With Arizona Complex League ball over for the year, we are still waiting to see if any younger prospects get the bump to Myrtle Beach for the stretch run. We’ve learned the last couple years that, thanks to the loss of short-season Low-A ball, it’s a really big jump from rookie league to full-season Low-A. Stay tuned, and stay reasonable in your evaluations.
- The Chicago Cubs, as expected, wind up a top ten farm system in the new MLB Pipeline rankings, albeit just barely. And I wonder what happened between the time of the podcast about the rankings (Cubs were said to be 9th) and the release of the article, where the Cubs are actually 10th:
2022 preseason rank: 18
2021 midseason rank: 18
2021 preseason rank: 22
2020 midseason rank: 26
Top 100 Prospects: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (No. 31); Brennen Davis, OF (No. 51); Kevin Alcantara, OF (No. 91)
The Cubs system hasn’t been this deep since Chicago was assembling the talent that won the 2016 World Series. Though all three of their Top 100 Prospects are outfielders, their pitching depth is also notable. Most of their best arms have been acquired in the last 13 months, including Cade Horton, Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, Jackson Ferris, Hayden Wesneski and Caleb Kilian.
- As we’ve discussed, the Cubs’ system is a bit of a weird one, with its depth of legitimate prospects among the best in baseball, but its impact at the top still lacking. For some services, that amounts to a ranking in the 4 to 10 range (FanGraphs and Pipeline), for others, it’s middle-of-the-pack at best (Baseball America and ESPN).
- Pipeline updated its top 30 for the Cubs, also, which has Cade Horton (4) and Jackson Ferris (8) entering the top ten, and Nazier Mule (23) and Christopher Paciolla (24) making the list (I feel like Pipeline tends to be rosier on draft picks right out of the gate). Interestingly, they have Ben Brown (7) much higher than Hayden Wesneski (12).
- Some other notable revised placements: Alexander Canario deservedly moves into the top ten (9), Caleb Kilian falls to 14 (we discussed the concerns about his big league debut yesterday), Moises Ballesteros leaps all the way to 15, Daniel Palencia is climbing as he should be (19), and Matt Mervis finally gets some recognition at 21.
- Speaking of Mervis, he’s had back-to-back huge games at Iowa, and he’s getting more and more attention as the season winds down:
- In terms of the numbers, any time I see a minor leaguer hitting for a lot of power BUT NOT striking out much, my eyes open very wide. For Mervis, his power (ISO) has dropped a bit at each level he’s been promoted this year, but it’s still a strong number at Iowa (.235), and it’s coming despite his strikeout rate dropping significantly at each level: from 24.1% at High-A to 20.0% at Double-A to just 13.3% right now at Triple-A.
- I still wonder, with his swing, whether better command and stuff will give him problems up in the zone, but so far, even at Triple-A, it hasn’t been an issue. When Mervis gets his pitch, he does not miss. That’s not me QUITE calling him a mere “mistake hitter,” but that *is* an important skill: when the pitcher does make a mistake, you crush it. Because even the big boys make mistakes at the next level, and the higher your rate of punishing those pitches, the better you can produce overall, even if you have holes.
- Because he’s not Rule 5 eligible yet, I don’t think we’ll see Mervis up this season. It’s not really all that unreasonable anyway, since he’s played just 27 games at Triple-A, and I’ve seen scouting reports that suggest the work at first base could still use more work (remember, last year was his first as a full-time position player!). I also have to keep pumping my own brakes on the Triple-A performance, because it’s not as if we haven’t seen a first-base-only guy, very recently, dominate at Triple-A and struggle badly in the big leagues. I suppose the one big difference between Alfonso Rivas and Matt Mervis, though, is that Mervis hits for a lot more power, and doesn’t rely on walks for as much of his productivity.
- What a play by Andy Weber:
- Weber, 25, has a league-average bat at Double-A, but he keeps doing juuuuuust enough overall to stay on the radar as a possible future big league utility guy. The ability to play capable shortstop is the real separator, since the bat is probably always going to be below average at the higher levels.
- We got an early Stuff+ look at Javier Assad’s debut, and they are sneaky impressive:
- That mostly tracks with the scouting reports and what we saw, including the cutter being a definite big league pitch … that he could not locate at all. The curve and the slider, in small samples, rate out extremely well. Those three pitches, together with two playable (even if below average) fastballs, could make Assad a solid back-end starter for a number of years. Don’t go crazy since it’s just one outing, but again, that all tracks with the scouting reports, too. He could be a pretty awesome 6th starter to have available next year and beyond (with the potential to take another step forward with his command).
- The Cubs’ two top draft picks are at Wrigley Field today, taking it all in: