Cubs' Top 10 Prospects by Baseball America & Minor League Free Agents

Baseball America has listed their top 10 Cubs prospects....drumroll please...

  1. Starlin Castro
  2. Brett Jackson
  3. Josh Vitters
  4. Andrew Cashner
  5. Jay Jackson
  6. Hak-Ju Lee
  7. Logan Watkins
  8. Chris Carpenter
  9. Ryan Flaherty
  10. D.J. LeMehieu

I was expecting Kyler Burke to make the list, but apparently repeating A ball justifiably knocked him down. You can compare and contrast with Arizona Phil's Top 15 list from last week.  You can see past Baseball America top 10 lists for the Cubs over at Wiklifield.

Keeping with the minor league news, Arizona Phil has been keeping track of the Cubs minor league free agents on the right sidebar and there now appears to be an official list.

Chicago Cubs (11)

Pitchers: LHP Casey Fossum, RHP Vince Perkins, RHP Jose Pina

Catchers: Mark Johnson

Infielders: Matt Craig, Luis Rivas, Bobby Scales, Nate Spears

Outfielders: Doug Deeds, John-Ford Griffin, Brad Snyder


The only differences from Phil's list are C Robinson Chirinos and RHP Austin-Bibens-Dirx, so I assume they've already resigned with the Cubs. The 11 that have filed aren't goners yet though and can still resign with the Cubs. According to Phil's sidebar note, Cubs have exclusive negotiating rights until the MLB free agency filing period ends, which I believe is this Saturday.


A bit of nostalgia on the full list are some ex-Cubs including(and I'm sure I missed a few): Bobby Brownlie (Atlanta), Federico Baez (Cincinnati), Mark Bellhorn (Colorado), Ryan Harvey (Colorado), Lincoln Holdzkom (Pittsburgh), Juan Mateo (Pittsburgh), Rocky Cherry (San Diego), Shingo Takatsu (San Francisco), Jackson Melian (San Francisco), Josh Kroeger (Chicago White Sox), Michael Restovich (Chicago White Sox), Jason Waddell (Detroit), RIchie Robnett (NY Yankees), Jerome Williams (Oakland),  and Buck Coats (Toronto).

Don't forget to enter the TCR Free Agent Frenzy contest...




It makes you think that BA is contractually obliged to include your first round pick from that year in the top 3. Flaherty is the only surprise on there, to me.

Anyone know when the print issue comes out for the NL Central?

I'm always amused by that as well, you can guarantee a high spot for last year's top pick almost everytime.

Looking through the past lists, Grant Johnson who was a 2nd round pick but only got the 9 spot the next year in 2005. Hagerty was a supplemental pick and got the 7 slot in 2003.

brownlie/hagerty/clanton was supposed to be a cubs-draft slamdunk. at least one (and likely 2) were supposed to be impact players. they sure HAD good stuff.

Didn't Brownlie fall to the Cubs because he had a bum shoulder?

in a word...yes.

And here's a coincidence - as well as something right up AZ Phil's alley.

yeah, that's where I found the link from...should have mentioned that....

In the Jim Callis chat, he dropped the additional info that OF Kyler Burke was BA's #11 Cubs prospect, and that RHPs Chris Archer, Rafael Dolis, and Dae-Eun Rhee are three of the remaining four in the Top 15.

Callis also predicted (and you read it here first last month) that if Dolis is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline, he WILL be selected in the Rule 5 Draft (Callis says he would be the #1 pick).

Baseball America also lists Robinson Chirinos as the "Best Defensive Catcher" in the system, and while Chirinos has made progress since learning to catch at Extended Spring Training in 2008, Michael Brenly absolutely, positively is the best receiver, and Welington Castillo definitely has the best arm.

How's Brenly's arm? He's allowed a lot of stolen bases in what is about one year worth of games - but I assume guys in the low minors like to steal a lot and pitchers aren't too good at keeping them close.

Callis also predicted (and you read it here first last month) that if Dolis is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline, he WILL be selected in the Rule 5 Draft (Callis says he would be the #1 pick).

So, I'm guessing that with Dolis projected as the top overall pick, Hendry definitely WON'T be adding him to the 40-man. Right?

brett jackson #2...wonder if they thought this was a prospect list for future radio city music hall rockette dancers?

