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What If We Could Rank Cubs Prospects by ZiPS Projections?

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

javier baez aflEver wonder what a top prospects list would look like if you use a projection system to determine the value of the player over the course of his career? Well, the man behind the ZiPS projection system you may see frequently popping up at FanGraphs this time of year wondered, and put together his own top 100 prospect list.


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Dan Szymborski ran his ZiPS system on the top prospects in baseball (partly to compare them against the prospects on Keith Law’s Top 100 list), and ranked them by looking at projected career WAR. It’s a fascinating data dive for those who have ESPN Insider.

I’ll touch a little bit on some of the interesting Cubs-related bits. The big one jumps right out at the top: which is to say that Cubs prospect Javier Baez takes the overall top spot. Szymborski notes that part of the ZiPS process for minor leaguers is translating their MiLB production to the big league level, and for Baez’s 2013 season, it comes out to .248/.293/.472 in the bigs. When you consider that he would have done that as a 20-year-old shortstop? It’s really incredible, and yet another person/metric/etc. suggests that Baez’s upside is otherworldly.

Kris Bryant slid into the top ten at number nine, Albert Almora was there at 24, Jorge Soler was 40, and C.J. Edwards was 53 (it’s pretty amazing how closely these numbers mirrored the rankings we see for these guys on other prospect lists). Dan Vogelbach also snuck onto the list at number 94.


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The huge surprise, though, was at number 13: Arismendy Alcantara. That’s right, when using ZiPS this way to rank prospects, Alcantara is not only the Cubs’ third best prospect, but he’s the 13th best prospect in all of baseball. Given ZiPS’ relative love for 2014 Alcantara, perhaps that’s not as surprising as we might think – clearly, ZiPS sees something in Alcantara’s numbers that screams future star. Among the comps for Alcantara, per ZiPS: Michael Young, Barry Larkin, and Robin Yount. Mercy.

(Appropriately, Luke just heaped a whole bunch of love on Alcantara earlier today in his Prospects Progress series).

You have to take this only for what it’s worth – it’s interesting, and it’s a semi-useful data point – but it’s fun to see Baez at the top and Alcantara there at 13. Thoughts on which is more impressive? Is it weird that I’m made slightly more giddy by the Alcantara bit than Baez being the top of the top?


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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