After taking a ridiculously deep dive into the Cubs organization and top prospects with Baseball America, you should be well-versed with what the Cubs have to offer in the Minor Leagues.
But, as they say, an education is never finished, so let’s press on and keep learning.
Today, we’re going to take a look at Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2017, and see what they have to say.
Which actually becomes especially worthwhile, because unlike the days of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez, and Jorge Soler, there is far less certainty outside the top, let’s say, two or three Cubs prospects.
In other words, there is a significant split in opinion on a variety of Cubs prospects, and we’ll have to hear out many sides (and review other information/data available to us) before coming to any hard conclusions of our own.
- Eloy Jimenez, OF
- Ian Happ, 2B/OF
- Albert Almora Jr., OF
- Trevor Clifton, RHP
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B
- Jose Albertos, RHP
- Dylan Cease, RHP
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
- Eddy Julio Martinez, OF
- Thomas Hatch, RHP
So, when compared to the Top 10 at Baseball America, the top three spots are occupied by the same players in the same order. It’s become increasingly clear that Eloy Jimenez, discussed in depth by Luke this morning, is the Cubs’ sure-fire top prospect, followed by the polished, switch-hitting second baseman Ian Happ, and usually concluded by (if you still count him as a prospect) the Cubs’ expected (1/2) center fielder in 2017.
After, however, we can begin to see how disparately the remaining players can be ranked.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Trevor Clifton (the Cubs 2016 Minor League Pitcher of the Year) and Jeimer Candelario (the 2016 Spring Training darling, and AAA destroyer) round out the top five prospects, but they don’t appear until the back end of Baseball America. In fact, they are flipped with Dylan Cease and Oscar De La Cruz (at Nos. 7 and 8 overall), a couple of high-ceiling pitchers who also come with histories of injury and probably more than their fair share of risk.
It’s not as though being fourth and fifth is crazy-different than being ranked seventh and eighth (especially in a pretty nice system), but there is clearly a difference in the evaluation and risk/ceiling ratio between the two publications. The bigger differences between the two rankings is that here with BP, you’ll find both outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez and righty Thomas Hatch on the list.
Martinez, you’ll recall, is the big, athletic outfielder who’s defection to the United States from Cuba, and ultimate free-agent journey, was full of twists and turns – and evaluations on his potential were quite confusing. He was listed as everything from a near-Major League ready all-star-type, to a nice, toolsy prospect with some utility upside going forward.
Although his first season in the minors showed Martinez to be closer to the latter than the former, there is some significant reasons for hope (even some shared by Baseball America, and by Cubs farm director Jaron Madison). On the optimistic side, our friends at Baseball Prospectus write that Martinez has premium bat speed, plus raw power, above-average defense, and a plus arm. On the slightly pessimistic side, Martinez’s hit tool is raw, his power hasn’t yet played well in games, and he has swing and miss tendencies. He still has a lot of time to develop, though, and should be someone to keep an eye on next season.
Hatch was the Cubs’ first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft – although he was selected in the third round. Although he had an elbow injury in 2015, Hatch bounced back nicely in 2016, winning the conference pitcher of the year award while leading Oklahoma State to the College World Series. [Brett: At the Convention, the Cubs’ scouting and player development execs mentioned that they had a second round grade on Hatch going into the draft, so they were very pleased to be able to get him at the end of the third round.]
His fastball has recently been clocked at around 95 MPH and pairs nicely with a “potentially above-average) slider and an effective changeup. Given the pitch-mix and history of injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him eventually develop into a late-inning reliever prospect, albeit it a very exciting one.
Because hey, the world needs closers. For now, he’ll remain a starting pitching prospect, though.
I strongly urge you to check out Baseball Prospectus’s write-up, because they have a significant bit on each individual member of the Cubs’ Top Ten, including:
- Background Information
- The Good
- The Bad
- The Irrelevant
- The Role
- The Risks
- Major League ETA
- Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take’s
And much more.