Even though it seems as if the winter is moving at a snail’s pace, prospect list season is quickly becoming a thing. In the past two weeks we have seen Baseball America put out a new Cub prospect list, FanGraphs’ newest Cubs compendium came out about six months ahead of schedule, and MLB Pipeline is close to putting out a new top 100. Other rankings on the horizon include Prospect Live, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN.
With the lockout still raging, this is all we’ve got for news. I usually keep track of where each publication ranks players and make an unofficial ranking of the prospect lists. As of today, Brennen Davis is going to run away with the top spot and it should be unanimous. As for the rest of the list, I think we’re in for a crazy ride because of the differentiation between each of the Cubs’ young prospects. Some guys rank them a little higher than others as we’ve seen amongst ourselves here at North Side Bound.
Here is our official unofficial tally so far.
Still, in these doldrums of winter, there are things that caught our eyes at North Side Bound and surprised us on these lists and there were some things that we found disappointing. We thought we would take the opportunity today to discuss both those perceptions amongst ourselves and with you.
Greg Huss – I was shocked to see Brailyn Marquez still featured at #3 on Baseball America’s list. You’ll see Marquez sliding down rankings most places due to his missed season in 2021 and plenty of reliever risk but it’s a pleasant surprise to see BA’s confidence in him remaining a starter long-term.
I still think we aren’t giving Jordan Nwogu enough credit. Ranked all the way down at #45 on Fangraphs’ list, we’re talking about a guy that was a third round pick out of a major college conference where he put up incredible numbers. Then he became a pro, completely reworked his swing, and put up arguably the best numbers in the entire system the second half of the season. Oh, and he proved that he could be an asset in the outfield as well. I’m not saying Nwogu is a top ten guy in the system, but he definitely shouldn’t be way down at #45.
Todd Johnson – The biggest surprise for me was to see pitcher Zac Leigh pop up at 21 at FanGraphs. That was fun to see him ranked so high after just a few outings. Only a few pitchers were listed above him in the rankings. Kilian, Wicks, Leeper, Jensen, and Marquez were it. That’s some pretty heady company for a 15th rounder. After he signed, Leigh added 10 lbs. of muscle in 6 weeks out in Arizona and his stuff dramatically played up 4 mph on his fastball which got it up to 98.
As for something I found to be disappointing, neither BA or FanGraphs had much pitching on either in the top 10. I was completely taken aback by the ranking of Kohl Franklin at 34. Granted he did miss all of 2021 but he is still well-thought of within the organization and by Greg Huss and myself. Considering the pitching explosion we saw last year, I thought the pitchers would be ranked much higher, especially Ryan Jensen who came in at 19 at FanGraphs.
Jimmy Nelligan – A big surprise was to see Drew Gray, Cubs 2021 third round draft pick ranked at 17 overall on FanGraphs ahead of other big names like Brailyn Marquez and Ryan Jensen. This ranking of course is based entirely on Gray’s projection, but I love the aggressive ranking. Gray is a two pitch pitcher who according to reports has a changeup that is still a work in progress, but his two plus pitches could get outs in Myrtle Beach. Gray has flown a bit under the radar thanks to Jordan Wicks and James Triantos both drafted ahead of him. However, Gray could get some recognition and some notice on a few more lists after his first year in the rotation at Myrtle Beach.
The most glaring disappointment this year on FanGraphs list this year was Kevin Made ranked all the way down to 38. Made was tied for 11th cumulatively here at North Side Bound and is one of the better infielders defensively in the system. Besides the great glove, Made was one of the youngest bats in low-A this year where he batted a solid .270. The power numbers weren’t great, and his low walk rate can be a reason for pause, but Made’s ability to hit for average combined with his glove should be reason enough to rank him higher than 38.
Greg Zumach – Fangraphs slapping a 70-grade on James Triantos’ future hit tool was what surprised me the most. To put that into context, that’s projecting Triantos to be a consistent .300 hitter in the majors. The publication also labels his future game power as above average. Wrapping it all up, Triantos looks like he has a future as a .300 hitter with 20 home runs and an 85% contact rate while settling in at 2B. Maybe that projection shouldn’t come as a surprise, but as someone who covered him extensively prior to the draft it still blows my mind how close Triantos is to being a Top 100 prospect this soon after the draft.
I wouldn’t describe it as disappointing, but I’m having difficulty with Fangraphs grading/ranking of Alexander Vizcaíno over DJ Herz. Ultimately it may just be splitting hairs since both pitchers are in the 45 FV tier and line up right next to each other with Vizcaíno 10 and Herz 11, but I’m still puzzled. Like many publications, Fangraphs projects Herz to end up in the pen due to his crossfire delivery. It’s understandable even if I don’t share the same belief. Vizcaíno features some electric stuff, but he, too, is projected to land in the pen. The reports go on to describe better action and projection with Herz’s fastball and a better changeup (70 grade). It’s getting picky but I’m curious how a pitcher who is four years younger, has more projection, features a double-plus pitch, is lefthanded, and had more success at the same level (HiA) sits behind the other.