Alcantara to make ML debut, team recalls RHP Beeler

ArismendyAlcantara

Arismendy Alcantara will make his major league debut Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The first of the big-time Cubs prospects will make his major league debut Wednesday, as infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara gets the start at second base against the Reds in Cincinnati. The athletic Alcantara, who was recently named the No. 18 prospect in the game by Baseball Prospectus, will bat in the two spot. Right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler has also been recalled and will make his second start of the season tonight.

Alcantara will temporarily replace Darwin Barney, who has been placed on paternity leave and is expected to return on Friday. Left-handers Chris Rusin and Tsuyoshi Wada have both been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Alcantara, 22, is hitting .307 with 25 doubles, 11 triples, 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 89 games with Iowa this season, his first year at the Triple-A level. Named a Pacific Coast League All-Star, he is the only player in the minors to reach 25 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases. His 46 extra-base hits are tied for ninth in the minors.

The switch-hitter has a .374 average against left-handed pitching and a .280 average against right-handers. He batted .345 in June and enjoyed a 13-game hitting streak from June 22-July 3, in which he hit .463 with a 1.214 OPS. This season, he has played 70 games at second base, 11 games in center field and six games at shortstop.

Signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in November 2008, Alcantara owns a .284 batting average with 104 doubles, 41 triples, 40 home runs, 254 RBI and 112 stolen bases in 530 career minor league games. He was a 2013 Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star for Double-A Tennessee, and hit a home run in the 2013 All-Star Futures Game.

Beeler, 25, will make his second start for the Cubs after making his major league debut in the first game of the June 28 twinbill versus the Nationals, an outing in which he allowed one unearned run over six innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 starts with Iowa this season. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has walked only 17 batters and allowed just five home runs in 66.1 innings pitched, an average 2.3 walks per nine innings and one home run allowed per 13.1 innings.

The right-hander is in his fifth professional campaign since being selected by the Cubs in the 41st round of the 2010 draft out of Oral Roberts University. Beeler reached Double-A Tennessee in his first full pro campaign in 2011 and made a career-high 27 starts for the Smokies in 2012 before being slowed by a sprained finger on his right hand. Beeler is a career 17-21 with a 3.69 ERA in 77 minor league outings (69 starts).

 

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1950s—Ernie Banks

Banks_10-10

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the fifth installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, it’s Mr. Cub Ernie Banks’ time in the spotlight. During the 1950s, he put together one of the best stretches for a shortstop ever.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson

1950s – Ernie Banks, 39.6 WAR

Seasons: 1953-59
AVG/OBP/SLG: .295/.355/.558
PA: 3,954
HR: 228
R: 582
RBI: 661
SB: 35

Ernie Banks’ 1950s WAR total is the sixth best among NL offensive players for the decade. It’s even more impressive when you consider he was active for only six full seasons during that stretch.

With segregation still impacting professional baseball, Banks didn’t join the major leagues until September 1953, when he played 10 games with the Cubs just before the season ended.

But by the latter stages of the 1950s, Mr. Cub was striking fear into the hearts of NL pitchers. In 1958 and 1959, he put up two of the most productive seasons ever—no shortstop has put up a similar WAR total in a single season since.

In 1958, he claimed two-thirds of the Triple Crown, hitting 47 homers and driving in 129, all while batting a career-best .313. The following year he slammed 45 homers and had a league-leading 143 RBI. He claimed MVP awards in both years.

For the decade, Banks averaged 33 homers versus just 62 strikeouts per season—and this was at a time when very little offense was expected of middle infielders. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1954 and went to five All-Star Games in the 1950s, starting three.

Mr. Cub was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

 

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/8/14

Tennessee, Kane County and Boise all captured wins Tuesday. Iowa lost in walk-off fashion, while errors continued to plague Mesa. Meanwhile, Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (48-43)
1st Place (+0.5)

Omaha’s Brian Bocock hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Iowa, 7-6.

  • RF Brett Jackson (.213) went 1-for-4 with a second-inning, two-run homer.
  • DH Ryan Kalish (.226) went 2-for-3 with two runs, a double (7), and a sixth-inning, three-run clout.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.351) went 1-for-4 before being ejected in the eighth inning by the home plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes. It was Bryant’s first professional ejection.

Tennessee Smokies (12-8)
1st Place (+0.5)

Tennessee held host Birmingham to just four hits in a 7-3 victory.

