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Premium Content Chicago Cubs Top-15 Prospects of 2010, No’s 1 – 5

March 10, 2010 BY ALEX EISENBERG No Comments Yet

Cubs Prospects, No’s 1 – 5

    1. Starlin Castro | SS | Age – 20 | Grade – B+
    2. Hak-Ju Lee | SS | Age – 19 | Grade – B
    3. Brett Jackson | CF | Age – 21 | Grade – B
    4. Josh Vitters | 3b | Age – 20 | Grade – B
    5. Jay Jackson | RHP | Age – 22 | Grade – B/B-

For the full prospect listing, please click here

Key Links
› Prospect Primer (Grading Criteria Explained)
› Team Page Listings
› Index of 2010 Top Prospect Lists
› Index of Last Year’s Top Prospect Lists
Cubs Links
› Cubs Team Page
› Cubs Farm System Overview

ALSO SEECubs Top Prospects, No’s 6 – 15

Grades are based on a prospect’s projected value over the course of his career and how likely it is that prospect will fulfill his projected value. Various factors are accounted for including upside, red flags, actual performance, and closeness to the majors. See the 2010 Prospect Primer for more information as it relates to prospect grading and philosophy.

Hitters must have 100 or fewer Major League ABs to qualify for this list. Starting pitchers must have 50 or fewer Major League innings to qualify for this list. Relief pitchers must have 25 or fewer Major League innings to qualify for this list. Ages are listed as of May 1st, 2010. Levels are based on the highest level in which a prospect played in 2009. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts.

If you need to reach me in any way, please contact me via e-mail or post a comment at the bottom of the page and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. The first two prospects are available for everybody to read.

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1. Starlin Castro | SS | B – R | Age – 20
Double-A Tennessee | Signed – Dominican Republic, 2006

Player Grades
Contact – 50 Now | 65 Future
Power – 35 | 50
Discipline – 40 | 55
Speed – 60 | 55
Defense – 55 | 60
Arm – 60 | 60
Instincts – 50 | 65
ETA – Late 2010
Final Grade – B+

Body Type – Athletic and projectable build, but he’s pretty thin as it stands right now

Scouting Report

Not too many doubt Starlin Castro’s raw tools and upside, but I don’t think there were many who thought he’d be able to go from the Arizona Rookie League to being able to hold his own against the pitchers of both the Florida State League (A+) and the Southern League (Double-A). However, he did just that.

Castro’s stat line doesn’t really jump out at you, but you have to dig deeper. For starters, Castro was the youngest hitter in the FSL with over 134 ABs. Obviously that would make him the youngest player in the Southern League as well.

Second, his ability to adjust was extremely impressive. Castro performed better in Double-A than he did in High-A.

Third, his peripherals suggest he’s a young a player with a very good idea of what he’s at the plate, a hitter with a very advanced approach for his age. Castro was a tough out for pitchers. He covers the plate well and makes contact at a high rate. His patience began to blossom in Double-A as well, improving his BB% from 4.9 percent to 8.2 percent.

The big question mark for Castro is his future power potential and it’s definitely a subject for debate. Castro has the quick-twitchness in his forearms to generate plus bat speed and he has the wrist strength to really rip the bat head through the hitting zone. I personally project Castro’s power to be average, perhaps slightly better.

The obstacles for Castro will be how much strength he’s able to gain because right now, he’s still very thin and doesn’t have the raw strength to hit for much power. Right now, he’s predominantly a ground ball/line drive hitter and doesn’t hit fly balls very often. That will lower Castro’s future power output. However, he may be able to get better lift on balls as he gains strength. Lastly, there is a question of approach. I think if he wanted to do, he could hit for more power, but I’m not sure that’s the kind of approach he’s going to take.

I will say I really like Castro’s swing. He’s aggressive, uses his entire body, loads his hands well and he’s still able to keep a short swing.

*Credit to ESPN

Castro has a pretty high leg kick. With the front leg on its way up, Castro aggressively lowers his hands, and bends over at the waist slightly. He comes to an athletic position and then strides, efficiently carrying his weight forward, while completing the second sequence of his load.

Again, at the time he commits to his swing, Castro is in an athletic position. That position makes it easier for Castro to make adjustments on the fly. Here we see him turn his hands and hips together on a firm front leg, but I’ve seen him adjust to pitches in mid-air and I’ve seen him get fooled and still be able to make hard contact. And that skill is helped by his swing.

Not without things to work on, Castro still is working to recognize off-speed pitches and lay off them when they’re out of the strike zone. What happens is Castro will get fooled and he’ll get out in front of the pitch.

Defensively, Castro is a true shortstop with plus range, soft hands and a strong arm. He’s widely praised for his leadership skills, work ethic, and instincts.

Best Case Outcome – All Start shortstop

More Likely Outcome – Above average everyday shortstop

2. Hak-Ju Lee | SS | B – L | Age – 19
Boise (SS) | Signed – South Korea, 2008

Player Grades
Contact – 45 Now | 60 Future
Power – 30 | 40
Discipline – 45 | 60
Speed – 65 | 65
Defense – 50 | 60
Arm – 55 | 55
Instincts – 50 | 65
ETA – Late 2013
Final Grade – B

Click here for a more extensive report on Hak-Ju Lee.

Whether Lee reaches his potential, I think will be based on the sort of approach he develops over time. Is he somebody that looks to spray line drives to all fields, while driving out the occasional pitch, or will he turn into slap-happy hitter that hits the ball on the ground and takes advantage of his speed? He won’t reach his full potential if he turns primarily into a ground ball hitter.

Best Case Outcome – Top-7 or so shortstop

More Likely Outcome – Above average shortstop

Brief Rundown on Prospects 3 – 5

3. Brett Jackson | CF | Grade – B – Jackson is a toolsy player with a good feel for the game, but his contact rate is a red flag

4. Josh Vitters | 3b | Grade – B – I like Vitters’ potential, but I can’t get past his abysmal walk percentage. Here’s the thing: plate discipline improves with experience, but the improvement is usually incremental. It’s rare for a guy who doesn’t walk to suddenly start walking regularly. So for Vitters to make up for his lack of patience, he’s really going to have to hit

5. Jay Jackson | RHP | Grade – B/B- – Potential middle of the rotation start who aggressively attacks hitters with a four-pitch mix

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UP NEXTChicago Cubs Top Prospects, No’s 6 – 15

Other References and Resources Used for This ArticleFirst Inning and Minor League Splits

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