Wow: The Chicago Cubs Have the 5th Best Farm System According to Keith Law

baez almora solerESPN’s Keith Law has long had an ugly reputation with Chicago Cubs fans, for reasons that are almost certainly entirely unfair. There is a persistent belief among some that Law has always hated on the Cubs more harshly than other organizations. It’s probably more reflective of the Cubs’ poor farm system over the past 10 years than anything else, but, hey, that’s how it’s played out. Law has just called it like he’s seen it.

Well, I think Law will be turning around a bit in those folks’ eyes after just releasing his organizational rankings for 2013. The Chicago Cubs came in 5th. That’s likely to be the highest the organization will be ranked by any rankings service, and, frankly, seems higher than even I would have thought they could possibly fall.

From Law:

The Cubs’ rebuilding process isn’t much further along than the Twins’ or the Astros’ in terms of time, but they spent extravagantly in the international market before the new CBA’s restrictions went into effect last summer, landing the Cuban toolshed Jorge Soler (and the Cuban flop Gerardo Concepcion, but we’re not going to talk about him), then later using their international pool money on the Dominican pitcher with an electric arm currently known as Juan Carlos Paniagua, who has gone through more names than the thief known as Parker. The Cubs also scored big in last year’s draft, addressing the system’s lack of starting pitching candidates while also bulking up its depth in outfield prospects.

There isn’t a lot there to explain why Law has such an elevated ranking for the Cubs, but we do know that he is higher on Arodys Vizcaino than most (when Law’s top 100 comes out later this week, you can expect to see Vizcaino on it), which probably helps. And if he’s high on Paniagua – a prospect many other rankings services ignore until he shows a bit more Stateside – that could be another reason. Add those together with the usual suspects, and you’ve got a pretty great system.

The organizations ranked ahead of the Cubs are, in order: the Cardinals (sigh), the Twins, the Rays, and the Astros.

It’s important to remember that ranking organizations is a very, very imprecise game. But Law’s top 5 ranking, together with John Sickels’ top 10 ranking, suggests the Cubs’ system is finally considered one of the better groups in baseball. And with another high pick in the Draft, together with some possible sell trades on the way, the Cubs could be even higher at this time next year. That will, of course, be especially true if the players at the lowest levels of the system – on whom so much of our hopes are riding – actually step forward and develop this year.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

129 responses to “Wow: The Chicago Cubs Have the 5th Best Farm System According to Keith Law”

  1. Cedlandrum

    The Cardinals have really gotten their act together as far as the system. They were dreadful in the not to distant past- like 2010. Ranked 29. Just goes to show you can turn it around quickly.

    1. Rich H

      Have the Cards finally got their act together really? I mean the players that were considered the 29th ranked system are the same one the Cardinals now have as important pieces. The Cards just seem to develop kids the right way and they have for years.

      They have more sizzle in some prospects now but this is the problem with these rankings. Not every Sizzle guy is going to be great (or even average) and not every lowly ranked prospect is going to be blah.

      The Cardinals are good as an organization at teaching baseball plain and simple. They develop a kids natural talent into a good skill set. I kind of think that the Cubs in a lot of ways are copying the way the Cardinals are going about things (if you Read the interview with McKay the other day then it is a little more apparent).

      So keep these ranking in perspective when you start talking about what a club is not doing or doing now. The ultimate measure of a farm system is the amount it helps the big club get to the World Series. Even when the system was ranked horrible that is exactly what the St Louis system does.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        No, this re-ranking really has to do with the players that they were acquiring at that time: in particular, 2009 & 2010 signees. It’s not that they taught the guys in AA & AAA from 2010 how to play baseball: it’s that they added a bunch of guys to the lower levels who had good baseball tools.

        And as for the Cubs copying McKay, well, keep in mind that McKay was (and is) “copying” what the Sox were doing in many ways.

        1. Rich H

          OK that 29th ranked classes top 10 prospects for the Cardinals were in order…..

          1 Shelby Miller…… Still just a prospect hmmm

          2 Jaime Garcia…… Has had a good start to a career but the arm troubles are not a good sign

          3 Lance Lynn….. made the team out of ST last year and had a really good first half then fell off may be better than his 4/5 ceiling but who knows at this point.

