10 Quick Thoughts on FanGraphs’ Top 49 Cubs Prospects Rankings
FanGraphs is in the process of dropping their rankings of the top 49 prospects in each system and their Cubs list was published Monday morning. It’s a great snapshot whether you’re a casual observer or a dyed-in-the-wool prospectnik because you get a lot of basic information at a glance — age, level, position — along with being able to chew on some of the more subjective stuff like ETA and Future Value.
As defined by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel (who is now with ESPN) in 2018, “Future Value is a grade on the 20-80 scale that maps to anticipated annual WAR production during the player’s first six years of service.” Anything below a 40 indicates a bench player of less than 1.0 fWAR, 50 tells us to expect an average everyday player up to 2.4 fWAR, and 60 is an All-Star producing up to 5.0 fWAR.
The Cubs didn’t get anyone to that later level, but their overall projections are much better than they were just a few months ago. The list from July featured only two players with 50 FV or better as compared to five such players on this updated ranking. They’ve also got 40 players at or above 40 FV after having 34 on the previous iteration. This is all quite subjective, of course, though it’s impossible to deny the obvious improvement in the system via trades and drafting.
Anyway, I want to offer a few of my personal knee-jerk reactions to the rankings after perusing them for a few minutes here.
- Brennen Davis with a 2023 ETA feels very conservative to me, especially with the Cubs looking to compete and sell tickets. Far more than a gimmick, Davis seems to have gotten better at each level and I think he could outperform these projections.
- James Triantos at No. 4 was a nice surprise. By tearing up the Arizona Complex League, the 18-year-old second-round pick in ’21 answered most questions about whether his freakish prep numbers were simply a product of inferior competition.
- Six of the top 10 players are under the age of 20 as of the publication of the list.
- Ed Howard, who will turn 20 in late January, being given a 2024 ETA seems a little aggressive, but Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin must be quite bullish on his ability to springboard off of a tough debut campaign.
- Not only is former top prospect Brailyn Márquez all the way down at 20 on this list, he’s also pegged as a single-inning reliever. The lefty has been used almost exclusively as a starter and Jed Hoyer recently referred to him as a “pitching weapon,” so the SIRP designation feels a little odd even considering an innings limit in ’22.
- Miguel Amaya dropped down to No. 12 and still has a 2023 ETA despite the fact that he’ll miss all of ’22 following elbow reconstruction and will have played very little competitive baseball in three years.
- Alexander Canario went on a tear at High-A South Bend this past season, but the 22-year-old making it to Chicago in 2022 seems like a stretch.
- Even though I would have bumped Caleb Kilian up a couple spots, he’s the Cubs’ highest-rated pitcher at No. 7 and he’s almost certain to make his way onto the 26-man roster in ’22.
- Owen Caissie feels like a guy who could end up single-handedly making the Yu Darvish trade look really good. He went from No. 10 with a 45 FV in July to No. 4 with a 50 FV.
- After Kilian, 15 of the Cubs’ next 24 prospects are pitchers (6 SP, 3 MIRP, 6 SIRP). That group includes Max Bain (No. 30, SP) and Ethan Roberts (No. 31, SIRP), both of whom are friends of the program. You can catch Roberts’s appearance on CI‘s The Rant Live from last week and tune in Monday at 7pm CT for Bain.