Last week I released my prospect rankings including an organizational watch list of well over one hundred players. It also included my full scouting report on the Cubs lone Tier 1 prospect, Jose Albertos. Today, I examine the next tier of prospects, comprised of five potential mid-rotation starters and three position players capable of securing long term everyday jobs.
I've condensed the main list into a table for reference below. The names in bold are members of the 40-man roster. The four italicized players, including Nelson Velazquez who we dig into today, are young players that I have yet to see myself so the scouting notes provided will be less detailed and based in part off reports from outside sources. I have broken up each tier into two distinct groups, one that includes the more advanced prospects with a higher probability of success, and then a second set of raw or boom/bust prospects designated by a lighter shade of color.
While Albertos was an extended spring training darling the past two years, the eight prospects highlighted today have garnered attention in the spotlight at various times as well. Oscar De La Cruz moved to the top of the Cubs MLB.com prospect rankings last season after the graduation of Ian Happ and the trade of Eloy Jimenez. Adbert Alzolay was the organization's breakout star in 2017. His hype extended into the offseason as the young righty made waves in the Arizona Fall League, then received a mention in the front office's postseason presser as a potential contributor down the stretch in 2018. Brendon Little and Alex Lange were both first round draft picks last June and Thomas Hatch was the club's top pick the previous summer, albeit in the 3rd round.
A surprising entry comes in the form of another 2017 draft selection, the aforementioned 5th rounder Nelson Velazquez, whose power outburst after signing propelled the AZL Cubs to the league championship crown. More recently, shortstop Aramis Ademan claimed the top spot in both the Baseball America and Fangraphs prospect rankings.
The one top prospect that has escaped national, and even much local attention, happens to be a personal favorite of mine, Miguel Amaya. It is easy to understand why fans and even reporters overlook his potential. Catchers known more for their glove than their bat are maybe the least sexy prospect type. But that does not diminish their true value or the organizational impact a player like Amaya can have down the road.
We know the front office values pitch framing and glove work behind the dish very highly. Willson Contreras may be entrenched at the position for a long time, and for good reason, but the front office has shown the value of possessing starting caliber players on the bench and Joe Maddon continually shows a willingness to get creative in order to get his best players on the field with regularity and in the best position to see them succeed.
Since we have more scouting reports to get to in this segment, without further ado, lets begin digging in.
As I mentioned in part one of this series I am still working out a clean method of incorporating video for some or all of the prospects discussed. My plan for now is to simply pick one of the prospects in each article and embed a short video segment to give readers a taste of the best, or in the case today, the player they may have seen the least: