Leveling Up Series: Nelson Velazquez Is Powering Up for 2018

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By Todd Johnson

When Eloy Jimenez was traded in the middle of last summer, my heart was somewhat broken as I became quite attached to watching him play and was hopeful that he would be ready for the 2018 season. I didn’t think the Cubs had anybody with that type of power potential in the system. Little did I know, at that time, the Cubs drafted a power monster a month earlier in the fifth round.

As spring training looms on the horizon for the minor-league camp, I am looking forward to seeing what Nelson Velasquez can do. In just six weeks at Mesa in 2017, he hit 10 home runs between the regular season and the playoffs. He hit almost .300 for the month of August and drove in 14 runs that month. He drew rave reviews for his hit tool and his athleticism in the field, some suggesting he could stick in centerfield. Jason McLeod even added that Velazquez, while a physical specimen at 6’0” 190 lbs., could add a couple more inches and 15-20 pounds.

Here’s what Fangraphs had to say about Velasquez back in November:

Velazquez is raw but has louder tools than are typically found for $400,000. He projects for plus raw power, and amateur scouts had a 55 on his speed. We saw fringe speed in the AZL but knew there was a hamstring issue present. He projects to an outfield corner. Velazquez is thick through the thighs and butt, and scouts have his frame comp’d to corner outfielders (Jorge Bonifacio, Yoenis Cespedes, and Scott Schebler), so most have him projected there despite the present 55 wheels.

Basic info…
6’0” 190
Turned 19 in December
Bats Right
Throws Right
5th Round Pick 2017
PJ Education HS, Puerto Rico

Leveling Up in 2018
For the 2018 season, Velasquez has only one thing to do and that is to reduce his 30% strikeout rate. That’s an astronomical figure for such a young player.

One thing I like to do with a prospect is to breakdown their season into smaller sections of performance. In July, Velasquez struck out 11 times in 31 at bats (35%) and did not get a walk once. In August, things improved slightly as he whiffed 25 times in 75 at-bats (33%) but drew 14 walks for a .408 OBP. However, in the playoffs, he struck out 6 times in 14 at-bats (43%) with 2 walks (.385 OBP) but cranked out 2 HRs and drove in 9 over 5 games. Wow!

And that’s the thing, he may strike out, but he also hits a lot of balls very, very hard including over the fence.

Currently there is no one like him with his potential for power in the system. He’s gonna be one of the more interesting watches this spring in camp. His career could go several different ways in 2018.

1. The Cubs could take the conservative route with him and just let him do extended spring training and then ship them off to Eugene for the summer and keep him there.

2. Depending on how he does in spring training, he could begin the year in extended spring training and move to South Bend for the second half. That would be a bit advanced and an aggressive move to speed up his development.

3. The most likely career route for Velazquez in 2018 would be for him to do extended spring training, get shipped up to Eugene, and then have his career reevaluated in early August. If he still is striking out at a high rate, then keep them in Eugene. Playoff races in Eugene and South Bend could also affect his placement in late August. If Eugene is in and South Bend is out, keep him in Eugene. If South Bend is in and Eugene is out, ship him to South Bend.

The third scenario is the most likely and probably the one that could achieve what the Cubs think Velasquez needs to work on. Ideally, you want him to get as much game experience as you can. Then again, he’s only 19 and he’s not going to Chicago this year. The Cubs can let him get 300 at-bats in this year to improve that plate discipline and develop it as they see fit.

What could spoil all this is if Velasquez just comes out and start ripping the cover off the ball at every stop. PK Park in Eugene is not known as a home run haven, but Velasquez could turn it into one…quickly.

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Draft Update – Opening Weekend and Following Schools This Spring

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By Todd Johnson

Now that the college baseball season is fully underway, I spent part of Sunday morning checking box scores and game reports from several colleges in both Division I and Division II baseball. For some prospects, it was a rough weekend.

