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The Cubs’ collection of position prospects is ridiculous

Jul 5, 2014, 12:18 AM EDT

Javier Baez Javier Baez

In 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez and 2013 first-round pick Kris Bryant, the Cubs already possessed two of the game’s top 10 prospects. Now they’ve added a third, acquiring Addison Russell from the A’s in Friday’s Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel deal. The possibilities for their lineup of the future seem endless. Let’s run through them:

Catcher: Here’s the Cubs’ lone spot without a top prospect. Kyle Schwarber was announced as a catcher when he was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft, but he’s already seeing time in the outfield, too. In fact, he’s made seven starts each at catcher and left field since beginning his pro career last month. Most everyone expects him to end up in left, and if that’s the case, then there’s no one in the system who figures to overtake incumbent Welington Castillo at any point.

First base: And this is the one given. Anthony Rizzo has followed up a disappointing 2013 by hitting .276/.387/.493 with 17 homers in 83 games this season. He’s just 24, and he’s locked up through 2019, with club options through 2021. He’s not going anywhere.

Second base:  The Cubs have a natural second base prospect in Arismendy Alcantara, who has hit .311/.351/.547 with 10 homers and 20 steals in Triple-A this year. He’s also seen some time in center field this year, so that’d be another option for him if Baez ends up getting move to second. Alcantara seems like a better fit at the position, though. Of all of the Cubs position prospects, he’s in the best position to contribute this year.

Third base: Bryant was considered a candidate to move to the outfield after being picked second overall in the 2013 draft, but he’s yet to start anywhere other than third. Perhaps the best hitter in the minors, he’s batted .352/.449/.707 with 28 homers in 307 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A this year. His bat is likely ready now, though it’s uncertain if the Cubs have any intention of making room for him in the short term.

Shortstop: Between the Starlin Castro renaissance and Russell’s addition, it seems clear that Baez isn’t going to be a shortstop for the long haul. Russell is the more fluid defended anyway, and many believed Baez would need to move to a less demanding position mid-career anyway. Russell figures to continue to be brought along at short, but it’s hard to say what his future looks like now. Castro is under control through 2019, with a club option for 2020. Maybe he’ll get cashed in for a young starter or a catcher at some point, but it doesn’t figure to happen this season.

Left field: Schwarber has been a terror since debuting, hitting .446/.532/.923 with eight homers in 65 at-bats in the low minors. This should be his position, unless one of the more advanced prospects gets moved here and beats him to the majors.

Center field: The hope is that 2012 first-rounder Albert Almora will be the long-term answer in center. He’s had a very disappointing 2014 so far, hitting .266/.292/.357 with three homers in 297 at-bats in the Florida State League. However, he’s just 20 and he’s coming off a .329/.376/.466 season in the Midwest League. Baseball America has placed him as the game’s 33rd and 36th best prospect in his two years since being drafted. If not Almore than Billy McKinney, the other prospect the Cubs picked up from the A’s, could be the man here. The 19-year-old McKinney, a 2013 first-rounder, was hitting .241/.330/.400 as one of the youngest players in the California League.

Right field: Baez might make the most sense in right if Alcantara pans out and Bryant stays at third. Possessing perhaps the best raw power in the minors, he’s overcome a dreadful start to hit .240/.307/.430 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A this year. The other possibility here is Cuban defector Jorge Soler. He’s battled injury problems since signing a nine-year, $30 million contract two summers ago, but he still has a lot of power potential himself. When healthy, he’s hit .298/.368/.487 with 14 homers in 386 at-bats during his minor league career.

So, what do you think?

SS Russell
2B Alcantara
3B Bryant
1B Rizzo
RF Baez
LF Schwarber
CF Almora
C Castillo

  1. rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:28 AM

    Good, very good, I love lineup, Cubs need to win World Series to be awesome, they will rule the world, I will be looking

    • Old Gator - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Keep looking. Some day the Cubs may figure out that there’s a big difference between a “collection” and a “team.” I doubt if any of us will live to see it.

  2. uwsptke - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    So…. Who’s in the rotation?

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:23 AM

      Arodys Vizcaino & CJ Edwards at some point, followed by Jen-Ho Tseng. We will probably see the Cubs start spending money on free agent starting pitching soon.

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:30 AM

        When you potentially have an infield and outfield full of cost controlled players, where else do you spend the money?

    • kappy32 - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:02 AM

      Mets should trade Noah Syndergaard for Baez. Syndergaard is a top 2 rotation pitcher & the Mets are the complete opposite of the Cubs. They’re loaded with pitching prospects, but have no position prospects. It’s a trade for 2 teams building for the future that makes sense.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:59 AM

      who cares? there is time to figure it out

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      From a recent Joe Posnanski article, like two or three days ago…

      “But Epstein and company don’t plan on making big bets on pitching until the team is ready.”

