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2017 Midseason Cubs Prospect Rankings - Tiers 1 and 2

2017 Midseason Cubs Prospect Rankings - Tiers 1 and 2
Oscar De La Cruz

UPDATE: I have fixed the formatting issue so the full list should now be viewable on mobile devices.

I've never been much for numerical rankings. It leaves far too much open for interpretation and misrepresentation while also lacking key information that makes prospect comparisons difficult, not just between players within the same system, but especially between players in separate organizations. It goes without saying that the #1 prospect for each team throughout the league is not equal. Attempting any comparison with players further down the list is a true fool's errand.

Even if I had a preference for a numerical list, I wouldn't feel comfortable providing one, simply because I have no way to ensure it is complete. See, this prospect list comes with caveats and exceptions. The rankings and evaluations are my own and no one else's. Which means that it can only include players that I have seen and I simply do not possess the means to evaluate players currently toiling in Mesa, or the Dominican, or those who until recently played for their respective high school or college programs. The only players that will appear are those in the Northwest League and above and it will exclude all 2017 draft picks, even those that have already advanced to those levels. So, with those limitations in place, a list of mine that would put a #20 label on a prospect, when the list does not include two recent 1st round picks and some high profile international signings wouldn't hold much value.

Instead I prefer a tiered approach, with a clearly defined definition of the type of player that I value in each tier, and then simply assign players to each tier specified based on their ceiling as prospects. Because there are players that possess similar ceilings, but vary wildly in terms of their readiness and probability of reaching that ceiling, I do choose to create specific subsets of more polished versus more raw players within each tier. Should you so choose feel free to consider the more polished players with the higher probability the higher ranked prospect.

Tier 1 - TOR | All-Star Regular

 Jose Albertos | R | SP | 18 | 6'1" 185 | 2015 IFA |

  Fastball: 60/60, Changeup: 50/70, Curveball: 40/60, Command: 40/70
  • Don't let his age fool you, shows advanced feel
  • Similar maturity with pitching that Gleyber Torres displayed with bat
  • Fastball sits 91-95 with sink, touches 97
  • Changeup already average and flashes plus-plus
  • Inconsistent, but shows some feel for good 12-6 curve
  • Live, loose arm generates easy velocity
  • Average command with room to grow considering low effort delivery
  • Durability concerns, missed time last season with forearm tightness
  • Average size and his frame won't support added weight
  • Fairly soft physique, should add strength as he matures

Oscar De La Cruz | R | SP | 22 | 6'6" 240 | 2012 IFA |

  Fastball: 60/60, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 40/60, Command 40/60
  • Imposing size and good athlete
  • Played SS growing up, but moved to mound upon signing
  • Pitches at 92-95, but can dial it up to 97, gets good plane and life
  • Good depth on his curve, but doesn't always stay on top of it
  • Changeup flashes plus, but command and arm speed can waver
  • Fluid motion, repeats delivery well, thanks to athleticism
  • Fastball command is above average, command of secondaries below
  • Doesn't nibble, attacks hitters

 

Tier 2 - MOR | Closer | Above Average Regular

 Adbert Alzolay | R | SP | 22 | 6'0" 180 | 2012 IFA |

  Fastball: 60/60, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 40/50, Command: 50/60
  • Late bloomer, eligible for 2011 IFA class, but didn't sign until 2012
  • Always flashed arm strength but velocity was inconsistent
  • Now fully matured physically, especially his lower half
  • Improved endurance
  • Now sits 93-95 and touches 96-97, can also cut it or get run
  • Plenty of weak contact off fastball
  • Curveball has more consistent depth, an above average secondary
  • Changeup is inconsistent but often average

 Jeimer Candelario | S | 3B | 23 | 6'1" 210 | 2010 IFA |

  Hit: 50/60, Disipline: 50/60, Power: 50/50, Run: 40/40, Defense: 50/50, Arm: 50/50
  • Limited athlete but keeps himself in shape
  • Lacks range at 3B but should hold down spot until athleticism erodes
  • Smooth swing from both sides, more power righthanded
  • Average hit tool, with some inconsistency and swing-and-miss
  • Above average power but swing more geared for line drives
  • Above average plate discipline, rarely chases a fastball out of zone

Trevor Clifton | R | SP | 22 | 6'4" 220 | 2013 (12th) |

  Fastball: 60/60, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 50/50, Command: 40/40
  • Has grown a couple of inches and added weight since drafted
  • Now physically mature
  • Mechanics were raw entering pro ball, have been smoothed out
  • Fastball ranges from 91-95 with sink, can touch higher
  • Spins impressive curveball that is often second plus pitch
  • Changeup has improved to an average pitch
  • Command improved each season through 2016, currently plateaued
  • Equally effective versus righties and lefties
  • Can dominate when dialed in
  • Peripherals have all regressed this season, raising concerns