It was sad to see TCU’s Luken Baker take one to the face in the field and have to leave the game. He should be fine. In fact, on Sunday, he came back and was jammed on one pitch but still managed to hit it 400+ feet for a HR. Connecticut curveball specialist Tim Cate struggled in his debut as he gave up 4 earned runs in 5.2 IP. Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman was almost invisible going 2-17 for the weekend. Mississippi State lefty Konnor Pilkington did OK as he gave up 2 earned in 4, but whiffed 6.

Other top players soared. Seth Beer was…Seth Beer. The Clemson outfielder went 3 for 8 with a HR, a double, and 1 RBI. Kentucky’s athletic outfielder, Tristan Pompey, went 8 for 17 (.471) with a HR and 3 driven in for the weekend. And Griffin Conine of Duke went 4 for 8 in his first three games with a dinger and 3 runs plated. In addition, Stanford’s Tristan Beck returned to the mound and looked very good for the Cardinal going 5 innings and striking out six while allowing four hits but no runs. I really like him, too, despite him missing all of 2017 with a bad back.

In following the draft, most years I focused just on who the Cubs might be able to take with their first pick or in a compensation around. This year, I originally felt a little burned out covering that. As a result, I am not into doing the big profiles throughout the spring. However, I unintentionally started focusing in on players the Cubs might able to get with their second round pick at #63 and their two compensation picks in the late 70s/early 80s. With those three picks, the Cubs should come away with a nice haul of talent that should help refurbish the farm system.

For some strange reason, I started looking at several Division II Schools around the country to see if I could find any sleepers. I found a few that will bear watching over the course of the season. It still might be too early to cover all of them it, but it’s not too early to cover some of them.

What seems to be happening in my ever widening expanse to cover possible prospects for the draft is that I am starting to focus more in on programs than on individual players. Some of these are Division I programs and some are Division II schools.

Wichita State
Since day one of my draft coverage, I have been stuck on 3B Alec Bohm and OF Greyson Jenista. Both who, right now, could be around at #24. Both also got off to a great start on opening day as each hit a home run. For now, I am sticking with Bohm as the player the Cubs should take at #24. Despite his lack of defensive prowess, that bat is too special. For the weekend, he hit .545 with 7 RBI in 3 games. Jenista did well, too, hitting .417 with 4 runs driven in. Those two will be fun to watch all year.

Cal Baptist
This school has been a pitching factory the past few years. Next year, the program makes the jump from Division II to Division I. Currently, the arm that I am interested in is Junior Justin Montgomery. At 6’5”, the slender right-hander is trending upward after a great summer in the Cape Cod League. He throws in the low to mid 90s and is developing his secondaries nicely. He got in 33 innings last summer with a 3.00 ERA with 33 Ks and 13 BBs. What I like most is that he improving and developing from year to year and experience to experience. In his first start this year, he went 4, gave up an unearned run on 3 hits and struck out 8. While he is not going to be a first round pick, he definitely should be around for rounds 2-4.

Justin Montgomery

Tampa University
This Division II school has three great pitching prospects. One is David LeBron who is extremely athletic and has K/9 rate of 10.80 in 3 starts so far. Cole Aker, who transferred from North Carolina, has a 2.63 ERA so far in 2 starts while reliever Mark Moclair has whiffed 20 out of the pen in 12 IP for 15.00 K/9 rate.

Stetson
Logan Gilbert is one of the top draft prospects and the Cubs will have no shot at taking him as he will be long gone by the time number 24 rolls around. Junior Jack Perkins, not to be confused with HS prospect Jack Perkins, was dominant in his Saturday debut going 7.1 IP with 10 Ks.

Kentucky
In addition to Pompey, the giant right-handed starter Sean Hjelle went 6 innings and gave up 1 run as he struck out 3 and walked two while only giving up two hits. It was a nice debut. However, Hjelle was overshadowed by another tall pitcher. 6’7” righty Justin Lewis whiffed 9 in 6 and gave up 2 hits on opening night but did not allow a run. The Wildcats look pretty good.

