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Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 3

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down for Chicago Cubs' Top 10 Prospects for Week 3

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Cubs went 1-4 last week, as they were swept by the New York Yankees before dropping two of three to the Cincinnati Reds. That puts them at No. 29 in this week's MLB power rankings.

    As we make our way through what will likely be another long year on the North Side, more and more attention will be paid to a farm system that was ranked No. 4 in all of baseball by Baseball America entering the season.

    What follows is a look at the team's current top 10 prospects and how they performed at the minor league level over the past week. This series will be updated weekly, with a stock "up," "even" or "down" indication given to each prospect based upon what direction their performance is trending.

     

    Note: Prospects rankings according to Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

    *No. 5 prospect RF Jorge Soler (hamstring) spent last week on the disabled list. He will not be included here until he is active. He is 1-for-1 with a double on the season at Double-A Tennessee.

    *No. 6 prospect SP Pierce Johnson (minor leg injury) has not yet begun his 2014 season, as he remains at extended spring training, according to Baseball America. He will not be included here until he is active.

No. 12 Prospect: SP Paul Blackburn, Single-A Kane County

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    2014 Stats

    3 GS, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 3 BB, 13 K, 15.0 IP

     

    Overview

    The No. 56 pick in the 2012 draft, Paul Blackburn worked just 66.2 innings combined in his first two pro seasons, and the team will get their first extended look at the right-hander in a full season ball this year.

    Still just 20, Blackburn has an impressive three-pitch repertoire that projects him as a middle-of-the-rotation arm with the upside for more.

    He was spectacular his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays' Single-A affiliate Bowling Green, allowing just one hit and one walk in six innings of work to pick up his first win of the season. 

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 6 K

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 11 Prospect: SP Kyle Hendricks, Triple-A Iowa

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    Morry Gash

    2014 Stats

    3 GS, 2-1, 4.82 ERA, 4 BB, 19 K, 18.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Kyle Hendricks went from off the prospect radar entirely to being one of the team's top young arms last season as he went 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.06 WHIP between Double-A and Triple-A.

    Acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Ryan Dempster trade, Hendricks does not have eye-popping stuff, but he has terrific command and he has proved capable of getting guys out at every level.

    The right-hander has gone seven innings in each of his past two starts as the team continues to stretch him out in hopes that he can make an impact at some point in the second half.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 GS, W, 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 10 Prospect: RP Arodys Vizcaino, High-A Daytona

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    5 G, 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 2 BB, 6 K, 5.0 IP

     

    Overview

    After spending the past two seasons on the sidelines recovering from Tommy John surgery, Arodys Vizcaino and his electric arm are finally back on the field.

    "He's got lightning coming out of that arm,” Daytona pitching coach Ron Villone told Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “The numbers are scarce when it comes to the number of guys who throw in the high 90s.”

    While he opens the season at the High-A level, he will likely be promoted quickly, with an eye on him joining the big league bullpen at some point this summer.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    1 G, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 9 Prospect: 1B Dan Vogelbach, High-A Daytona

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    2014 Stats

    16 G, .155/.234/.224, 1 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R

     

    Overview

    A slimmed down Dan Vogelbach is off to a slow star this season, but he remains a promising young power hitter and an intimidating presence at the plate.

    He hit .284/.375/.449 with 19 home runs and 76 RBI over 483 at-bats last season, earning a promotion to Daytona down the stretch.

    Considering he's blocked by Anthony Rizzo at first base and is still just 21 years old, there is no reason to rush Vogelbach, so he'll get plenty of time to figure it out in Daytona before a promotion to Double-A is considered.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4-for-20, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 8 Prospect: 3B Jeimer Candelario, High-A Daytona

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    2014 Stats

    15 G, .192/.300/.308, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    Jeimer Candelario spent last season as a 19-year-old playing in full-season ball for Single-A Kane County and he more than held his own, hitting .256/.346/.396 with 35 doubles and 11 home runs.