  • C Luis Flores (.286) went 1-for-3 with two walks, a double (2) and a game-high three RBI (5).
  • SS Elliot Soto (.210) went 2-for-4 with a double (6) and two RBI (10).
  • RHP Tony Zych (3-4, 3.92) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his third victory.
  • RHP Frank Batista (1.20) recorded the final five outs of the game to pick up his fourth save of the year.

Kane County Cougars (13-4)
1st Place (+2.5)

Kane County won for the fourth time in its last five games, beating host Quad Cities, 7-3.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn gave up two earned runs over five innings and struck out six to pick up the win.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.500) went 2-for-4 with a third-inning, solo home run.
  • C Kyle Schwarber (.379) went 3-for-5 with a run, two doubles (7) and two RBI (13).
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.260) and 3B Jeimer Candelario (.182) recorded two hits apiece.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (4.50) struck out five over three innings of relief to earn his second hold of the season.

Boise Hawks (13-12)
2nd Place (-2.0)

Boise won its third-straight game, beating visiting Hillsboro, 11-4.

  • LHP Tyler Ihrig surrendered two earned runs over six innings, striking out six, to earn his third win of the year.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.250) went 2-for-4 with his Northwest League-leading seventh blast and four RBI (24).
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.307) went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double (4) and three RBI (14). It marked Crawford’s second-straight three-hit and three-RBI game.
  • 2B Chesny Young (.750) and SS Jason Vosler (.308) had two hits apiece. Vosler drove in two (3).
  • Boise has scored 10 or more runs in three-straight games. It’s the first time they have achieved that feat since July of 2010.

Mesa Cubs (8-6)
1st Place (+0.5)

The Mesa Cubs committed three more miscues in a 6-4 loss to the visiting AZL Indians. Mesa has 15 errors in their last three games.

  • 2B Andrew Ely (.571) went 3-for-4 with a first-inning, solo home run.
  • LF Shamil Ubiera (.220) went 2-for-4 with a run scored, one RBI (8) and two stolen bases (4).
  • RHP Yomar Morel (0.00) tossed two scoreless innings of relief.

1960s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/11/14-7/13/14

Sayers

(Photo by Stephen Green)

A short, three-game homestand at Wrigley Field kicks off this Friday, July 11, as the Cubs welcome the Braves to town for a 1960s-themed celebration. Cubs fans can relive one of the venerable stadium’s greatest decades along with Hall of Fame Bears running back Gale Sayers, Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas and Cubs players from the 1960s.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this weekend.

1960s Homestand Recap, July 11-13

Friday, July 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Carl Giammarese, Chicago native and original lead singer of 1960s band The Buckinghams
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, July 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m. 

  • Promotion: Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Thomas Ian Nicholas, actor from Rookie of the Year
  • National Anthem: Derrick Mitchell, Out at Wrigley contest winner
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, July 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1969 home and visiting uniforms
  • Promotion: ‘60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Former teammates from the late-1960s, including Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Rich Nye, Paul Popovich and Ken Rudolph
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

Cubs set to honor the 1960s at Wrigley Field

BWilliams

It’s a shame the 1960s-themed homestand will only last only one weekend, especially considering the amount of success the home teams had at Wrigley Field during the decade. While the Cubs had a strong 10-year stretch, it was the NFL’s Chicago Bears that hoisted a championship trophy in 1963, winning the league behind players like Bobby Wade and Mike Ditka.

This weekend, Cubs will host a quick three-game, 1960s-themed series against the Atlanta Braves from July 11-13 leading into Major League Baseball’s All-Star break. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1960s at Wrigley Field as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. Each game in the series includes a promotional giveaway, offering fans a chance to collect an item commemorating the ’60s decade at the ballpark.

On Friday, July 11, Cubs fans will be able to congratulate 2014 All-Star representative Starlin Castro as he receives his All-Star jersey from Majestic. The team and its fans are pushing for Anthony Rizzo to join the festivities in Minneapolis through MLB’s Final Vote campaign. Fans can vote for Rizzo at mlb.com/vote or by texting N4 to 89269 until this Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT.