          4 Daryl Jones…… Now in the Cincy system blah

          5 David Freese …. Good third baseman if he could only stay healthy

          6 Eduardo Sanchez ….. a couple cups of coffee still only 23 years old

          7 Alan Craig …… enough said

          8 Blake Hawksworth …….. Now in LA not a very good middle reliever

          9 Daniel Descalso …… A very good UT guy and probably is going to get another shot at 2nd for them

          10 Robert Stock …… a minor league catcher probably no more than that at this point.

          The reason I did that was to show that the way the Cards build is very interesting in comparison with what stat services and recruiters think about their players. If you would believe what was wrote about them at the time there was very little everyday help was coming from their system. So no it wasn’t about teaching these guys at Double A. It was about teaching them from day 1 and then when they get to AA or AAA they start to bare fruit.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Right, the Cards best prospect 3 years ago was a guy who had thrown all of 3 innings in A ball in 2009. Right away that tells you something, and not something good!

            Again, baseball minor leagues really are piano tuning, not piano building. What has changed in recent years is that since 2009 or so, the Cards have started signing a lot of Steinways. Because those guys had good tools (and real tools: not the “five tool” nonsense), they progressed pretty quickly and are in high minors performing well.

            Of course, there is always the luck element: the Cards haven’t had many major injuries or guys who suddenly hit an unexpected ceiling at (say) AA. However, to have enough good young players to be #1, then you need the buffering so that bad luck still leaves you in the lower part of the top 10.

            1. fromthemitten

              well their lofty ranking is due to how close some of their top prospects are to the majors in comparison to the Cubs. Oscar Taveras went apeshit on AA pitching at the age of 20 and Shelby Miller struggled last year (he lost a bunch of weight prior to the season to “look good” for the ladies but he put that weight back on and had a really nice stint in the majors september) meanwhile the Cubs top guys are all in A ball. We could easily surpass them if Baez does a nice Taveras impression

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                Actually, Taveras started going “ape shit” on rookie-league pitching in 2010; however, as he’s gotten older (and presumably bigger), the ape has graduated from gibbon to large chimp (and pushing gorilla)!

                That’s the other thing about why the lowly ranked 2010 system was not composed of the same guys as they highly ranked 2013 system. Three years ago, Taveras was an 17 year old with half a season of Rookie ball under his belt. So, he was going to count very little towards the Cardinals’ ranking because there is just too much that can go wrong between then and MLB.

          2. cedlandrum

            The thing that the Cards do best is make pieces work. Descalso is a good utility guy. Garcia and Lynn, I don’t know they get the most out of pretty limited stuff. We will see if Lynn can have repeated success. I always wondered how Garcia gets guys out. So I guess I am not super impressed. Freese is good and so is Craig, but are any of those guys consistent all-stars? I don’t know. They basically have used the system to plug holes and that has certainly worked for them.

            Now if you look at their system and their top prospects, the 2009, 10,11,12 drafts have been really good for them. They have gone from a bunch of good role players to some really super prospects.

  2. Jacob

    Brett, did you see MLBN’s Top Ten First basemen segment? Bill James ranked Rizzo as the 10th best right now and said something along the lines of him having second best power in the majors, next to Stanton. I thought it was very interesting.. He was talking more on the length or distance he can hit a ball, rather than number of homers.. I think.

  3. North Side Irish

    I think the reason Law got a bad rep as a Cubs hater is because he seemed to choose the most delusional Cubs questions to answer on Twitter, which made it easy for him to give negative answers. I don’t think it was an issue of him hating on the Cubs, but rather him selecting the questions that amused him which kind of made Cubs fans look bad.

    1. hansman1982

      Ya, like:

      So how many ASG will Brett Jackson attend?

      or

      RYAN THE RIOT!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME or AWESOMEST???????

      Both he and Goldstein were guilty of it. Goldstein less so, I call it the GoDaddy Effect. Take something controversial and make it to the extreme to just get your name out there consistently.

      1. hansman1982

        That last paragraph has to be about the worst string of punctuation in the history of the world.

        1. TWC

          Don’t worry, Joe. No one reads your stuff anyway.

          1. Seth
            1. TWC

              Larf.

            2. hansman1982

              Excellent…

          2. hansman1982

            Oh, I already knew that. Was more for my own personal benefit.

  4. Jason

    This is good to see. It’s hard to get too excited though given the dependency on the prospects in the low minors. Lots of ranking services had the Cubs’ farm system ranked high in the early 2000s, mostly due to the pitching staff of the low-A team (in Lansing at the time). Those guys didn’t pan out.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Yeah, well, the belief in 2002 was that the pitchers would learn to start throwing strikes and that the batters would learn to not swing at non-strikes. It was not quite as simple as that – injuries derailed a lot of the pitchers – but a lot more people were still using “old school” evaluations of young talent 10 years ago than currently are doing so.

