After covering both numbers 16-20 as well as numbers 11-15, the time is finally here. It is time for the Top Ten! As you read through numbers 6 through 10 of this list you will find a lot of smart hitters. These guys show a lot of plate discipline and vision and this is finally the part of the list where the potential is there for each and every one of these players to be very productive Major Leaguers.
Highest Level: A+ Myrtle Beach
115 Games, (.271/.406/.412/.818), 24 doubles, 8 HR, 12 SB, 15.6% BB, 16.8% K
Zagunis is a difficult prospect to figure out. With incredible discipline and vision at the plate, he produces Major League level at bats. Those smarts at the plate also help him to produce both a high average and OBP. Besides that hit tool and smarts, Zagunis is very difficult to peg. His power has shown flashes of potential, but you can’t expect more than a dozen or so homeruns at the Major League level, and his speed is there but not necessarily a weapon to throw pitchers off while on the base paths. In the field, Zagunis I actually would have liked for the Cubs to keep him behind the plate as his bat plays up there a lot more, but in the outfield he will need to continue to produce at a very high level. If he can advance one more tool to the point of being a plus offering Zagunis can become a consensus top prospect in this organization.
Position: First Base
Highest Level: AA Tennessee
81 Games, (.279/.414/.434/.849), 18 doubles, 7 HR, 1 SB, 19.1% BB, 18.8% K
Vogelbach seems to have been a fan favorite over the past few years while simultaneously being a scout’s nightmare. Vogey’s hit tool is already nearly Major League ready as well as his approach at the plate. We all know his speed and fielding over at first are almost non-existent making him destined for first base or more likely DH. Every scout and top prospect list has been waiting for this guy’s power to come around and last year was really the very first time it has shown up at all. Even with that power maybe showing up for good, Vogelbach needs to figure out a way to stay healthy as he has missed time of every season in his minor league career. Starting off the year in Tennessee more than likely, a nice start to the year showing off his newly tapped power could set him up to be the main prospect piece in a midseason deal that nets the Cubs some help in Chicago for the postseason push.
Highest Level: A- Eugene
57 Games, (.284/.328/.418/.746), 10 doubles, 7 HR, 3 SB, 6.0% BB, 17.2% K
Every person that follows the Chicago Cubs should be salivating for the opportunity to see more of Eloy Jimenez this season. After making it no higher than Eugene in his first couple of years since signing as an IFA, this is the year he can finally push up the ladder beginning in South Bend. Jimenez is a specimen and continues to grow into his body each season. If you are looking for a comparison for this kid, look no farther than Jorge Soler. The muscle isn’t quite there yet so he is much lankier than Soler but his power, strong arm in right field, and ability to draw walks are all there. Added on top of that is a sneaky kind of speed that Jimenez sports with the ability to steal some bases. I expect him to slow down considerably over the next few years though as he grows into his body. With his advanced approached at the plate and his enormous power potential, this could really be the year that Eloy breaks out into the top prospect that everyone expected when he first signed.
Position: Third Base
Highest Level: AAA Iowa
129 Games, (.257/.314/.438/.752), 23 doubles, 20 HR, 2 SB, 7.3% BB, 15.9% K
Yes, Villanueva has been around the Cubs organization for 19 years. And yes, he is turning into exactly what we all expected out of him. The only problem is that there are two guys named Bryant and Rizzo that play his position that are currently in Chicago. Villanueva has plus defensive skills at third base which have been MLB ready for a couple years now. Last year he had his most impressive season yet when it comes to the power numbers and I think he would be a great player to have on the bench in Chicago this season. The only problem is it would be hard to squeeze him in there. With no options available for this season a decision is going to have to be made. The most likely options here seem to be between including him in a trade before the season starts, trying to sneak him through waivers, or doing what I would like to see and including him on the 25 man roster and figuring out what to do with either Matt Szczur or Tommy LaStella. (Expect a post on that log jam in the next couple weeks.)
Position: Second Base, Outfield
Highest Level: A South Bend
67 Games, (.259/.356/.466/.822), 17 doubles, 9 HR, 10 SB, 13.6% BB, 22.7% K
I thought that I was high on Happ until I started seeing all of the other prospect lists come out and saw that they all had him in the top 3. I think after being drafted in the first round this past year, a lot of the expectations of Happ were that he would be a hitter that bases his at bats off of putting the ball in play and utilizing his speed while playing defensively all over the diamond. After seeing him play quite a few games in his first season it is pretty clear that he can be even more than that. He flashed very good power and now shows the potential of 20+ homers in the bigs. The front office said they would have him focus on second base this season and the jury is still out on if he can make second his home or if the outfield will soon be where he roams. All in all, he has 3 to 4 very good tools and if he can cut down on his somewhat high strikeout numbers, he can really jump through the system pretty quickly. With Ben Zobrist signing his four year deal this offseason, I fully expect Happy to be there after Zobrist’s time in Chicago is done to fill his spot on the lineup card.