On Saturday, July 12, Cubs Charities and Kraft will extend the good feelings with a donation ceremony benefiting programs focused on health, fitness, and education for at-risk youth and families. In June, Kraft committed to donating $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher struck out at Wrigley Field. The Cubs pitching staff delivered 138 strikeouts at home (en route to a National League-leading 247 strikeouts for the month), resulting in a donation of $13,800.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 13, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1969 to honor some of the team’s most popular players from the era. That squad featured Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, as well as other Cubs legends. The visiting Atlanta Braves will wear a 1969 throwback uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect a unique promotional item at each game of the homestand, beginning with an exclusive Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet for the first 10,000 fans on Friday. On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley. On Sunday, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a ’60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch, and the first 1,000 kids in the park can run the bases postgame.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1960s homestand features a Kraft BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kraft Cheese and fried onions served on a toasted onion roll. Fans can also try the Traditional Buffalo Wings homestand special. These classic wings are tossed with Buffalo sauce and served with carrot and celery sticks along with ranch dipping sauce.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog—a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with diced chicken, buffalo sauce, crumbled bleu cheese and chopped celery. The Buffalo Wing Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy an Alabama Ironman Cocktail. This modern twist on the Whiskey Sour, which pays homage to Billy Williams, is made with peach puree, lemon and lime juice.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted many memorable baseball and non-baseball moments in the 1960s. The team also started an important tradition at the ballpark.

Wrigley Field hosted its final NFL Championship game in 1963 on a frigid, seven-degree day in December. The Bears beat the New York Giants 14-10 to take the title.

On Dec. 12, 1965, Gale Sayers tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a 61-20 rout of San Francisco on a muddy Wrigley Field.

In 1966, in his first game after being acquired by the Cubs, eventual Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins threw five scoreless innings in relief and belted a home run in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Dodgers.

In February 1967, the Cubs announced they would feature organ music and play the National Anthem before every home game. Before this, the National Anthem was only played on holidays and special occasions at Wrigley Field.

After completing a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals on June 29, 1969, Billy Williams officially broke the National League record for consecutive games played with 896. His streak would eventually extend to 1,117 games. That same year, after tossing seven hitless innings against the Braves on Aug. 19, pitcher Ken Holtzman’s no-hitter looked lost as Hank Aaron connected on a deep fly ball. Luckily, a gust of wind knocked it down at the last second, and Billy Williams caught it on the warning track to preserve Holtzman’s career performance.

Tickets for the Braves series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

 

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1940s—Bill Nicholson

Nicholson

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the fourth installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, Bill “Swish” Nicholson provided the team with some necessary pop in the 1940s, especially during the early part of the decade.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman

1940s – Bill Nicholson, 36.9 WAR

Seasons: 1940-48
AVG/OBP/SLG: .271/.369/.472
PA: 5,371
HR: 200
R: 701
RBI: 795
SB: 26

Bill Nicholson was at his best in 1943 and 1944, when he won both the home run and RBI titles. He hit 29 homers and knocked in 128 in 1943, and followed that with 33 bombs and 122 RBI in 1944, when he was runner-up in the MVP voting. The right fielder also led the league in runs scored that year. But power was Nicholson’s game, as his 211 home runs in the 1940s (200 coming with the Cubs from 1940-48) rank second in the decade among NL hitters. All four of his All-Star appearances were with the Cubs during the 1940s, and he made starts in 1941 and 1943. Despite earning the nickname Swish for his swing-and-miss tendencies, Nicholson managed to draw more walks than strikeouts in his nine seasons on the North Side.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/7/14

Daytona swept a doubleheader, but Iowa, Tennessee and Mesa were all dealt losses Monday. Kane County and Boise each had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (48-42)
1st Place (+1.5)

Iowa lost for the fourth time in its last five games, falling at Omaha, 7-3.

  • RHP Dan Straily gave up four runs, none earned, over five innings, striking out three in his Cubs debut.
  • SS Javier Baez (.241) homered for the second-straight game, going 1-for-4 with a third-inning, three-run shot.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.356) went 1-for-3 with a walk.
  • RHP Marcos Mateo (5.21) tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Tennessee Smokies (11-8)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee also lost for the fourth time in their last five games, falling at Birmingham, 7-1.

  • RF Jorge Soler (.394) homered for the second-straight game, going 3-for-4 with a ninth-inning, solo blast.
  • DH Charles Cutler (.337) and C Luis Flores (.281) had two hits apiece.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka (3.06) worked a scoreless seventh inning in the setback.

Daytona Cubs (11-5)
1st Place (-0.5)

GM 1: Daytona pushed across a run in the eighth inning for a 4-3 win at Lakeland.

