There are a handful of prospecting bits to get out to you today, as we get closer and closer to the season. Instructional ball starts this weekend, with Cubs minor leaguers reporting to Arizona today, according to Arizona Phil. At instructs, players will get a chance to work on very specific aspects of their game, and then will transition immediately into Spring Training where they can deploy those changes in a controlled environment (then in Spring Training games, slightly less controlled but still not real games; then in regular season).
- MLB Pipeline has finished up their top prospects-by-position lists, and Nico Hoerner lands at number 9. The position is loaded, as shortstop always is, so it’s compliment enough to see Hoerner included. With Javy Baez in front of him and with some questions that remain about the arm and the range, Hoerner probably becomes a second baseman or a center fielder in the big leagues, and obviously that could happen as soon as this year. At second base, he could probably be a little above average defensively – Pipeline believes he could potentially be average at shortstop, though, if it came to that, thanks to his good speed and instincts.
- With Hoerner on the shortstop list, that gives the Cubs four prospects on these top 10 lists (Hoerner on SS, Chase Strumpf on 2B, Miguel Amaya on C, and Brailyn Marquez on LHP). That’s actually quite a lot, relative to the rest of baseball right now – even if finding out that information also makes you see just how stunningly dreadful the past decade of Cubs pitching prospects has been:
On a much more positive note, there is just one org in all of baseball that has more prospects on these individual top ten lists. The Dodgers have 6 such prospects, & the Cubs – together with many other orgs – have 4.
Cubs don't have a top-half system yet, but clearly climbing.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 24, 2020
- I think we’re going to find that, by the end of rankings season and before the minor league seasons begin, the Cubs are viewed as having a below-average farm system, but one that is not in the bottom five, and has the upside potential to climb into that 10-15 range by midseason. It’s taken a long time, but the worm is finally turning.
- Speaking of Marquez, this is fun – Marquez isn’t only the 37th best prospect in baseball, according to BA, he’s also one of the most tooled up pitching prospects across the board:
Wander Franco is the best prospect in baseball.
He is *not* the most tooled up prospect.
We explain the difference + rank the 10 toolsiest hitters and pitchers here: https://t.co/eICHemuOA5
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 23, 2020
- Although he did not wind up on their top 100 (a mistake! … in my view), Cubs catching prospect Miguel Amaya did come in for some love in the accompanying BA chat, and in a follow-up piece about guys who could make the leap next year. Basically, BA already has him very close to top 100, but wants to see Amaya put together a quality offensive season now that he’s out of back-to-back years in pitcher-friendly environments (but … that’s been our point: he *has* produced well-above-average league-adjusted numbers as a YOUNG catcher in full-season ball). So, it’s cool. If Amaya shows he can be a high-contact, good-discipline, decent-power catcher as a younger-than-average guy at AA, he’ll be right up there on the top prospect lists. National folks will act like he just popped, but we’ll all know. This was his trajectory all along …
- Evan at Cubs Insider took a look at two “prospect fatigue”-type pitchers, each of whom has big league talent and is working on staying healthy and incorporating a changeup to finish off a quality three-pitch mix: Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele. Each is already on the 40-man roster – Alzolay has seen some big league time – and each could contribute meaningfully this year at the big league level. Bryan has explored the need to figure out Alzolay’s role this year, and also dug into Steele’s bad luck. It’s easy to kinda forget about these guys because they’ve been “names” for so long and have yet to really settle into (or even arrive into) the bigs. But the stuff is very, very real, and as you can see from the organization’s comments, they believe in these two guys.
- The Cubs aren’t up on this yet (because their FanGraphs list isn’t out yet), but man I can’t wait to dig in:
If you're the curious type and like TrackMan data for prospects, friendly reminder that THE BOARD has Avg & Max Exit Velo along w/TM-influenced bat control & pitch selection grades for hitters, while the pitchers have Avg/Max Velo & FB/Breaker spin rates https://t.co/ZzYuhzgzGx pic.twitter.com/gad0Iyxxpp
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) January 24, 2020