Thomas Hatch | R | SP | 22 | 6'1" 190 | 2016 (3rd) |

  Fastball: 50/60, Changeup: 50/60, Slider: 50/60, Command: 40/50
  • Above average athlete that maintains velo throughout starts
  • College World Series hero, pitched well in clutch
  • Low 3/4 arm slot, provides movement on three above avg pitches
  • Low-90s fastball with sink and run, can touch 95-96
  • Slider has solid vertical and horizontal break
  • Changeup has potentially passed slider as best secondary
  • Gets good downward movement on changeup
  • Solid control, command can still use refinement

 

 

Tier 2.5 - Raw, with Tier 2 upside

Aramis Ademan | L | SS | 18 | 5'11" 160 | 2015 IFA |

  Hit: 40/50, Disipline: 40/60, Power: 40/40, Run: 50/50, Defense: 50/60, Arm: 50/60
  • Lacks physical projection, but is a fluid athlete with surprising strength
  • Clean actions at SS with good range and enough arm for position
  • Line drive stroke from left side with all-fields approach
  • Good idea of strike zone already
  • Possesses HR power to pull side, but won't be big part of game
  • Average runner, won't be SB threat but provides value on base paths

Miguel Amaya | R | C | 18 | 6'1" 185 | 2015 IFA |

  Hit: 40/50, Discipline: 40/60, Power: 30/50, Run: 40/40, Defense: 40/70, Arm: 60/60
  • Receives rave reviews for coachability, work ethic and leadership
  • Solid frame with room to add weight and strength
  • Soft hands, quick feet, and a above average arm behind the plate
  • Potential to quiet the running game
  • Best current offensive skill is his solid plate discipline
  • Line drive swing without much loft
  • Lacks in-game power, but has potential to grow into more

Bryan Hudson | L | SP | 20 | 6'8" 220 | 2015 (3rd) |

  Fastball: 40/60, Curveball: 40/60, Changeup: 40/50, Command: 30/50
  • Tall, wiry lefty with potential for added size/strength
  • Inconsistent mechanics, not unusual for his combo of age/height
  • Terrific plane on a sinking fastball generates GB at extreme rates
  • Velocity wavers, anywhere from 85-89
  • Considering size and raw mechanics it's easy to dream on higher velo
  • Slow curve with big break flashes plus but trouble commanding it
  • Possesses usable changeup with potential for avg pitch
  • Control is below average, command is worse right now

Dillon Maples | R | RP | 25 | 6'2" 225 | 2011 (14th) |

 Fastball: 70/70, Slider: 70/70, Curveball: 60/60, Command: 30/40
  • Former high bonus draft pick has finally turned corner
  • Heavy fastball that generates ground balls at extreme levels
  • Increased velocity in past year without losing life, now sits at 97
  • Developed nasty high-80s slider in recent years, best in system
  • Sharp, downer curve is a third plus pitch
  • Willing to throw breaking pitches in any count
  • Has not mastered command, but control is good enough
  • Elite closer potential if command takes an additional step

Isaac Paredes | R | IF | 18 | 5'11" 175 | 2015 IFA |

  Hit: 40/60, Disipline: 50/60, Power: 40/50, Run: 50/40, Defense: 40/50, Arm: 50/60
  • Ceiling depends on physical maturation
  • If he maintains middle infield athleticism he could make an impact
  • If driven to 3B, likely tops out as average regular
  • Squint and I see Martin Prado
  • Advanced plate discipline for age and level
  • Rarely swings and misses
  • Too pull-happy, could take another step with full-field approach
  • Good pull power, potential for above avg power if he gets bigger

Duane Underwood Jr. | R | SP | 22 | 6'2" 210 | 2012 (2nd) |

  Fastball: 40/60, Slider: 40/60, Curveball: 40/60, Changeup: 40/60, Command: 30/50
  • Good size, not a top notch athlete though
  • Lacks consistency
  • When on, features three to four plus pitches
  • Usually a ground ball pitcher
  • Sometimes a fly ball pitcher, sometimes a strike out pitcher
  • Lacks consistency
  • Control is ahead of command
  • Bullpen assignment and simplifying repertoire could be in future
  • Lacks consistency

D.J. Wilson | L | CF | 20 | 5'8" 177 | 2015 (4th) |

  Hit: 30/50, Disipline: 40/50, Power: 40/50, Run: 60/60, Defense: 60/70, Arm: 60/60
  • Compact, quick-twitch athlete with speed and pop
  • Boom-or-bust
  • Plus range and arm in CF
  • Hit tool is raw
  • Unable to get on top of high fastballs, unable to lay off either
  • Plate discipline is improving
  • Can drive the ball to all fields, above average pull power

 

 

Caveats

Given the scouting reports I have read, along with the bonus payments doled out, it seems reasonable to assume 2017 1st round draft picks Brendon Little and Alex Lange (and potentially 6th rounder Jeremiah Estrada) would fit comfortably in the Tier 2 category. The Cubs do not possess another left hander with anywhere near the reported arm strength of Little and Lange has just come off a College World Series run not similar to what Thomas Hatch put forth last year. The two 1st rounders are also reported to have among the best curve balls available from the recent draft.

