Chicaco Cubs 2022 Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat
Following today's release of our new Cubs Top 10, Kyle Glaser answered your questions below.
Kyle Glaser: Hey everybody, hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to chatting Cubs today. Let's get started.
Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines):
- Comparing Kevin Alcantara and Reggie Preciado seems very natural given their size, age, athleticism, and level. In your eyes, what gives Alcantara the edge here?
Kyle Glaser: Alcantara is a much more explosive athlete than Preciado. Preciado has gotten bigger and slowed down a good bit. Alcantara is a full two grades faster, has more power and projects to be the same caliber of hitter (they both project to be average hitters who have some chase concerns). Both are good prospects, but Alcantara is a tier ahead both in terms of present tools and overall potential. Alcantara has the potential to be an above-average everyday player, whereas Preciado's upside is more of an average regular.
Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines):
- Yohendrick Pinango altered his batted ball profile pretty significantly this past season, pulling the ball more than he ever had before as the season wore on. How likely is it that he can also begin to get the ball in the air a bit more as he continues to develop?
Kyle Glaser: It's definitely possible. Pinango has such a unique feel to hit for his age (and for the game overall, really) that it wouldn't be wise to bet against him successfully making an adjustment. His swing presently is more geared toward hitting the ball hard on a line and you don't want him to get too uphill in his swing path and lose what makes him good in the first place, but with his bat control, natural timing and rhythm in the batter's box and just overall feel for hitting, there's no reason to think he can't make a tweak or two and start driving it more in the air.
- How close was Nelson Velazquez to making the top 10? Will he be really high on the 11-30?
Kyle Glaser: Velazquez is in the 11-15 range. There are still a lot of questions about how he'll handle better spin (his struggles against better breaking balls were apparent even in the AFL when he was going well) but he keeps getting better with each passing year and is trending in the right direction. He's put himself in position to contribute to the Cubs as at least a part-time outfielder with his power, defense and improved contact skills after he leveled out his swing this year to keep his barrel in the zone longer. If he can start holding up against better breaking stuff and forcing pitchers into the strike zone more, he'll take another jump. That, of course, is a big "if."
- Did I steal Anderson Espinoza?
Kyle Glaser: No. Espinoza's changeup has not come back post-surgery and he still can't spin the ball. He's a one-pitch pitcher with below-average control. He is not in the Cubs Top 30 and received zero consideration to be in it from either opposing scouts or Cubs officials. Now, we often see guys take a leap in their second year back from Tommy John surgery, so it's very possible he'll come back better next season, especially given how much time he missed. But the Espinoza who showed up this year, with either the Padres or Cubs, was not really a prospect.
MJ (Chapel Hill):
- With Miguel Amaya set to miss most or all of 2022 with TJS, what are the chances the Cubs start Opitz out in Tennessee this upcoming year?
Kyle Glaser: That would be aggressive. Normally only the very best of the top college draft picks start their first full seasons at Double-A. Add in the huge jump in preparation and stuff Opitz (and all catchers) have to deal with going from college to pro ball, it's a stretch to say starting him Double-A is better for his development than starting him at High-A would be. (Remember, the largest jump in the minors is from High-A to Double-A). Now, if the Cubs don't add any catchers in minor league free agency or injuries thin out their organizational catching depth, it's possible Opitz begins at Double-A, but that would not the most desirable outcome.
- I’ve seen Christopher Morel get comped as a Chris Taylor type. 1.5-2.5 WAR type, with an occasional 3 WAR thrown in. Does this seem realistic to you?
Kyle Glaser: No. Morel is nowhere near the caliber of hitter Taylor was. Taylor hit .315/.410/.459 in the minors. Morel is a career .236/.306/.398 hitter in the minors. Morel won't stay in the majors for any meaningful amount of time unless he makes significant strides as a hitter. Even if he does, you're looking at an up-down utility guy, not a multi-positional everyday player.
- Christian Hernandez's scouting "blurb" on Baseball America says he has the potential to be a middle of the order type bat. Is that genuinely his ceiling? If not, what do you think it is?
Kyle Glaser: Umm...that's what his ceiling is. A middle of the order caliber hitter in the major leagues is an excellent, excellent player. I'm not really sure what you're asking. That's a very, very high ceiling.
- It seems Crow-Armstrong shares a lot in common with Jarred Kelenic, beyond just both being HS outfielders drafted and traded by the Mets. Would you agree? Who would you prefer long term?
