Top 10 prospects (NL Central)

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I've once again expanded my ranking of the top 10 prospects in each organization. The criteria for organizing these lists are the same as ever, but I've included a little more explanation of the state of the system, and discuss any prospects (top 10 and beyond) who might help the major league team this year.

In addition to at least one "sleeper" prospect for each organization, I've also identified one player with each club whose prospect stock has taken a serious hit in the past year, and attempted to explain why.

As with the top 100, I use the 20-80 scouting scale to describe players' tools.

AL EAST | AL CENTRAL | AL WEST

NL EAST | NL CENTRAL | NL WEST

Chicago Cubs
Org rank: 4


Farm system overview

The Cubs' collection of offensive prospects is extremely impressive, with three high-impact bats at the top of the system, followed by two guys who can contribute on both sides of the ball.

Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler all look like stars; Baez has the explosive bat speed to be a guy who hits for average and power, and he can play somewhere in the middle infield, even if the Cubs don't have room for him there. Soler has the biggest risk, although some of that is because he missed so much of 2013 after breaking his leg; I think everyone, the Cubs included, would feel more confident if he had played a full summer and continued to show gradual improvement.

They're still light on arms; C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson are the only pitchers in the system I'd project as more than fifth starters, and neither looks like a potential ace or strong No. 2. That said, they did load up on pitching in the 2013 draft, and lefty Rob Zastryzny (No. 11 in the system) could grow into a third or fourth starter role, while right-handers Scott Frazier (No. 13),  Tyler Skulina (No. 14), and  Trey Masek are all current starters who could go either way but are now more likely to head for the pen.

Corey Black is an interesting case, built like a reliever, aggressive like one as well, but he'll at least show four pitches, two of them plus, and I would at least let him start a little longer before conceding the point. Eloy Jimenez (No.12), the 17-year-old jewel of the July 2 international signing class from last year, is all fantasy at this point, a kid with a huge, projectable frame as well as the swing to eventually have 30-35 homer power.

2014 impact

Arismendy Alcantara probably starts the year in Triple-A, but I think he's an upgrade over Darwin Barney right now, an above-average defender at second who can actually hit. Baez should make his major league debut this summer, although the position is up in the air and depends on Alcantara's arrival and whether Starlin Castro gets his head on straight.

The fallen

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