By Todd Johnson
I used to think that Baseball Prospectus put a little shock value into their top prospect lists for the Cubs system. In 2015, BP selected Addison Russell as the Cubs top prospect over Kris Bryant. I understand that Addison Russell has MVP type qualities, but there’s no way they should’ve selected Russell over Bryant.
In 2016, BP picked Gleyber Torres over Wilson Contreras. It wasn’t as much of a shock. Contreras had one good season at the plate at AA Tennessee. Everybody knew he could play defense, but they were unsure if his 2015 season at Tennessee was an outlier. Otherwise, Willson would have been number one. His talent though proved to be more than anyone thought it could be heading into the season.
BP had a tough decision to make for the 2017 list. Would they follow suit with most other prognosticators and select Eloy number one? Would they go with Ian Happ? Or would they go with an outlier? In the days leading up to the list, the latter type of pick was going through my mind.
They began the list with this statement: “Flags fly forever, baby! (It’s not very strong at the top, but there’s a lot of interesting young upside plays further down the list).”
I think that statement is fairly accurate. The Cubs do have a few high profile bats in the top 5 but the rest of the list is still quite young and has yet to prove its muster past low A.
Then came the list.
1. OF Eloy Jimenez
2. 2B/OF Ian Happ
3. OF Albert Almora, Jr. (Almora has just a few at-bats before he loses his prospect status)
4. RHP Trevor Clifton
5. 3B Jeimer Candelario
6. RHP Jose Albertos
7. RHP Dylan Cease
8. RHP Oscar De La Cruz
9. OF Eddy Julio Martinez
10. RHP Thomas HatchIt’s a pretty straightforward list. It is not that much different than any other list we have been profiling the past month, or
It’s a pretty straightforward list. It is not that much different than any other list we have been profiling the past month, or mine. Nothing jumps out at you like in previous years. Cease is a little lower while Clifton and Albertos are a little higher. Hatch and Martinez are on this list but not on others. Mark Zagunis is not included in the top ten, but he gets props later at #11.
The interesting thing about the write-up by Jeffrey Paternostro is that it has a section on about what could happen to each prospect if things went south. For most, their worst case scenario ends at AA. Then again, I do not think in those measures.
Further down the article, Isaac Paredes, Donnie Dewees, and Jose Rosario got some BP love. Paredes could be the big breakout prospect this year. Paternostro even has a section on Duane Underwood. He states:
We pegged Underwood as a riser for 2016, but it didn’t quite work out that way. An elbow injury cost him some time, but even when he was on the mound, the stuff and command went in the wrong direction this year. He didn’t consistently show the mid-90s fastball of the past and the curve continued to just flash. He still struggles to throw strikes, and coupled with the recent arm woes, the Cubs might be best off moving the former second-round pick to the bullpen sooner rather than later.
While that assessment is extremely accurate, yesterday’s “Down on the Farm” segment painted a different picture of where Underwood is currently. In the video by Evan Altman, Jaron Madison discusses Duane in the very first minute.
It will be interesting to see how the players on this list, and the next five, develop over the course of the year. Some will rise, some will fall, and hopefully, some will make it Chicago for a good reason.
I should be back later today with with a post about Fangraphs’ top prospect list.