Baseball America Top 10 Cubs Prospects and Mark Prior News

The BA Top 10 came out yesterday...and surprise! Josh Vitters is #1.

  1. Josh Vitters
  2. Jeff Samardzija
  3. Andrew Cashner
  4. Dae-Eun Rhee
  5. Welington Castillo
  6. Kevin Hart
  7. Starlin Castro
  8. Ryan Flaherty
  9. Jay Jackson
  10. Hak-Ju Lee 

You can view every BA Top 10 list since 1992 (sans 1997 and 1998) at this incredible new site started by some really smart people.


Buck always sounded comatose to me - and that was way back in the 70's. Milo? Walton? Sheesh.

Jack Buck (whom I believe you're talking about) I can handle and he's #11...Joe Buck is an ass-clown who hates sports.


kinda scary only 2-3 of them look to be MLB ready for 09...and 1 of them, samninja, we already assumed would be a part of 09 by default.

oh well...

I don't know anything about Rhee, but I'm pretty high on the top 3 guys....

Cashner will move up quickly if he finds some control.

Jackson sure performed incredibly his first 2 months...we'll see how he does as he progresses.

yeah, i feel good about a chunk of that's just so many are in that 2010+ class.

That patch that says "Stick Hit Ball & Stuff" is too much. I want one for my fishtail parka.

some stuff about Rock Raines being passed over...

Blago trying to sign some girls tits...

Blago trying to sign some girls tits...

If I had hair that awesome I'd be signing girl's tits, too.

Doc Glanville has a fluffy opinion piece over at the NY Times about baseball player pop psychology.

Fluffy, yes. But an enjoyable read.

If more players had that attitude, baseball would be even more awesomer.


Looking at the Cubs previous BA/Top 10s is pretty much a buzz-kill.

Suprised to see the Shark on the list, as he seems past the "prospect" phase.

Is there a prospect cutoff, like the rookie definition?

as long as a player hasn't had his rookie year, he can still be considered a "prospect".

BA shouldn't allow those old Top 10 lists to be published -- it kills any credibility they might have as a knowledgeable baseball source. Seriously.

It's like all the stock market analysts who are never right but continue to give forecasts. What's the point? Or every pregame NFL show (my pesonal pet peeve), where every analyst gives the great, in-depth analysis that running the football and limiting turnovers will be key to the upcoming game, while his fellow analyts nod as if he has discovered the secret of the universe.

"Or every pregame NFL show (my pesonal pet peeve), where every analyst gives the great, in-depth analysis that running the football and limiting turnovers will be key to the upcoming game, while his fellow analyts nod as if he has discovered the secret of the universe."

This reminds me of watching Milwaukee Bucks games back in college. The color guy for them geve the same three "Keys to the Game" every game. 1) Defense, 2) Rebounding, and 3) Limit Turnovers.


Who are Starlin Castro and Jay Jackson?

from on Jackson, they don't have Castro in their top 20 though


5. Jay Jackson, RHP
Acquired: Selected by Cubs in ninth round of 2007 draft from Furman
2008 stats: 4-2, 2.88 ERA, 50 IP, 13 BB, 72 K, 1.06 WHIP

Jackson had arguably the most eye-popping year for any 2008 Cubs draft
pick, racking up strikeouts as often as John McCain racks up ‘Joe the
Plumber’ references. Part of that, most scouts agree, is due to the
development of his two-seam fastball, his best pitch at present time.
He’s one of the most athletic pitchers in the Cubs’ system, and his
velocity is anywhere from 90 to 95 mph with good movement. Like
Cashner, scouts described him as overpowering in the Florida State
League playoffs. He features what David Rosario and other Cubs pitching
instructors hail as a plus slider and a changeup that is in the develop on Starlin Castro:

He's a Wilken signing, and along with Cashner, Vitters, Jackson and a couple others, they are getting enough notice to make you think Wilken can truly rebuild this system.

He's a Wilken signing

Where did you get that idea?

Starlin Castro is a Jose Serra signing.

Under the auspices of Tim Wilken, then. He basically runs the scouting dept, if he doesn't have final say-so over all they sign.

Uh-oh. Cool map showing combined winning percentages of MLB, NBA, NHL, etc. for cities/areas around the country. I'd like to see a map that did combined winning percentages for a particular sport across the nation and from high school to pro.

Saw it thanks to the Blago autograph link that Rob posted.

Or this will take you straight to the map...

The vast majority of a state's High School sports are going to have records damned close to .500.

Neal -

You mean your high school team didn't go on an annual west coast trip for 8-10 games? It was tough at first, but then new ownership gave my high school squad a sweet charter jet for all away games...

