Sometimes, it’s what you believe. Sometimes, it what you don’t believe. On other occasions, it’s “Why do you believe what you believe?” Maybe you have some figures, anecdotal evidence. Tells that are historically significant, that you buy into, until such information no longer applies. At some point, if prior information and current information are conflicting, you can buy one, the other, or acknowledge both and navigate through. Today’s candidate for discussion, Ronnier Quintero, is confusing.
Ronnier Quintero, catcher
Born November 13, 2002, Cuidad Bolivar, Venezuela
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent.
Quintero recently turned 19. Deciding anything final about a player with one year of experience who missed a year of development in 2020 would be inappropriate. That said, Quintero was the second-best catching Quintero on the Mesa Complex Cubs roster. His brother Malcom, who is 18 months or so older, had the better year. Malcom played more, started more, hit better, and seemed to play the bigger games. Nonetheless, Ronnier is the better prospect.
As the two-year old in you wants to ask, “Why?”
When international players are free agents, all 30 teams get to make offers. Quality catchers are perceived as a rarity, for historically valid reasons. For the Cubs to get the younger Quintero, who they may have bought into with Malcom doing adequately in 2018 and well in 2019, it made sense. The younger brother had flashed power, and the older brother was progressing.
Added to the Instructs roster in 2020, Ronnier was the team’s bullpen catcher, needing to make up defensively for time lost in games due to COVID. The Cubs invested just south of $3 million on him. Which is a large part of why so many still buy into him.
There is plenty of time for Ronnier to figure out professional hitting. If you were required to wager “big family dinner for ten” on “which Quintero brother gets more at-bats in Myrtle Beach in 2022, who gets your checkmark? I think Malcom is the better catcher in December 2021, and would rely on a preponderance of 2021 numerical evidence. Ronnier could still be the better prospect.
Recently, the Cubs signed Mark Leiter Jr. I referred to him as the second-best pitcher in the system not on lockout. A few argued that “this pitcher or that” was a better prospect, but Leiter fanned 14 I-Cubs in a seven-inning start late in the 2021 season. Very few pitchers in the Cubs pipeline could realistically even toss seven innings in Triple-A. The differences between “current production level” and “future potential production level” played there. And play here as well.
If you were to scrap signing bonuses and the like, Malcom represents the better catcher right now, on numbers, in my opinion. Will the future play out differently? Perhaps. Ronnier is, currently, the second-best catching Quintero in the system, until otherwise displayed. Most of my projecting is over the next twelve months. I think anything beyond that is largely voodoo, or based on numbers I don’t have. Teams invest aggressively on “tools” internationally at the top-end. Occasionally, they develop. Sometimes, the investment isn’t rewarded. Until further results come in, we wait.