In a little over 48 hours, Baseball Prospectus (BP) will close out the prospect list season with their roster of the Cubs’ top prospects. It’s been a long and tedious process as many publications, authors, and blogs have compiled these lists over the last two plus months. Thursday’s release means that regular baseball is very, very close.
The reason it’s taken so long for BP to get around to this particular list is that the Cubs were given the distinction of having the number one farm system in baseball last year. As a result, the Cubs are the last team to be profiled as BP worked through the systems in reverse order.
The respected publication has already released their list of the top 100 prospects, so we already know what the top of the Cubs’ honor roll is going to look like. BP has Gleyber Torres ranked as the number one Cub prospect (41 overall), followed Willson Contreras (57), Ian Happ (67), Billy McKinney (74), Albert Almora (83), and Eddie Martinez (97). Again, the other four in the top ten will be released Thursday.
Missing from the top six so far are Duane Underwood and Dylan Cease, though I am not surprised to see BP do something different with their list. Thursday’s list will likely have a surprise or two as well, since BP is a bit different from other sites/publications. That’s not a knock, they are just different. People can have differences of opinion and it’s OK. Sometimes it takes some distance and perspective to see how things play out.
In 2015, BP had Addison Russell as the Cubs’ number one prospect, ahead of Kris Bryant. They were the only publication to do so. In addition, they were also the only publication to have Dan Vogelbach and Carson Sands in the top 10 last season. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. In 2015, it did not. But you watch Russell’s Spring Training batting performances, then add in his amazing glove work, and you see there is something to their argument. At the time of the 2015 list, I thought BP was crazy to rank Russell ahead of Bryant. One year later, Russell’s all-around game in 2016 looks to be extremely strong. He could be a human highlight reel at the plate and in the field this season. I think he is going to take a huge jump in his development this year, especially at the plate.
Once the BP list is out, things can be talked about for a few days and then somewhat forgotten. And, to be honest, with the Cubs picking at number 104 and with international free-agent penalties limiting them to a maximum signing bonus of $300,000, there won’t be too many changes to any prospect list this summer. Most shifting around will be as a result of player development and promotion. It’s been awhile since we could say that about the Cubs. There could be a trade or two as well or, God forbid, an injury.
When this season is all said and done, it will be interesting to look back at these players to see where they began the year and where they ended. The lists, after all, are only paper (in a metaphorical sense). And we all know, they don’t play games on paper…thankfully.