  • RHP Tayler Scott went five innings, giving up two earned runs on seven hits.
  • CF Albert Almora (.271) went 1-for-4 with a first-inning, solo home run.
  • 1B Rock Shoulders (.207) went 1-for-3 with a third-inning, solo blast.
  • LHP Austin Kirk (1-0, 5.40) earned the win, while RHP Stephen Perakslis (5.36) picked up his second save.

GM 2: Daytona completed the doubleheader sweep with a 6-1 victory over Lakeland.

  • CF Albert Almora (.275) homered for the second-straight game, going 2-for-3 with a first-inning, two-run shot.
  • DH Bijan Rademacher (.284) went 1-for-3 with a first-inning, solo homer.
  • RHP Justin Amlung (2-2, 5.00) allowed a run in four innings of relief to earn his second win of the year.

Mesa Cubs (8-5)
1st Place (+0.5)

The Mesa Cubs committed five errors in an 11-2 loss at the AZL Indians. Mesa has committed 12 errors in its last two games.

  • C Alberto Mineo (.351) went 1-for-4 with a run scored, a double (4) and one RBI (7).
  • RHP Victor Salazar (0.00) struck out two hitters in 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/6/14

Iowa, Tennessee and Boise all picked up wins, while Kane County and Mesa both fell short Sunday. Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (48-41)
1st Place (+2.0)

Iowa recorded seven extra-base hits in a 5-4 victory at Oklahoma City.

  • 3B Kris Bryant (.357) went 1-for-4 with a second-inning, two-run blast.
  • SS Javier Baez (.241) and LF Ryan Kalish (.213) each hit solo home runs.
  • DH Manny Ramirez (.263) went 2-for-4 with his third RBI of the season.
  • RHP Armando Rivero (3-0, 2.16) earned the win.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.70) picked up his second save.

Tennessee Smokies (11-7)
1st Place (+0.5)

Tennessee scored five runs in the fourth inning to cruise past host Birmingham, 9-1.

  • RHP Corey Black surrendered one earned run over six innings, striking out six to secure the win.
  • DH Jorge Soler (.345) went 2-for-5 with a sixth-inning, solo home run.
  • 3B Jonathan Mota (.239) and 1B Dustin Geiger (.220) each had three hits. Geiger also drove in three (33).
  • RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.263), 2B Stephen Bruno (.288) and C Charles Cutler (.333) all had multihit efforts.
  • LHP Andrew McKirahan (0.00) tossed two scoreless innings of relief.

Kane County Cougars (12-4)
1st Place (+1.5)

Kane County dropped a 14-inning marathon at Clinton, falling to the LumberKings, 2-1.

  • RHP Tyler Skulina gave up one earned run on six hits and no walks over six innings.
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.256), DH Ben Carhart (.277), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.157) and 2B David Bote (.216) all had two hits apiece.
  • RHPs Jen-Ho Tseng (2.93) and James Pugliese (1.31) combined to toss seven scoreless innings of ball.

Boise Hawks (12-12)
2nd Place (-3.0)

Boise won for the fifth time in its last six games, beating visiting Eugene, 10-5.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.289) went 3-for-5 with a double (3) and a game-high three RBI (11).
  • 2B Chesny Young (1.000) went a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a double (1) and two RBI (3).
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.240), C Justin Marra (.293) and LF Mark Zagunis (.414) all had two hits.
  • RHP Josh Davis (1-0, 4.50) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first win of the season.

Mesa Cubs (8-4)
1st Place (+1.0)

The Mesa Cubs committed seven errors in a 7-5 loss at the AZL Angels.

  • Rehabbing Cubs right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa got the start and tossed a scoreless first inning.
  • C Tyler Alamo (.296) went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double (1) and one RBI (5).
  • 3B Varonex Cuevas (.500) went 2-for-4 with a team-high two RBI (2).

Cubs sign sixth-round pick RHP Dylan Cease

The Cubs have reached an agreement with sixth-round draft pick Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher out of Milton (Ga.) High School.

With this move, the Cubs have now signed their first 22 picks, as well as 26 selections overall, from the 2014 draft.

Cease, 18, was a preseason first-team prep All-American heading into his senior year at Milton High School, but an injury hurt his draft stock. He struck out 20 batters in 12 innings without allowing a run before suffering an elbow injury in March that kept him off the mound for the remainder of the season.