In addition it also seems likely that at least one, and perhaps a handful, of recent IFA signings such as Jonathan Sierra, Christopher Morel and Brailyn Marquez (just to name a few) would also fit this description. Again, I choose to hold off and make my own evaluation once I get the opportunity to lay my eyes on them, but feel free to expand the above list of 13 players to 15 or 20 based on your trust in other sources and your own optimism.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Excellent work.

    I needed this because w how good the MLB team has been playing, I have been sure who are the prospects that have been rising thru the system this summer.

  • pretty pathetic bunch now. it was good mike but i would temper it a little with de la cruz as he can't seen to pitch more than 35 innings without going down for half a season.

  • In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    Talking ceilings here. Most of these guys won't reach their their full potential, especially the pitchers.

  • In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    Possible he ends up like Angel Guzman, who had similar TOR potential, but an inability to stay on the mound cost him.

  • fb_avatar

    Poor Brewers

    They blew another lead.

    4 games in a row where they have blown an early lead.

    This one is painful cause its the closer in the 9th blowing it.

  • Great stuff Mike and I appreciate the different way of looking at things.

    Question on Maples, seems as if he could be a Tier 1 guy if in fact he could become a lock down closer. Does that fit your "system"?

    Actually a bit surprised you include Underwood on this list. You feel he still can turn it around and be a MOR?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Closer just isn't as valuable as a TOR starter or All-Star position player. Nobody trades a Lester or Quintana for a Chapman or Kimbrel.

    I wavered on Underwood. I had versions with him in tier 3. But on the right day you can still see the MOR guy and he is still young.

    Put it this way, at the same age Maples was closer to being released than he was to becoming a closer. A guy with arm strength and the ability to spin a breaking ball should never be ruled out.

  • Thank you for putting this together. I agree with the tier system vs. ranking.
    I was thinking earlier this year that the Cubs will have a pitching heavy prospect list very soon, and here it is, and without Cease or the new draft picks.

  • In reply to couch:

    Yes, especially when factoring in the 2017 draft picks, the system definitely lens toward pitching now.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    So I guess we will be hearing in a few years, "what are the Cubs going to do with all these pitchers? There are only 5 spots in the rotation." etc etc.
    At least that is what I am hoping.

  • In reply to couch:

    That is the glass half full outlook. The half empty outlook would be TINSTAAPP. Reality likely falls in the middle, with the Cubs having enough options to round out their staff, but like every team, will still be on the lookout for additional impact guys.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to couch:

    There aren't just 5 spots in the rotation. There are 12-13 spots on the staff. That makes it a little easier to find "spots" for all of them.

    But the bigger issue, as Mike points out, is TINSTAAPP.

  • I'm higher on Maples than Underwood for sure. Let's hope he's not the next Marmol

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    I hope you mean he is the next Marmol. The Cubs have had few relievers put together better careers than Marmol in the past 15 years. Don't let the end of his career overshadow all the great years he put together.

  • Any guys that almost made tier 2? I was thinking Charcer Burks, but not sure how he has played in CF this year.

  • In reply to couch:

    Not really. A handful of pitchers came under consideration (Assad, Moreno, Paulino, Steele) but I never got too close to putting them on the final list. I wish I liked Mark Zagunis's hit tool or Victor Caratini's defense more than I do, but in my eye those two factors cap their ceiling as average starters. Burks is pretty much average across the board, not a high ceiling.

    I'll publish tier 3 later this week, maybe Friday.

  • Wow, didn't realize Underwood had dropped off that much. Bummer. Glad to see we still have a couple of high ceiling guys though. Steele, Sands & Stinnett all lost causes?

    On a technical note, a lot of the text is being cutoff while reading on my iPhone. None of it is wrapping, i.e. I can't see anything to the right of Alberto's height or change up score.

    Thanks Mike!

  • In reply to good4you:

    Ah, didn't think about that. Sorry. Did the writing and publishing on my tablet. Will look into fixing that tomorrow.

    Underwood's ceiling hasn't really dropped, just his probability.

    I have always liked Steele, I just think he is more BOR/LIR. Similarities to Mike Montgomery.

    Stinnett is more LIR with outside chance as a starter still. Injury clouds it a bit. Haven't seen him yet this year. Probably will need a fresh eval next spring.

    Was never crazy about Sands, but I am pretty much holding off on evaluating him for now. Need to see what he looks like next spring.