Florida State
RHP Cole Sands (Carson’s brother) was dominant in his debut with 9 Ks in 5 innings. 2017 Cubs’ draftee Andrew Karp pitched in relief and struck out 2 in 1.1 innings.

Tracking these players and schools should be exciting every weekend. It will be fun to watch them develop over the next three months.

The Weekly – Random News from Mesa, Keith Law Draft Info, and More International Free Agents

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By Todd Johnson

As spring training got underway, I was getting ready for what I call my busy season, which actually began yesterday with a Scholastic bowl tournament. Throw in a history fair and seven nights of Scholastic bowl meets and you have my life through March 15. I am pretty sure I am going to be dragging but it still allows me plenty of time to recoup before spring break starts and spring training ends.

As a result, anytime I had an idea pop into my head this week, I pondered about whether to write a full-blown post about it, or just a small blurb in this column. So, I just cited to get some ideas down now and maybe I can expand upon them more at a later time.

Darvish Impact on Minors
With an opt out clause after two years, that clause does buy the Cubs a couple more years to develop some arms to take Darvish’s place should he leave via free agency. A lot can happen to a pitching prospect in two years. So, it’s a little hard to justify a full-blown post about the topic right now. While some may think that Adbert Alzolay might be one of those who could start in 2020. Thomas Hatch, Duncan Robinson, Alex Lange, Jose Albertos and few more will have their name in that hat.

3 More Coming to Camp
The Cubs invited three more non-roster players to spring training. They were all catchers and many are very familiar to most of you. Cael Brockmeyer, Erick Castillo, and PJ Higgins all got the call.

2 New International Signees
Per Arizona Phil, the Cubs signed two more Cuban international free agents this week. Kevin Moreno is a 17-year-old third baseman who does not have a lot of experience playing international baseball. Pitcher Raidel Orta played in the Serie Nacional when he was 18 in 2014/15. He missed the last two years after defecting. Now at 22, it should be interesting to see just exactly what he has and how much he can improve over the course of the year playing in the US. I’m very interested to see where the Cubs place both prospects after spring training. I made a spreadsheet that has the Cubs last few international classes. Use the tabs at the bottom to go from year to year.

Draft Rankings
Keith Law of ESPN released his top 30 draft prospects (subscription required) for 2018. While he did not place players with teams, he did rank them from 1 to 30. While I can’t get into specifics about who was ranked where, it’s quite clear the Cubs are going to get an outstanding player at number 24. Law’s rankings are quite different from MLB Pipeline’s top 50 and the first 30 in Baseball America’s top 200. His list is a perfect example of the rise and fall of many prospects and the differentiation in evaluation. As a result, one name Cubs fans may want to add to the list is Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman.

A Bunch of Arms
Cubs also moved pitcher Drew Smyly to the 60 day DL and signed reliever Shae Simmons to a split major/minor league contract. The Cubs signed several pitchers this off-season including Anthony Bass, Daniel Camarena, Michael Roth, Dario Alvarez, Randy Rosario, Cory Mazzoni, Kyle Ryan, Alberto Baldonado, Luke Farrell, and Simmons. I don’t think many of these guys stand much of a chance of making the major leagues bullpen and only a few will probably break camp in the Cubs’ minor-league system. I can see Camarena getting an opportunity to start in the minors at either Iowa or Tennessee. Rosario and Ryan have an outside shot to make the major leagues roster but will need some help and the same is true of Farrell, who is more of a starting pitcher. I don’t think Alvarez, Bass, and even the new signee Simmons have much of a shot. I think the Cubs are pretty clear on just exactly who is going to be in their bullpen. I’ll probably talk about this more as spring training wears on and players get some work in.