The fact that Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Robinson Chirinos were not on the just-released list of Cubs Rule 55 minor league free-agents means they signed so-called "successor contracts" for 2010. This also means both will be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft (it's too late to add them to the 40-man roster, the deadline for adding Rule 55 minor league FAs to the 40 being the 4th business day after the conclusion of the World Series). And as Rob G. mentioned, the Cubs do retain exclusive negotiating rights to their own Rule 55 minor league free-agents through Thursday, and they can sign them to 2010 minor league contracts even after that, it's just that other club's can make offers and sign them starting this Friday.

Just for clarification, there are two different types of post-season minor league free-agents:

1. Article XX-B minor league free-agents are players who were outrighted to the minors off the 40-man roster where the player had the right to be a free-agent immediately upon being outrighted by virtue of having accrued at least three years of MLB service time at the time he was outrighted, and/or by virtue of having been outrighted previously in his career, but where the player accepted the outright assignment and deferred the right to be a FA until after the the end of the season. This type of minor league FA can file for free-agency anytime starting on the day after the end of the MLB regular season up through October 15th, and once the player files and is granted free-agency (and this happens almost immediately), the player can sign with any club (including the player's former club) at any time.

However, if a player eligible to be an Article XX-B free-agent defers the right to be a FA until after the end of the MLB regular season, and then the player is added back to his club's MLB 40-man roster prior to the end of the season, the player is NOT eligible to be a FA. This type of free-agent also includes unsigned players with at least three years of MLB service time and/or players who have been outrighted previously in their career who are outrighted to the minors during the off-season. The Cubs had no Article XX-B minor league free-agents this year, and they didn't have any last year, either.

2. The other type of minor league FA is the Rule 55 type (so-called "Six-Year Minor League Free-Agent").

When a player signs his first contract with an MLB organization, it is a seven-year contract with six club options, and the contract follows the player around (it goes temoporarily inactive if the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster), even if the player gets traded. However, it is terminated if the player is released, UNLESS the player re-signs with the same organization within a year (this happened with Mario Mercedes last Spring Training).

After a player has spent all or part of at least seven seperate seasons on a minor league active list or DL (and this includes optional assignments if the player spends time on an MLB 40-man roster along the way), the player can be a FA after the conclusion of the 7th minor league season as long as the player is not on an MLB 40-man roster. Also, if a player is released prior to the conclusion of the contract, the player is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA after every season, even if the player has not spent all or parts of seperate seasons on a minor league active list or DL.

However, even if a player qualifies to be a Rule 55 minor league FA, the player's parent organization has until the 4th business day after the conclusion of the World Series to add the player to its 40-man roster. This happened last week with ex-Cubs 1B Brian Dopirak, who was eligible to be Rule 55 minor league FA post-2009, but was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster just before the deadline. (The Marlins added RHP Hayden Penn to their 40-man roster, the Brewers added 3B Adam Heether to their 40-man roster, and the Twins added RHP Juan Morillo to their 40-man roster, just before the deadline to add Rule 55 minor league free-agents, too).

BTW, there are several hundred Rule 55 minor league free-agents every year, and while the vast majority are career minor leaguers, every now & then a player takes an opportunity and runs with it.

Twins 1B Garrett Jones was a Rule 55 minor league FA after last season, and signed a minor league deal with the Pirates. He got an oppurtunity to play in Pittsburgh, had a fine season, and is a contender for N. L. Rookie of the Year.

The Cubs had three players on their 25-man roster in 2009 who were signed by the Cubs after becoming Rule 55 minor league free-agents, including C Koyie Hill, INF Andres Blanco, and IF-OF Bobby Scales.


I guess you're saying that Garrett Jones could have been taken in the Rule 5 draft, but wasn't, is that right?

I think you're also saying that the Cubs might sign Brad Snyder to another minor-league deal, assuming someone doesn't take him in the Rule 5.

He seems like a decent gamble for a team that needs a guy to play center and right--a guy who can hit better than Sam Fuld and probably run better. Do you know any teams like that?

well Garrett Jones could have been signed by anyone as a minor league free agent before the Rule 5 draft...

and in about 5 days, anyone can sign Brad Snyder if they want, although he'd still be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if I understand that correctly. It would seem though that if he signed with a new team, they could have the option to put them on their 40-man if they chose to...

is Snyder your 2009 Josh Kroeger?

Snyder has better tools and higher upside than Kroeger, doesn't he?

He doesn't really fit on the Cubs, though. Maybe if he could play 2nd. Or, less facetiously, a legit everyday CF.

