Keith Law released his ranking of the top 100 prospects in the game Thursday. The Cubs landed four players on his list that started with Kris Bryant.
According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the best farm system in baseball has the top prospect in the game, Kris Bryant. Addison Russell (4) and Jorge Soler (14) were ranked in the top 15 and Kyle Schwarber (90) cracked the top 100.
Keith Law’s Top 15: 3B Kris Bryant (Cubs), OF Bryon Buxton (Twins), SS Carlos Correa (Astros), SS Addison Russell (Cubs), SS/3B Corey Seager (Dodgers), SS Francisco Lindor (Indians), SS J.P. Crawford (Phillies), RHP Lucas Giolito (Nationals), LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers), C Blake Swihart (Red Sox), 3B Joey Gallo (Rangers), LHP Carlos Rodon (White Sox), RHP Tyler Glasnow (Pirates), OF Jorge Soler (Cubs) and 3B Miguel Sano (Twins).
Keith Law said Kris Bryant is the “best prospect in baseball for 2015, a true middle-of-the-order bat who should be in the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup for the next six-plus seasons.” Law ranked Bryant 14th last year in his top 100. Law indicated Bryant has a very balanced swing “with a wide setup and good use of his lower half to generate power.” Bryant has a good eye with a swing that is “very short from load to contact.” Law thinks Bryant can handle third but might be a better fit in right field. Bryant has “30-homer, .400 OBP potential, and should challenge for MVP awards once he has a few years in the majors.”
Kris Bryant finished the year with a .325/.438/.661 slash line that included 34 doubles, one triple and 43 home runs with 110 RBI for a 1.098 OPS in 138 combined games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Addison Russell is a true shortstop according to Keith Law “with one of the best pure hit tools in the minors, both of which are a function of his outstanding hands.” Russell produces hard contact at the plate and makes smooth plays at shortstop. Russell has the potential to hit .300-plus with double-digit home runs according to Law, which is a rarity for shortstops at the big league level. Law pointed out Troy Tulowitzki was the only player to accomplish the feat last year. Russell dropped one spot from No. 3 in Law’s Top 100 in 2014.
Addison Russell hit .294/.332/.536 in 50 games with Double-A Tennessee. Russell collected 11 doubles, 12 home runs and finished with a .868 OPS. Russell batted .295/.350/.508 with 14 doubles, one triple and 13 home runs for a .858 OPS in 68 games in the Cubs and Athletics’ systems during the 2014.
According to Keith Law, Jorge Soler “set expectations at an impossible level at least initially last season.” Soler started his big league career 10-for-19 with three home runs in five games before slowing down once the league started exploiting his “overaggressive approach.” Law thinks his “explosive bat speed and plus-raw power will still be enough to make him a star.”
According to Keith Law, Soler has the arm for right field and the chance to be an “average or better defender” but he needs to work on his defense and his routes “to avoid being the new Domonic Brown.” Law expects Soler’s patience at the plate to return once “he gains experience in the majors and stops trying to recreate what he did in those first five games.” Law said Soler projects as a 25-30 home run hitter with a .270-.280 batting average and a “solid OBP.” If everything falls right for the Cubs and Soler, he could be the “third or fourth best hitter in their suddenly loaded lineup.” Soler moved up to 14 on Law’s list after being ranked 26th a year ago.
Jorge Soler batted .292/.330/.573 in 24 games with eight doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .903 OPS. Soler walked six times and struck out 24 times in 97 plate appearances with the Cubs. Soler failed to reach base either with a walk or a hit in four of the 24 games he played in at the big league level.
Kyle Schwarber was the fourth and final Cubs’ prospect to make Keith Law’s ranking of the top 100 prospects. Law pointed out how well Schwarber hit last year before stating he “has very little chance to catch in the majors, as he’s a poor receiver and is very muscular for the position.”
Schwarber’s bat should get him to the majors, likely as a left fielder according to Law and “possibly at first base.” Schwarber has a “chance to end up with a plus hit tool and plus power, showing much better plate discipline this summer than he did as an amateur.” Law thinks Schwarber can be a good everyday player “if he hits .280 or so with strong OBP and 25-30 homers, even if he ends up as a bad left fielder.” Law pointed out the Cubs think Schwarber can exceed the numbers he suggested.
In 72 games, Kyle Schwarber batted .344/.428/.634 with 18 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs and a 1.061 OPS. And Schwarber walked 39 times in 311 plate appearances with 57 strikeouts.