This weekend, we noted that Chicago Cubs prospects Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ got love from MLB Pipeline in its Arizona Fall League wrap-up prospect rankings (though, after Minor League Ball’s Cubs org rankings came out, I can no longer intro those guys as the Cubs’ “clear top two prospects”).
In those rankings of the best from the prospect-laden AFL, Jimenez came in at number three, and Happ was number eight.
Baseball America just released its own AFL prospect rankings, and … Jimenez came in at number three, and Happ was number eight. Viva consensus!
The overall order of those top eight prospects, via BA’s Bill Mitchell, is a bit different, though former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres once again comes in at the top.
You should check out the full list for the write-ups on each player, but Mitchell notes that Jimenez is “[a]lready an impressive physical specimen at 19, [and] remains a bit raw but has a big, big upside.”
Jimenez has both plus bat speed and plus raw power, which are the tools you look for when projecting significant in-game power. The next step is a bit of polish in approach, which will allow Jimenez to better select, and to get even more, crushable pitches.
As for Happ, among Mitchell’s comments: “With good bat speed, a solid stroke and average power, Happ should be a good hitter from both sides of the plate. He’s no more than an adequate defender at second base and has the athleticism to handle the outfield.”
From all that we’ve read so far in the after-season reviews of Happ, who played second base all year after moving from the outfield, he may still have some work to do there to become playable at the big league level. If he can hold his own at second base while also developing into a solid defensive outfielder, it’s not hard to see an extremely valuable big league player emerging in the next few years.
Jimenez, who turned 20 this weekend, is likely to start the 2017 season at High-A Myrtle Beach after completing a full and dominant season at Low-A in 2016. There’s a chance he could move up to AA by midseason if he’s not being sufficiently challenged.
Happ, 22, figures to head back to AA Tennessee, where he spent a little less than half of a season in 2016 after being promoted from Myrtle Beach.
Each player could get a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training in 2017, just to start getting them exposure to the big league staff and players.