      Law has long criticized Cubs prospects (both pitchers and batters) for not knowing the strike zone. (Part of the reason he was so high on HJ Lee was that Lee has a great batting eye: that said, it will be interesting to see if KLaw has cooled off a little on Lee after 2012!) KLaw is not doing that this year, and that’s telling.

      On a side note, I love reading KLaw’s stuff: his one-liners are both pretty erudite and kind of sizzling.

  5. Patrick G

    2nd overall pick, possible tradings of Garza, Soriano, Marmol, etc., and if traded, most likely means the season is a wash, resulting in another high draft pick next year that will definitely push the system higher. Not to mention international signings too.

  6. Spencer

    Would’ve thought teams like the A’s, O’s, and Angels would be in the top 5 but their systems lost a lot of talent when they graduate guys.

    1. Spencer

      Well this is gonna get confusing.

      1. TWC

        It’s be fine if he just went back to the name by which he used to post.

      2. Spencer

        Nah, I think we will do just fine…

        1. hansman1982

          and now I feel icky…

          1. Spencer

            Eat it Spencer!

  7. Rcleven

    I am really beginning to hate all these rankings.
    So much hope. So much heart break.

  8. mudge

    Rankings of the farm system have no effect on the farm system.

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      Exactly. It has become to the point that having a high ranked farm system somehow means a team has succeeded. These can’t miss prospect lists are full of misses. Baseball is so different than say the NFL draft. You can project in football. Plug thoses players in.
      After the top ten, maybe 20 players in the minor leagues of baseball, you can pretty much throw them all in a basket. Go back and look at the top lists from 08 or 09. About as inexact science as you can get.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Well, of course it’s inexact: if anything about sports was deterministic, then sports would be absolutely boring. However, I think that people look at this incorrectly. Yes, a lot of the top prospects fail to amount to much: but almost all of the players who do amount to much were top prospects. Random lists of 100 minor leaguers would not come close to the predictive power of Law’s and others’ lists, and even some simplistic non-random ones (say, we take position player OPS without regard for age or league) would fall between what these guys compile and purely random.

        So, yes, it is inexact: but I suspect that they still do a fairly remarkable job.

  9. North Side Irish

    Another thing that I found curious in Law’s rankings was that for the Rangers, Law says they have Profar and “three guys in the back half of the top 100″, which would mean he doesn’t have Olt as a Top 50 guy. Or did Olt use up his rookie eligibility?

    1. Kygavin

      Last year he had Olt at 75 and a lot of that value was tied to his plus D at 3rd, so my guess is since he wont be playing 3rd for the Rangers it may hurt his stock a bit. Just kinda my guess/take

      1. Norm

        Prospect guys don’t take into account what position the team puts a player at. Manny Machado won’t be playing SS for Baltimore, but he’s still highly rated because he CAN play SS.
        Same goes for Olt.

        1. Kygavin

          I think Olt and Machado are different situations. Olt should be in the majors to start the year and it wont be as a 3b while Machado was in his first year of AA.. and to be fair Machado should be playing SS and Olt shouldnt be playing 3rd for their teams

          1. Norm

            Point remains…prospect rankers don’t rank a player based on who is ahead of them in the organization. Law/Sickels/BP/Fangraphs/MLB.com…whoever….they aren’t going to hold the fact that Adrian Beltre is the Rangers 3B against Olt.
            If they see him as capable of playing 3B, that’s how he will be rated.

  10. Jim

    It is great have a highly ranked system, but it still all depends on the coaching and development for these players to take the next steps. It also takes the smarts to get other players out of the way so that these guys can advance. Seems like the Cubs of old would always go out and sign that long contract road block and then the guys would be changing positions and never panning out. I think that the way things are being done now is also as important as having a good system of talent.

  11. WI Jeff

    So quick question- no right/correct answer.
    Given what you know right now about all that you know about the top guys like Appel, Stanek, Manea, Frazier or Meadows. Who would you draft?

    I know we need advanced pitching, but I love Frazier’s bat speed (Dante Bichette esque)
    I love Meadows lefty bat (with soler, almora) depending on who makes it)
    Manea’s lefty easy delivery.
    But I think Stanek and Appeal are more sure things!
    Your thoughts?

    I might go bats with two and high school lefty’s in 2nd round.