  • In reply to good4you:

    Same for me and my Android. It would happen for me as well on the statistical analysis articles you have written. I just thought it was my old, piece of junk phone.

  • In reply to 2Toes:

    The text doesn't wrap when copied from excel tables. The stats and my prospect reports are stored in that form

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Fixed the formatting. I can't do anything about the stat update articles because without the table formatting it wouldn't be readable for anyone, but there was no reason this needed to be built the same way.

  • Are the rankings below each prospect a current/potential? So for Albertos' curveball its 40/70. So currently its a 40 but it has the potential to be a 70? If not, what do those mean?

  • In reply to Mnozilman:

    Sorry, yes that is what it means.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mnozilman:

    Current/Potential is what it means when scouts (or scout/writers) use 40/60 or something like that

  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Michael, great list!

    Does Caratini not count, or do you not consider him good enough for Tier 2?

    Did you consider Rucker for Tier 2, or do you need to see more first?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He counts, just struggle to see him as an above average starter. More likely an impact backup, but a high probability one.

    Considered Rucker. Just haven't seen a good enough secondary pitch to make the leap to see him as a MOR option at this point. Like his FB and command though.

  • fb_avatar

    I love these reports. I don't see a plus prospect right now though--they're all in the majors.
    btw, Milwaukee lost in 10 tonight. Pitts scored once in the 9th and then 1 in the 10th. StL lost and we're 1 1/2 back now.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I was closer to putting Albertos and De La Cruz into tier 2 than I was putting anyone else in tier 1. Albertos has so little experience and De La Cruz so few innings for his age that neither inspires great confidence at this point But again, the potential is there.

  • fb_avatar

    Besides Underwood and Clifton, what prospects would you say have fallen this year? Would you include EJM on that list?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Pierce Johnson maybe, though I have never been high on him, as he has always struck me as a middle reliever with some LIR upside. Just never bought into him ever becoming consistent enough to be a reliable starter or LIR and he has done nothing but affirm my beliefs this year

    Ryan Williams (injury) I guess. I'll still rate his ceiling the same, but rotator cuff surgery bottoms out his probability of ever reaching it.

    Honestly, there haven't been too many disappointments. The guys that have struggled are all guys that have been inconsistent in the past so a bad first half really doesn't change the eval for me.

  • Baseball America released their midseason prospect update & this is the Cubs new ranking

    1. Victor Caratini
    2. Thomas Hatch
    3. Jose Albertos
    4. Adbert Alzolay
    5. Issac Parades
    6. Brandon Little
    7. Alex Lange
    8. Aramis Ademan
    9. Jeimer Candelario
    10. Oscar de la Cruz

    Trevor Clifton, Mark Zagunis, & DJ Wilson have been removed from January's rankings bc of their performance.

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Well, that is good timing.

    I must note that I rarely drop guys because of half a season of poor performance. Clifton, Wilson have certainly struggled, but their ceiling hasn't changed, and they are still young enough and far enough away to recover from any setbacks. I find most online lists to be too reactionary to me.

    They clearly think Caratini can overcome his footwork issues behind the plate or they feel he can hit enough to man 1B. It isn't crazy, but seems like they may be weighing PCL numbers a bit too highly for my taste.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Just spitballing of course, what range do you think the Cubs system ranks overall? In the 20-25 range, or even lower?

    Fun question, where would our top prospect rank in the White Sox system?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I'd say it's the 25 & below range, with the potential to move higher if the young arms & bats progress.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Probably 20s somewhere, don't follow other systems close enough say with certainty.

    6th at best. Jimenez, Moncada, Kopech, Hansen, Cease are better than anything we have. They have others with better reps like Robert, Rutherford, Lopez that I haven't seen play. I would take our guys over Giolito and Fulmer though. Burdi just blew out his arm.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Moncada just got called up.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zonk:

    I would have to say our system ranks in the bottom quarter of the MLB. I doubt we have a top 100 prospect now. I do say we probably have more depth then most of the bottom ( 24 and below) systems, but we don't have those 1-2 top prospects/ blue chippers anymore that even bad systems have.

    It's okay. Theo was on the radio today saying and in short he said; he plans on this core competing for 5-7 years ( started competing 2015) so when the window closes in 2020-2022, he said he would be stunned if the system isn't replenished to the max by then.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Can quibble about your ranking here Jim,... With Torres, Soler, Vogelbach and Jiminez traded off (all for good reasons IMO), and with Happ, Schwarber, Russell, Baez, Almora, Contreras, and now Caratini all putting in time in the MLB club,... that's kind of emptied the Advanced Minor League position player cupboard over the last 3 years.

