If you are looking for a Cubs prospect list that is aggressive, balls to the wall, and different from every other list, I have found it for you. Surprisingly, it is not Baseball Prospectus. It is not Keith Law who ranks someone abnormally high this time; This year, that award goes to Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen.
Fangraphs is one of my favorite prospect lists because it releases a lot of information about the prospect and includes video. This year Longenhagen went 23 deep with Cub prospects. There are several inclusions in the list that some may consider stunning, but I have talked about all of them at some point over the past six months. The names sound familiar, but their placement should not.
Eloy came in at number one. Ian Happ was at number two. Trevor Clifton, Mark Zagunis, Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, and Albert Almora also made the top 10.
What is different is they are all over the top 10. We are used to seeing Candelario somewhere around number four and Almora in the top five for the past year. Trevor Clifton ascended into the top five on many other lists. For Fangraphs, he comes in at number eight.
After that, all hell breaks loose
Oscar de la Cruz came in at number three while Jose Albertos shook things up at the number five slot. The sight of de la Cruz it number three I find strange because he missed half the year last year. What I think Longenhagen is doing is projecting out how that prospect will be doing in the future. In that sense, I think Oscar could be a top-five prospect at the end of the year, but he has top three talent now.
As for Albertos, this is his highest ranking on any prospect list. I also find that interesting because he only pitched four innings last year. However, he did dazzle man throughout spring training and extended spring training last year, including Arizona Phil, Jim Callis, and John Arguello. With upper 90s heat and excellent command, if Jose is healthy, he might be the one pitcher to watch. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be in Eugene to limit his innings and exposure coming off an injury that caused him to miss most of the year. Even though I know he has all this talent and command, I don’t know yet if he’s that much better than Dylan Cease who is ranked a little lower.
And I think that’s going to be the true nature of any prospect list for the Cubs the next couple of years. There’s gonna be a lot of movement up-and-down the list as players begin to develop and, even more importantly, begin to produce at the minor-league level.
Other surprises: We are not done yet
Jose Rosario made the top 10 as well. That caught my eye because he’s only a reliever. If he was a starter, I might find it more plausible. I don’t disagree with the selection because the arm is at an elite level.
As for other prospects on the list, DJ Wilson just missed the top 10 at number 11. Eddy Martinez got the number 12 spot. Even Felix Pena made the list at number 15. Thomas Hatch and Isaac Paredes came in at 16 and 17, respectively. Duane Underwood dropped all the way to 22 and Bailey Clark, who I have sung the praises of for the past six months, taps in at number 23.
I think the biggest surprise in the second 10 is Aramis Ademan at number 13. The young 17-year-old shortstop has yet to even play one inning in the states.
What I find most interesting is that Fangraphs’ list is much more about projection than it is about production and current skill levels. For example, here’s what Longenhagen said about Aramis Ademan.
His hands and actions are smooth in the field and quick and angry in the batter’s box. Ademan takes aggressive hacks and makes surprisingly loud contact for a player his size. His patient approach and advanced pitch recognition have allowed him to avoid excessive strikeouts so far. He has the bat speed to become an above-average hitter if things get polished up; given that he’s just 18, that’s really all I care about. He likely won’t ever have more than 40 game power, but an above-average hitter with below-average power who plays an average shortstop is a good everyday player. I think there’s a chance for that here.
I truly like that brashness of how Longenhagen compiled this list. I completely understand it, I just don’t know if I would have the cajones to rank some of these players that high this early in their career. It’s clear he values projection more than production. After all, isn’t that what a prospect list is for?
Sometimes, I wonder if some lists should be more about production and development. And that is the crux of the matter as a prospect list is supposed to evaluate talent in the system and assign a value to that talent. It’s not about what they do in the minor leagues, it’s more about what they could do in the majors.