    1. Seth

      I personally think they’ll go with Meadows but its still very early to predict.

    2. North Side Irish

      My completely useless opinion would have them Manea, Appel, Meadows. I think Manea has the most upside, a great a pitcher’s build, and he’s lefty. Appel is most polished and probably has a higher floor than any of the other SPs. I could also seem the Cubs repeating last year’s draft and going with Meadows (or Frazier) than hitting pitching with the next couple picks.

      I don’t like Stanek’s delivery and I think he could end up a reliever. But that slider is nasty already.

      1. North Side Irish

        FWIW…

        Jim Callis ‏@jimcallisBA
        BPA, probably will be college P. @everclear37: if you are #cubs, take best talent or best P because of how weak P is in system? #mlbdraft

    3. Spencer

      We need pitching. I pick Manae b/c he’s a proven lefty pitcher. Reminds me of D.Price

    4. truthhurts

      Of all the guys you mentioned, let’s go with the rarest commodity. Manea (sp?), a BIG hard throwing lefty. PS, how about one of the highly rated HS catchers in the 2nd round?

      1. walterj

        I was thinking the very same thing .

  12. Kygavin

    Law values high upside pitchers who arent close to the bigs quite a bit higher than a lot of places (Explains why he is higher on Paniagua) and he has believed that Vizcaino should be starting all along so that doesnt surprise me that he is still high on him as well. Plus he was a big fan of Almora coming out of the draft, with that being said I am shocked that he ranked them 5th but I love it. Its a good feeling not to see them in the 20′s like we have been accustomed to

    1. Seth

      Last year Law had Vizcaino at number 14 top prospect in all of baseball. So yeah KLaw is very high on Vizcaino.

      http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7547690/mlb-top-100-prospects-2012-mike-trout-bryce-harper-more

      1. terencem

        He does seem to onto hope for young pitchers, even when they’re falling on other lists. I don’t think anybody had Martin Perez as high as him last year.

    2. Marc N.

      There are a lot of people who believe Paniagua can fly through the system. Law tends to be high on guys who have tools, upside, and at least a basis of skills to back those up and allow for projection. First thing he tweeted about Paniagua was that he was hitting 97 with ease, which is step one in setting up to become an elite pitching prospect.

      If you buy Almora/Soler/Baez being guys with skills as well as tools then the Cubs are halfway there to loading up on the kind of talent tha allows for such a high ranking do quickly. Obviously people seem to love all three of those guys as prospects and the early consensus seems to be that there is skill as well as tools in all of them.

  13. Marc N.

    From what I understand Law loved Paniagau when he saw him. Easy gas Iirc.

    Law also loved Almora in the draft IIRC.

    Sucks there wasn’t more in that blurb.

  14. Kygavin

    Law’s report on Paniagua with insider link if interested
    “He was at 92-94 mph in his first inning and 93-97 in the second, with the velocity about as effortless as you can imagine. His slider was above-average, 83-87, very sharp with some tilt but more vertical than horizontal break. His changeup was below-average at 79-80 and if he’d told the hitters it was coming via semaphore it wouldn’t have been more obvious.”

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/blog/_/name/law_keith/id/8320827/cubs-land-sleeper-prospect-other-scouting-notes-mlb

  15. Brady

    Well you can’t beat the cardinals farm system because they got MINOR LEAGUE GUY!!!

    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17hjecz5aab6xjpg/original.jpg

  16. Norm

    This paragraph can pretty much go up on each and every team-centric blog:

    ESPN’s Keith Law has long had an ugly reputation with fans, for reasons that are almost certainly entirely unfair. There is a persistent belief among some that Law has always hated on the more harshly than other organizations.

    1. Norm

      I meant:
      ESPN’s Keith Law has long had an ugly reputation with (TEAM) fans, for reasons that are almost certainly entirely unfair. There is a persistent belief among some that Law has always hated on the (TEAM) more harshly than other organizations.

  17. Kygavin

    Bias Cat *Meow*

  18. Rynomite

    I can’t wait for the season, the MINOR league season!

  19. Fastball

    The secret to a top farm system top to bottom is in the players who don’t make the headlines in the draft. Picking the right players for your system and having the ability to find them in a global market. Our improvement in this area is making a difference. Drafting players is also kind of like playing craps. You get a hot roll going and it all works. Then you hit a string of bad rolls before you bounce back. Having exceptional evaluator’s makes all the difference. Having Great Instructors is an area we lacked in. Too many kids getting hurt because of bad mechanics reflects directly upon the instruction.

