The website Fangraphs released their list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball and they had good news for Cubs fans as they think that five Cubs players belong among the top 114 prospects in the game. (Their list goes out to 114 players as they have many, many ties at the bottom of the list.)
Fangraphs’ ranking fits in with what other prospect experts have been saying—the Cubs system is a very deep one at the moment. While only two prospects make the Top 100 proper, three more players are ranked in that “101 to 114” range that they lump in as basically tied for the final spots.
The five players who made the list are:
25. Brennen Davis—outfield FV—55
87. Kevin Alcantara—outfield FV—50
104. Owen Caissie—outfield FV—50
106. James Triantos—infield FV—50
114. Reginald Preciado—infield FV—50
The website also has a scouting report of every player, so you can go there and read what Fangraphs has to say about these players.
Fangraphs bases their rankings on “Future Value” of “FV,” by which they mean what kind of player can we reasonably expect these prospects to become on the major-league level. This isn’t a player’s ceiling or best-case scenario. Rather, to put in in their words:
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.
You can read more about what Future Value means at that link. But basically it is an attempt to summarize what you can reasonably expect out of a player on the 20 to 80 scouting scale. A “50” ranking is a solid, everyday major leaguer. A “60” is an all-star and a “70” is a guy that we’re going to start considering for Cooperstown if they do it long enough.
Distance from the majors is factored into Future Value. That means other than Davis, the other four prospects were ranked conservatively because of their youth and inexperience. Only Caissie, among those players, has played above rookie ball and even he only has 90 plate appearances above rookie ball.
If you click on “expand” on the player’s scouting report at Fangraphs, you can see an estimate of how likely the prospects are to reach each value.
As you can see, the Fangraphs rankings agree with what I and many other observers have been saying about the Cubs system. While it may be lacking in those top-tier, high-ceiling, close-to-the majors prospects, it is a very deep system right now with several players who could become those top prospects over the next year or two. Certainly all five of these players have a certain “bust” possibility in their outcomes, with Davis as being the only one they estimate has less than a 50% chance of being a “bust.” But that’s true of all prospects of that age and even the players ranked in the top ten are given a 10-to-20 percent chance of “busting.”
Fangraphs’ rankings is also a sign of the job that team president Jed Hoyer has done with rebuilding the farm system. Except for Davis, the other four players all have joined the Cubs organization over the past 14 months. Triantos was 2nd-round pick in the most recent MLB Draft. Alcantara was acquired in the Anthony Rizzo trade. The other two prospects came over in the Yu Darvish deal.
I know that Cub fans do not want to be told to be patient, but if Fangraphs and other farm system evaluators are correct, the wait will likely pay off in the end.