Snyder was a first round pick, but he's also older....sounds like he could handle cf if need be, not sure Kroeger could...

both of them have K:BB ratios that make you understand why they're still in the minors and why they're jumping from minor league contract to minor league contract....

Kroeger wasn't as athletic as Snyder. Snyder looks like he could steal 30 bases. He had 12 home runs on May 18th last season at Iowa when he broke his wrist. Absent that injury, we might have been spared seeing Scales play outfield in September.

I talked about Kroeger when he was hitting .380 in half a season at Tennessee. Then he moved to Iowa, and there wasn't much to talk about. Thanks for remembering, though!

Anyway, why give these guys a second chance if you're not going to follow through when they succeed?

Or, why keep Robinson Chirinos around for nine years if you don't take him seriously when he finally starts to hit?

Anyway, why give these guys a second chance if you're not going to follow through when they succeed?

You're not always giving guys a second chance when you talk about signing minor league free agents. Sometimes you're just trying to win some ballgames for your minor league affiliates, or provide some protection in your lineups and pitching staffs for the real prospects.

Kroeger stole 23 this year for the White Sox fwiw, Snyder had 10 after 74 games... that doesn't project to 30 and when you put him in the majors, that's gonna probably be cut down in half if not more.

but pretty sure you were talking up Kroeger last year when he had an .887 OPS in Iowa, Snyder had an .883 in his half season.

and I don't take Chirinos too seriously, he's done 4 partial tours of Hi-A by this point and was 25 last year and struggled once again in Double A. If he's a good catcher and it does sound like his on-field leadership skills are excellent, he may have a small chance as a backup catcher at some point. My guess is he goes the Casey Kopitzke route.

Snyder had 69 games at Iowa in 2009, 41 before the injury and 28 after. It looks like he ran more when he returned: 6 SBs in the final month. And in Venezuela he has 11 in 31 games, a little more than a month's worth. I don't know what that translates to in the majors. AZ Phil raved about Snyder's speed (on a triple, I think) last spring.

Snyder's swing obviously was not there when he returned in August. He never got it going again, till winter ball. On May 18, his numbers were .317/.351/.669/1.024. In Aug/Sep he was .218/.309/.375/.684.

In Mexico, he is .342/.443/.547/.990.

Kroeger was a little tubby when the Cubs had him. When I saw him last spring on the Sox (playing the Cubs), he looked thinner, which seems to have paid off on the bases.

Trust me, I stopped carrying the torch for Kroeger when he hit .263 after promotion to Iowa in 2007. Believe it or not, I do try to be selective when I tout a prospect. In 2008, I was watching--and talking up--Hoffpauir, not Kroeger.

Chirinos got into 12 games at Tennessee, so I'm not sure he struggled at that level. He was backing up Castillo, whom the Cubs are serious about, in a pennant race. It's going to be tough for any catcher in the Cubs organization right now, but what intrigues me about this guy is that he's also an experienced middle infielder. Sometimes the Cubs can use a backup 2B or 3B or a #3 catcher.

snyder's swing is why he's been in the minors so long...that and constant minor injuries.

dude has a very compact and "finished" swing...but it STILL doesn't produce power or show up consistently. guy was supposed to be smacking 20-30+ HR by now along with finding his contact stroke.

he hits the ball hard and it doesn't do much too much of the time...go figure.

he's not done, but he's been looking like a lefty bench player for a few years now.

"The Cubs have had discussions with Grabow's agent, Paul Kinzer, about a possible two-year contract. Grawbow made it clear at season's end that he'd like to return."

i like the "two" part.

2nd best article I have read all year (Only AZ Phil's breakdown of the offseason like a week ago tops this). Whitty and well established.

It would be more witty if he didn't say that Granderson is going to need to be platooned and that he's only an .828 OPS hitter. If you platoon him (not taking in park and league effects of course) he's a .894 OPS hitter (.897 in his "down year" this year). Pair him with Cody Ross and you've got a HOF type platoon.

He was Jimmy Hoffa against lefties in '09. He is a .210 career hitter against lefties and a .614 OPS in 619 AB's. Against righties, he is .894 OPS. If those are not platoon numbers, I am not sure what would constitute one. The combination of prospects and money is not worth it. Not with this team.

Andy's always a fun read, but getting Theriot makes no sense to Detroit imo. Besides that I dont' think many teams would play Theriot at SS, especially those that have a slug like Miguel Cabrera at 1b, Theriot is going to make $2-$3M this year in arbitration, that's not a lot of savings to justify trading Granderson. Sure it saves them long term, but I think they're more worried about 2010 right now.

