Prospect Notes: Bryant's Dominance, Johnson's Turn, Torres' Ranking, Much More

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Prospect Notes: Bryant’s Dominance, Johnson’s Turn, Torres’ Ranking, Much More

Chicago Cubs

cubs azl spring training logoBaseball America’s top 100 list was the big prospecting news of the day, but there’s been a ton of other Cubs prospect stuff worth checking out over the past week …

  • I’d caution you against utilizing this data for more than a little fun, but it looks like Kris Bryant’s 2014 season was probably the best minor league season in the last nine years. We knew it was good. We even knew it was the most dominant season in the minors last year by any prospect, especially when you consider it came at AA and AAA in Bryant’s first full professional season. But to see it stacked up against all of the other top seasons in the last nine years? Just crazy.
  • A great read on pitching prospect Pierce Johnson from Tony Andracki. Johnson battled injury issues and command issues last year, but (1) the stuff never left him, and (2) his numbers in July and August were ridiculous. I’m not advising carving up a season like that to drive whatever narrative you’d like, but it’s notable in Johnson’s case because, by the second half, he was healthy and he was working on developing a cutter, which I’ve heard was quite effective. Johnson might start the year at AAA Iowa, and, just like C.J. Edwards, he’s got a chance to rocket up the radar very early in the year if he looks like the guy who was dealing late last year (and, let’s be honest, if the command/control is just a touch better – even in July/August when his strikeout rate jumped and his overall numbers looked great, the walk rate was an ugly 11.5%).
  • The FanGraphs top 200 list brought along with it a number of ancillary discussions, including a set of KATOH projections for the top 142 prospects (because those were the ones ranked in order). The man behind KATOH also just dropped the projections for the players in the 143 to 200 range, and many of the Cubs in that group actually fare better than those ranked way ahead of them. For example, Gleyber Torres shows up at 10.6 WAR, which would have put him in the top 10 overall. Billy McKinney is just behind, at 4.7. Dan Vogelbach is at 1.6. (On Torres, you should remember that the KATOH system is based on stats/level only, and the sample size for Torres is extremely small (and at an extremely low level).)
  • So, then, you can put together a top 200 KATOH list – and Chris Mitchell did! The Cubs have the numbers 2, 3, 4, 10 (Torres), 44, 71, 100, 156, and 178 prospects. That includes some new (to these lists) names like Eric Jokisch and Jen-Ho Tseng.
  • Speaking of KATOH, do you remember when we talked about the levels at which certain performance indicators (walk rate, strikeout rate, for examples) become meaningful for future projections for positional players? Well, Chris Mitchell has done the same analysis on the pitching side, and the results were really, really interesting. Short version? Both walk rates and strikeout rates become much more significant for pitchers at a lower level (once they reach full season ball, basically) than they did for hitters. The short version of Mitchell’s findings squares with what we’ve generally believed to be true about pitching prospects: strikeout rate is always important to monitor, even at the low levels (you want to see good pitching prospects missing bats right from the get-go, period), but walk rate shouldn’t concern you quite as much in rookie ball and short-season Low-A. I’m guessing the rationale there is that the guys are so young, and so fresh to pitching professionally that the control can come along a little later.
  • A great breakdown of the BP top 101.
  • This is a great read on Cubs pitching prospect Daniel Lewis, whom you might remember as a pretty unique – and intriguing – Cubs signing last year.
  • And an interview with Jake Stinnett at Vavel – sounds like a really well-spoken guy.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.