By Scott Barzilla

The Rockies are shocked at where they are in the standings, but the Cubs and Astros fully expected to be in the place where they are now. 2012 has been a lot less about competing on the field than clearing the deck to make sure that 2013 and beyond won’t be quite as painful. To that end, the Cubs managed to trade Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, Paul Maholm, and Carlos Zambrano. Alfonso Soriano is the final domino to fall and they came close before the deadline. We can’t rule out anything before August 31st.

In terms of the farm system, the Cubs are an interesting mixture of draftees, international signees, and trade gains. Jorge Solar signed the huge deal before the season and likely will be a part of their top ten rankings across the media board. Until then, we will just have to wait and see where he ends up.

   

Age

Level

How

BP

BA

MLB

POS

C Welington Castillo

25

ML

I

3

6

NR

NR

1B Dan Vogelbach

19

A-

D

NR

10

14

7

2B Ronald Torreyes

19

A+

T

NR

NR

12

NR

3B Christian Villanueva

21

A+

T

7*

9*

6

NR

SS Javier Baez

19

A

D

2

2

2

8

OF Brett Jackson

24

ML

D

1

1

1

3

OF Matt Szczur

23

AA

D

5

3

4

NR

OF Reggie Golden

20

A

D

NR

NR

9

NR

P Aroyds Vizcaino

21

AAA

T

3*

2*

3

NR

Welington Castillo– Catcher

I know we had the rule about rookie eligibility, but Castillo will be one of those on the border between being eligible and not. He and Steve Clevenger appear to be the twosome going forward. Castillo has more power potential and might turn out to be another version of Geovany Soto. Of course, I’ll leave it to Cubs fans as to whether that’s a good thing. Having not met either one, I can’t say as to whether the comparisons extend to personality and character, but I’m guessing not.

Dan Vogelbach– First Base

Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus likes the power but questions the body type. Vogelbach is a big guy that looks like he belongs in a beer league crushing softballs over the fence. The scouts say he has light tower power. If that throws you then just think of Robert Redford in the Natural. So far the numbers are good. We’ll just have to wait and see as he faces tougher competition.

Ronald Torreyes– Second Base

Torreyes came over with Travis Wood in the Sean Marshall deal. He hit a ton in the short season ball, but has very pedestrian numbers in full season A ball. He is reported to have very good range at second base, so he might stick for his defense, but at this point it looks like the competition has caught up to him.

Christian Villanueva– Third Base

I can’t say that the Cubs brought in the haul in prospects that the Astros did, but what they lacked in quantity they made up for quality. Villanueva was stuck behind Adrian Beltre and Mike Olt in Texas. Now, he is behind only Josh Vitters, so that is a net gain for him. As for the Cubs, he gives them plenty of insurance in case Vitters can’t cut the mustard.

Javier Baez– Shortstop

Baez was selected ninth overall in the 2011 draft and like most of the draftees that year, he didn’t sign until very late. Some think he will end up moving to third and he is showing plenty of power to move to a corner infield position. If he does move there then it gives the Cubs plenty of options at third base. Currently, Starlin Castro appears to be holding down the shortstop job anyway.

Brett Jackson– Outfield

Before the dust settles, Jackson will strike out more than 200 times between AAA and the big leagues. He is only 24 strikeouts away from reaching that dubious distinction. I’m usually not one that worries about strikeouts a lot, but when we start getting to those levels you have to be concerned. He does have 50 walks combined, so he isn’t completely inept. That is the only major hole in his game as he is an impact player on the base paths and can certainly swing for the fences.

Matt Szczur– Outfield

Szczur profiles as a top of the order kind of hitter. He was doing just that in advanced A when the Cubs decided to promote him to the Southern League. He appears to have met his match, but he still has 42 steals on the season and a .377 OBP overall. He and Jackson obviously play the same spot, but with Jackson’s contact issues, it is nice to have alternatives.

Reggie Golden– Outfield

Golden was drafted out of high school and was said to have the best tools of any outfielder taken from Alabama. His progress stalled this season with some injuries and ineffectiveness. He has power potential, but you can’t hit home runs if you don’t make contact. In 310 minor league plate appearances he has 84 strikeouts. That’s not Brett Jackson territory, but it’s pretty darn close.

Aroyds Vizcaino– Pitcher

I’m not quite sure what the Braves were thinking, but they gave up their second best pitching prospect in exchange for Paul Maholm. I suppose they will get a couple of years of Maholm, but Vizcaino still seemed to be a stiff price. Vizcaino is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but that was done at the beginning of the season, so he still should be back next season. There is talk of putting him in the bullpen. Either way, he should be an impact player next year.

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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