(I hope everyone's sarcasm meters are turned on)

Yeah there's a bit of interstate games, particuarly for schools that are close to a border, and then there's some national tournaments for baseball and basketball, but the relatively small number of games would preclude the percentage from varying more than .01 % I'd guess.

It's an interesting idea, though, to graphically represent the calibre of HS athletics. Maybe to do it by division 1A scholarship athletes per capita or graduating senior or something.

That would be an interesting graph to see. I'd like to see it broken down by state and sport (how many D1 signing to Ohio FB players/capita compared to FL) for example. THen i think we'll be able to get an estimate on which state plays "the best" HS football/basketball/baseball whatever it may be.

Should say... Uh-oh, losing streak on the way for Midwest?

Submitted by billybucks on Tue, 01/13/2009 - 9:42pm.

Suprised to see the Shark on the list, as he seems past the "prospect" phase.

Is there a prospect cutoff, like the rookie definition?


BILLY B: Baseball America uses the same position player & pitcher limits as the BBWAA uses for Rookie of the Year (maximum 130 career MLB AB for position players and maximum 50 career MLB IP for pitchers), but does not care about MLB service time. I agree with this approach and I do my list the same way.

Keys to the game:

1. Pound the Strike Zone
2. Work the Count
3a. Strong (defense) up the middle
3b. A 3-run HR can't hurt.

I'm sure there are a few more variants on these themes.

Jim Bouton related that one guy on his team (in his book "Ball Four") always said the same thing about every batter during pre - game strategy; "smoke 'em inside." Which means you only have to locate a 95 mph heater on the inside corner of the strike zone, every time. Hilarious.

"I'm sure there are a few more variants on these themes."

You forget Milo's immortal chanting before a potential Cubs rally - "put one right in his wheelhouse!"


He's resting on a cloud made of soft Corinthian leather.

Don't know if this has been posted, but Levine on Waddle and Silvey today says the Cubs are looking at a Paul for backup catcher and its not Bako. LoDuca brings an attractive bat off the bench according to Levine.

And by 'attractive' he means nicely decorated?

LoDuca would be a step up over Bako (and maybe Blanco) offensively but he's got some problems behind the plate.

if only loduca was a catcher...well, a catcher worth a damn. he'd be a late-inning defensive downgrade who can hit a few singles better than his peers.

I guess you could call a 63 OPS+ a step up from a 62 OPS+, but neither of them can hit their way out of a wet paper bag.

How 'bout Henry Blanco's 83 OPS+ (65 for his career).

Or Koyie Hill's already being on the roster, switch hitting, and not being old or PED accused.

According to Fangraphs, CHONE and Marcel project Koyie's 2009 OPS at .667 and .659. That's more than what is projected for Paul Bako.

about the new Cubs owner could be decided in 48 hours...

came from the NSBB message board

okay, maybe a little..

scroll down for a certain Cubs blog...


*dies laughing*

not much difference between Josh Paul, Paul Bako, Paul LoDuca or Pope Paul in 2009. LoDuca probably has the best contacts if you need PED's. Pope Paul is probably the stiffest of the group but it's close.

Is that because the Pope was using that other kind of PED's?

CUBSTER - did you get my text?

could still be on the Cubs radar

says a backup catcher is still coming, but they want a lefty, so doubtful it's LoDuca

Why not Koyie Hill?

Do we need any Paul Bako scrappyness at this point?

I'm all for "Three-Finger" Hill at this point...walks on water....bionic hand.....can make pitchers throw 5 mph harder

what's not to like?

ROB G: Did he ever recover sensation in the "missing stubs"?

How would Rob kno....ohhhh, nevermind.

so he was eunuched?

Maybe it was the limited number of fingers, but for some reason in '07 Dempster thought Hill was signaling for him to throw fastballs.

How did Dempster do in '08 with Hill entrenched in Iowa?

I thought Hill was a big defensive upgrade over Barrett. His wins and losses were evidence of that, but of course it was under a month's-worth of games. It's irrelevant now. It makes no difference to me whether Hill is on the team, although I certainly prefer him to Bako.

Dempster threw a healthy percentage of fastballs as a starter, because any starter must do that in order to survive five innings. A short reliever can get away with very few fastballs. See Marmol, Carlos.

But it's a bad idea to get away from your fastball, and someone--Rothschild, maybe?--should tell Marmol that, and Wuertz, too, while he's at it.

His wins and losses were evidence of that

Seriously? I think that you are smarter than that.

But it's a bad idea to get away from your fastball, and someone--Rothschild, maybe?--should tell Marmol that

Yea... I heard that Marmol struggled a lot last year. If only he would have thrown more fastballs.

Wuertz' out pitch is the slider. A lot like Borowski, if he can paint a corner with that slider and get a little movement on it, he gets lots of guys out. Hang it just a tad and it's trouble. Marmol's pitches move a lot and last year they started moving out of the strike zone and he started trying to place the ball, and got in all kinds of trouble. When he started winging it again after his All Star appearance, he was fine.

As far as backup catchers go, how about Jake Fox? Is his defense that bad? I know he's righthanded but his bat would be nice off the bench. Perhaps Az Phil could shed some light on his D.

As far as backup catchers go, how about Jake Fox? Is his defense that bad?


he caught 0 games last year and 13 in 2007, the Cubs sure don't think he's a catcher anymore

lets hope Koyie Hill's middle name is Paul.

LHP Bill White and re-signed 2b Robinson Chirinos (wasn't he getting moved to a new position?)

looks like White pitched with Texas, even seeing the majors the last 2 years

John Koronka signed by Marlins, Jason Smith by the Astros

The fish will benefit from John's *nearly* illegal pickoff move.

Not Willy Wonka, he's John Koronka.

I miss the John Koronka song.

Me too. But I don't miss his pitching.

Chirinos started catching last year. Of course, AZ PHIL would know more about this, but seems like Chirinos is handling it well.

Koyie Dolan Hill...probably named after Peter Dolan of the Monkees

Micky Dolenz was a Monkee and Peter Tork was a Monkee. Peter Dolan, whoever he might be, was not.

Not to be confused with Mickey Rourke, who is incredible in "The Wrestler".

It's hard to sound cool correcting people about who was in the Monkees, but somehow you managed it.

Cheer up, sleepy Jean.

Which was sung by Davy Jones, yet a third Monkee (the cute one!).

Yeah, I actually thought about that for a second. My Monkees knowledge, such as it is, is more a product of age than any love I had for their music, such as IT is.

Hope this isn't 3/44, but I didn't see it. Hendry says the Cubs are in a "unique situation"

I'd like to know when Rhee had his TJ surgery - haven't been able to find an estimate on the web as to when he's expected back. Usually young players who have a TJ have a dead arm period the year following the surgery; they have velocity but things don't mesh.

Didn't see any mention of Chris Huseby, the high schooler that had a TJ and was given big money for a #10 pick. Wonder where he's at as well...

Insofar as Mark Prior, to hell with him! Good riddance to bad rubbish, hopefully he's done.

July 15th, 2008 was the surgery

he should be pitching somewhere by the 2nd half of the year but no one should expect anything from him until 2010....

Jose Serra has been with the Cubs organization for 14 years scouting Latin America. He's presently the Latin America Coorodinator. Crediting Wilken with the players Serra signed is just loopy.

Submitted by carmenfanzone on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 4:54pm.

As far as backup catchers go, how about Jake Fox? Is his defense that bad? I know he's righthanded but his bat would be nice off the bench. Perhaps Az Phil could shed some light on his D.


CARMEN F: I responded to your question about Jake Fox here at TCR last week, so here it is again...


Submitted by carmenfanzone on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 6:58pm. I know we're supposed to sign Bako but I wonder aloud if Jake Fox will be given every opp to make the team as the backup catcher? Please chime in Az Phil...


CARMEN F: Jake Fox has apparently settled in at 1B, and that's probably where he will play from now on. He also could be a DH if he were to be traded to an A. L. team.

While he played some LF-RF at AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa in 2008, he was mainly used at 1B, and he was not used as a catcher at all in 2008 at Tennessee or Iowa, although he did catch two games in the DWL about a month ago when his team ran out of healthy catchers. But otherwise he played 1B-DH (no OF) in the DWL, and he had a really fine season at bat down there, too,

BTW. Fox has more pure power than any player in the Cubs minor league system, but he is also a dead "first-ball/fastball" hitter who strikes out too much and doesn't walk a lot.

Not only did Fox fail to master the art of catching, he also has been unable to master the finer points of playing corner OF, too. Fox has one minor league option left, and if he doesn't get traded sometime before the end of Spring Training, he will probably play 1B at Iowa in 2009 (unless Micah Hoffpauir gets sent out again). But Fox has no future with the Cubs, mainly because he projects as a platoon 1B-DH-RHPH, and the Cubs just don't have a roster slot that fits that profile. He also doesn't fit with Piniella's desire to get more "athletic."

That doesn't mean Jake Fox wont play in the big leagues, though, because I think he will. It just won't be with the Cubs.

AZ Phil:

Have the Cubs tried to have Fox help "fix" Rich Hill, since they were batterymates at Michigan and presumably Fox would have a good perspective on how to get him back on track?