Coming Up this Week
On Wednesday the “Leveling Up” series begins to wind down as I look at outfielder Nelson Velasquez. On Friday, I should have something for you either about the bullpen or about young Latin arms coming into the system in 2018. On Saturday the 24th, I will be with my students participating in the history fair at NIU and then “Spring Training News and Notes” will take over for “The Weekly” on Sundays until the season begins. I am also pondering a draft article that looks at a few players beyond the first round.

Baseball Card of the Week

10 Things I Think – Minor League Spring Training Edition

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By Todd Johnson

This is like the fourth different incarnation of this post. Some of that was influenced by what talent evaluators reported on, some came from ideas some of you piqued in me, and last but not least, some ideas came from trends about certain players that I am interested or curious to see play out.

So, without further adieu, here are 10 things I am thinking about heading into the MiLB portion of Spring Training.

1. Danis Correa
First, I want a picture of him as I can’t seem to find a free one just yet. He’s 18, he’s right-handed, he’s from Colombia, and he throws in the upper 90s. Heading into camp, he’s my breakout pitcher of camp. The problem is he does have control issues, especially with his secondaries. The Cubs will probably take it slow with him in 2018. Eugene looks to be his destination after spending last year in the DSL and getting 2 games in with Mesa. What Jose Albertos was in 2016, Correa will be in 2018, without the injury or shutdown.

2. The Return of Erick Leal
The big right-hander will be returning to the system this year after missing all of 2017. He should be at AA Tennessee to begin the year. It’ll be interesting to see how surgery has affected his ability to pitch and how the Cubs handle his return back to action. Will it be in highly controlled starts? Will he relieve? Will he be a piggyback or have someone piggyback for him?

3. The Dream Outfield
Eugene’s amazing outfield will be filled, right now, with three 19-year-olds in Jonathan Sierra, Fernando Kelli, and Nelson Velazquez. Within a year, they could take over the position in the system and rush up some prospect lists. All three are extremely different but have a mixture of power, potential, and speed. There is currently no rush to move one of them along, but it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them just took off. When I do Eugene’s annual “Preview of their Preview” post, those three will be the focus of the article.

4. Trevor Clifton
When Trevor is pitching well, it is a thing of beauty. He looks fluid, even elastic, as if he and his muscles are not even thinking about what they are doing. “Rock and fire” would be an old school description of that type of delivery. He needs to get back to that in 2018.

5. The Mexican Pitching Connection
The Cubs will have several prospects at South Bend this year who hail from Mexico. Most notable are pitchers Jose Albertos, Javier Assad, and Jesus Camargo. When the Cubs started getting into the Mexican market a few years ago, they didn’t face much competition for prospects. Now, the Cubs dominate international signings in Mexico. This year will be a test of those prospects’ talent. Add in Faustino Carrera (Eugene) and Florencio Serrano (Mesa) and there should be a whole rotation-plus of Mexican arms in the lower part of the system.

6. Carlos Sepulveda
After a horrible first month at Myrtle Beach that was exacerbated by an injury, Sepulveda missed the next three months before showing up in the Arizona Rookie League for the final few weeks of the season. He looked pretty good in Mesa and hopefully he can return to being one of the best second baseman in all of the minors, not just in the Cubs’ system. I am hoping he goes to Tennessee, but I would imagine he begins the year in Myrtle Beach.

7. Bailey Clark
He’s my sleeper pitcher for this year. Word is he healthy, better, faster, stronger, and ready to go for 2018. At times over the past two summers, he flashed some major potential at Eugene. He should begin the year at South Bend or Myrtle Beach and don’t be surprised to see speeds on his fastball back over 95.

8. The Resurrection of Jose Paulino
For a lack of better phrase, 2017 was quite the learning experience for Paulino. After a dominant run in 2016, he had it handed to him at times last spring. After an attitude readjustment, he pitched well in the second half for South Bend and my expectation is that he is going to be more like 2016

9. The Other Pitching Draft Picks
Much has been written about Lange and Little, but that will change this season. The Cubs signed 19 pitchers from last year’s draft. Cory Abbott and Jeremiah Estrada have gotten some press along with Keegan Thompson. By the end of camp, or the end of April at the latest, there should be several other names that Cubs fans should get familiar with like Brendan King, Erich Uelmen, Rollie Lacy, Ricky Tyler Thomas, Ben Hecht, and Jake Steffens.

