MLB Pipeline continued its look at the top prospects in the game Monday with Jim Callis’ list of the top tools in the minor leagues.
The Cubs placed six players in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect list that was released Friday. Kris Bryant (2), Addison Russell (5), Jorge Soler (22), C.J. Edwards (47), Kyle Schwarber (49) and Albert Almora (57) and Bryant not being named the top prospect in the game created several questions based on the numbers he put up last season compared to OF Byron Buxton.
According to Jim Callis, Kris Bryant has the best power of the players on the top 100 prospect list and Jorge Soler was also in the running along with the Twins’ Miguel Sano.
Kris Bryant might not have the best raw power in minor league baseball, the Rangers’ Joey Gallo holds that title, but Bryant has usable power and according to Jim Callis, that’s more important.
Bryant puts together a professional at bat and doesn’t try to pull everything. Bryant’s opposite-field power “is off the charts, and he has the patience to wait out pitchers until he gets an offering he can drive.” While Gallo put on a show at the Future’s Game last summer, Bryant was praised for his batting practice because he was not trying to impress, but he went about his business like it was just another game … and he still hit tape-measure shots to all fields.
As Jim Callis mentioned, Bryant led the minor leagues in just about every power category last season while ranking eighth in walks (86).
In 138 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Kris Bryant batted .325/.438/.661 with 34 doubles, one triple and 43 home runs with 110 RBI for a 1.098 OPS. Bryant led the minor leagues in home runs (43), extra basehits (78), total bases (324), slugging percentage (.661) and OPS (1.098).
According to Jim Callis, here are the players with the best tools in the minors:
- Best Power – Kris Bryant, 3B (Cubs)
- Best Hitter – Carlos Correa, SS (Astros)
- Fastest Runner – Byron Buxton, OF (Twins)
- Strongest Arm – Justin O’Conner, C (Rays)
- Best Defender – Austin Hedges, C (Padres)
- Best Fastball – Lucas Giolito, RHP (Nationals)
- Best Curveball – Lucas Giolito, RHP (Nationals)
- Best Slider – Carlos Rodon, LHP (White Sox)
- Best Changeup – Henry Owens, LHP (Red Sox)
- Best Control – Aaron Nola, RHP (Phillies)
MiLB.com posted the Steamer Projections for prospects in the National League Central Division that could make an impact at the big league level during the upcoming season. MiLB.com used the Steamer 600 Projection (600 PA or 200 IP).
Based on 600 plate appearances, the projection system calculates Kris Bryant putting up a .260/.341/.485 line with 29 home runs and a .826 OPS. And Jorge Soler hitting .266/.326/.466 with 24 home runs and a .791 OPS.
In the latest MLB Pipeline Inbox, Jim Callis was asked about the possibility of Addison Russell displacing Starlin Castro. Callis pointed out for as good as Castro has been in the big leagues, it’s the bat and not the glove that’s made Castro a three-time All Star. Callis is not sure if the Cubs would move Castro off shortstop but he feels he would be a better fit at second base while Russell would be an upgrade defensively at shortstop.
Callis thinks Russell “should be an average to solid defender at shortstop” and he “should get on base more and provide more power than Castro.”
As a 20-year old last season at the Double-A level, Addison Russell batted .302/.355/.529 with 14 doubles, one triple and 13 home runs for a .884 OPS. Russell is expected to begin the year as Triple-A Iowa’s shortstop.
When Starlin Castro was 20 years old he hit .300/.347/.408 in 125 games for the Cubs in 2010 with 31 doubles, five triples, three home runs and a .755 OPS. Castro batted .376/.421/.569 in 26 games for Double-A Tennessee prior to his promotion with a .990 OPS.
The Cubs have recently released eight players, including Jin-Young Kim, from the system according to Baseball America. Last week, Baseball America posted the Cubs released RHP Josh Davis, RHP Zak Hermans, RHP Yao-Lin Wang, LHP Alberto Diaz, LHP Nathan Dorris, C Lance Rymel and C Antonio Valerio.
Since being released by the Cubs on Jan. 17, C Lance Rymel signed a minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies.