MESA, Ariz. -- It’s telling that the Chicago Cubs leapt 10 places in ESPN.com’s Future Power Rankings, jumping from 16th to sixth in only one season. Both the major-league club and farm system saw significant additions, but that won’t stop another last-place finish.
Most evaluators at the Cubs' big-league camp are praising the tools and bat speed of prospects Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Jorge Soler. Baez has ridiculous bat speed but also a late cocking motion in his swing that has to be corrected as he heads up the development ladder. Lake has tremendous power but huge holes in the zone. Soler’s power and presence is reminiscent of Frank Thomas.
After watching their at-bats and batting practice, however, I think all three have some “hit” tool issues. Odds are one of them never pans out and follows Corey Patterson and Felix Pie as Cubs prospects who failed to live up to the fans’ often unrealistic expectations. The one prospect who does look like slam dunk isn’t even in big-league camp -- center fielder Albert Almora. He was the Cubs’ first-round selection in last year’s draft and looks like a future All-Star.
However, the Cubs' best prospect might not even be a player. Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Jason McLeod is one of the best evaluators in the sport. McLeod’s history of successful drafts in Boston, San Diego and now the Cubs make him one of the top GM prospects in the game of baseball.