  20. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’d draft Austin Meadows, because Almora may be a 5-tool guy, but I’m still not yet sold on him. Sean Manea comes in a close 2nd because he COULD become David Price. We still need pitching, so I expect us to draft Manea (if Appel comes off the board).

    I’d love to get Olt in a Garza trade and move Vitters to LF when Soriano leaves. That makes the Baez transition to 2B that much easier.

    1. Jeremy

      Almora is regarded by most professional scouts as the closest to a sure thing as you can get in this sport. He’s not a 5-tool guy either but he’s going to be a damn good ball player.

      Manea reminds me of Andy Petite, especially his change up. He will be the pick even if Appel is still on the board.

      1. MightyBear

        Not trying to be disrespectful but what tool is he missing? I thought Almora was a five tool guy that’s one of the reasons the Cubs took him.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Jed & Theo don’t work on the “five tool” scheme. Most of the “modern” guys actually look at many distinct tools, of which the classic “five” are amalgams. (The exception is batting average, of course, which is an amalgam of multiple tools and the BABiP goddess.)

          By most accounts, Almora does very well in a lot of the tools, even if his 145 PAs this year seem to suggest a lack of a batting eye.

          1. cubspong

            One of the articles previously stated that they were going to pick the best possible player remaining. But it also stated that offensive players tend to be better to pick in the first round than pitchers because good pitchers are found throughout the draft whereas good hitters tend to be in the first few rounds of the draft. So I would argue that the Cubs will pick Meadows, not because they do not believe Almora will be good, but because they want to have as many assets and core players they can which gives them more flexibility in the future.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              You are almost certainly correct that they will not let Almora or Soler affect their drafting an OFer if they think that an OFer is the best option with the #2 pick. Whether that is Meadows, I have zero clue.

              That said, even if you do not let existing talent explicitly “block” a pick, then you do let existing voids favor a pick. The need for good starting pitchers would almost certainly be a “tie-breaker” in the (fairly improbable) event that it comes to a tie.

              (What is much more probable is that there will be posts about how Jed & Theo clearly have “given up” on Almora and/or Soler if they pick an OFer in the first 3 rounds….)

              1. cubspong

                And it would obviously be way too early to even consider them giving up on any player they drafted in the early rounds of the past year or signed as in the case of Soler. I am still holding out on players like Vitters (who was signed several years ago) and Jackson (whose stock has also fallen), even though the hope is less than it used to be. But I would guess that the FO has more confidence in Jackson because of his walk rate and better defense than Vitters.

              2. hansman1982

                Yes, in the first round you take the BPA you can sign. (No sense in blowing a 1.2 pick on a guy who says they won’t sign with your team for an amount you can spend)

                If that means 10 straight years of taking a SS in the first round, you do it.

          2. Marc N.

            Almora is so strange because he’s one of those guys people *in* baseball seem to love but people reading scouting reports will go “but the scouting reports I’ve read don’t have the word elite in there.”

            I think doctorwimsey is hitting alot of things in the head here. The five tools thing is generally nonsense and a snapshot at best of what’s going on. Almora’s the sum of many tools and skills that come together and form someone that…ugh sorry, I hate cornball stuff like this too but sometimes…just knows how to play baseball and do it at a high level.

            Basically, Almora is thought of so highly because every tool he has flashes in games, meaning he knows how to translate his athleticism. He doesn’t have the kind of athleticism or size that would get a football scout to drool, but luckily he picked the far more subtle/finer sport. His swing is consistent and athletic, allowing for projection in both his batting average and power (both of which get at least 60 future grades if you’re into that). He’s not Kenny Lofton or Michael Bourn fast, but like most defensive CFers without that kind of speed – they do, did, and will exist – he reads the ball instantly and takes short routes with enough speed. That speed also plays up on the basepaths because of a highly intelligent and aggressive approach there. He doesn’t have Mike Stanton power or size, but he has a lithe, athletic frame with a great (possibly even underrated), athletic swing that should allow for 20+ HR power. He walked 2 times in Rookie Ball, which apparently is a thing for some people (where art thou Felix Hernandez the catcher or Mitch Einerstein!?!?), but scouting reports indicate that his plate approach is excellent for his age and that there is patience in him.

            To me he reads like the kind of player who will age in an almost ideal fashion and will still be chugging along and producing in his mid-30′s.

            1. Marc N.

              Words words words

            2. BluBlud

              So in other words he reminds you of Andrew Jones without the stroids. I would take that in a heart beat. I hope he turns into that.