A resurrected Hill would be an ideal #5 starter for this team, but it looks like the Cubs have given up on him and will move him (likely for peanuts) before ST. What percentage of Hill's problems are physical and what percentage are mental/emotional?

As always, thanks for the knowledge.

Az Phil-much thanks. Sorry I missed the first post. By the way, I'm attending Hundley's fantasy camp in Mesa. If you're around I'll buy you a beer.

Submitted by Romero on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 8:50pm.

Chirinos started catching last year. Of course, AZ PHIL would know more about this, but seems like Chirinos is handling it well.


ROMERO: Robinson Chirinos was signed as a 16-year old hot-shot 2B prospect out of Venezuela in 2001 (he's still only 24), but he had just a 1/2 season of AA ball experience when he completed his 7th season in the Cubs system and became a Rule 55 minor league FA post-2007. The Cubs did re-sign Chirinos during the off-season a year ago, however, and he was the utility infielder (2B-SS-3B) at AA Tennessse at the start of last season.

Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita was Jim Hendry's catcher at Creighton, and he has an eye for converting players to new positions when it appears they have no future. The Cubs have converted a number of position players to pitcher over the past few years (Carlos Marmol, Randy Wells, Adalberto Mendez, Blake Parker, Jake Muyco, Junniol Lami, Andres Quezada, Leon Johnson, Josh Lansford, et al), but Oneri also can sometimes spot a catcher in an infielder (Casey McGehee, Matt Cerda, and Chirinos).

The Cubs saw a bit of Henry Blanco in Chironos (Blanco was signed as a 3B by the Dodgers and was converted to catcher during his 6th year in the Dodgers system), and so last May Chirinos agreed to go to Fitch Park and learn the art of catching. Danny Fatheree (Kerry Wood's catcher in HS) was signed to a minor league player contract for 2008 (and he has been re-signed for 2009, BTW), but he actually spent last season as a coach at Fitch Park, mentoring Chirinos and 2008 4th round pick Matt Cerda as they were developed as catchers. Chirinos spent May-June at Fitch with Fatheree, and then was assigned to Daytona in July where he had the opportunity to catch and play some infield. While he struggled a bit behind the plate (the Rich Hill-Robinson Chirinos battery at Daytona was brutal), the Cubs liked what they saw of Chirinos as a catcher and felt he had a future as a "super-sub" utility player.

Chirinos became a Rule 55 minor league FA again post-2008, and (as usual) played winter ball in Venezuela. The Cubs re-signed Chirinos after Christmas, and he now projects as a utility C-2B-SS-3B-1B-LF-RF at either AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa, where the 24-man roster (and four-man bench) in AA and AAA puts a premium on multi-positional utility players.

As a further enticement to get Chirinos to re-up for 2009, it's possible the Cubs promised him an NRI to ST, where he would be one of the extra catchers at big league camp next month (clubs like to have six catchers in camp the first couple of weeks).

Submitted by Seamhead on Thu, 01/15/2009 - 10:50am.

AZ Phil: Have the Cubs tried to have Fox help "fix" Rich Hill, since they were batterymates at Michigan and presumably Fox would have a good perspective on how to get him back on track?


SEAMHEAD: Despite the fact that Jake Fox was Rich Hill's catcher in college, I don't think Hill and Fox have any significant relationship that would help Hill get back into his "comfort zone." And the Cubs have zero faih in Fox as a catcher. He is now a 1B-DH. I do think Michael Barrett (who signed a minor league deal with Toronto) or Alan Dunn (the Orioles bullpen & assistant pitching coach) might help Hill, though.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if both Felix Pie and Rich Hill get traded to Baltimore, possibly for LHP Garrett Olson and a PTBNL (somebody who can be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers). Then if a deal for Jake Peavy can be worked out later this season, Olson is already in the Cubs organization, and if the Cubs can't get Peavy, they still have a good left-handed pitching prospect at Iowa they can either keep for themselves, or use in another deal sometime in 2009 or 2010.

Recent comments

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  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).

  • I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.

  • Just with the chanting thing it worked to rattle Cueto last year where he dropped a ball and gave up a HR next pitch so you can't really hate on the fans for trying it again in this important of a game.

    Arietta though.

  • I felt the same way, too, but...

    I was very disappointed with Pittsburgh fans. At Wrigley a few weeks ago, they were very obnoxious guests, the cockiness on Twitter, and what's the deal with chanting Arrieta's name during the game? Very bush league. Add that up with Rodriguez's poor sportsmanship and you quickly have a team that you don't mind beating 4-0 in a do or die game.

  • Absolutely-It was tense. And when the Pirates couldn't push any runs across, you could see the frustration boil over.