As we continue to make our way through prospect ranking season, here’s your brief reminder that the Cubs landed zero top 100 prospects according to both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, but did manage to sneak two guys on Keith Law’s list.
Today, Baseball Prospectus released their version of the top prospects rankings, and the Cubs split the difference, landing just one player, Adbert Alzolay, in the Top 101.
2018 Prospects: The Top 101
Ranking this year's top 101 prospects. Plus, within this link we've included a podcast discussing the rankings in depth.https://t.co/pwu4ACeM3X
— Baseball Prospectus (@baseballpro) February 5, 2018
As their tweet indicates, the Top 101 comes alongside a nice, hour-long podcast which gets into everything in greater detail, so be sure to check that out for more.
As for Alzolay, the Cubs soon-to-be-23 year old pitching prospect continues to be the number 1 guy in the system (but #95 overall according to BP), due, in part, to his proximity to the Major Leagues. Last season, he dominated in his first exposure at the Double-A level (3.03 ERA, 2.56 FIP) and figures to start back there again in 2018.
Among the things he’ll be working on this season is missing a few more bats, walking fewer guys, and keeping the ball on the ground a bit more. That last one is a bit of a mixed bag challenge/focus for Alzolay, because, all else equal – especially in today’s homer-prone game – you’d like to see more groundballs. But if Alzolay continues to develop his plus fastball and works it up in the zone for whiffs and pop-ups, you may not see a big spike in the groundball rate, despite his quality curveball and developing changeup.
BP doesn’t have much of a write-up on Alzolay, but they did discuss him in greater detail in various chats, suggesting that he has mid-rotation upside, and could be in the Cubs rotation within a year or two. If that winds up being the case, I think the Cubs would be thrilled. It’s been a while since the Cubs had a starter come up through their system and actually stick in the rotation, so even a mid-to-back-end guy would mean a lot.
And, as we’ve discussed, if that route doesn’t work out for Alzolay (or if there isn’t a spot for him in the rotation before he’s ready to get out big league bats), he’s already got a great fastball/curveball combo for the bullpen.
Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates landed three prospects each on the list while the Reds snuck in a fourth. The Reds’ Nick Senzel continues to be the division’s top prospect, as he comes in ranked 7th overall, just one spot behind White Sox prospect (*sniff*) Eloy Jimenez.