    Candelario and Zagunis are about the only MLB ready regular position players left in the system and neither of them is good enough to push one of the other regulars out of the big league team at present.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Ha,... and I forgot to add reigning league MVP Bryant into the recent 'grads' list,....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He ranks number 2 behind moncada unfortunately. Cease is number nine. White sox now have 10 in the top 100 and 7 of those are in the top 36 but their system, because it was awful before the four trades, is top heavy.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree about Caratini. Not sure why he is rated so high. They might of just picked 10 names out of a hat. I don't get Hatch at 2 over Albertos. I think there will be some changes for their end of the year list when they get a better read on the Cubs farm

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Hatch could move quick and offers far more certainty than Albertos. I can't quibble too much there. I was close to rating both Albertos and De La Cruz in Tier 2 simply because of their uncertainty, but I value their ceilings more than others and both are young enough to overcome an injury setback, even TJS if it came to it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I am guessing that they gave some extra weight to "closeness to MLB ready."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Another reason that comparing lists doesn't work. Not only does everyone have different opinions, but they can have different criteria and emphasis.

  • Thanks again Michael love your take on the Cubs prospects.

  • Feel like Eddy Martinez should at least be on that 2.5 tier list. Has 5 tools albeit not someone who has hit well in the first halves of both the last 2 years. However, he's been hitting a lot better lately.

  • In reply to beckdawg:

    He is pretty average across the board for me. His best tool is a plus arm, but that is the least important tool. I haven't seen the power hitting CF upside talked about when he signed. He looks like a good defensive RF with some pop and a raw hit tool that if everything goes well ends up as an average offensive player.

  • If Wladimir Galindo hadn't broken his leg, do you think he could have put himself in the Tier 2.5 range?

    Also I am guessing that Jason Vosler didn't make the list most likely due to his age

  • In reply to Gator:

    I considered it. But I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger on that. I love his bat speed and there were positive signs this year with his plate discipline and hit tool. I was also pleasantly surprised by some of the defensive plays he made. If he could have played the whole season and went arounf the league a couple of times and shown some consistency throughout I might have done it. But especially with the leg injury now, I just need to see a little more from him next year. He is certainly a player that can make a jump up the rankings next year.

  • It's good to see Maples finally staying healthy and developing - even IF he's not SP material, he should be valuable in the next couple of seasons in the back end of the BP. Especially with Strop and Rondon nearing Free Agency - he'll be a good one to add in with Edwards.

    And I really like everything I have ready about Hatch,... any chance he has a chance to crack the starting rotation come 2019?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Maples gives the Cubs a second internal option along with Edwards to replace Davis/Rondon at the back end in the near future.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Having an in-house option for LIR can be really helpful. Especially since they will be much more familiar with him than they would be anyone they tried to sign as a FA or trade for. While they don't necessarily have a ton of value if we can save a couple million dollars by using in-house LIR that can go toward filling other holes.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Not just the money, but the Cubs have needed to deal two good prospects to fill the closer role the past two years and neither secured a long term solution. If they can fill that internally it would be huge.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Good point and somehow I forgot that. Usually that is the kind of thing that I note. Thanks!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think Hatch could potentially factor in the second half of next year. He will likely see AA time later this year, then begin there next year, with a potential promotion to AAA in the middle of next year. Once there anything can happen. If the Cubs need a starter or even some relief help down the stretch Hatch would be an option.

    I can certainly see him battling for a rotation spot out of ST in 2019.

  • Aside from any impact bats, which is a huge hole now, what other holes do you see in the cubs minor league system?

  • In reply to 2Toes:

    They don't really have a true SS in the upper levels. Young can make the routine plays, but won't go into the hole and make plays as his range and arm are not sufficient caliber. Penalver is a good athlete and can make all the plays defensively, but he is also inconsistent and can't hit. Zack Short has borderline athleticism there, but he has made a ton of errors, especially on throws. Paredes has good instincts and can man the position for now, but by the time he is ready for the bigs there is a good chance he is a 2B/3B. Ademan is the one guy, but he is just 18 and a few years away.

    There is also still a lot of uncertainty with their top starting pitching prospects. A lot of inexperience and inconsistencies in the bunch. Alzolay and Hatch are the two higher probability guys and both should become factors late 2018/early 2019, but everyone else could end up in the pen or require a couple of more years beyond that to develop.

  • Great write-up Michael. Yes, the farm system is a little low right now. I hate to use the word depleted because guys like Willson a couple years ago, and Maples recently can flip the switch sometimes when we're not really expecting them too. Also, besides the trades for Chapman and Quintana, it's pretty hard to have a top-rated farm when 6 of your 8 positional starters (plus Almora) are under 25.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Yeah, not only is the Major League team filled with recent graduates of the system, but also keep in mind that in the last calendar year, of the 4-5 best pitchers available on the trade market the Cubs went out and acquired 3 of them (Chapman, Davis, Quintana). All those factors obviously deplete the upper levels of the system. But the nice thing is the Cubs shouldn't run into many glaring needs outside of hopefully developing 1-2 starting pitchers in the next couple of years.

