cubs azl spring training logoYesterday, Kiley McDaniel unveiled his top 200 prospect list at FanGraphs, which was fascinating in its own right, but necessarily brought along with it a lot of attendant – equally fascinating – discussion. The Cubs placed 11 prospects on the list, which we discussed here, by the way.

As for those attendant discussions …

  • McDaniel’s introduction to the list wasn’t just an interesting precursor to the list, itself; the intro also included a thorough discussion of player tools and the grading system thereof. For example, when you hear someone describe a fastball as “plus,” that’s typically a 60-grade fastball, and sits around 93 mph. “Plus” power? Well, that’s also a 60 (that’s plus), and would be a guy who could hit about 23 to 27 homers in a season.  There is also a great discussion on how exactly McDaniel went about ranking, and some visuals on how many players there are in each tier of future value (which gives you a further appreciation for just how unique the Cubs’ farm system is).
  • Piggybacking on McDaniel’s list, Chris Mitchell – who developed the KATOH projections for prospects – offers statistical projections for the top 142 prospects. By that measure, the Cubs are sitting pretty. Kris Bryant projects for 16.0 WAR through his age 28 season. Addison Russell is at 13.1. Jorge Soler is at 15.6. Kyle Schwarber is at 6.1 (guys with smaller statistical data sets from which to pull, especially at lower levels, don’t fare as well in the KATOH system). C.J. Edwards is at 3.1. Albert Almora is at 1.8. Duane Underwood is at 1.6. Pierce Johnson is at 1.3.


  • Maybe those numbers don’t look like much to you, but you should look at Mitchell’s chart to get a sense of how big those numbers are, relative to other teams’ prospect pools – since it’s all relative, that’s what matters.
  • David Cameron contextualizes the top 200 list in another way, and, once again, the Cubs come out looking beautiful. Essentially, Cameron tries to put a dollar value on each farm system using only the prospects in the top 200 (and you could argue the Cubs’ depth from there is better than average), and the Cubs come out way on top, with a farm system value of $225 million, on top of the Twins at $180 million. The next best in the NL Central is actually the Reds, and they’re at just $100 million.
  • McDaniel accompanied his list with a chat at FanGraphs, the transcript of which you can read here. Among his Cubs-related thoughts: (1) Addison Russell’s FV improved from 60 (when he did the Cubs prospect list) to 65 now, thanks to a better sense of where Russell fit relative to other prospects in baseball; (2) on Schwarber’s lofty ranking (21), nobody with whom McDaniel spoke before publishing suggested they had a problem with Schwarber being ranked that high; (3) a quote from McDaniel on Kris Bryant: “One team told me that if they drafted him, he’d still be playing CF for them now. He’s that athletic.” (whoa); (4) the 70 FV (Bryant’s, for example) is the highest McDaniel can give to a prospect with no big league experience; and (5) if Addison Russell doesn’t stick at shortstop, third base is the next most likely spot because he could then add back some weight and power (McDaniel indicates Russell had more raw power in high school before dropping some weight to stick at short).



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