The Angels rumor made some sense, especially if they could get Erick Aybar from them (I think he's still pre-arb) plus another prospect or two. Hell throw in Nate Robertson for GM Jr....

The Cubs will never do it (not offer Theriot) but the truth is that at least one team will pickup a shortstop the last week of February who is as productive as Theriot and pay him $1.5 million. A recurring theme I know, but if Hendry was smart he would hold being released over Theriot's head and get him to sign a very favorable (like 3 years $9 million) contract to buy up his arb years.

What about Bobby Crosby? Or would you consider him do you think that Blanco is roughly the same caliber player.

granderson should be platooned, but it won't happen this early in his career (yes, i know he's no kid).

him and his agent would bitch like hell. an occasionaly benching...using it for a 'rest day' strategically...but no way you can platoon him in the real world.

DET would be signing a lot more no-trade long term contracts if they said 'screw it' and tried to trade him to a team like that.

even with the bat thing he's still got value in his glove in CF/RF (though his arm isn't anything special).

You know this is going to make Manny upset, but if you look at either of those top prospects lists we've seen so far - the Cubs system is starting to look pretty good. It's missing Patterson/Wood/Prior type of mega-prospect, though I think Lee has a chance to become that type of player and Brett Jackson probably has the physical tools to do so.

I think Callis said they'd be middle of the pack this year....he also said they could put together a better prospect package than Yanks or Angels for Granderson if that's what the Tigers want.

I've been trying to think of a Rob G approved comp for what we hope Castro turns into and I think I've hit on it. Can we say he looks like another Tony Fernandez?

Tony Fernandez was one of my favorite players as a kid growing idea why, just liked him for some reason.

So sure...

Fernandez though (if you combine what you can find on Cube and, walked more than he struck out.

how about Alcides Escobar as a comp?

anyway, I'd feel better about Castro if I was more certain about his defense. I fear some Ronny Cedeno flashback of being told he has all the tools and then watch him throw every other ball away.

I liked Fernandez because I started collecting Topps baseball cards after the 1985 season and if you lined up shortstops stats, or at least the ones I had, Fernandez couldn't be beaten. I always wanted the Cubs to get him.

He was one of those guys who just knew how to play baseball. I remember watching him play 3rd for the Reds and he looked like he'd be playing there all his life.

K's were a little harder to come by back then. That's the era when Dwight Gooden led the league in K's but couldn't even strike out a batter an inning.

Tim Wilken on Castro in October '08:

"He's going to be a special player. He's got every chance to be as good as or better than (five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove shortstop) Tony Fernandez."

Given that Tony Fernandez was an old style good-glove, mediocre-bat shortstop with a lifetime OPS+ of 101 to prove it, this is faint praise. We already have a .288 .356 .726 marginal SS named Ryan Theriot. Tony Fernandez was .288 .347 .746 over his career.

But keep those self-absorbed 30 years out-of-date comparisons coming Tef Tim.

Theriot has an 86 OPS+ and on a good day, could be called an average defender.

Most of Fernandez's value did come with his glove, his bat was league average, but for a shortstop I imagine that put him in the top 5 for his position.

a quick look at Fangraphs, sorting by wOBA for shortstops and Fernandez was ranked 3rd in '85, 3rd in '86, 4th in '87, 6th in '88, 6th in '89, 5th in '90. The highest that Theriot ranked was 9th in the last 3 years.

looking at those leaderboards, poor Alan Trammell, guy was clearly the best offensive shortstop in his era, certainly played good defense, but overshadowed by Ripken and Smith and even Fernandez.

Please quit clouding the issue with facts.

Wow dude. Cynical much?

Fernandez was a pretty darn good player. It's not his fault that times change. Lol.

If Theriot was a Gold glove caliber SS, no one would be calling him marginal.

Here's something cheerful! The seven picks directly following Ryan Harvey in the 2003 draft:

Nick Markakis
Paul Maholm
John Danks
Ian Stewart
Michael Aubrey
Lastings Milledge
Aaron Hill

I'd list the whole 1st round, but with the days growing shorter I know the suicide rate is already climbing.

harvey was considered a coup at #6 as well at the time...

if I recall correctly, BA thought he'd go 3,4 or 5.

I see Aaron Hill went to LSU, how did Hendry miss out on that?

indicates he prefers signing free agents over trades, at least right now..

they should have some $$ to spend, wonder if they'll get in on Holliday

Nah... Holliday is too young for that team.