10. Just Picking Six Pitchers a Month
Every month for the past few years, I make a Cubs monthly minor league all-star team. How am I going to limit the starting pitchers to just six arms this year? It seems almost like an impossible task. Then again, it’s a good problem to have. I started making the Pre-Season team this past weekend and just doing the rotation put me in the frame of mind that it is going to be a very hard problem to deal with every month but one that I will enjoy.

Leveling Up Series: Fernando Kelli Should Be One to Watch

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By Todd Johnson

Card made from a photo by John Arguello

When spring training begins, I’m sure there’s going to be a buzz around the back fields about just what Fernando Kelli can do. The young 19-year-old outfielder had one of the best offensive seasons by any Cubs hitting prospect in 2017. He hit .320 with an on-base percentage of .437 while stealing 58 bases. Granted, it was the Dominican Summer League, but 58 bases is 58 bases.

The problem with profiling Kelli is there is not that much written on him. I could sit here and scout the stat line for you but that’s not gonna tell us who he is. The only person to catch a glimpse of Kelli in the US was the late John Arguello for 2080 Baseball. John wrote:

“…Another switch-hitting, speedy center fielder the Cubs signed in this 2015 IFA class. He shows good range in the outfield, and his slight build (6-feet tall and 180 pounds) indicates his game will built around getting on base and taking advantage of his plus speed. He needs to add some strength, and his bat isn’t as far along as his base running and defense at present”.

That is it.

Fangraphs has very little other than stats, the same for Baseball Reference, and MLB.com.

Basic Info
19-years-old
Bats – Switch
Throws – Right
Signed in 2015 as an international free agent out of Venezuela

Card made from a photo by John Arguello

Leveling Up

58 Stolen bases in one season of rookie ball has really grabbed a lot of people’s attention along with his outstanding batting average and on-base percentage. At just 19 years of age, I don’t think there’s a lot of hype surrounding him, but it’s more like, “What can this kid do?” versus any kind of expectation about performance.

Unless his hit tool is extraordinary, he should probably begin this year in extended spring training (EXST). Then, depending on how he does in EXST, it could determine whether the 19-year-old outfielder goes all the way up to South Bend in mid-to-late May, or if he has to wait for Eugene or Mesa in the middle of June. I am speculating Eugene but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in South Bend.

In a system somewhat devoid of any high-end hitting prospects, Kelli’s 2017 season is more about promise than it is about future performance. It’s hard in this day and age, with all the technology and information on the Internet, for a player to just sneak up on a fanbase. Heading in the spring training, I am very curious as to what he can do as a hitter and defender. I’m pretty sure that once he gets on base, he can run. 58 stolen bases tell us that.

It’s pretty cool that he is a bit of a mystery and I’m looking forward to seeing how he answers a lot of questions this spring.

 

Cubs 2018 Spring Training Preview: Just a Few Answers Still Left

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By Todd Johnson

Heading into spring training, there are a few things that still need answered. Some are about roster positions, some are about roles, and some are just glimpses into the future. Considering how sloth-like the off-season went, I was finding it hard to get pumped up for spring training until Saturday’s signing. However, these answers could be very different in June and July than they are now.

1. The Yu Effect on the Bullpen
With Darvish in the rotation and Mike Montgomery heading back to the bullpen, there will be an odd man out. It could by Justin Grimm. It could be Dillon Maples. Although, Grimm’s long term future as a Cub might just a synonym for his last name and his outlook as a Cub. Clearly, Maples has MLB stuff and he’s ready to be ready. He was the minor league star of the convention. Dillon was all over the place that weekend, giving interviews, signing autographs, and taking questions. I would love to see Maples break camp and head off to Miami. He has the pitches needed to succeed. Now, he just needs the opportunity.

