When Kiley McDaniel ranked his top 100 MLB prospects earlier this month, three of the Cubs big four made the cut: Nico Hoerner (48th), Miguel Amaya (65th), and Brennan Davis (73rd). Meanwhile, Brailyn Marquez, who arguably comes with the highest ceiling in this group, missed the the list entirely, revealing quite a bit about McDaniel’s preferences.
Needless to say, with Nico Hoerner up top (and inside the top-50), Miguel Amaya ranked as highly here as just about any other ranking this offseason, Brennen Davis behind both, and Marquez absent altogether from the top-100, we can safely assume McDaniel values certainty, floor, and relative positional value more than total upside.
And that’s good background to know, now that he’s released his full Cubs Top-10 Prospect Rankings.
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Chicago Cubs Top-10 Prospects:
- Nico Hoerner, 2B (50 Future Value)
- Miguel Amaya, C (50 FV)
- Brennen Davis, CF (50 FV)
- Brailyn Marquez, LHP (45+ FV)
- Cole Roderer, CF (45 FV)
- Adbert Alzolay, RHP (45 FV)
- Cory Abbott, RHP, (45 FV)
- Ronnier Quintero, C (40+ FV)
- Kevin Made, SS (40+ FV)
- Justin Steele, LHP (40+ FV)
Let’s start by explaining the future value number you see next to each player, because it comes with some disappointing revelations for the Cubs. McDaniel used the 20-80 scouting scale to sum up the value of each prospect into one number. A 50 FV (the top grade any Cubs prospect has received in this set) equates to “a low-end everyday player” in the big leagues, “which correlates to 2.0 WAR” per season.
Obviously, that’s a bit of disappointment, especially given the positions of the players at the top of the Cubs rankings. By which I mean: Hoerner is a middle infielder, Amaya is a catcher, and Davis is a center fielder. All of them are very solid defensively at premium positions around the diamond. If they were to hit even moderately well in the big leagues, 2.0 WAR would be WELL within reach. So projecting them to be just low-end everyday players would almost inherently indicate pessimistic offensive projections. As for Marquez, the calculus is a little different – and arguably a little worse.
According to McDaniel’s scale, a No. 3 starter or a high-end closer would have a 60 future value … Marquez has a 45+. That’s surprisingly low, because even if we concede that sticking in the rotation is going to be tough, his floor as a back-end relief/closer type feels eminently realistic. He’s a lefty, he’s got a 100+ MPH fastball, and he’s got a power breaking ball MLB Pipeline considers a plus pitch (heck – they ranked him all the way up at #68 for precisely these reasons). His future in the rotation will always depend on repeating his mechanics and the development of a third pitch (his change-up), but again … you don’t need much more than he’s got to be a dominant closer. Like I said, McDaniel’s rankings are clearly quite risk-averse.
Other than that, though, there aren’t many surprises and there’s even some positivity. Nico Hoerner is pegged to have the most impact in 2020, Cole Roederer is pegged as a breakout pick among the ranked players, and Chase Strumpf comes in for special mention among the guys ready to break out not ranked inside the top-10. Check out the write-up and more at ESPN.