many numbers to go off of when looking at Baez. His high
school numbers are ridiculous however, where he hit .711 with 20 home runs. He did have an opportunity to play briefly with the rookie level AZL Cubs before moving to Boise for a couple games. Baez, who was drafted as a shortstop will continue to play there, but it appears a move to third base might better suit his defensive skills. Not saying he will be a bad defensively, but what will separate Baez from others is his bat. Unfortunately the sample size is too small to get an accurate prediction, but by all accounts his offense has the potential to be special.
2012 Outlook: The Cubs will let Baez develop at his own pace. He will spend the year doing so at the minor league levels. We probably won’t see him in Chicago for a few years still, probably 2014 or 2015 season.
The Cubs are hoping these prospects can make an impact with the big club at some point in the near future and down the road. With the new regime in place a greater importance will be placed on drafting and acquiring prospects in a hope to bolster the organizational depth. Cub fans can only hope these prospects reach their potential and are soon playing alongside 21 year old Starlin Castro, who if he was not up with the Cubs the last few years probably would be the number one shortstop prospect in baseball. There are many others the Cubs are high on, such as big, power hitting first baseman Daniel Vogelbach, who was ranked the tenth best first prospect and athletic outfielder Matt Szczur to name a couple. Hope to see these prospects as well as others wearing Cubbie blue in the near future.