2. Is the backup catcher position Victor Caratini’s to lose?
At first, yes. Now with Yu in tow, I wonder if Chris Gimenez will get the roster spot. Caratini’s bat is going to play well enough for him to make the team. The only questions about Victor’s game are on the defensive end. At Iowa last year, he caught 15 out of 40 baserunners and 2 out of 6 in the majors. Those are decent enough numbers to get him the backup job.  However, the Yu signing changes things.

There just aren’t enough at-bats for three guys considering Contreras’ brilliance at the plate and behind it. I doubt if the Cubs carry both Gimenez and Caratini. It is likely one or the other. You can also add in the fact that the Cubs may need to carry an extra pitcher until arms are stretched out a bit. As a result, I think the Cubs break camp with 13 pitchers and only 2 catchers.

3. Are there going to be any kind of defined roles coming out of the pen?
This is not going to be answered for quite a while and most certainly not in spring training. In fact, the bullpen on Opening Day could be drastically different in August depending on their ability to throw strikes. Right now, Brandon Morrow is the closer. Whether he can do that on a regular basis is up in the air, but Theo Epstein is extremely confident that Morrow can. I really don’t care about who is closing games in spring training as it not a realistic setting to establish roles.

Still, a lot of the roles are going to be fluid this year. With the addition of Cishek and Morrow, Maddon can mix and match on a daily basis depending on the situation and hitter. As the summer goes on, the pen could have a new cast of characters depending on who can throw strikes.

4. Who is going to bat leadoff?
I would like to see someone consistently in that position that can get on at a decent pace for Bryant and Rizzo to drive in. Right now, I am not opposed to most of the team in that spot except for Bryant and Rizzo. In a perfect world, I would like to go with Willson at the top. Ideally, though, you want a left-handed bat to balance Bryant and Rizzo. If Willson leads off, that would require Rizzo batting second and Bryant third. I am not sure if I would like that. As a result, I am sure Maddon will go with Schwarber at several points this spring as well as Happ, Heyward, Almora, Bryant, and Baez. If you watch Joe speak, you can tell he wants Schwarber there. As well as the Cubs hit, it shouldn’t be an issue. But, it’s the issue that is not going to die.

5. Which minor-league starting pitchers are going to shine in the major league Spring Training games?
There will be several minor league arms that will get a chance this spring. Jen-Ho Tseng, Alec Mills, Duane Underwood, Eddie Butler, Luke Farrell, Rob Zastryzny, and Oscar de la Cruz could all take a couple of turns on the bump. However, the arm everyone wants to see out there is Adbert Alzolay. While Alzolay has no shot of breaking camp with the big leaguers, his spring will tell the Cubs how close he is and what he needs to work on (changeup).

As spring training goes on, I am sure more answers will be needed as events will unfold that change how the complexion of how the team looks and feels heading into the season. Who knows? There might be more answers needed at the end of spring training than at the beginning.

The Weekly: The Yu Effect, Prospect Ranking Totals, and Looking for Two Pics

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By Todd Johnson

I am still so excited! I haven’t been this pumped up since November of 2016!

Cubs fans are now just 4 days away from meeting Yu Darvish and him taking part in his first official practice this Thursday. Now, with Yu in the rotation, Mike Montgomery heads back to the pen. It makes me wonder who Dillon Maples has to get past to earn a spot. It also makes me wonder how much this could affect Justin Grimm, who no longer has a guaranteed contract after losing his arbitration case. 

The Cubs starting rotation is now very deep at the major league level. A staff of Hendricks, Quintana, Darvish, Lester, and Chatwood puts the team on par with any staff  in the majors. They aren’t going to go 162-0, but I could see the Cubs winning 95+ games in 2018. A week ago, without Darvish, the Cubs were predicted to win 89 games by Pecota. Darvish has to increase that win total at least 5 or 6 games.

