A Minor Review of 2013: Cubs

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013? will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Junior Lake, OF: Lake, 23, teased the Cubs with his raw athleticism for six seasons before finally reaching the Majors in 2013. A move from shortstop to the outfield may have helped him focus more at the plate and he showed a little more consistency, although he still has a ways to go to prove he can be a big league regular. With some polish, he could be a very good defensive outfielder.

The Riser: Arismendy Alcantara, SS: Alcantara has turned himself into one of the better middle infield prospects in the minors. He can play second base, third base and shortstop but his best position is probably the keystone. At the plate, he generates surprising pop for his size and hit 55 extra base hits in 2013 while sacrificing contact for power. He could be ready to challenge for the starting second base gig by mid-2014.

The Tumbler: Arodys Vizcaino, RHP: Vizcaino’s powerful arm has kept him near the top of prospects lists since his early days in the Yankees system. However, the litany of never-ending injuries has finally taken a toll on his prospect status. Vizcaino has missed the last two years due to surgeries and the subsequent rehabs. On the plus side, he won’t turn 23 until mid-November and the Cubs are in a rebuilding mode so they can afford to be patient.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Rob Zastryzny, RHP: A Canadian, Zastryzny is understandably raw for a college product but he possesses a strong body and two promising pitches in a low-90s fastball and changeup. The development of the left-hander’s breaking ball will go a long way to determining his eventual role and ceiling.

The Sleeper: Gioskar Amaya, 2B: This Venezuelan infielder caught my attention while playing with short-season Boise last season. His tools (and ceiling) are not as loud as some of the other prospects that he played with at Boise, and later in Low-A Kane County in 2013, but he’s a solid little player. Just 20, Amaya needs to get stronger and he also strikes out too much for a player with modest power.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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