              1. Marc N.

                Andruw Jones who takes care of himself would be pretty sick. I need 2013 stuff to really worry about his ceiling THO.

                First thing I said about Almora was that was how I would draw up a CF prospect.

                1. dw8

                  Andruw Jones who takes care of himself would be pretty sick.

                  That’s a HOFer!

        2. Kyle

          In the sense of “five-tool” meaning he excels at all five tools, his speed and power are both pretty marginal.

          1. MightyBear

            I knew his power was marginal but I thought that he might get stronger with age but I didn’t know his speed was marginal. I thought he was pretty fast. Are you saying we drafted a slow footed CF?

            1. Kyle

              No, I’m saying both those tools are in the general vicinity of “average.” The phrase “five-tool” usually means a guy who is at least good at all of them.

              1. Serious Cubs Fan

                Kyle: I agree. I don’t think we can say Almora is a “five-tool” player. He doesn’t have the speed (not bad speed, maybe a little above avg for a CF), and his power is not killer (definitely potential for him to grow and add muscle), I think he has potential to hit 20 homers one day and thats pretty good for a CF. I’m underestimating him as a prospect because he is very good with the other 3 tools.

          2. Marc N.

            His power is not considered marginal in the scouting reports, and even the speed gets anywhere from slightly below average to above average.

            1. Marc N.

              Should say…the power is consistently noted as above average in the scouting reports and most agree that it already plays in games.

  21. Teddy Ballgame

    We NEED pitching! We have some “legit” depth in the minors for outfielders, our pitching is where the primary focus is gonna be this year, and every year for that matter. Regardless of all these farm system rankings, I think we can all agree that we’re excited to be in the position we are as an organization compared to this time last year. I like Manea because of him being left-handed. Eithey way, whoever the Cubs select at #2 I’m confident it’ll be the right move.

  22. rbreeze

    Pitching, pitching and more pitching!
    Anyone have a list of the #2 picks for the last ten years or so? Any busts?

    1. Drew7

      Since 2000, 2nd overall picks that have reached the majors (the last 3 haven’t made their debut’s yet) have averaged 10 WAR, with 2 (Greg Reynolds in 2006 and Adam Johnson in 2000) turning out to be busts.

    2. Edwin

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?overall_pick=2&draft_type=junreg&

      Greg Reynolds. I don’t know if you can consider Mark Prior a bust or not. He obviously had the talent, and seemd in line for a HOF career, but it seems some kind of combination of poor luck/poor mechanics de-railed that train.

      The Cubs should come away with a great prospect either way. It seems that pitchers bust more than position players, so while I’d love for the Cubs to draft a pitcher, I wouldn’t be surprised if they draft the best available position player.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Ah, but supposedly his Tom Seaveresque mechanics were “perfect.” If I recall, some biophysicists from Stanford used Prior’s mechanics as a model for minimizing some sorts of strains. However, there are many other sorts of strains, and the guys at Stanford probably didn’t overpitch their test subjects the way that Dusty Baker did.

        To keep on topic, Prior was not a bust: he was busted.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          Example: Even if you use a safety factor of 3 on a product it won’t stand up to the test when presented with twice the abuse it is designed for. If you try to make something idiot proof the world will build a better Dusty.

          1. BT

            Or if you have a safety factor of 3 on a product and Marcus Giles runs it over, and someone else hit’s a line drive off it’s elbow, it will break down faster.

  23. Leroy

    Considering Law ranked us as 20th last year, I will take it…

  24. Timmy

    I’d put the Cubs in the middle of the pack in terms of prospects, with a few with strong upside. Even though Law likes to play machismo with a Dungeons and Dragons dork spin, he’s usually pretty fair, if brutally stated, about prospects. I still hold to my claim that at the current rate or rebuilding that the Cubs are 4-6 years from contending, and even at that point we’ll be an instable contender. This would all change once the ownership decides that players are as important to invest in as McDonalds.

  25. Serious Cubs Fan

    Who would be ranked a higher draft prospect if they were in the same class? Austin Meadows, OF, H.S. (GA) in this years draft or Albert Almora? I think Meadows would be because of the power potential and he’d be able to play all 3 OF positions. Even though Almora was a much more advance defensively and more polished, but I think Meadows power potential and bat speed are better. I think Meadows has a higher ceiling but a lower floor then Almora, but think Almora with his polish and defensive skills will make it much easier for him to make the bigs one day. Both are great and very young talents

    1. truthhurts

      Serious, there are serious questions about Meadow’s hit tool. But he’s only 17, so we’ll see. I’m thinking Ryan Harvey.