About an hour after the signing, I began shifting my thoughts on the organizational impact this signing has. It puts in place a staff for at least the next two years, depending on when Darvish could opt out of his deal. It buys the Cubs time to develop several young arms. After the 2020 season, Darvish is the only current Cub in the rotation signed to a contract. Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, and Chatwood’s contracts all expire at the end of the 2020 season.

As a result, the Cubs’ young arms can be brought along and developed as assets, as Theo always intends. With so many young arms, the Cubs could have a large stockpile they could use in a deal later down the road while still being able to cherry pick the best of their own to keep. It’s a win-win scenario.

And finally, there is no compensation pick attached to Darvish. Because he was traded mid-season, the Cubs do not lose their second round pick. So, it looks like the Cubs will be picking up a pick should Arrieta sign soon. That would give them 4 picks in the top 75-80 selections.

In Prospect News…

Baseball Prospectus released their Top 101 prospects for 2018 and one Cub made the list. Adbert Alzolay came in at #95. Here is what John Eshleman of BP had to say about Adbert:

Alzolay has a starter’s delivery in a reliever’s body with a change-up that could push him to either role. Currently, the pitch is not playable to turn over MLB rotations, but he could right now get outs from a bullpen with his FB/SL combination, playing to higher end of velo band in short stints. The relative quietness of his delivery given his size, a result of plus athleticism and a strong lower half that stabilizes his delivery. I project change up and command improvement enough to keep Alzolay in an MLB rotation.

While Theo Epstein and the Cubs see Alzolay as a starter for now, Adbert still has some work to do to get there.

MLB Pipeline announced they will release their latest Cubs’ Top 30 Prospect list on Thursday February 22. Over the offseason, I have been keeping track of the prospect rankings and assigning points to where each player has been ranked. Using Baseball America, Fangraphs, John Sickels, Keith Law, Pipeline, and Baseball Prospectus, the leader in points right now is Adbert Alzolay followed by Aramis Ademan. Only one point separates the two. Pitcher Jose Albertos rounds out the top three. Then it is a while until fourth place. Here are the top nine point values so far.
Alzolay -56
Ademan – 55
Albertos -50
Lange – 36
de la Cruz – 30
Little – 27
Caratini – 25
Hatch – 19
Tseng – 12

I did include my Top 21’s top 10 in these results. However, I did not include Caratini as I don’t consider him a prospect. Normally, I usually include Cubs Den’s rankings, but this year Michael Ernst’s did not rank them. Rather he placed them in tiers. Although, Michael did have Jose Albertos as the lone Tier 1 prospect. I don’t think that his ranking them would have changed the list and its point totals and rankings much.

I don’t really think MLB Pipeline’s  list will change many people’s perceptions of either prospect or the Cubs as a whole. It has been a while since the Cubs did not had a clearly defined top prospect, let alone a top 100.

I hope that this summer sees some prospects like Albertos, Ademan, and Lange matriculate up to full season ball and onto prospect lists. Maybe next winter the Cubs could get 3-4 names on a list.

Also in prospect news, Fangraphs released their KOTAH projections. The list is a projection of WAR for the next five years at the MLB level. Two Cubs made the list. Charcer Burks came in at #61 with a projected WAR of 5 and Victor Caratini came in at #35 with a 6.7 WAR projection. I did not see Burks like that, but I like that he is highly thought of after a brilliant first half in 2017.

Just throwing this out there…

I am wanting to do profiles of two prospects but I don’t have pictures of them, yet. One is of Danis Correa, a pitcher who threw in just two games for Mesa after coming over from the DSL. The other is Jesus Tejada, who threw in the DSL the past two summers.

Upcoming Posts

This week, come Wednesday, Fernando Kelli gets profiled in the “Leveling Up” series. I really enjoyed profiling the excitement for the young outfielder. I also have two spring training previews for the major league camp and the minor league camp in the works for this week. The major league post hits Monday, the minors on Friday.

Baseball Cards of the Week