      The team is NOT good yet, won’t contend next year either so they are not going to load up on arms to get injured in the meantime etc…

      They’ll also have prospects to deal for pitching when the time comes too with how they are strengthening their farm system…

      When they are starting to play better, they’ll get pitching…

      • carpi2 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        Seems like a logical approach. Especially following a year, where 20+ pitchers blew their UCLs. Young pitchers seem to be a very volatile commodity these days. You’re better served acquiring proven pitchers, when the time is right for your club.

  3. twinfan24 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Didn’t the Royals have the “best” farm system with great prospects for about 4-5 years? Prospects are just that, prospects and not sure things. Seems like every season there are a couple of teams that are supposedly stacked with great minor leaguers and sure to contend in a couple of seasons. But, far too many of them don’t transition well to the majors.

    Look at the Twins this season. Buxton and Sano were both top 5 prospects. Sano is out all year after surgery and Buxton has missed a lot of time with injuries. Maybe both will still develop and be major league talents, but there is certainly no guarantee. No prospect is guaranteed, so don’t write down the Cubs prospects and just assume they will all turn into stars.

    • constantrevolution1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      That’s why volume is important. The Cubs know that they won’t all be stars, but by stockpiling so many of them, they increase the chance that some of them will be. They don’t need all of these guys to be all stars to be competitive.

    • clydeserra - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      Dayton Moore is not the Cubs GM.

      Problem solved.

    • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      Prospects have da potential, we need to wait, everone has ups and downs, it is up to them if they want to live up to hype, they would not be called top prospects for nothing, they need to have fun playing baseball, not being pressured cause of the high expectations

  4. crillbill - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    What about olt?

    • whmiv21 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:03 AM

      He’s hitting .150 and striking out in 38% of his plate appearances. At best, he’ll serve as right handed power off the bench.

      • crillbill - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:22 AM

        Isn’t Olt one of the highest ranked prospects though, this is his first year in bigsr? He’s only 25 and will probably have 25 home runs for a terrible Cubs lineup. I don’t see him moving unless they dump Rizzo and move Olt to 1b to further purge salary.

    • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:41 AM

      sucks, he should go to minors, need to hit more

      • wjarvis - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:44 AM

        I wouldn’t say he sucks, as it’s hard to hit 11 HR as a part time player. Just as it’s hard to have 11 HR and be slugging .371. His average is terrible and as a young player he needs to be playing consistently which hasn’t been happening with the cubs and probably won’t happen at AAA either with Bryant there.

      • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 3:12 AM

        If he want the improvements he should head back to minors, him sticking longer the lineup will never help him and the team win, trying something new there at the 3rd base is a topmost priority, if he wanted to stick then he should hit consistently not just for power

    • hotdogfinger - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      and he turns 26 next month, it’s not likely that he will develop much more. He looks like a poor man’s mark reynolds to me.

      • jerze2387 - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        Which would fit well. With all the prospects a guy who can come in and crank
        One off the bench helps. Role player

  5. norvturnersneck - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Position players yes, but who will be on the mound, in the bullpen, and who will close? These are the reasons their position players look so good. Their pitching keeps getting traded away though (see the last 3 years).

    • clydeserra - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:49 AM

      Cash. Cash and cash will be pitching.

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:01 AM

      ah yes. who cares about these “position players?” What they need to do is worry about their bullpen and closer 2-3 years from now. this front office has NO CLUE what they are doing. What idiots

  6. favrewillplay4ever - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    Completely agree, twin fan.

    You also have to figure that a couple of the up and comers get dealt for the added veteran presence that can teach the youngsters the ways of the majors and about winning at the MLB level. Gotta have a healthy mix of vets and rooks.

    • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:45 AM

      Yes, need balance, a team really need to have the depth

  7. herlies - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    The only thing more exciting than this group of Cubs’ prospects is the Titans’ practice squad.

    • podcastratedd - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      Ha! I work across the street from the Titans practice facility, it’s not that exciting.

  8. rickrenteria - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Love of prospects is Satan’s handmaiden.

  9. thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    Bryant moves to RF, Russel to 3B, Baez at 2B, Alcantara trade bait

    • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:44 AM

      Stupid move, they need to hold position

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:49 AM

        Ya I’m sure Baez and Russell will remain shortstop’s…

      • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:52 AM

        Stupid A’s, they should not trade good awesome rookie Russel, Bean is stupid

  10. thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:54 AM

    Cubs also singed some of the best international prospects last year when they inked Eloy Jimenez OF, Gleyber Torres SS, Jen-Ho Tseng RHP and Erling Moreno RHP.

    Cub fans who get on Theo don’t get it, their minor league system is stacked.

    • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:03 AM

      Right now in the Arizona League the Cubs have Jimenez, Soler, Torres and another nice international signing Jefferson Mejia all together on the same team. All legit prospects and none even mentioned in the above article.

      That’s how stacked the Cubs system is right now

      • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:05 AM

        I love Cubs to, minor league is awesome, I want the to win World Series, players good

      • thatsnuckinfuts - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        I’m not a Cubs fan,, I just recognize the amount of talent they have amassed in the past 3 seasons. People talk about the up and coming Astros, while the Cubs are a couple seasons away from making the same noise if not more.

