With the void left by the trade that sent Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox, Isaac Paredes, an 18-year-old shortstop from Mexico, is now likely the most promising prospect in the Cubs farm system. The stout middle infielder’s future is so bright that KATOH, the minor league statistical projection system, ranked him No. 50 among the most valuable prospects mostly off of rookie ball play.
It’s easy to compare Paredes to another former international free agent, Gleyber Torres, because both thrived as 18-year-olds against competition well above their age. Like Paredes, Torres made an appearance on KATOH’s top prospect list, ranking 10th going into high-A ball. Today, the Yankees farmhand is considered one of the top prospects — if not the best prospect — in all of baseball.
But similarities in age, position, and jersey number is where the direct comparison between the international signings end. Paredes profiles as a much different hitter than Torres, and, surprisingly, is performing better than his predecessor did against the same competition.
Paredes is six months younger than Torres was prior to embarking on his first full season in the Midwest League. The two players’ wOBA numbers look similar in different sample sizes, but Paredes is generating run value in a much different manner, smacking homers at three times the rate and striking out 34 percent less. Power and contact is the name of Paredes’ game, making his future incredibly appealing.
|Torres||18 yr, 7 m||514||8.4%||21.0%||3||.093||.293||.345|
|Paredes||18 yr, 1 m||326||8.6%||14.1%||7||.149||.270||.354|
The Mexican native is playing against pitchers who average three years older than him, too. That alone is impressive. When further comparing how Paredes rates against other Midwest League 18-year-olds, who make up some of the best of the youngest bunch in baseball, his numbers become even more eye-opening. Homers are jumping off his bat at a greater rate, contributing to a better ISO, and he’s doing all of this while striking out 37 percent less frequently.
|18 yr AVG||2.03%||.125||22.3%||.48|
“Paredes has a thick frame and below-average speed, leading many scouts to think he may move to third base, second base, or even move behind the plate in the future,” wrote 2080 Baseball’s John Arguello, one of the most insightful prospect writers in the game. “His arm strength is above average to plus, and at the plate he is an aggressive hitter who attacks the baseball and has good feel for the barrel.”
A thick frame is probably the first trait that jumps out at you when watching the shortstop. He doesn’t look like your typical 18-year-old, and his peers sure don’t take pitches with as much poise. His propensity for power is enough to make you salivate, but just watch the balance with which he takes pitches.
Expect to see Paredes fly up the prospect rankings when the season ends. I wouldn’t be surprise if he’s a top 30 KATOH player going into 2018 and a top 100 prospect on a few scouting lists. Although Theo Epstein said after trading for Jose Quintana that “the best farm system in the world is when they’re on your big league team,” Paredes will lead the next wave of talented Cubs prospects.
And the waves will keep coming.