Lets face it, Anthony Rizzo isn’t living up to the organizations expectations this year. By no means are they giving up on the 24 year old first baseman who signed a 7 year, 41 million dollar contract extension earlier this season. Rizzo is batting .232/.325/.437 with 20 HR, 32 2B, and 68 RBI in 124 games this year. His walk rate is 11.2% and has a strikeout rate of 18.5%. Those aren’t horrendous numbers and Rizzo isn’t having a complete fall out year. He’s still young and this is his first full year in the majors. Most people, including me, think he will adapt to MLB pitching and be the Rizzo everyone thinks he will be. We can always speculate about his future and talk about the other first basemen in the Cubs minor league system. I mean why not, right?
Brad Nelson (AAA)
Age: 30 B/T: L/R
He isn’t a prospect so I wont talk much about him. Nelson is considered a backup in case Rizzo gets injured for an extended period of time. He’s batting .269/.344/.469 with 19 HR, 19 2B, and 66 RBI through 117 games with the Iowa Cubs. He’s made 4 Errors and has a .995 fielding percentage. He could provide some power and steady fielding if needed at first base.
Justin Bour (AA)
Age: 25 B/T: L/R
Justin Bour was taken by the Cubs in the 25th round in 2009. His best year was back in 2011 with Daytona when he batted .277/.335/.478 with 23 HR, 30 2B, and 85 RBI through 133 games. This kid has been an RBI machine in the minors. He racked up 110 RBI last season and is averaging 75 RBI a season. The big lefty (6’4”, 250 lb.) is having a down year mostly due to a hair line fracture on his wrist which he suffered on April 19th of this year. I’ve never actually seen him play but just by looking at his numbers he looks to be pretty solid. I wouldn’t say he’s a defensive first baseman but he has been better this year (4 errors, .992 Fld%). I believe he can be a good backup first baseman one day and look forward to him hopefully making a jump to Iowa next year.
Dustin Geiger (High-A)
Age: 21 B/T: R/R
Shawn Ressler wrote an article on Dustin Geiger a few days ago so I won’t go into too much detail on Mr. Geiger. He was taken in the 24th round by the Cubs in the 2010 amateur draft. Over his 4 season pro career he compiled a line of .265/.327/.433 with 35 HR in 286 games. This 2013 season has defiantly been a breakout year for the 21 year old.
Dan Vogelbach (Low-A/High-A)
Age: 20 B/T: L/R
When first drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft, many scouts were worried over his weight. Some have said he has lost over 30 pounds since the time he was drafted. That is what you would like to see in a prospect; someone who is concerned about their health and willing to do what it takes to be a better player. Dan has earned his promotion to Daytona. He was batting .284/.364/.457 with 21 HR and 71 RBI in 114 games for the Kane County Cougars. In limited action in Daytona he is currently batting .296 with 1 HR and 3 BB in 8 games. I don’t know how much more games he will get to play since Daytona’s games keep getting rained out. From what we’ve seen, he has big power with the chance to hit for average. The only question is his defense at first base. I ultimately see him being suited for a DH role but you never know. Watch for Vogelbach to maybe make some top 100 lists in the next year or two. I don’t see him taking over first base with Rizzo there but hes a good prospect to involve in a trade. Possibly a trade involving David Price??
Rock Shoulders (Low-A)
Age: 21 B/T: L/R
Possibly the coolest name in professional baseball. His full fist name is Roderick but he goes by Rock. I’ve seen the 6’2”, 225 pound first baseman play a few times in Kane County this season. He is still raw but does have good power potential. He has played mostly as the teams DH since Vogelbach was at first base. He walks a lot, 13%, but also strikes out a ton, 28%. He’s hit .252 with 17 HR, 25 2B, and 66 RBI in 108 games for the Cougars. Even though he has a high walk rate, Shoulders need to stop striking out so much in order to be successful later in his pro career. He’s an interesting prospect that you can’t quite dismiss with the walk rate and power potential he has.
The Cubs have some depth in the first base position. It’s going to be hard for any prospect to dethrone Rizzo but most will either provide solid backup to Rizzo or be a possible trade chip.
Best First Base Prospect: Dan Vogelbach