Baez, Alcantara Among Baseball America’s Top 100

Baseball America announced their Top 100 prospects for the upcoming 2014 season on MLB Network Wednesday evening, with a pair of Tennessee Smokies alums named, in addition to several others that are expected to be wearing a Smokies uniform at some point this year. The entire Baseball America Top 100 prospects list can be viewed by clicking here.

2013 Smokies shortstop Javier Baez cracked the top five on the list, having been ranked No. 5 overall by the publication. The Jacksonville native had one of the best seasons offensively in the Minor Leagues in 2013, smashing 37 homers in addition to a Minor League high 111 RBI in 130 games between Tennessee and High-A Daytona. Only one player in Minor League Baseball, Low-A Hickory infielder Joey Gallo, had more longballs last year.

Also honored by Baseball America was infielder Arismendy Alcantara, who was ranked the No. 100 prospect in baseball on the list. In 133 contests with the Smokies last year, the 22-year-old compiled a .271 batting average, adding 15 homers and 69 RBI. The switch-hitter was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on November 3, 2008 out of the Dominican Republic.

Both players were also featured in’s top 100 prospect countdown, with Baez tabbed the No. 7 prospect, while Alcantara was rated No. 89. Both are expected to begin the year with Triple-A Iowa.

In addition, five other Chicago Cubs prospects were tabbed to the Top 100 Prospect list, all of whom could be in a Smokies uniform at some point during the upcoming season.

Infielder Kris Bryant was ranked as the eighth-best overall prospect by Baseball America, and is expected to begin 2014 in Kodak, Tenn. Bryant, the second overall draft pick by the Cubs out of the University of San Diego, led all of college baseball in homers with 31 and continued his power surge in his first professional season in 2013. In 36 games combined between the AZL Cubs, Short-Season Boise and High-A Daytona, the 21-year-old blasted nine homers and drove in 32 RBI to help the D-Cubs win the Florida State League Championship.

Another Cubs prospect that played a key role in that 2013 title was right-handed starting pitcher C.J. Edwards, who was rated the No. 28 prospect on Baseball America‘s list. The hurler was acquired by the Cubs organization from the Texas Rangers as part of a July 22, 2013 trade that sent right-hander Matt Garza to the Rangers. In his 24 outings between Low-A Hickory and High-A Daytona, the South Carolina native accumulated an 8-2 record and 1.86 ERA (24 ER in 116.1 IP). Edwards is one of at least four members of that D-Cubs rotation that is expected by many to begin the season with the Smokies.

Ranked as the 36th-best prospect in baseball by the publication was outfielder Albert Almora, who was selected by the Cubs as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. The 19-year-old played in 61 contests with Low-A Kane County last year, compiling a .326 average (82-249), adding three homers and 23 RBI. Almora is likely to begin the season with High-A Daytona, but could possibly join the Smokies at some point later on during the season.

Another outfielder, 22-year-old Jorge Soler, was ranked as the No. 41 prospect in baseball byBaseball America, participating in 55 games in a injury-shortened 2013 season. Soler recorded a .281 clip (59-210) for High-A Daytona, adding eight roundtrippers and 35 RBI. Soler was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Cuba by the Cubs to a nine year deal on June 30, 2012, and is expected to begin the year at the Double-A level with Tennessee.

The last Cubs prospect on Baseball America‘s Top 100 Prospect list was RHP Pierce Johnson, who was rated as the No. 87 prospect in baseball. Johnson was a rotation mate of C.J. Edwards in High-A Daytona this year, combining for an 11-6 record and 2.74 ERA (36 ER in 118.1 IP) between Low-A Kane County and Daytona. Like Edwards, Johnson is expected to begin the year at the Double-A level with the Smokies.

The Smokies begin the 2014 campaign on the road against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium on Thursday April 2, before starting the 2014 home schedule at Smokies Park against the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on Wednesday April 9 at 7:15 p.m. Season and multi-game ticket packages are available and can be purchased online here, or by contacting the Smokies’ Ticket Office at 865-286-2315.

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Categories: Former Smokies, Smokies Radio Network


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