Top Of The First
We are a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting. I know this because of all of the Cubs memes on Twitter that show the jersey backs of players like Arismendy Alcantara, Jody Davis and Rick Monday. My guess is that Cubs By The Numbers gets an awful lot of hits this time of year through Opening Day. I am not a big fan of these types of memes. That being said, how could you use Alcantera and not Bruce Kimm instead? C’mon!
Top 100 Lists
There has been a lot of fuss about Top 100 Prospect lists lately. February is always the go-to month for these types of exercises and Cubs prospects have littered a number of lists as we approach Spring Training. I have read most of them and I have a few thoughts on the inclusion of Cubs players as well as some prospects from other teams.
Overrated players on Top 100 lists: Joey Gallo, Byron Buxton
Gallo strikes out too much. And when he strikes out, he does so in epic fashion. He makes most lists as a top 5 player. I don’t think he can sustain a usable MLB batting average. Then again, Adam Dunn and Chris Davis have forged nice careers and have banked some tall coin staving off the mythical Mendoza line.
I was never as high on Buxton as everybody else is. Then again, when you anoint a player as potentially “the next Willie Mays” you are setting yourself up for a huge letdown. Buxton has disappointed, but he’s still a potential .280 hitter who may hit 15-20 home runs and steal 20-30 bases annually. That’s a top ten player, but it’s not Willie Mays.
Overrated Cubs: Duane Underwood
I just don’t think this guy is a top 100 prospect. On my list he falls into the 125-150 area. The potential is there, but I don’t see him as anything more than an SP4, and I think Underwood’s true impact will be as a quality middle reliever. That being said, it’s also quite possible he could fly under the radar like Joe Ross of Washington did last season and surprise some people..
Underrated Players: Kolby Allard, Rafael Devers
Allard is the best pitching prospect after Julio Urias, Lucas Giolito and Steven Matz, but injury concerns undoubtedly lowered his rankings across most lists. I imagine he will shoot up more than any other player going into 2017. He is a top 5 pitching prospect on my list.
Devers’ development went pretty much as expected in 2015, yet he slid on most lists in comparison to last season’s rankings. I imagine he fell because of the overall talent this year as compared to last, but Devers will be a beast. He should be a top ten player on every prospect list.
Underrated Cubs: Albert Almora, Willson Contreras
I think Almora is a victim of prospect fatigue and over-analysis. His strengths are pretty similar to Jason Heyward’s so I am not sure why the pundits continue to drop him down their lists. Contreras is the Cubs’ number one prospect in my eyes. I have talked to scouts who think he is a near-lock to be a MLB All-Star. It seems that the analysts want Contreras to prove that last season was not a fluke. It wasn’t.
My Top 5 Pitching Prospects for 2016:
- Lucas Giolito
- Julio Urias
- Steven Matz
- Kolby Allard
- Tyler Glasnow
My Top 5 Position Prospects for 2016:
- Cory Seager
- Yoan Moncada
- J.P. Crawford
- Byron Buxton
- Rafael Devers
My Top 5 Cubs Prospects
- Willson Contreras
- Gleyber Torres
- Albert Almora
- Ian Happ
- Billy McKinney
And just a note on Almora: All he did in 2015 was hit .272/.320/.400 with 47 strikeouts and 32 walks in 405 at bats while showcasing elite defensive skills. I know the power isn’t there and likely won’t develop but he is a center fielder, so he doesn’t need to carry the power tool. He’s probably more valuable in the Cubs system than he is as an overall prospect but I am not buying into the reasoning that Almora profiles as a fourth outfielder. He could very well be the best of the Cubs’ current prospects when all is said and done and I would not be averse to pushing him ahead of Torres.
And — taking a moment to brag on the kids — look at how strong the Cubs are up the middle. Keith Law was absolutely correct in naming this team as the 4th best system in the minors.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, or Rumor
Lazero “Lazarito” Armenteros is still undecided and is not close to making a decision, despite reports to the contrary. Of course I hope the Cubs land him if he signs for $10M – $15M or less, but we are talking about a kid who last played baseball when he was 14 years old. I remain highly skeptical. Armenteros is reportedly seeking a $20M bonus.
Mike Moustakas signed a two-year extension with the Kansas City Royals.
The New York Daily News says now that Yoenis Cespedes has signed, the Mets are the favorites to take the NL pennant this year. They’ve earned that prediction and the pitching staff is arguably the best ever. Challenge accepted. I think the Nationals will give the Mets a run for their money this year. I haven’t made my predictions yet but I see the Mets winning the NL East.
Grant Bisbee looks at the MLB divisional races and says the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates all have the potential to win 100 games. Considering how weak Milwaukee and Cincinnati will be, that’s not a stretch.
Recommended story: In 1941, the Kansas City Monarchs roster featured a father/son battery.
ICYMI: David Price donated $300,000 to help build baseball facilities for disabled children in Tennessee. It’s sad that stories like this are buried behind all of the sensationalized scandals that rock sports these days. Price is a good guy.
Bottom Of The Ninth
Bruce Kimm was 33-45 as the Cubs manager for half a season in 2002. He was replaced with Dusty Baker beginning with the 2003 season.
Help me with my NL Dynasty Draft, please and thank you. I have the first overall selection in this year’s minor league portion. Of the players available, I have narrowed my choices down to Dansby Swanson, Orlando Arcia and Victor Robles. Thoughts? Advice? Who would you take? I am leaning toward taking Swanson.