Let the prospect countdown begin

NorthSiders Report starts its Cubs Top 50 Prospect list with some thoughts about rankings and the Cubs minor league system.

With the minor league season opener on April 9, Northsiders Report starts its top 50 countdown, one-a-day, to get you ready for the season and some players to watch in 2015 besides the usual suspect.

Now, when it comes to these lists, its more of personal preference than it is some scientific formula everyone uses to come to a consensus. Several publications use multi sources throughout the industry to help compile their top 100 lists. Sprinkle in scouting grades, the personal preference of the ones actually compiling the list, and you have a snapshot of the top minor league players in baseball or in a certain organization. Before spring training ends, the list will have changed.

So my best advice before you go scrolling through a list is take the time to find out what they consider important when ranking their players. What’s their criteria? Do certain positions get more play than others, how important are minor league stats, and of course, the most important question, “Why Do You Hate The Cubs?”

So let me get to explaining. First off, if you make the majors you lose your prospect status. Hey, its my rules. Sorry Jorge Soler fans but after the first month of the season, he won’t be consider a prospect and hopefully will be on his way to a Rookie of the Year performance. No offense to Kris Bryant.

Dallas Beeler, Eric Jokisch and Rafael Lopez are three more shoe-ins for a Top 50 list but won’t be on this one. Another warning I should issue is I gave a preference on the actual depth chart than a prospect’s actual “ceiling” (which is nothing more than one person’s opinion). What that means is the second baseman in AA is going to get the edge over the recent 15th rounder who had a big season in low A after the draft. It just gets to a point where everyone runs together and you need to come up with some criteria (however irrational it may be) to differentiate. This should explain “my take” on pitchers and the outfielders.

And speaking of the pitchers, I’m really tired of hearing “the Cubs don’t have any pitching prospects.” Do they have a guy that throws 100 mph and ‘wows’ the scouts, no. Do they have a system full of “pitchers”, not “throwers”, that show the ability to command three pitches, you better believe it. Throw in the pitching infrastructure the Cubs’ organization has surrounded its players with and its another silent accomplishment for the Cubs brass.

Not sure a big enough deal was made of this but at one point in July last season, all six starters at Kane County had their ERA below 3.00. Say want you want about ERA, but to have six guys in their first full season with those kind of numbers is impressive. All six made the Top 50 list.

Front office has also done a good job adding quality catching depth to the origination at all levels, starting with the off-season acquisitions of Miguel Montero and David Ross. The development of several catchers took a big jump in ’14 as well as the addition of prospects through trades and the draft. Let’s just say my list is a little catcher friendly, and I expect this to earn me points with Tim Cossins.

That should do it for rules, except the personal opinion part, and well, that’s kinda self-explanatory. Spent the past two years watching in person and on MiLB-TV many of these players, and that goes a long ways in forming my personal opinions. The development of a minor leaguer is not confined to stats and players can make great strides and improvements without putting up big numbers. Cubs are big believers in turning weaknesses into strengths, and every player has a development plan.

The player’s work ethic, his ability to turn weaknesses into strengths, health, and overall talent all factor into a player’s development and ability to become a big leaguer—not their number on a list or what pundits think of their game. Most of the players in Cubs minors work their way through the system, often tackling one level per year. Players like Bryant, who go from the draft to MLB in less than two years, are the exception, not the rule.

NorthSiders Report will be highlighting a prospect a day to get you ready for the April 9 minor league season openers. For those of you new to the site, some of the profiles will be free, most won’t. There’s a seven-day free offer below if you are interested. Enjoy the Top 50 Cubs Prospects, the player profiles, and the 2015 season.

Here’s #50, Cael Brockmeyer


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