      1. X The Cubs Fan

        If the Cubs draft an OF I prefer Frazier. He’s got all the same tools as Meadows but has a cannon for an arm has been clocked as high at 105. He’s been compared to Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen

        1. Serious Cubs Fan

          X The Cubs Fan: Frazier doesn’t have the size or the power potential that Meadows has. Still a great talent with electric bat speed, but he still doesn’t have the foot speed of Mike Trout or even a Andrew McCutchen

          1. X The Cubs Fan

            Meadows is a risk because he gets under the ball alot hits alot of pop ups. Frazier pretty low risk because at worst with his contact and speed plus defense , arm and pop he’s a solid regular at best he’s an all around superstar like a Mike Trout or Cargo

      2. Serious Cubs Fan

        I’ll be the 1st to admit I’m no expert but I just see a guy with a ton of tools, and a high ceiling but a low floor currently in Meadows. Taking a pitcher 2nd overall scares me because pitchers don’t pan out nearly as much as position players do high in the draft.

        Mark Appel- Polished for a college pitcher has good stuff but control issues and does have nasty stuff or swing and miss stuff. Probably a #2. Not the can’t miss draft prospect you want at 2nd overall. Not to a BORAS CLIENT who wanted to get paid big time

        Stanek- same deal with less polish. good stuff, but maybe more swing and miss stuff then Appel but he’s more of a risk to be switch to reliever down the road

        Sean Manaea- LHP makes him very attractive because of the arm strength from a lefty with some swing and miss. Not very polished, played against lesser opponents at Indiana state. Tons of potential but unproven, how he performs for his college team this spring will tell a lot about his draft status.

        This draft really isn’t that great.

        1. Marc N.

          Personally I think Appel gets sold short more often than not.

          Things I really like:

          - 6’6″ 215 or so is an ideal frame
          - Easiest gas of the three main pitchers
          - Two potentially plus off speeds with that change up only more recently getting
          notice
          - Two seamer is a groundball generator
          - Good mechanics with minor tweaks needed and no injury history (knock on wood)
          - Good makeup and consistent improvement in college
          - Great school and top competition
          - Strike thrower

          I don’t get what’s not to like…Well, that’s not true… He was hittable earlier in his college career.

          1. Marc N.

            I forgot another key one…he’s further out of the injury nexus than most.

            1. Serious Cubs Fan

              Marc N: Everything you just described about Mark Appel describes a #2. which isn’t bad, but he does have the nasty swing and miss pitches that you want out of 2nd overall draft pick. There are very few #1 pitchers in the mlb but they all have that nasty swing and miss ability.

              Please no one give me the excuse: “Well you know what, Greg Maddux didn’t have the top notch stuff.” Greg Maddux is a once a quarter century pitcher, he had control like none other and he had very underrated velocity back in his younger years.

              I do believe Appel will be solid pitcher a solid #2 ceiling but has a #3 floor, but is way to early to tell. Lots of talent there but probably not #1 talent.

              1. Marc N.

                I can’t think of many, any, #2 starters with that kind of profile. There are some of course, but three plus pitches, premium velocity, big frame, strike thrower, and so on all would profile as a potential #1 for me (if I was working with that whole pitcher# thing in my head).

                I would give up 7 million or w/e it is in the draft to get a pitcher with that kind of arm and a floor of a #3 starter.

          2. truthhurts

            What’s not to like….remember when Brett reported that front office said they would draft the best ‘signable’ talent available at 1-2. That might have been a direct shot to Appel and Boros. They just may not want to deal with Boros again.
            One other upside though, is Appel would be, by a lot, the fastest to the majors.

            1. Serious Cubs Fan

              truthhurts: Yes he did say that, but do also remember him mentioning how Theo said position players pan out more often then pitchers when you take them high in the draft.

              I’m not saying Appel is not a top talent and I do like him, and there is obvious talent with him. I completely agree with you that he would be one of the quicker pitchers to majors in this draft because of the polish.

              I’m just saying from everything I read from experts is he doesn’t have the big time #1 ace pitcher swing and miss in his arsenal. He still has good stuff but not great stuff that you see from a David Price, Clayton Kershaw, Verlander, and strasburg. I also want to say that there are very few true #1′s out there.

              I’d say Appel is comparable to Garza level pitcher. Good pitcher, solid #2 capability but not that true ace #1.

