Just recently, Baseball America ranked the best tools from from every league in every level from Low-A on up.
So, in the most recent Prospect Notes, we discussed the Cubs that made the cut, including Eloy Jimenez (best hitter, best power, most exciting player), Ian Happ (best strike-zone judgement), Zach Hedges (best control), Ryan McNeil (best reliever), Jeimer Candelario (best defensive third baseman), and Jacob Hannemann (best defensive outfielder).
But Baseball America didn’t stop there. In addition to their tour of the Minor Leagues, BA turned their attention the Majors and ranked the best tools from that level, which again included a number of Chicago Cubs. And the big league rankings were created with the help of the men in the manager seats across the game.
Instead of picking just one player for each category, however, BA decided to include three. So, when all was said and done, the Cubs landed one of their players in 9 of the 25 potential categories, including most exciting player. While some of the wins are very expected, others are quite surprising (and encouraging).
Let’s take a look.
Below, you’ll find a list of the categories the Cubs placed a player in, next to the member that represented the team in that category for the National League. Remember, though, that each category had three players listed, so each Cub below was not alone, or even necessarily the top of the list. For the full list, including the realtive rankings, check out Baseball America’s page here.
- Best Power: Kris Bryant
- Best Strike-Zone Judgement: Ben Zobrist
- Most Exciting Player: Kris Bryant
- Best Pitcher: Jake Arrieta
- Best Fastball: Aroldis Chapman
- Best Change-up: Kyle Hendricks
- Best Defensive First Baseman: Anthony Rizzo
- Best Defensive OF: Jason Heyward
- Best Manger: Joe Maddon
At first glance, you might not be surprised by any of the names on the list, but there are quite a few pleasant surprises. For example, no one should be surprised to see Aroldis Chapman’s name up there next to best fastball – 105 MPH will do that for you – but it’s great to see Kyle Hendricks right up there with the best change-up in the NL. We already knew it was a plus pitch – and his most effective pitch – but having one of the best change-ups in all of baseball is nothing to sneeze at.
Similarly, while it isn’t much of a surprise to see Jason Heyward’s name among the best defensive outfielders, I’m glad to see Anthony Rizzo finally getting some love for his work at first. Early in his career, Rizzo was not only not praised for his defensive work at first, he was dinged for it. For whatever reason, it always felt like he was a lot better defensively, than scouts and the media gave him credit. But now, he’s slowly being considering one of the top defenders in his league and in all of baseball. That feels like something we already knew, but I’m glad the rest of baseball is coming around.
From there, of course, there’s plenty to love. Kris Bryant as the guy with best power and most exciting outlook, Ben Zobrist with the best zone-judgement, and, of course, Joe Maddon as one of the best managers in baseball. The Cubs are good, friends, and so are the individuals on the team.