Just a quick bit by way of FanGraphs to break up your busy day rumoring and F5’ing.
FanGraphs recently popped out a ranking of the top five Chicago Cubs prospects in terms of potential 2015 impact at the big league level, which can make for an interesting read. The article technically showed up on FanGraphs’ fantasy baseball portal, but that doesn’t really make it any less interesting. Folks writing fantasy pieces aren’t really prejudiced by hype or fandom, they’re strictly looking for performance. Obviously we, as general fans, aren’t always interested in the same performance as fantasy types – pitcher wins, le sigh – but checking out what fantasy folks are saying about certain Cubs players can provide dispassionate insight into how others view Cubs players in 2015.
The top two prospects should not surprise you – Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler – but number three might be a bit of a surprise: it’s pitching prospect Pierce Johnson. Interestingly, there’s no indication that FanGraphs is looking at Johnson as a possible reliever in 2015 for the big league team, so they like his upside purely as a starter, and sooner rather than later. It’s a nice plaudit for Johnson, who really turned things around last year once he got healthy. Don’t sleep on him.
The fourth guy on the list – Addison Russell – is also likely someone you’d expect, so you can read the piece if you need more on Russell.
Number five, like number three, is a really interesting one: Donn Roach, the groundballer extraordinaire that the Cubs picked up off of waivers from the Padres earlier this offseason. FanGraphs sees Roach much in the way Theo Epstein described him after the acquisition: possible innings eater in the bullpen. Guys who can throw more than one effective inning of relief at a time are hugely valuable (and I expect will become more valuable in the coming years – you’ll see), so Roach could wind up with a fair bit of value to the Cubs.
That assumes he makes the team, of course. The Cubs’ bullpen competition – especially if they keep adding starters who push others into the pen – is going to be fierce, which is obviously great. If Roach doesn’t make the pen, at least out of Spring Training, he can be stashed at Iowa. Good guy to have around.