      • rivermaya99 - Jul 5, 2014 at 2:12 AM

        They are good organization, they really pick good players, organization management is stupid, player wise they are very good

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        you say the pick really good players but the organization and management is stupid…

        well, it’s the organization and management MAKING those really good picks…

  11. jfk69 - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:25 AM

    Small market and financial constraint mantra
    Collect as many prospects and one year rentals to acquire more. See opportunity to win now. Seize it. Doesn’t work out…..DO IT AGAIN!
    Billy Beane

  12. rcali - Jul 5, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    The key word is “Prospects” Always entertaining when people get off on “Prospects”

  13. mungman69 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:44 AM

    The Cubs will trade most of these players before they get a big contract. They will get more draft picks and then trade them too. The Cubs have been doing this for over 100 years so why change now.

    • renaado - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:41 AM

      If the Cubs wanted to win then there’s goin to be some changes if they wanted to achieve that… If a change does happen, sometimes things just doesn’t go the way you wanted or planned.

  14. jimbroney - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    Whatever rivermaya says, I agree with. He’s a grammar genius.

    • aresachaela - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      Whoever that is, safe to say he/she is a TROLL.

  15. wilmyers09 - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    crillbill kris bryant is way better then olt they will probely trade olt for a pitcher

  16. Homesforsaleinfriscotx - Jul 5, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    The Rangers would trade their entire starting lineup…even up…for this group of 8.

    The Cubs have a Big Time Future here.

    Figure 5 of these guys COULD make an All Star Team.

    Three Could be Perennial All Stars

    1 Could be a Hall Of Famer

    Or they could all get hurt of flame out

  17. sportsfan69 - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Prospects are no guarantee that they can play in the major leagues. Where’s the pitching, starting rotation. We all know that pitching wins divisions, pennants, and the World Series. No pitching, mediocre team at best. Theo Epstein is over rated. How many years do will it take the Cub fans to realize it. Where’s the established veteran leadership on the team?

  18. cincinata - Jul 5, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Of course, I am not a Cubs fan, but I will say don’t get ahead of yourselves. Look at all of the great “prospects” the Cardinals had/have in their pitching staff in the minors. What are they doing now? I think combined, they have a losing record. Potential means nothing. Look at the cards great “prospect” Oscar Tavaras. I don’t think he is hitting his weight. He has been up and down like a yoyo. So, advice to Cub Fans. Don’t get too excited about all of the “potential” you have. That is why I think the trade they made with the A’s, will turn out to benefit Oakland. Why you give up a stud pitcher and another like him, is a bad choice. Of all their minor league “prospects” they will be lucky if ONE makes it big in the bigs. And, look what they gave up!

    • hetrick33 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Since when did Hammel become a “stud” pitcher? Keep in mind the Cubs were able to get this stud on a 1yr deal for $6 million, he’s having a great year but let’s not get crazy. He’s a free agent after this year and going to command 10-12 million a year in the offseason. Cubs had no intentions of bringing him back because they aren’t ready to win yet, so why not trade him? I look at Straily as very comparable to Hammel (remember Straily had a sub 4 ERA in the much harder AL) and Straily is under team control for a long time. So they basically traded Shark for the As 2 best prospects with one of them a top 20 prospect in all of baseball.

  19. nsstlfan - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    What is this the third year with savior Epstein and it’s still the same ol’ same ol’ with the Cubs? They might compete in 2016 but with many pitchers that aren’t very good great positions players still aren’t going to go far.

  20. kingjoe1 - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Theo Epstien shows why he is the best GM in baseball. If The Phillies Amaro could be half the GM Epstien is maybe the phillies would not have wasted this past year reaching for one more big year. While Epstien is building a dynasty Amaro is figuring out who wants aging expensive washed up stars.

  21. autmorsautlibertas - Jul 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Cubs should trade Starlin Castro to the Yankees for a catcher.

  22. sportsfan69 - Jul 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    I feel sorry for Cub fans, their expectations for excellence is not a requirement. Sitting in the bleacher seats on a sunny day and having ice cold beers until you pass out is more important than winning. You’ll know what I’m talking if have been to Wrigley field for an afternoon game. Theo Epstein is not a good GM. Three years, not a single stud pitching prospect. Buying established (free agents) doesn’t always work. Expensive and risky to get pitchers over 30 years old.
    I’ll take the Cardinals or the Reds organization any day.

  23. wheels579 - Jul 5, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    This deal is much better for the A’s than Cubs. Maybe they couldn’t get a third team involved and Theo chose to maximize value now to pursue other options later. One would think the Mets would be interested in one of the shortstops, or perhaps San Diego? Nice to see Oakland go all in.

  24. jtreddog - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:05 PM

    Don’t worry NL Central fans…history shows the Cubs will screw up a one-car parade

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