Here’s something interesting: out of Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell, it is the reigning 2015 Rookie of the Year who spent the most time at AAA Iowa. And, if you were thinking it has to do with the short stint at the beginning of the 2015 season, you’d be wrong. Bryant (77 games) has played in more AAA contests than Soler (32), Schwarber (17) and Russell (11), combined ….
- Which is why Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago) reminds us to recalibrate our timeline expectations for top prospects – like Albert Almora – who are taking a more traditional journey through the minors. Each of the former four prospects shot through the system with such urgency, but that is extremely unusual – a message echoed by Cubs Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod.
- Also in that article, McLeod discusses the balance between rocket ascenders and players like Gleyber Torres, who have, at a minimum, 2-3 more years ahead of them in the minors. The Cubs are constantly reevaluating how they can develop and prepare these players fundamentally and mentally to get them ready for when the time does come.
- There really is heavy focus on Almora in that article, so you should give it a read. You’ll get the sense that the front office has big hopes for a breakout in 2016, and that Almora has the skills and work ethic to make it in the majors.
- Albert Almora should start the year out at AAA Iowa, but could look to make at impact at the Major League level by the end of the season. Even as September call-up, Almora can provide a ton of value as a late-inning defensive replacement. Having his defense in center field with Jason Heyward’s in right is drool worthy.
- We’ve spoken at length about the relatively quiet offseason’s of the Cubs main two NL Central competitors (Pirates and Cardinals), but there are other ways teams can improve – that is, internally. The 2016 Pirates, for example, look just about ready to promote top pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow from AAA Indianapolis to the majors. Glasnow, 22, finished out his 2015 campaign at AAA with a 2.20 ERA and 48 strike outs in just 41 innings. The Steamer600 projections believe the Pirates prospect – ranked 10th overall, according to MLB Pipeline – would post an ERA around 3.82 if given 200 MLB innings in 2016.
- Also in that article, Sam Dykstra uses the Steamer600 projections to review the Cubs’ top hitters and pitchers. Willson Contreras and Billy McKinney rank among the most MLB impactful positional prospects for the 2016 Cubs (if they were called up, that is), while Carl Edwards, Jr. and Pierce Johnson take the top two spots on the pitching side.
- Dykstra believes that Contreras is the most ready for the challenges of MLB, while McKinney could use some more time before a promotion. Edwards is said to be something of a wild card, because of the uncertainty of his future role, and Gleyber Torres is considered the Cubs’ top prospect.
- Three high profile Cubs prospects have been among the most affected by BABIP in the minors, according to this article. I’ll have a deeper dive on this soon, but I wanted to get this in front of you first.
- Keith Law’s latest chat is here, and, although it’s light on Cubs prospect bits, he does note one specific thing: Law doesn’t see submarine relief pitcher Dave Berg becoming a big leaguer with the Cubs.