              1. truthhurts

                I wasn’t really commenting on Appel’s ability, but was just wondering if the FO is worrying about Boras. Will Boros try to get more for Appel because of last years ‘ problems?

                1. Marc N.

                  If the Cubs pass on talent because they’re scared of spending and an agent then things are wrong in Chicago.

                2. Serious Cubs Fan

                  You know Boras is going to want a max bonus for Appel and then some. For ever picks Appel its going to take an arm and a leg to sign him. Astro’s and many other teams passed on him last draft because he wanted nearly the signing pool from teams.

                  1. Marc N

                    It’s Boras’ job to want max bonus and then some for Appel. I also think there’s nothing wrong with a top prospect fighting to get the kind of money top prospects used to get just two years ago. Appel is not taking up a top 2 team’s entire bonus pool.

                    1. Serious Cubs Fan

                      Yes there is nothing wrong with get your money. Is Appel worth taking the risk in 1 player as apposed to a Meadow, and then 3 other high upside arms? I’ll take my chance with the latter. Appel is talented but not worth your whole draft. Injuries, loss of confidence, stunt in development and the sure chance he doesn’t pan out will is still there. Appel is not sure thing just as every prospect is not a sure thing. If we draft Appel and we didn’t have to completely break the bank and don’t have to sacrifice getting other high upside talent in the draft just to sign him, then I’d be all for Appel. I hope he gets overpaid (or maybe his justified worth) somewhere, just not with the cubs if it going to cost us other players. I put my faith in mcleod, Jed and Theo. I could be totally wrong and Appel could be the next David Price, but we have no way of telling beside time

                    2. Marc N

                      Appel wouldn’t be the whole draft. If that’s the premise, then it’s off and I’ll take him (as the best player, which I think is the case now and will be in June) plus whoever else can be signed with the left over money. Last year the Cubs’ overslotted Almora, one of two teams to do so in the first, and they still managed to hand out multiple million dollar bonuses so I am not worried about Appel and his money.

              2. frank

                True–not a lot of true #1s out there. But if you have 2 or 3 #2s, you should do ok (provided the rest of the rotation doesn’t absolutely suck).

            2. Marc N.

              Why won’t Appel sign next year if he’s taken with the #2 slot and therefore has #2 slot money to work with?

  26. Bilbo161

    Can’t complain too much who the Cubs take at number two. As far as the pitchers go its Manaea right now. If he keeps up the way he was going in the cape cod league, I might see Theo and Co. taking him. Frazier or Meadows are probably the bpa right now. Dominic Smith is piquing my interest right now too. Powerful, and a great batters eye.

    We’ll see how this season goes. I’m sure my mind will change with performance.

  27. Serious Cubs Fan

    Brett,

    What the heck are Chicago White Sox adds doing on Cubs blog lol?

  28. Kyle

    I’ve given Law a ton of grief in the past, but he’s usually turned out to be right about the stuff that I was griefing him about (notably, that Szczur’s swing wouldn’t translate to power in the mid-to-upper minors). Our farm system is good, and 5th is perfectly reasonable as the high-end for that.

    For the draft, if the Cubs find a position player they like, they need to take him. Historically, position players in very early picks are where the money players, where pitchers can be found anywhere by just drafting a bunch of them and seeing who emerges.

    If they don’t like any of the HS position players enough, then I think I’d like Appel. He’ll be 22 by the time he pitches for us and almost 23 by the time he hits his first full season. That means we only have to sweat the injury nexus for a couple of years before he’s out of the highest risk category. Neither Stanek nor Manaea show enough velocity consistency for me to trust them.

  29. BluBlud

    I would love for the Cubs to take Meadows, tlbut the likely fact is Meadows will go number 1 to the Stro’s. So therefore, the Cubs will probably go with Frazier. There are a few other position players out there they could take if their stock rises a little like Kris Bryant or Austin Wilson, but I doubt we take a pitcher in the first unless he is a can’t miss.

    1. Marc N.

      Been hearing some “Frazier is the most overrated prospect in this draft” stuff already.

      Meadows or Jeremy Martinez, a guy who might be the Almora of this draft in that he’s polished, he’s very talented, there’s almost a quiet confidence in his stock as a first round pick, and he’s been tested against top competition as a young amateur, are the guys I expect to pop up in the HS world.

  30. walterj

    I ‘m hoping the Cubs take Meadows with their pick , and if the astros take him then I would rather Theo pick Manaea .