Cubs Prospect Midseason Statistical Update

Alex Lange (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Alex Lange (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

The Pitchers

We've seen a number of promotions among the Cubs top pitching prospects already this season. None have gotten the call to the big leagues as yet, but the talent is now beginning to accumulate in the mid-levels of the Cubs system and there are also a few that are now knocking on the door in Iowa.

Cory Abbott (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Cory Abbott (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Cory Abbott and Bailey Clark received call ups to Myrtle Beach after dominating Midwest League batters and have remained solid at their new level of competition. To make room with the Pelicans Matt Swarmer was summoned to Tennessee. The 24-year old was simply too advanced with his combination of command and newly found velocity. Trevor Clifton and Dakota Mekkes have both made their way to Iowa.

Clifton has recovered from a dreadful 2nd half of 2017, and is posting solid baseball card numbers, but he has now become an extreme fly ball pitcher that is seemingly benefiting from some luck keeping the ball in the ballpark. He has not managed to miss bats or generate grounders like he did with Myrtle Beach in 2016. I still believe his ultimate role is in the bullpen where his stuff should play up a bit so I am not overly concerned. The same goes for Duane Underwood, Jr. and Michael Rucker.

Outside of Abbott, Clark, Swarmer and Mekkes, the best performances in the system have been turned in by Alex Lange, Keegan Thompson, Rollie Lacy, and Erich Uelmen. Lange and Uelmen have both strung together long consecutive scoreless streaks. Lacy threw a combined no-hitter and Thompson tossed seven perfect innings earlier this month. Expect all four to receive promotions by the end of the season.

There has been little concern on the injury front. The issues facing Jose Albertos are seemingly mechanical and mental as his stuff still looks crisp when he is in control of it. Brendon Little is currently out with an  undisclosed injury, but it did not appear to be arm related. Bailey Clark has missed a few starts but is expected back soon. This will of course represent the final stats for Adbert Alzolay this season. The team is shutting him down for the rest of the year due to a lat injury. There is a possibility he returns to the mound in time to compete in the Arizona Fall League to make up some of the lost time. The injury is not overly serious but after Alzolay was delayed out of spring training due to an ankle injury he had only just gotten fully stretched out before suffering the lat strain and the team wants to be cautious with their top prospect.

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It is great to see Craig Brooks begin to harness his control and pitch with much more consistency this year. He was rewarded with a Southern League All-Star berth. The Cubs have begun to receive a much needed boost from the left handers in their system. Randy Rosario may be doing it with smoke and mirrors, but he has been doing the same thing since the start of spring training so we seem to be reaching the point where we may need to concede he is simply a statistical anomaly, but it bears keeping in mind that a regression is coming. An early season mechanical tweak has allowed Jordan Minch to take off. A move to the bullpen has given Manuel Rondon and Jose Paulino a jump start. Wyatt Short has continued to miss bats and generate ground balls at a high rate.

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The Hitters

David Bote (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

David Bote (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

We've discussed the breakout season for Miguel Amaya quite a bit already, but I would caution folks that his BABIP, HR/FB both indicate a regression is coming, and so does the fact that he has become a pronounced pull hitter as the season has progressed. Without an adjustment, I wouldn't count on him continuing at the same pace in the 2nd half. David Bote and Victor Caratini can both hit. But we knew that. It is a good sign to see Bote consistently tapping into his power now. He has taken over the organizational HR lead. The short season leagues have just kicked off so we will now begin getting a glimpse at most of the Cubs best hitting prospects. An important thing to note in the chart below is not just how young the Cubs position player prospects are but also how young they are for their leagues. We shouldn't expect eye popping numbers from any of these players outside Bote and Caratini.

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Some good, some bad with the rest of the hitters. Jared Young and Jhonny Pereda have broken out and have put themselves on the map as legitimate prospects. The rest of the players below have shown spurts of excellent play but many have also suffered through prolonged slumps as well.

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Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Michael. This chart is really good to compare our pitchers especially since we're used to reading you every day and do get a sense of what they're doing but this puts everything in perspective.
    I would guess that most teams would have a similar chart, hope with some pitchers, disappointment in others. I don't see any elite prospects but we knew that before, but maybe with work and growth we will be surprised.
    Thanks again.

  • fb_avatar

    Thanks Michael. Love your work. Are any of these pitchers getting props among the scouting networks more generally vis a vis pitchers in other systems. It sure feels like there is a lot of depth suddenly but is anyone viewed as suddenly reaching or exceeding a previous perceived ceiling.

  • In reply to Dave Sampsell:

    Not really. Pitchers in the system still viewed as a bunch of 4/5th starters or MIR by every outlet I've seen. And honestly that is a pretty accurate assessment of their talent levels. I am a bit higher on a few guys (Mekkes, Clark, Underwood, among others) than most but it is more that I have great faith that those guys will reach their ceiling as impact relievers where as I think most national prognosticators are still in a wait and see mode.

    Lange and Little have the ability to change the perception a bit if they continue to pitch like potential MOR guys like they have flashed in recent starts. Alzolay and Albertos aren't goig to be able to change anyone's minds this season. ODLC, I guess could have a big 2nd half, but given he is already nearing his career high for IP, my hope and expectation for him the rest of the year is just to build up innings and stay healthy. It isn't about numbers for him this year outside of IP. Those are really the only 5 guys with much upside.

    I love the number of bullpen arms that the team has amassed though and there is also plenty of depth in potential BOR guys. The beauty of the pitching in Cubs system is that its value isn't tied to one guy. They have managed to avoid significant arm injuries to nearly every one of their top prospects. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact guys that will end up filling roles, but I do feel confident in saying that several future roles with the big club, be it BOR and a couple of leverage relief roles will get filled by this crop of arms.

    Same kind of goes for the hitters. I do think some of the teenagers on the Eugene club could start getting some recognition, but that is more likely to come next season.

  • Excellent summary, Michael. Thanks.

    Please refresh my mind on the colors on the left of the charts. They clearly seem to go down in quality as you go down the chart, but I couldn't tell if there was some particular measure of skill that you were sorting on, or whether it was your overall evaluation of them. For example, why is Jared Young so low on the charts, and why is Alzolay so high?

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Blue corresponds to a tier of players with the upside to be above average starters and MOR pitchers.
    Orange corresponds to low end starters/platoon guys/BOR/LIR.
    Gold for bench players/Swing starters/middle relievers/specialists.

    Then each color has three distinct shades with the darker shades representing the more polished and higher probability with the lighter shades each representing greater risk.

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