Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: The big questions impacting Hoerner’s value are whether or not he can stick at short and how much power will he develop. I lean on the optimistic side in both categories as I feel he prove to be average at short and potentially plus if he moves to second. At the plate he has as quick a bat to the ball as you are going to find with an incredible knack for making contact. The strength in his wrists and forearms are real and I see him turning into a guy who puts up 15 or so home runs a year, with an occasional season topping 20, but could be a guy who leads the league in doubles thanks to his approach and ability to drive the ball to all fields.
Quick Report: As good a receiver as you are going to find as a teenager in his first two pro seasons, Amaya’s upside is as high as the bat will allow. The bat is quick and he stays on top of the ball well, even up in the zone. He has an inconsistent leg kick, but he gets it down early allowing him to adjust to breaking balls well. There is enough power to think he will be at least league average while hitting for a .275 average. He has a decent arm, but the advanced footwork behind the plate help his arm play to a level it borders on plus and he manages a pitching staff well.
Quick Report: Like quick moving baseball, then Alzolay may be your new favorite pitcher. He gets on the mound with a plan and doesn’t waste any time, getting the sign and moving straight into his seemingly rushed but still controlled delivery, where he attacks the zone. He shows excellent balance, allowing him to control his body enough to vary how long the delivery is before his foot lands and hips fire, although it tends to be a bit of a longer hold when he throws the curve. The fastball is mid-90s and the curve is a sharp plus offering. In order to be a viable starter, he needs to improve the change that is currently well below average. It has plenty of movement when it is at its best, but is inconsistent. If he can turn that into an average offering, he can become a guy that fits into the middle of a rotation, but has a fallback of being a high leverage reliever if the change never comes around.
Quick Report: A heavy fastball that touches 99 from a low 3/4 slot gives Marquez a floor of a power reliever. The secondary stuff will determine how dominant a reliever he becomes, or if he can reach the ceiling of a front-line starter. At its best, he sharp curve looks plus but is understandably raw as he just turned 20 in January. The change is well behind both pitches and simply isn’t good currently. There is some late life on the change, but the velo gap between it and his fastball needs to grow for it to be effective. He will likely be back in Low A to start the year, but consistency added to his secondary offerings could see him become a quick riser in the system and, possibly, to the top of Cubs prospect lists.
Quick Report: Had it not been for a mild shoulder injury and some signability concerns due to his strong commitment to UCLA, Roederer very well could have been a first-round pick. The Cubs went over slot to sign him and really impressed in the AZL. His one below average tool is his arm, so he needs to be able to stick in center to keep this value, something I believe he can and will do. His raw power showed up as more game power than expected already and he has quieted his shoulders to control the bat better. He will never be a star, but he has plenty of tools to become a quality everyday option in the outfield that can hit near the top of a lineup.
Quick Report: Don’t let his .207 average last season fool you, Ademan has plenty of bat. He struggled at the plate but that is likely a result of an incredibly aggressive assignment, as he spent the season as a 19-year-old at High A. He has a smooth swing from the left side and a quick bat, although power will never be one of his calling cards. In the field, he has smooth actions at short with soft hands and plenty of arm. While he certainly has the upside to become an everyday shortstop, there is a good chance he lands in more of an utility role, where he will be able to fill into any of the infield positions and play well above average defense.
Quick Report: Steele came back just 11 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery and looked as good as ever. His fastball sits in the low 90s but can top out at 96-97. He comes out of a smooth 3/4 slot that allows the fastball to run some while still showing good downhill plane. He has a change that has rare cutting action at times rather than the traditional arm side fade, which helps it play up despite not being all that great a pitch. His curve is a legit above average offering, allowing him to have the upside of a mid-rotation arm, although it is more likely a number four or five starter, and could find his way to Wrigley this season.
Quick Report: Frankly, I was shocked when I heard Davis announced as the Cubs pick in the second round, as I was not nearly that high on him when seeing him play at Basha High in Arizona. The pick, and this ranking, is based on his elite athleticism. He has long levers at the plate and likely will never hit for much in terms of average. When he does make contact the ball can really travel, possessing plus raw power that could develop into 30+ home run power if he makes enough contact. In the field, and on the bases, he can really run, with plus speed that he should be able to keep even as he fills out. His routes in center are not good currently, but he didn’t commit to baseball full time until last year, having been a standout basketball player in the mold of his father, Reggie Theus. He has the arm to play right, but natural tools to stick in center. Davis is a guy who could put it all together and be a star, or never make enough contact to reach AA, we will just have to wait which way his career goes.
Quick Report: Lange was a dominant force for LSU despite having massive fluctuations in his velocity and inconsistent secondary offerings. When at his absolute best, he can sit in the mid-90s with a plus curve and solid change that has late movement. Other times he has trouble reaching 90, the curve lacks depth, and the change is too inconsistent for him to break out in the game. There is also late effort from the hips though his head that suggests reliever profile, but he managed to be one of the better pitchers LSU has ever had, then held his own at High A despite being visibly worn out. If he does end up in the bullpen, it will be as a multi-inning guy, but don’t count him out finding a way to become an arm at the back of a rotation in a year or two.
Player: Richard Gallardo
Opening Day Age: 17
2018 Highest Level: DNP
Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: If Gallardo gets a stateside assignment this coming summer, he is a guy who will rocket up the Cubs list. He already sits in the low 90s but has plenty of room for growth and more velo is expected. His curve is already an above average offering with the upside to be a plus-plus pitch that will buckle hitter’s knees to go with an advanced feel for a change at his age. His delivery is more controlled than most his age which suggests the command will be solid as well. If he is a Dominican Summer Leaguer, he will likely still be on the Cubs top 10 list next year but at the back half based purely on the lack of exposure to more polished talent, but if he finds himself in the AZL or higher, he could be in the top 3 a year from now.