Hot Off the Presses: The Minor League Prospectus

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Here’s why we love the Cubs Convention. It essentially marks the beginning of the end of the offseason. When the season ends in October, there’s not much to look forward to for the rest of the calendar year except the temperature plummeting and the Bears narrowly missing the NFL playoffs yet again. But once the new year hits, it’s less than a month until the Cubs Convention, which is less than a month from Spring Training, which is about a month from April 1—Opening Day.

The Convention is the first time all interested parties—players, coaches, front office personnel and fans—are back in the same location. It’s also a great opportunity to meet some of the young players who are expected to comprise the bright future of the franchise. The 2013 Convention introduced us to future stars such as infielder Javier Baez (recently named the Cubs’ top prospect by Baseball America’s Jim Callis), pitcher Robert Whitenack, and minor league player and pitcher of the year Logan Watkins and Nick Struck.

This month, in a February tradition, we unveil our latest Minor League Prospectus, a detailed look at the top prospects at all levels of the Cubs system. We sat down with Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod to get scouting reports on athletes throughout the organization. He also provided tremendous insight into the front office’s mindset and how they have been trying to build the team through the draft, trades and player development.

“From a player perspective, I think we’ve added more potential for impact,” McLeod said. “I think the organization had some depth to it. With the acquisitions that have been made, with the focus on the draft and some of the things we’ve been able to do with the trades, we’ve been trying to get back more what we would term as impact talent, whether it be arms, or athletes, or power.”

We’ve broken down the names you need to know into five categories: 2012 draft, 2012 trades and claims, international players, approaching the majors and down the pipeline. We’re not ranking the prospects—plenty of other publications do that—we’re giving you information, straight from the front office, about what to expect from the farm system this year and down the road.

With pitchers and catchers reporting this month, we also talked to the newest member of the Cubs’ starting five, the well-traveled Edwin Jackson. After pitching for seven teams in his 10-year big league career, the 29-year-old fireballer has finally settled down with a four-year, $52 million contract on the North Side. Jackson, who has pitched on three postseason teams and won a World Series title in St. Louis in 2011, is ready to bring his experience and winning mentality to Wrigley Field.

Finally, the first pitch of the Cactus League season is scheduled for Feb. 22. We go around the horn with the new-look 2013 Cubs in our Spring Training preview.

To read these stories and more, pick up the January issue of Vine Line, on sale soon at select Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.

We’ll be heading down to Mesa, Ariz., later this month to cover the early days of Cubs camp, so make sure you check out the blog and our Twitter feed, @cubsvineline, for daily updates and videos on the Cubs’ 2013 squad.

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