It’s been a busy week in prospect news since last week’s post on the prospect lists. To lead things off, Willson Contreras was rated as the top catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline (Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo). Ian Happ came in at number three for second baseman before even playing the position yet. On Tuesday, Jeimer Candelario was ranked the seventh-best third baseman in the minors and on Wednesday, Gleyber Torres — the Cubs’ consensus number-one prospect — came in at number nine for shortstops.
Earlier this week, Baseball Prospectus released its top 101 prospects and the Cubs did OK, but not great. They didn’t have any prospects in the top 10. In fact, they didn’t even have any prospects in the top 40, something that we have talked about in the post-Kris Bryant era. Nevertheless, the Cubs did place six prospects in the top 101 to show off their depth. There’s a lot of depth in the system, just not a lot of elite talent right now.
As for the six on he list, Torres came in number 41, followed by Contreras at 57 and Happ at 67. Billy McKinney came in at 74, Albert Almora, Jr. at 83, and, somewhat surprisingly, Eddy Julio Martinez at 97. Perhaps more stunning than the latter’s inclusion was Duane Underwood’s omission. I think if BP would’ve gone out another 25, Underwood, Jeimer Candelario, and Dylan Cease would have made appearances. While vacuum-math tells us each MLB team would have 3.3 prospects, the Cubs came in with 6. That’s not too shabby.
The reaction to the list has been a little bit strange. While not too many are arguing about the placement of a prospect, the profiles are not very good. Here is Ian Happ’s awkward profile (emphasis mine):
It is not mere happenstance that finds Happ on this year’s 101. He’s another polished college bat who the Cubs happily added to their system, selecting the Cincinnati outfielder with the ninth-overall pick in the 2015 draft. If you happened upon him in his professional debut last summer, you saw a switch-hitting outfielder who never looks hapless from either side of the plate, and shows enough present-day feel and approach to move quickly through the minors. Happ is not quite athletic enough for center field, and has run out to all three outfield positions so far in his brief pro career. There is some thought that he might be able to play second base, so there is no need for the Cubs to make a decision about his ultimate defensive home haphazardly.
Anyway, MLB Pipeline (Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis) released their top 100 live on MLB Network on Friday night. As they had in BP, the Cubs had six players listed. Billy McKinney came in at 88, followed closely by Albert Almora, Jr. at 86. Pitcher Duane Underwood was at 77 and Ian Happ was right above him at 76. Wilson Contreras came in at number 50 and Gleyber Torres rounded out the list at number 28. I was pleased to see that many Cubs on the list, but I think that by the end of this year there could be 2 to 3 more added
— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) January 30, 2016
While Dylan Cease is the most obvious Cubs prospect who could shoot into the Top 100, I think Jeimer Candelario could get on early in the season as he was ranked as the #7 3B in the minors earlier in the week. Great first halves from Eloy Jimenez and Oscar De La Cruz could force them into the century club by the middle of the summer too. It would be unprecedented for the Cubs to have that amount talent in the top 100. It is likely not going to happen, but I could see Cease and another making jumps
Altogether, I think the MLB list is a better list than BP’s because it didn’t take chances and placed the prospects in a range more suitable to their talents and performance. I thought Underwood should be in the top 100 and Eddy Martinez at 97 was a bit of fluke for BP. I also thought Torres should have been much higher than 41 in the BP list, as Callis and Mayo ranked him at 28. By the end of the year, it’s possible we could see the young shortstop in the top 15 on the MLB list, depending on his year and those who graduate to the majors.
Enjoy the depth.