Cubs scattered throughout BA’s Top 100 prospects

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Cubs minor leaguers Albert Almora and Jorge Soler were both ranked on Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects list.
(Photo by Stephen Green)

February is the month when most baseball prospect lists are unveiled and displayed for all to see. On Tuesday afternoon, Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospects list—and gave Cubs fans another reason for optimism.

Slugging shortstop Javier Baez, currently in major league camp with the Cubs, heads the quartet of North Siders on the list, coming in at No. 16. The 2011 first-round pick played his first full season in 2012, hitting .294/.346/.543 (AVG/OBP/SLG) at two Single-A levels and mashing 16 home runs. He is the third-highest shortstop prospect on the list. Baseball America is the first major publication to put Baez ahead of Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, a fellow shortstop picked one spot ahead of Baez in the 2011 draft. The publication also rated Baez the most exciting player in the Midwest League last season.

Last year’s first-round pick Albert Almora was ranked No. 33, one spot ahead of 2012 signee Jorge Soler. Almora joined an exciting Short-Season Boise squad late into the year and hit .292 in 65 plate appearances. The 18-year-old former Team USA player is heralded for his feel for the game, especially at such a young age.

Despite still assimilating himself to American culture after coming over from Cuba, Soler managed to crush Single-A pitching last year, hitting .338/.398/.513 in 80 at-bats in 2012. Known for his power at the plate and strong arm in the outfield, the massive 21-year-old projects to be a right fielder. Soler is currently working out with the major league squad in Mesa, Ariz., and is on the 40-man roster.

Arodys Vizcaino, who came over in the Paul Maholm trade with Atlanta last summer, rounds out the Cubs representatives at No. 83. This year marks the fourth straight time the right-hander has been ranked on Baseball America’s list. BA voted Vizcaino the organization’s best fastball and curveball after 2012, despite the fact that he missed the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Though he will be eased back slowly, expect to see the power arm playing at Wrigley Field sooner rather than later.

The Cubs had four players on the list last year: Brett Jackson (32), Anthony Rizzo (47), Baez (61) and Matt Szczur (64).

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