As we’ve discussed before, the KATOH projection system is fundamentally different than other, far more subjective measures of evaluating baseball prospects, relying on players’ performance, age, and height to create projected WAR totals in the future. The system has since been modified to include some subjective measures, including rankings information, which theoretically smoothes out the noise associated with outlier minor league performances that we know to be misleading for reasons a blind system cannot see. OK, on to the ranking.
Chris Mitchell has released his pre-season top 100 prospects list at FanGraphs using the KATOH projection system, and the Chicago Cubs fare relatively well:
18. Eloy Jimenez, OF
50. Isaac Paredes, SS
71. Albert Almora, OF
77. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
82. Ian Happ, 2B
83. Mark Zagunis, OF
It’s not a surprise that no Cubs pitching prospects show up on the list, both because theirs are lower-level and fewer/farther between, and also because KATOH has always favored positional prospects because of the risk associated with pitchers.
As for the six positional prospects on the list, they generally all look to be the guys you’d expect in roughly the spots you’d expected them (with a little extra love for Mark Zagunis) … except I’m guessing most of you are unfamiliar with Isaac Paredes, especially within the context of him being a top 50 prospect.
You don’t see Paredes – yet – on more subjective lists, but that’s not because he’s not a potential breakout prospect. He just doesn’t have the track record yet.
Paredes, who just turned 18, was a significant IFA signing out of Mexico during the Cubs’ blitz in last year’s class. The third party scouting in Mexico is not nearly as robust as in the Dominican Republic, so the reality is that you simply hear less about these prospects, even if they might be truly fantastic. (Pitcher Jose Albertos was also in that class out of Mexico, and there are rumors that he’s so impressive the Cubs literally tried to hide him a bit last year before the Trade Deadline. Just rumors, mind you. He’s considered a top 10 prospect in the Cubs’ system, though, which is not a rumor.)
In his professional debut, Paredes hit .305/.359/.443 in stateside rookie ball (very impressive), striking out a mere 10.8% of the time. There are questions about whether he can stick at shortstop – there pretty much always are for 18-year-old prospects – but if he hits again at Short-Season Low-A Eugene (or maybe even part of the year at South Bend), you’re going to start hearing people talk about him as a clear top 100 prospect.