In his 2013 junior season with Milton, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Cease was 9-0 with an 0.81 ERA in 69.1 innings. He struck out 100 batters, good for an average of 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Updated midseason prospect lists praise Cubs’ talent

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Triple-A Iowa’s Kris Bryant has become a top-five prospect. (Photo by Stephen Green)

For a while now, the Cubs system has been widely viewed as one of the best in baseball. After the recent Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade with Oakland, it might now be the best.

On Monday, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both published their updated midseason top 50 prospects lists, and Cubs farmhands were scattered throughout each, with a trio of minor leaguers in the top 10. Below is what the publications said about the Cubs’ prospects. And while Baseball Prospectus’ and Baseball America‘s lists do differ, the quantity and location the Cubs farmhands can only be seen as a huge positive for the organization and its fans.

3B Kris Bryant
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 3
Baseball America Rank: 2

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#17

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: Bryant continues to launch home runs, rack up strikeouts, rake at an eye-popping clip, and show a discerning eye at the plate. Through 371 plate appearances between Double A and Triple A, Bryant is slashing .357/.453/.717 and finds himself knocking on Wrigley’s door. He has proven himself without question to be the loudest bat in the minors and a potential impact mainstay in the middle of the Cubs order for the foreseeable future. –Nick Faleris

Baseball America:
Power has been just as advertised, while his defense has been better than expected.

SS Javier Baez
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 5
Baseball America Rank: 7

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#4

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: Baez has the best bat speed in the minors, and it’s not even close for me; a lethal weapon that could make him the premium power bat in the game. But his approach is below average, and he routinely puts himself in bad hitter’s counts and conditions. With more refinement, the ceiling is cathedral but the risk is still quite high despite the fact that the 21-year-old is more than holding his own at the Triple-A level. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Long-term potential is still as an elite regular, but he has to moderate his swing-from-the-heels approach.

SS Addison Russell
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 6
Baseball America Rank: 5

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#7

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Double-A Tennessee

Developmental Update: From a skill-set perspective, Addison Russell has the most well-rounded profile at the shortstop position in the minors, with above-average chops in the field (including double-plus hands), and impact potential with both the hit and power tools. Russell has lost half a season to injury, but could challenge for the top spot in the minors with a strong second half. The ultimate upside is a perennial all-star at a premium spot, and the future could start as early as 2015. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Missed half the year with a hamstring problem; remains an elite all-around shortstop prospect with his new team.

2B Arismendy Alcantara
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 18
Baseball America Rank: 33

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#83

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: I’ve always liked Alcantara, but I was too low on him coming into the season, despite a skill set that has three-way impact potential at the highest level (hit/glove/run). Now that the 22-year-old has taken his talents to Triple-A, and exceeded expectations at the plate and on base, the future first-division player has jumped the list and emerged as a top 20 prospect in the game. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Hard not to like an athletic middle infielder who can play short in a pinch and has power and speed.

OF Albert Almora
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 37
Baseball America Rank: NR

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#25

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: High-A Daytona

Developmental Update: Almora’s had a rough start to his season. His lack of production in half a season at High-A as a 20-year-old shouldn’t obfuscate the tools he still has. Almora makes loud, consistent contact and plays a very good center field due to his ability to make early reads off the bat. The baseball IQ is high and it helps the other tools play up. He’s not the sexy name in the Cubs system, but don’t forget about him. –Mauricio Rubio

The recent 2014 draft class was off-limits for consideration on each list. But Baseball Prospectus noted a few prospects from the class, including the Cubs’ first-round pick in Kyle Schwarber.

Baseball Prospectus:
C/OF Kyle Schwarber
Where he fits:
Somewhere after Hunter Renfroe (44th)
Schwarber was the most advanced collegiate bat in the draft class, with an ability to hit for plus in-game power without sacrificing average. He puts together professional at bats, shows well against top competition, and has a general knack for finding his pitch and driving it. At present he’s being permitted to feast upon heavily overmatched Low-A arms, and likely won’t face his first real professional challenge until Double-A (or perhaps the Arizona Fall League if he finds a spot on the taxi squad). The BP Prospect Team loves catchers, so his ranking on the Top 101 might be largely dictated by the position at which the Cubs elect to stick him. If it looks like he is destined for first base, he won’t debut on the Top 101 as high as organization mate Kris Bryant (17th last winter), but he could fit comfortably in the Top 60 or so with a solid 2014 pro showing.

 

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