The departure of Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease in the trade for Jose Quintana had a decided impact on ranking of the Cubs’ farm system. Factoring in the graduation of Ian Happ, who sat atop every Cubs prospect leaderboard prior to 2017, led some to be concerned about the state of the farm core.
Theo Epstein isn’t among those who are worried about the system, and he even expressed optimism about their future.
“When people talk about our farm system, that’s great,” Epstein said. “I love our player development staff, I love our scouting operation, I know our commitment to young players, but the best part of our farm system right now is at the lower levels, where the talent is emerging, and at the big leagues, where they’re all wearing rings.”
If that doesn’t brighten your day, then go right ahead and click the X on the top right of your browser.
So despite the perception that the farm system is depleted, KATOH, which projects a prospect’s WAR in his first six MLB years, shows that the defending World Series champions still have a bundle of interesting pieces. In fact, the model believes the Cubs have four of the most valuable farmhands in the game: Ian Rice (60), Victor Caratini (73), Mark Zagunis (75), and Isaac Paredes (76).
This is the first time Rice has made a top-100 list, and the first he’s been suggested as one of the Cubs’ top prospects. Well, by outside sources. We’ve been high on him here at Cubs Insider for a while. Drafted in the 29th round out of Houston, the 23-year-old catcher is playing extraordinarily well at AA this year. Rice is batting .251 with a .380 wOBA, displaying a patient approach (13.8 BB%) and impressive power (14 HR in 289 PA) for a catcher.
Victor Caratini and Mark Zagunis both have clocked in time at the MLB level this year because of their strong performances in AAA.
Isaac Paredes was ranked No. 51 before the season with fewer than 200 PA at the rookie ball level. The 18-year-old shortstop has continued his strong play at South Bend (low-A), hitting to a .340 wOBA and exhibiting strong contact (14.2% K%) and discipline (7.9% BB%). If Paredes maintains this pace, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name on most top prospect lists in 2018.
Of course, there are limitations to KATOH’s model, and its creator eloquently describes them here. Nevertheless, it’s still fun to see the Cubs have four top-100 prospects from a math point of view.
|3||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||Blue Jays||3B||12.6|
|6||Rafael Devers||Red Sox||3B||11.7|
|12||Fernando Tatis Jr.||Padres||SS||10.2|
|19||Bo Bichette||Blue Jays||SS||8.8|
|26||Yoan Moncada||White Sox||2B||8.4|
|54||Eloy Jimenez||White Sox||RF||6|
|58||Jose De Leon||Rays||RHP||5.9|
|83||Danny Jansen||Blue Jays||C||5.1|