  • fb_avatar

    Great write-up as usual, Michael.

    I especially appreciated the "Discipline" tool for hitters. I really value that.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It honestly baffles me why people fold plate discipline in with the hit tool. They are two different things, and plate discipline itself is far more valuable as an individual tool than arm strength, which gets separated from defense.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    My suspicion is that the "Hit Tool" is simply the scouts opinion of the guys ability to "hit." All the various skills involved kind of get lumped together.

    I wish that the list of "tools" graded independently were longer. I wish "control" and "command" were separated out for pitchers. They are related but not the same (rarely will someone have command but not control). I wish that there were a "pitch" tool to separate out those who just plain know how to pitch as opposed to those who are really raw "throwers." Sometimes we can infer this from other grades but it isn't really the same.

    For this reason I really liked your summaries. They were short enough that I didn't have to spend a bunch of time reading but it gave me the nuance I like over the simple "grades/scores."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I separate command and control as well. I only listed command for space purposes, but mentioned any discrepancies between the two for each player in the descriptions when necessary.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I noticed that and thank you. That isn't always done.

  • I could care less if we are the last ranked system. Means nothing. We have insane talent at the MLB level which, BTW, is the goal. The graduations have been crazy and still had depth to make trades acquiring premier MLB talent.

    I expect a huge IFA haul coming from Theo once the restrictions are lifted to replenish the loss of high-ceiling impact talent. We are in the cycle where we all want to be -- GREAT young talent at the big league window with no hurry or need to have guys ready to go in a year or two and already a World Series title in or pocket. All the pieces are in place. I expect Theo to be ahead of the organization's needs and have his roadmap for sustained success in place.

    If we get 3-5 MLB players from this current group, then that would be excellent--especially on the mound.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to rbrucato:

    I get what you are saying but I don't quite agree with it. Yes, the goal is to have the best MLB team possible (as someone said the other day when discussing the trade for Quintana: "Is the goal to win the Carolina league title or the World Series?") to do so at the cost of continuing to acquire top-tier talent in the minor leagues will likely eventually come back to haunt us. Remember, the reason we have all this young, cost controlled positional talent is because the Cubs stocked their minor leagues. The reason we had Chapman last year and Davis/Quintana this year was because our minor leagues had (past tense) talent that was of sufficient interest to other teams. That cupboard is getting more and more bare.

    If this continues it will lead to a decent likelihood that the Cubs will find themselves not able to replace guys that simply become too expensive to keep.

    Fortunately for the Cubs they have 4-6 years before that becomes a significant issue. But the bad news is that A LOT of players will hit their "walk" year at about the same time so the inexpensive talent we have now will suddenly all become very expensive.

    As for IFA haul that might be hampered by the "hard cap" on spending. I expect it will likely keep the price of the top talent a little lower as more teams will want to be able to spread their resources around but I may be wrong. It might be that the top 3 or so continue to cash in and the rest will take the "leavings." If that is the case the Cubs cap will likely mean they will be relegated to maybe 1 big signing which will struggle to re-stock the farm system.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I read a lot of complaining above about the system being bad, yet it appears those are forgetting what we have at the Big League level. That is what is MOST important, no? Sounds like some are too spoiled with the overall success and want to pick nits losing sight of the big picture. That is what I was attempting to point out.

    I would also say you can't have it both ways -- having a World Series Champion and the #1 MILB system. Player attrition and graduation make those two impossible. Theo drafted great and signed great IFA to build up the talent pool at the porous MLB level. Now that those talented players didn't flame out and either played a) an integral part of a Champion or b) helped acquire premium MLB players is exactly WHAT a minor league system is for. We should not care about what ranking Keith Law or BA gives the Cubs system. We should care about the product at the big league level. And care that our FO is smart enough, which they are, to continue to develop and replenish the system as best they can. Drafting 28-30 every year will make it more difficult as will IFA restrictions. I agree with you. I believe the Cubs, all things being equal, will win out on premiere IFA talent being a destination. 4-6 years is a long time to rebuild a talent pool that can handle players walking keeping in mind we are not going to lose all of them. And given 3-5 or possibly more guys from the current system will contribute, that helps save money to keep the team we have or add to it. One pitcher, DLC, Albertos, Alzolay, Lange, Little, Hatch, for example, developing into a 1, 2, or 3 type saves $20M-$35M per year to be spread to guys deserving of a raise or a long-term extension. Maples, Clifton, Underwood, Mekkes as a LIR saves another $10M-$15M. One premium hitter, a Wilson, Amaya, Paredes, Ademan, does the same as well. There is and will be plenty of money to spend on this team's payroll in year's to come. We don't need Top 30 players today--that would be a "nice to have" as opposed to a "need". Theo gave us a vision up to the year 2022, so I don't care about 2017 rankings. I guess some do and I would suggest that is misguided in lieu of the overall state of the organization. I care about "the process" to replenish and keep winning. Theo clearly has it under control. I feel some have missed that concept. Our glass is 90% Full, not nearly empty.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree with some of your thoughts and disagree with others.

