MLB.com revealed their top 100 prospects in baseball Thursday evening on MLB Network, with a pair of 2013 Tennessee Smokies infielders honored, in addition to five other Cubs prospects. Shortstop Javier Baez was rated seventh overall, while shortstop/second baseman Arismendy Alcantara was tabbed the No. 89 overall prospect. The entire list, with scouting reports, can be viewed by clicking here.
Baez lit up Southern League pitching after being promoted to Tennessee from High-A Daytona, accumulating a .294 average (64-218) while blasting 20 homers and driving in 54 runs in 54 contests. The Jacksonville, Florida native was honored at the conclusion of the season by being named to the Southern League’s Postseason All-Star squad despite playing in just 54 games. In addition, MLB.com also ranked Baez the second-best shortstop prospect behind only Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Alcantara began 2013 at shortstop for the Smokies before moving to second when Baez arrived in Tennessee, and recorded a .271 clip (134-494), in addition to 15 homers and 69 RBI in 133 contests. Earlier this month the 22-year-old, who was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on November 3, 2008, was also rated the fourth-best second base prospect in baseball by MLB.com.
Joining Baez and Alcantara on the list were fellow Cubs prospects INF Kris Bryant (#9), OF Albert Almora (#18), RHP C.J. Edwards (#42), OF Jorge Soler (#49) and RHP Pierce Johnson (#100).
Bryant, who the Cubs selected second overall in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of San Diego, was also rated as the second-best third base prospect earlier this week by MLB.com. The 22-year-old, who is a possible 2014 Smokie, smashed nine roundtrippers in 36 games between three different Minor League clubs last season, including five in 16 contests with High-A Daytona.
Almora was another first round draft pick by the Cubs, having been picked by the club with the sixth overall selection in the 2012 MLB Draft. Hampered by injuries during the 2013 campaign, Almora compiled a .329 average (82-249) in 61 games for Low-A Kane County, adding three longballs and 23 RBI. The 19-year-old was also rated by MLB.com as the fourth-best outfield prospect earlier this week.
Edwards was not highly touted at first coming out of high school, having been selected by the Texas Rangers in the 48th round of the 2001 MLB Draft, but made his presence known with a very strong 2013 season. The right-hander combined to record an 8-2 mark and 1.86 ERA between Low-A Hickory and High-A Daytona and was acquired by the Cubs organization as part of the Matt Garza trade last July.
Seven spots behind Edwards in the rankings is the 21-year-old Soler, who signed with the Cubs out of Cuba as a non-drafted free agent for $30 million. The outfielder played in 55 games for High-A Daytona in 2013, accruing a .281 average (59-210), along with eight homers and 35 RBI, missing a majority of the season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia.
Johnson rounds out the Cubs prospects and top 100 list, and combined for an 11-6 record and 2.74 ERA between Low-A Kane County and High-A Daytona last season. The 22-year-old was taken by the Cubs in the supplemental section of the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Missouri State University.