Baseball America is rolling out its league prospect rankings, which is always a fun exercise. It’s a different way to cross-compare a bunch of legit prospects who (1) aren’t necessarily in the top 100, so you can’t compare ’em that way, and (2) aren’t in the same organization, so you can’t compare ’em that way.
Today, BA revealed the top 20 list for the Arizona Rookie League, and the Cubs fared quite well: lefty Carson Sands comes in at number 9, outfielder Eloy Jimenez is at 13, and shortstop Gleyber Torres is 14. You can see the full list here. Only the Indians also put three prospects on the list.
Sands, who was recently added to the top 20 Cubs prospect list at MLB.com, was the Cubs’ 4th round selection in this year’s draft – a stud high school lefty whom the Cubs gave a huge bonus to sign. The impressive thing about Sands’ placement in the top 10 in the AZL is that, generally speaking, the guys ahead of him on the list are elite draft picks from the early rounds this year. We knew that Sands was more talented than a “4th rounder,” but it’s nice to see that the post-draft scouting is, so far (small sample!), matching the pre-draft hype. As for the results, Sands posted a 1.89 ERA (3.10 FIP) over 19 innings. He struck out 20, walked 7, and gave up 19 hits.
As for Jimenez and Torres, you probably know them well by now. The two teenagers were the top two IFA signings last year, not only by the Cubs, but by any team. In their first taste of professional ball, the Cubs had the two play Stateside at just 17. Each flashed some ups and downs, as you’d expect, generally living into their early scouting labels (Torres is more polished with an advanced approach at the plate (he was promoted to Boise late in the season), while Jimenez is a physical beast, more raw but has the greater offensive upside).
On the year, Torres hit .297/.386/.440, mostly in the Arizona Rookie League. He had a 13.5% BB rate and an 18.6% K rate over 215 plate appearances. Jimenez was at .227/.268/.367 with a 6.1% BB rate and 19.5% K rate over 164 plate appearances (he dealt with some injury issues).
Would you liked to have seen Jimenez and Torres – who frequently appear in the 12 to 18 range in top 20 Cubs prospect lists – higher on this kind of a ranking? Well, sure. But, given their age and inexperience (and the fact that they’re up against many stateside draftees who have had scouting profiles built for years), I just think it’s cool that they were included. Keep in mind, the AZL has 13(!) teams, each with a large roster that turns over rapidly. The pool of prospects from which to generate a list like this is very deep.
So, all in all, this is very cool news. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Cubs prospects hyped as the biggest names approach the big leagues, but this is a reminder that the front office, the scouting staff, and the player development staff are always working hard to ensure that the lower levels of the minors are well-stocked with great prospects to keep the line moving.