    That was enough for the team to promote him to High-A to kick off this season, and while he is off to a slow start at the plate, his plus plate discipline should allow him to make the necessary adjustments.

    Whether he sticks at third base or moves to second base remains to be seen, but he is still a ways from Chicago at this point and this season is all about him proving himself at the next rung up the ladder.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2-for-16, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R

     

    Stock

    Down

No. 7 Prospect: 2B Arismendy Alcantara, Triple-A Iowa

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    17 G, .246/.262/.410, 6 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 5 SB

     

    Overview

    Buried behind Starlin Castro and Javier Baez on the depth chart at shortstop, Arismendy Alcantara made the move to second base last season and broke out in the process.

    He posted an .804 OPS with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 31 steals in Double-A, earning a spot in the Futures Game in the process.

    He's off to a relatively slow start this season, and his 2-17 BB/K ratio is somewhat troubling, but there is still a good chance he gets a look at second base in Chicago at some point in the second half if he can get on track.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    5-of-25, 1 2B, 2 3B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 4 Prospect: CF Albert Almora, High-A Daytona

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    14 G, .291/.316/.418, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R

     

    Overview

    Despite playing just 61 games last season while dealing with a broken hamate bone to open the year and a groin injury at the end, Albert Almora opened the season with a promotion to High-A Daytona.

    He turned 20 years old last week, but is undoubtedly one of the more polished prospects in the system, as he was one of the most polished high school prospects to come along in years when the Cubs took him with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 draft.

    He's a step behind the organization's other top position players, but could still be in line for the everyday center field job by 2016 if he continues to hit like he has so far as a pro.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    4-for-15, 1 RBI, 3 R

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 3 Prospect: SP C.J. Edwards, Double-A Tennessee

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    2014 Stats

    4 GS, 1-0, 2.61 ERA, 8 BB, 20 K, 20.2 IP

     

    Overview

    Acquired from the Texas Rangers last July in the Matt Garza deal, C.J. Edwards entered the season ranked as the No. 28 prospect in all of baseball and the 13th-ranked pitching prospect overall.

    A 48th-round pick in 2011, the undersized right-hander went 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 116.1 innings last season, and the Rangers could seriously regret moving him a couple years from now.

    He allowed five hits and three runs in five innings of work in his first start last week, but bounced back with a better outing on Sunday when he surrendered just three hits and two runs over six innings to pick up his first win of the season.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    2 GS, W, ND, 11 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 11 K

     

    Stock

    Even

No. 2 Prospect: 3B Kris Bryant, Double-A Tennessee

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    16 G, .294/.438/.608, 4 2B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 13 R

     

    Overview

    Another week, another handful of extra-base hits and impressive overall offensive numbers for Kris Bryant, and he looks to be positioning himself nicely for a midseason promotion to Triple-A and a potential cup of coffee in September.

    The No. 2 pick in last year's draft, Bryant hit .336/.390/.688 with 25 extra-base hits in 128 at-bats after signing last summer, then followed that up by winning Arizona Fall League MVP honors in the offseason.

    With Javier Baez off to a slow start and missing most of last week with a hamstring injury, he's making a strong case to be considered the team's top prospect as things stand right now.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    7-for-22, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R

     

    Stock

    Up

No. 1 Prospect: SS Javier Baez, Triple-A Iowa

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    9 G, .133/.188/.367, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

     

    Overview

    The Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year last year and the No. 5 prospect in all of baseball heading into the season, Baez has some impressive raw power and the tools to be a superstar in the middle of the team's lineup for years.

    After a stint on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, Baez returned to the lineup on Sunday but turned in an 0-for-4 game with three strikeouts.

    The week ahead will be a big one for him as far as getting his season on track, and his plate discipline continues to be an area that could hold him back as he has a 2-13 BB/K ratio here in the early going after a 40-147 last year.

     

    Last Week's Stats

    0-for-4, 3 K

     

    Stock

    Down

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