    I agree that a large part of why the Cubs are suddenly NOT one of the top farm systems in baseball is because players like Bryant, Russell, Baez, Schwarber, Happ, Hendricks are no longer there.

    Also having 4-6 years to rebuild the farm system is very possible. It won't be done in 5 years going from one of the worst to one of the best because we will (hopefully) not be picking in the Top-5 of the draft and IFA just got a little tougher to dominate. It doesn't have to be Top-5 on lists, but 8-13 would be nice.

    I disagree, and have long diagreed, with a vision of the minor leagues being "trade fodder" ("helped acquire premium MLB players is exactly WHAT a minor league system is for," unless I misunderstood this comment). It directly contradicts your first comment (that a big part of the reason that the minor leagues appear so "depleted" is that the players who used to make it so great are now in the major leagues doing well). To me it is to maintain young/cheap talent that is the reason for the minor leagues as far as the majors are concerned and players should only be traded from "surplus" or with significant trepidation.

    When the farm system is depleted of significant young talent is also makes these trades much harder. Teams aren't that interested in our guys whose ceiling is "mlb regular" when it comes to trading their most valuable assets. They want premium assets.

    Like you I trust the FO to more than likely do the right thing. I have loudly agreed with the trade to acquire Quintana. But that doesn't mean that being closer to the bottom than the top of the farm system ratings doesn't concern me and make me more than a little bit nervous.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    joel, thank you, although we were(are) on different sides of the trade . i think you know why i was ,and still am, upset about that trade. i also agree that you can and have to have a good and well rated if not highest rated system. i don't agree that we should look at a 3-5 year "window" . i look at the braves of the 90"s with 10 consectutive division titles and <god forgive me, st louis, competing for about 15 years for titles. both did it with good to excellent farm systems and turning over their rosters continually. not paying for alot of high priced free agent talent. that is why i hated and still hate the jiminez trade. exceptional talent that could have been a part of a "new core" i don't know why everyone wants to limit the cubs to a five year window. now factor in the penalties for going over the luxury tax in lower round comp picks and possible loss of IFA money with not only free agency looming for all of them in 3-5 years but arbitration raises. these guys will get expensive together quickly. there isn't much yet to replace them. and no one with eloy's power and upside. BA says some scouts have him at 70-80 raw power and compare that power to stanton. they also state hit hit tool gives him the potential also for a high average and i wonder if the cubs traded the next puhols in his prime.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    You definitely missed-- I wrote Part A and Part B describing what the minor league system is for. I can see how my post could have led you that way.

    "a) an integral part of a Champion"--this clearly shows my position was not that the minors are for trade fodder, but to build a long-term sustainable core group.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    DLRobertson, yes, I think we still are on different sides regarding "the trade" (assuming you are refering to Jiminez/Cease for Quintana) but I think I understand your position because, as I said before, I raised many of the same concerns last year with the trade for Chapman.

    We agree that having a "healthy" farm system is important, if not critical, to long term success. I don't think it is impossible for the team to rebuild their farm system. I doubt they are able to get it to Top-5 status or anything like that. The situation has changed from when they built the first group. But they can still get some IFA talent, maybe draft well, get lucky on a "flyer" etc. Then the other key is DEVELOPMENT. They need to make sure that their minor league staff gets every bit out of every player.

    The fact is that IF the team can rebuild the farm system in 4-6 years we may well be OK and able to sustain when the FA start getting unsustainably expensive. What has happened doesn't necessarily mean that we can't return to the status of "decent" farm system.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    dlrobertson, Check out this from VEB.It says the Cubs made out pretty well on this deal.

    https://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2017/7/17/15975442/cardinals-sellers-brewers-cubs

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The minor league was stocked at the expense of the major league team.Trading major league players for prospects was a different stage. It is always difficult to have a top farm when you are in the win now phase.

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    In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I agree that it is difficult to maintain a top farm system AND be a top-notch MLB team, though I disagree with those that assert that it is impossible.

    I am also not saying we need to ahve a "top farm system." But there is a lot of room between "Top farm system" and what the Cubs have now. I am not one who is saying, "We can't compete unless we have a Top-5 (or even Top-10) farm system.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    not necessarily. see 1990's atlanta and 2000's st. louis ( saying that made me ill)

  • In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    No disrespect but those are very poor examples of keeping minor league players and building from within.

    From '90 to '93 the Beaves added Maddux, Pendleton, McGriff, Sanders, Bedrosian, Berryhill, Nixon, and Bream.