And that Stadium would kill his numbers.

I know Phil has posted his list, but I can't remember...

who are the guys the Cubs should consider keeping?

Dolis, Maestri, Parker, Gaub, Clevenger, Camp and Castilo I assume are the top of the list?

a little worried about Diamond myself, Cubs had him on the 40-man, outrighted him, but now he seems to be pitching well in Mexico

Submitted by Rob G. on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 10:47am.
I know Phil has posted his list, but I can't remember...

who are the guys the Cubs should consider keeping?

Dolis, Maestri, Parker, Gaub, Clevenger, Camp and Castilo I assume are the top of the list?

a little worried about Diamond myself, Cubs had him on the 40-man, outrighted him, but now he seems to be pitching well in Mexico


ROB G: I believe the Cubs will probably add Welington Castillo, John Gaub, Blake Parker, Matt Camp, and Rafael Dolis to the 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline, and outright Marcos Mateo (if he isn't claimed off waivers).

thanks, you think Diamond is safe? I suppose anyone could have claimed him at the end of the season and wouldn't have had to waste a 25-man spot on him all year, but then maybe most didn't see him pitch much either.

I checked Maestri's walk totals, guess he's safe bet not to get chosen.

Submitted by Rob G. on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 5:32pm.
thanks, you think Diamond is safe? I suppose anyone could have claimed him at the end of the season and wouldn't have had to waste a 25-man spot on him all year, but then maybe most didn't see him pitch much either.

I checked Maestri's walk totals, guess he's safe bet not to get chosen.


ROB G: I think Thomas Diamond is probably safe. It's possible a scout got wowed in Mexico, but I didn't hear that kind of talk among the scouts who saw him throw at Fitch Park last month.

Rafael Dolis is a different matter, though. He had an eye-popping last outing in front of about 20 MLB scouts at Instructs at Fitch Park and created quite a buzz.

Of course, that doesn't mean Hendry will add Dolis to the 40. After all (and repeat after me):

1."We can't protect everyone"
2."We expect to get him back"

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  • Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.

    He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.

    billybucks 4 hours 11 min ago view
  • Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.

    Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.

    billybucks 4 hours 15 min ago view
  • 101 wins...most since 1910 (104).

    neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.

    crunch 4 hours 31 min ago view
  • Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?

    billybucks 4 hours 34 min ago view
  • Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump

    jacos 4 hours 38 min ago view
  • Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.

    billybucks 4 hours 42 min ago view
  • j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.

    felix pena, your turn.

    crunch 4 hours 44 min ago view
  • it's been a while since joe's over-managed a's gotta feel good for him to be back in the saddle making people's scorecards look like their pens blew up.

    crunch 5 hours 30 min ago view
  • Fuck a bench spot on the playoff roster, Coghlan is competing to bat cleanup.

    John Beasley 7 hours 46 min ago view
  • barely any...especially for an evening game. place looks 1/2 full at best to start the game.

    crunch 8 hours 8 min ago view
  • Listening on the radio. Are there any fans in the stands at all?

    Brick 8 hours 17 min ago view
  • "An MRI taken Monday on the right side of Jorge Soler showed no major damage."

    crunch 9 hours 18 min ago view
  • rare air though if he can keep it under 2. Sounds like Maddon already made up his mind though and Hendricks seems like the sort that would want to earn it. Guessing he gets a quick hook if he's still under 2 after 5 innings.

    Fwiw, he can give up 1 ER in 5 innings (or more) and still be under 2. If he gives up 2 ER, he would need throw 9 IP to keep it under 2. 1 ER in 4 IP would give him an ERA of exactly 2.

    In terms of WAR, it's still Scherzer by a lot (6.4), then Cueto (5.6), Lester (5.5), Kershaw (5.5), Roark (5.4), and then Hendricks (5.1)

    Rob G. 10 hours 32 min ago view
  • Boring lineup tonight in terms of guys trying to reach milestones -- no KB (40 HR), Addy (100 RBI) or JHey (can he keep it going?), and Lackey isn't really going for anything, plus the team has already reached 100 wins. I get the "rest" thing, although they will have 4 days off after Sunday, but....bleh.

    billybucks 11 hours 16 min ago view
  • Agree -- I think you want to keep him on a regular schedule.

    billybucks 11 hours 35 min ago view
  • Ramos torn ACL

    jacos 12 hours 3 min ago view