Kyle Glaser: They're not similar at all. Kelenic was a great hitter who was always going to be driven by his offense and you hoped would maybe stay in center field. Crow-Armstrong is an incredible defender in center field with a light bat you hope will tick up in time. They're pretty much polar opposites. Kelenic is who you take long-term - better hitter with more power. Kelenic was the top high school player taken in his draft and a Top 75 prospect from the outset. Crow-Armstrong was taken 10+ picks later in his draft and is on the fringes of Top 100 consideration. Crow-Armstrong is a really promising young player, but he's a tier (or two) below Kelenic.
- How close was Reggie Preciado to the top 10?
Kyle Glaser: Preciado is in the 11-15 range. He has really good hand-eye coordination, projectable power and an advanced feel for the game, but he needs to tighten his strike zone discipline pretty significantly and he's slowing down a good bit already. He's a good prospect, but he was pretty firmly outside of the Top 10 (and the top 12, really).
- What are scout saying about Ismael Mena and Kevin Made?
Kyle Glaser: Mena has a long, long, long way to go as a hitter. It's hard to feel great about him given how raw we're talking about here, even in the context of a teenager in the complex levels. He's very far behind even his similarly-aged peers. Made is more interesting. He's an excellent defender at shortstop and moves seamlessly to other positions across the infield. He has good hand-eye coordination and can make contact when he gets a pitch to hit in the zone, but there isn't a fastball he won't swing at (at his eyes, three feet outside, you name it) and that's going to have to change for him to hit at higher levels. Made is in 10-20 range of the Cubs system because the tools are there. Mena did not make the Top 30.
- Was James Triantos close?
Kyle Glaser: James Triantos was very close to the Top 10. He was number 11 (spoiler alert) and when you get your Prospect Handbooks, you'll see he has the same grade on him as some others who did make it into the Top 10. It's a razor-thin margin we're talking about here. He's a really good hitter and if he shores up his defense (which is a big "if"), he could really jump next year.
- Thinking about the Gallo comp, it would seem Caissie needs to become a better defender than he currently is or a better overall hitter than Gallo is to have as much value. Which do you think is more likely?
Kyle Glaser: It's not a Gallo comp. Go back and read the writeup. It says Caissie's power drew comparisons to Joey Gallo's. Just his power, not his overall game. Caissie projects to be a much better hitter than Joey Gallo, but also a significantly worse defender. They're going to be very different players. If Caissie becomes the hitter most think he will, he'll be the better player. Gallo just doesn't make enough contact to be more than a second-division regular, despite his reputation.
- Is it correct to say the Cubs are limited on high end prospects but VERY deep with prospects that are expected to contribute at the MLB level? If so, do you expect them to have to start trading some of these players in the next year or two to limit potential 40 man losses? A few months later, do you feel the cubs did well with their returns for Rizzo, KB, and Baez?
Kyle Glaser: I would not say the Cubs are "very" deep with prospects that are expected to contribute. Quite the opposite, actually. Only one of their Top 20 prospects has played even a day in Triple-A (Davis). This is a system filled with guys who have a long way to go. 40-man issues aren't really a consideration here. As far as the returns, the Cubs did well with Rizzo and Baez. Bryant remains TBD.
- Hi Kyle, thank you for taking our questions toady! I was wondering if you thought Yohendrick Pinango could ever add power to his swing or if he will always be just a great contact hitter. Do you think the lack of power will hold him back from a starting role in the majors in the future?
Kyle Glaser: Hey Frederick, my pleasure. Considering Pinango posts above-average exit velocities at a young age and he still had 20 doubles and five home runs playing at Myrtle Beach (a hitter's graveyard), there is certainly some latent raw power he could probably tap into as he matures and makes adjustments. That all said, he's always going to be contact first. Think of his potential in the Nick Markakis or Melky Cabrera mold - high averages, 12-16 HR most years. You can start in the majors with that, which we think he will. Even if he's .290 with 10 home runs, that's still a good player.
Nick D. (New York):
- Where does shortstop Ed Howard rank in the Cubs system (11-15)?
Kyle Glaser: Howard is a tick below that range. He's in the 16-20 group. His pitch recognition is really, really rough and even the most optimistic evaluators don't see him being more than a 40 hitter, with a real risk he's a 30 hitter. He's someone who has a lot to prove in 2022.
- Better big league career, Ed Howard or Kevin Made?
Kyle Glaser: Both have a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make to be big leaguers in any capacity. Made is the answer, but even he is going to have to make some significant improvements at the plate to have success even in just the upper levels of the minors.
Jon KK (Elkhart, IN):
- Owen Caissie is in the Top 10. I'd guess Reginald Preciado isn't too far outside. About where do he and the other two received for Yu Darvish, Ismael Mena and Yeison Santana, fall in the Cubs rankings?
Kyle Glaser: Caissie established himself as the best guy the Cubs got in the Darvish trade by a fair margin this year. Preciado is in the 11-15 range, Mena is in the 20-25 range and Mena did not make the Top 30.
Cristian Hernandez (Noelvi Marte 2.0?):
- Hi Kyle, thank you for chatting with us today. How do my tools compare to Noelvi Marte, who was a huge riser in 2021? Like myself, Marte looked great in the DSL in 2020 and made a flawless transition state side in 2021. Do scouts think I'll take the same path in 2022 and find myself climbing up the top 100?
Kyle Glaser: That's an interesting comparison. There are a lot of similarities between the two at the same age. Hernandez will jump stateside in 2022 and it's very possible he shoots up the rankings, yes.
Owen Caissie (Future top 100?):
- For one of the youngest draftees in the 2020 class, I was initially seen as a raw hitter with plus power. Has evaluations on my hit tool changed after my performance in 2021? I was able to make consistent hard contact while draw walks at an impressive clip. Strike outs will probably always be part of my game due to long levers but do scouts see a future top 100 prospect? How do I compare skill wise to someone like Trevor Larnach?
Kyle Glaser: Evaluations of Caissie as a hitter were actually already pretty solid out of the draft. He was considered a 45 hitter when he was drafted and that's ticked up to 50 with what he showed this year. Larnach is an interesting comp I could see happening. If Caissie shows he can translate what he did at the complex level to full-season ball (he didn't see good spin at the complex level last year, so how he handles that is TBD), he'll rise quickly.
Navin (Pasadena, CA):
- I'm curious on your thoughts on three teenage infielders - Ed Howard, Kevin Made and Reginald Preciado - who didn't make the top 10 this time around and what areas each needs to work on.
Kyle Glaser: Made and Howard are great defenders who have significant things to work on as hitters. For Made, it's laying off fastballs out of the zone. For Howard, it's recognizing spin. Preciado is in a different bucket. He's more of a potential power-hitting third baseman with a lot of good hitting attributes. The main things with him are tightening his strike zone discipline and maintaining his athleticism in his big frame as he matures.
Bill B (Glen Allen, VA):
- Where-o-where has Ed Howard gone? Great glove and struggles with the bat that are too big to overcome to be in the top 10? Thanks
Kyle Glaser: Yes. There is very real concern about how much Ed Howard will hit moving forward. Now, he did improve at the end of the season, which is a big positive (.271/.317/.388 over his final 36 games). Maintaining that over a full season—improving on it, really—is going to be crucial for him next year. Right now, there is a lot of skepticism Howard will hit enough, even with how good his defense is.
- I was impressed by Owen Caissie's debut after being acquired as part of the Darvish trade. It seems his hit tool was far more advanced than initial scouting reports indicated. Even with some swing and miss, he was able to draw walks at an extremely high clip and make consistent hard contact. Will Caissie ultimately be in the mode of Adam Dunn/Joey Gallo or can his hit tool eventually become above average since he is so young?
Kyle Glaser: We have a 50 as his hit grade in the writeup - an average hitter. That's your answer. We project him to have an average bat when all is said and done.
Paul (Mount Prospect, Illinois):
- I noticed that Yohendrick Pinango snuck into BA's top 10 Cubs prospects. Can you give us a scouting report on him and let us know how he was able to pull ahead of those in the 11-15 range? Thanks!
Kyle Glaser: The scouting report is his writeup. You can read that there. What put Pinango ahead is he's lefthanded with plus hitting ability and showed his skills translated to full-season ball.
Reggie Preciado (#11?):
- Was I just outside the top 10? Now standing at 6'5", I was able to immediately acclimate myself to the ACL and flashed a 5 tool skill set. Would a FV 55 hit/55 power/55 speed be a realistic ceiling?
Kyle Glaser: Preciado is very talented, but it's a 50 hit, 40 run ceiling. The 55 power is right. He is in the 11-15 range, so not far outside of the Top 10.
- Davis seems like the only star potential in the Cubs farm, and they arent bad enough to be getting top top picks, (they pick at 1.7 in the 2022 Draft), but they are also a terrible MLB club with what looks like only one potential star on the farm, so how are they going to get better, and when is a realistic timeframe for them to compete again? 2026?
Kyle Glaser: I studied this as part of our rebuilds research project we published in 2018. When a team does a tear-it-all-down, trade everybody type of rebuild, it takes a minimum of four years from the time they trade the final pieces away until they become a playoff contender again. Unless MLB expands the playoffs in the new CBA (which it may), the earliest possible year the Cubs will be back in the playoffs is 2025, based on precedent. They could still hit that target if they draft well, develop well, make some shrewd trades and sign some key free agents at the right time. But 2025 is the absolute earliest, best-case scenario for them to be playoff contenders again barring postseason expansion.
Walter (Crown Point IN):
- Where does the Cubs farm system rank?
Kyle Glaser: That's still TBD because a lot of trades involving prospects are still to come this offseason. At this exact moment, the Cubs would probably be in the 20-25 range. Again, that could change in the next few months based both on what they do and what other teams around them do this offseason.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Of the pitchers from the AZL Cubs teams that are graduating to the full season teams, who are your favorites?
Kyle Glaser: Drew Gray is one to keep an eye on. Athletic lefty with a good FB-CB-SL combo and plenty of room to get stronger and grow into more velocity. His changeup and control are areas for improvement, but he has the potential to be something.
- Are strikeouts a concern with Davis going forward?
Kyle Glaser: A little bit but not tremendously so. He's always going to strike out some and be more power over hit when all is said and done, but he makes enough contact to hit .260 to go with 25+ home runs, which is certainly a good player.
Joe R (Newport News, VA):
- Pete Crow-Armstrong sounds a lot like Albert Almora. Why should we expect Crow-Armstrong to be any better than Almora?
Kyle Glaser: Crow-Armstrong's defense is better than Almora's was (Almora was good in center field, but Crow-Armstrong has a chance to be elite) and he's a better contact hitter who is also lefthanded. Now, a lot hinges on how Crow-Armstrong comes back from his shoulder surgery, but pre-surgery, that's where he was.
- Who was not a top 10 guy you think can breakout next year?
Kyle Glaser: James Triantos.
- Which prospects can you see popping into the top 100 next year if things go right for them?
Kyle Glaser: Beyond the top four, all of whom are either in the Top 100 or have been in the past, I can see any of the guys in the 5-10 range plus Triantos at 11 making a jump into the Top 100 if things go right. Keep a close eye on DJ Herz. He has a chance to be the best pitching prospect in the Cubs system - and one of the better lefthanded pitching prospects in baseball - at this time next year if he sorts out one or two things.
- Cubs fans are pretty hyped about James Triantos after the debut he had this year not long after being drafted. I was surprised to not see his name on the top 10. Do you kind of take a wait and see approach with recent draft picks that come racing out of the gate in pro ball before pushing them up these lists too far? What do you think of Triantos and his ceiling?
Kyle Glaser: As mentioned earlier, Triantos was close. He's a really promising young hitter with a lot to be optimistic about. Ultimately, what pushed him just outside of the Top 10 was his defense was pretty rough in the ACL and his overall athleticism was not as good as it was purported to be. The guys ahead of him project to be more well-rounded players or are further along in their development. Now, that all said, if you can hit, someone will find a spot for you, and there are a lot of reasons to believe Triantos will hit. He wasn't far off, and there is a lot to be bullish about with his future.
- What are your overall thoughts on Caleb Kilian? The control is outstanding and it seems like his spike curve (a change he made when he came to Cubs) is a possible strikeout pitch...could he be more than a back end of a rotation piece?
Kyle Glaser: As I wrote in Kilian's report, his improvements give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.
Ken (Lakewood CA):
- Is it just me or do the Cubs have a lot of work to do in building a prospect pitching base? Seems kind of thin? Hope I'm wrong.
Kyle Glaser: Drafting Jordan Wicks and acquiring Caleb Kilian helped, but yes, there is still work to be done building up the organization's pitching. Developing starting pitching has been the Cubs' biggest shortcoming for well over a decade - unlocking that is going to be crucial for the club to return to its winning ways.
- Hi Kyle, Have you heard anything on Richard Gallardo? High-profile Venezuelan signee a few years ago, held his own in Low A at 19 in 2021. Any reports on stuff/future outlook?
Kyle Glaser: Hey Jeff, Gallardo has fallen off a bit since he signed. Fastball is just ok, breaking ball could maybe become average. There's just not a lot to miss bats in his arsenal. He averaged only 7.4 K/9 in Low-A with more than a hit allowed per inning - that doesn't bode well moving forward. Those who are optimistic think he could be a low-leverage, up-and-down reliever. Others think he's a non-prospect.
Cristian Hernandez (DSL):
- Do I still seem to be holding true to my baby A-rod player comp given to me in the preseason? Any better MLB player comparison you can think of now that I made My DSL debut.
Kyle Glaser: Just say no to comping 17 year olds with less than 200 professional at-bats in the DSL. He's a promising young player with a lot of potential. Just let him be him and see what transpires.
Paul (Mount Prospect, Illinois):
- I'm always wondering about the newest Cubs prospects - the ones who aren't top draft picks or huge signing bonus guys. Can you tell us about some young players who haven't been on our radars yet? Thanks!
Kyle Glaser: Keep an eye on Pablo Aliendo, the catcher at Myrtle Beach this year. Athletic catch-and-throw guy with contact skills. Needs to get stronger, but he impressed a lot of people this year.
- Tell us about Drew Gray. He seemed to really open some eyes at Instructs. Did you guys hear the same?
Kyle Glaser: Yup. Gray is a very athletic lefthander with a high-spin fastball and curveball that get him lots of swings and misses, as well as a slider that has a chance to be an average third pitch. He struggles to keep his delivery and release point and thus his control has been below-average at times, but if he locks that in—and he has the athleticism to do so—he could really take off.
- Seems almost misrepresented and clearly denial or stupidity to NOT have NELSON VELAZQUEZ in the top 10 ??
Kyle Glaser: Velazquez is ranked in the 11-15 range, which is actually higher than both Cubs officials and opposing scouts said they felt he should be. His contact rate was below average this year, even with his swing changes, and when he saw good spin in the AFL, he really, really struggled (he didn't see a lot of it and beat up on everything else, though). Now, that all said, he keeps getting better every year, he keeps producing and he's good, strong athlete. I'm bullish on him with the adjustments he showed he could make this year and his overall trend line. I put him in the 11-15 range, and that makes me the high man on him. There really wasn't an argument, from anyone, that he was one of the Cubs Top 10 prospects.
- Caleb Kilian has been super impressive since coming over in the Bryant trade, topped off by that great outing in the AFL championship. What do you see as his ceiling? When he was acquired, some described him as more of a command over stuff, future 4/5 man. Would you be surprised if he keeps progressing, eventually settling in as a solid 3 man or more in a few years?
Kyle Glaser: Not at all. A mid-rotation starter is certainly possible with what Kilian showed this year.
- What is the likelihood of Herz actually making the improvements to stay as a starter? I see reliever.
Kyle Glaser: Given Herz's athleticism and the fact we saw him lower his walk rate as the year went on, there is a chance he keeps moving in the right direction with his control and remains a starter. Evaluators are generally split. Some see a hard-throwing but occasionally wild No. 4 starter, others see a late-inning, high-leverage lefthanded reliever. Being consistent is a big part of being a starter and he still has room to grow there, but he's young and moving in the right direction. The fact the trend lines are all moving in the right direction (control, consistency, etc). provides some reasonable optimism he may be able to figure it out and remain a starter. We'll see.
- Cubs have a hard time developing pitching, what are a couple names to get excited about besides Marquez?
Kyle Glaser: The rest of the guys in the top 10.
- Caleb Killian. Pitching in the Cubs rotation in 2022?
Kyle Glaser: On Opening Day? No. Later in the year? Very possible.
- Which Cub prospect not inside the top 30 has the best chance of breaking out and making a name for themselves?
Kyle Glaser: Keep an eye on Max Bain. Stuff is really good. Control needs work. But he only recently became a power pitcher (short version: he dropped 50 pounds and added 10+ mph using Driveline's velocity training program) and is still learning to harness that newfound power. If he does with more experience, he could really jump.
Kyle Glaser: All right everyone, that will do it for today. Thanks for coming out, and enjoy the rest of the week.