    The 2000 Cards added Edmonds, McGwire, Renteria, Benes, Kile, Radinsky, Vina. Their '06 team added Rolen Miles, Eckstein, Enacarnacion to their lineup and added Marquis, Suppan, Mulder, Weaver, Wainwright, Looper, and Isringhausen.

    None of those guys came from their minor leagues and were the critical players for their success. Shrewd trades (Quintana) and free agent signings to fill in a need (Lester, Lackey).

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Klerksdorp replaced bream, than from the system chipper jones, Andrew jones,can't remember the catchers name, than Jeff blouseramung others. The cards also the same. The point was their systems provided an ample amoun of olayers and. Wasn't drained to win now.

  • In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    Added minor league players kinda like the Cubs did to win a championship? Those teams were not built on the minor leagues.

    Chipper to ATL is like Bryant to the Cubs.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Significant guys the Braves signed/traded for: Pendleton, Maddux, McGriff, Nixon (I don't see Berryhill or Bream as significant players). Guys they developed: Glavine, Smoltz (he came over in trade for Doyle Alexander), Chipper & Andruw Jones, David Justice, Javy Lopez.

    I would argue that, with the possible exception of Smoltz depending on how you want to credit him (Tigers or Braves) the "core" of the team was home grown. I went over it in another thread that the trade of David Justice allowed them to get a seasoned lead-off guy in Kenny Lofton for one year, take advantage of VERY favorable "compensation" for losing a FA, break Andruw Jones in slowly and clear salary space used to re-sign Maddux and Glavine in the near future. Schierholz could have traded Jones in order to keep Justice but he didn't.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    So bringing in MVP candidates in McGriff and Pendleton and Cy Maddux are outweighed by home grown talent? They got Smlotz in a deal--does not count. Unless the Cubs claim Russell is home grown. And I can assure you without the three above there was no run of titles.

    Fact remains no team is home grown. Shrewd trades, minor league development and turning short-term assets into long term ones all go hand in hand. This is the formula the above referenced Beaves and Cards used as well as our Cubs.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    rbrucato,
    I am sorry. I didn't mean to imply that teams are entirely home grown. I guess I consider the team with whom a player makes his debut to be the team that developed him. Many players are traded around, especially when very young.

    As for the acquisitions of Maddux, McGriff, Pendleton etc. being outweighed by homegrown talent? How many WS did those guys win AWAY from ATL?

    My point is that you need to make sure that you are maintaining good guys coming up over time and able to continue to develop talent in the minor leagues and not just say, "OK, we have our team. Let's ride them as far as they'll go." To me it is far more sustainable to make sure that the team continues to develop talent and not just trade it away. Judicious trades are possible. But some teams go overboard and pay a price 3-5 years down the road.

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    In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    Catcher Javy Lopez?

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I am guessing its Javy. Why would anyone bring up Damon Berryhill. What about ole Otis Nixon ?

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Jim,
    I still remember being excited for top Cubs prospect Damon Berryhill to be called up from the minors. Let's just say I forgot about Damon Berryhill more than he made me forget about Johnny Bench.

    As for Javy Lopez. Last year in the playoffs an ESPN writer wrote, "No one expected Javy Lopez to steal home." Yeah, that got skewered pretty bad.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    yes, thanks

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    In reply to DLROBERTSON:

    Damon Berryhill?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I brought up Damon Berryhill because he hit a GW HR in the World Series, if you recall. I would say that was pretty significant to their success and he was not a Braves farmhand. Obviously not a superstar nor did I imply that.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    no

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I keep a spreadsheet to track the players salaries and overall payroll with projections in the future. In 2021 and forward it may balloon to $300-$400M to resign players and the last few years of arbitration. We won't be able to pay everyone mostly because of the luxury tax.

    However, that's 4-5 years away, and we should have in house solutions by then. That's why the lower farm system now isn't worrisome. We have pretty much all of our position players and a decent amount of the rotation until then and they're young approaching their prime. The half of the rotation is the problem but we no longer need a TOR and our list is more pitchers than hitters now.

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    In reply to Q Cubs:

    I am fine with your projections as long as you are aware that it likely contains some assumptions. For instance, not many predicted that Schwarber would have as much trouble as he has had. I also seem to have missed those who foresaw Heyward's troubles when he was signed. Good young players sometimes regress as they age, or at least stagnate and cease to progress. And predicting performance 4-5 years down the road is tricky at best. We can give good estimates using algorithms and past data along with experience. But there is always the chance that a player will NOT continue to improve.

    I am not saying that because the Cubs have a fairly depleted farm system that this is a travesty and must be remedied. I am also not saying that the trades made were not worth what we got--though there have been ones that I disagreed with. I am simply saying that a farm system has value. While I believe that the FO will rebuild it the process might not work as well this time around. And to me to blithely say, "Yes the farm system is bad it won't be a problem for 4-5 years so don't worry about it, " seems like dangerous premise to operate under.

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