Highlighting top Cubs prospects for '10

We break down the top five prospects for each organization for 2010, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.

According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."

Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2010.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs had a bad year with the big club, but their farm system looks a lot better than it has in years. Years of trades have stripped them of depth, but a year away from the fray allowed them to let their prospects grow a little. There is still plenty of ground to cover, but an improving set of prospects could help supplement the team in 2010.

1. Josh Vitters, 3B, 20

Vitters finally started to make good on all that promise that made him an early first-round pick in 2008, hitting .316 with 15 homers, 46 RBI, 42 runs, four steals, a .351 on-base percentage and a .535 slugging percentage in low Class A. The high school draftee was less impressive in high Class A, though, going .238-3-22-21-2 (.260-.344) to finish a combined .284-18-68-63-6 (.314-.456). The hype exceeds the numbers still, but Vitters remains a solid stashee in long-term keeper leagues. He likely will get a full year in high Class A, barring a serious hot streak.

2. Andrew Cashner, SP, 23

The 2008 first-round pick handled himself well in his first pro season, setting him up to potentially help the Cubs in 2010. They tend to audition their pitchers in relief initially, but Cashner is a potentially elite pitching prospect who could challenge to start for the Cubs by midseason. He split the 2009 season with 12 starts each in high Class A and Double-A, combining to post a 2.60 ERA and an impressive .207 batting-average against. Consider Cashner a prospect flier in NL-only and long-term keeper leagues on Draft Day and watch him closely in spring training and the first half down on the farm.

3. Jay Jackson, SP, 22

Jackson soared to Triple-A last season, posting a combined 8-7 record with a 2.98 ERA and .230 BAA. He struck out 127 batters in 127 innings, too. He is a bit of an overachiever for a ninth-round pick, but you cannot argue with the numbers to date. The Cubs aren't going to consider him in their rotation out of spring training, barring injuries, but he could be a useful Fantasy pitcher in 2010 if he gets a call-up and a chance to start.

4. Ryan Flaherty, 2B, 23

The Vandy teammate of Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez had displayed plus power for a middle infielder as a pro. He went .276-20-81-81-7 (.344-.470) in low Class A and could move a number of levels in 2010. He could be a popular name in prospect watch lists next season, especially when you consider his power potential at his usually thin position. The Cubs didn't have a true everyday second baseman at the end of 2009 and could consider Flaherty their long-term solution as soon as late next season.

5. Tyler Colvin, OF, 24

The Clemson product restored some of his prospect luster, posting a .300-14-50-51-5 (.334-.524) statline in Double-A, which included seven triples. He didn't impress in his September cup of coffee, but his talent and progression make him a likely candidate to help the Cubs in 2010. It won't be out of spring training most likely, but Colvin could make an impact in deeper Fantasy leagues as a June 1 call-up.

Best of the rest: Starlin Castro, SS; Hak-Ju Lee, SS; Christopher Carpenter, SP; Christopher Archer, SP; Casey Coleman, SP; Kyler Burke, OF; Marquez Smith, 3B; Esmailin Caridad, RP; Brett Jackson, OF; Dae-Eun Rhee, SP; Brandon Guyer, OF; Welington Castillo, C; D.J. Lemahieu, 2B; Austin Kirk, SP; Chris Rusin, SP; Mitch Atkins, RP; Steve Clevenger, C; Junior Lake, 3B; Jovan Rosa, 3B; Marcus Mateo, RP; Alessandro Maestri, RP; Logan Watkins, 2B; Chris Huseby, RP; John Gaub, RP; Jeff Stevens, RP; Blake Parker, RP; Ty Wright, OF; Darwin Barney, SS; and Tony Thomas, 2B.

2009 rookies to exhaust eligibility: Jeff Samardzija, RP; Jake Fox, 3B; Micah Hoffpauir, 1B; Sam Fuld, OF; and David Patton, RP.

Last year's top five here: Samardzija, RP; Veal, RP (Rule-5 pick by the Pirates); Atkins, RP; Hoffpauir, 1B; and Vitters, 3B.

You can e-mail Emack your prospect questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com. Be sure to put Prospects in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. Be aware, due to the large volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee personal responses to all questions.

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Crowdsourcing.org... Full Bio

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