Legends On Deck

Battle of the Prospects: Cubs vs Red Sox

Kris_Bryant - ESPN

Kris Bryant leads the way in the head-to-head battle between the Red Sox and the Cubs prospects – Photo: ESPN

Cubs vs Red Sox

I think most everyone’s  in agreement that the Cubs have the best farm system in baseball.  They’re seriously loaded with top prospects.  The Red Sox have a very deep farm, but prior to the Yoan Moncada signing I thought they were a little thin at the top.  I want to examine if the Moncada signing is enough to propel the Red Sox to the top spot, or at least worthy of consideration.

All of my rankings are for fantasy purposes.

In addition to grading on tools, I will often give a guy a nudge if he’s expected to reach the major leagues this year or next over a similar or even a slightly better player who’s further away.

If you have any questions/comments you can find me on Twitter @AshevilleSoxFan, or use the comment section below.  As always thanks for reading.

1.  Kris Bryant, 3B/OF Cubs, Age 23
Bryant is my number one prospect in baseball right now.  He has an average hit tool with plus, plus power and average speed, and we could see .280/.360/.550 with 35-40 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases.  He does strike out a little more than you’d like to see, so that might lead to an inconsistent batting average at least over his first few seasons in the big leagues, but the power is real and it will play.

Up in 2015, for good in 2016

2. Addison Russell, SS Cubs, Age 21

Russell is a bat-first shortstop who projects to have a plus hit tool and above average power and speed at least early in his career.  Russell is a thick and powerful young man, and he’ll likely outgrow shortstop in a few seasons and have to switch to third base, but his bat is plenty good to play there too.  Early on we could see .285/.350/.470 with 20-25 home runs and 15-20 stolen bases, in five years he might be 30 home runs and 10 stolen bases.

Triple-A in 2015

3. Jorge Soler, RF Cubs, age 23

Soler has plus hit potential with plus power, .285/.350/.480 25-30 home runs, 5-10 stolen bases, should be within his reach.  I love the bat, but he’s had trouble staying on the field so far in his career, a broken left fibula, a right hamstring, a suspension for grabbing a bat and charging the opposing teams dugout, and a benching for not hustling, has resulted in Soler missing nearly half of his teams games since his signing in 2012.  He’s young so hopefully he’ll outgrow the immaturity issues, but watch the leg issues going forward.  I listed Soler here over a couple of players that I like a little bit more because Soler is up in the big leagues and should see significant AB’s in 2015.

4. Blake Swihart, C Red Sox, age 22
A switch-hitting catcher who smacks line drives all over the yard,  Swihart has just started to tap into his power and I think we could see .280/.340/.450, 15-20 home runs, and up to five stolen bases.  Swihart will be a fantasy favorite at a position that’s always difficult to find steady production.

Up in 2015, for good in 2016

5. Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B Red Sox, age 19
It’s a bit of a mystery what the Sox have in the switch-hitting Moncada, but Ben Badler from Baseball America has given him a 60 hit, 60 power and 60 speed grade, which translates to .285, 23-28 homers, 20-25  stolen bases. I’m sure Boston fans would take that.  In the videos that I have seen, a left handed hitting Moncada smacked a couple of line drives to left field a lot like Johnny Damon would have done.  I only saw nine plate appearances so its certainly a small sample size but an up the middle and other way approach usually means high average with low to medium home run totals.  We’ll certainly know more soon, but with those grades this spot in the rankings feels appropriate.

He’s likely headed for Salem (A+) with a mid-season promotion to double-A Portland if deserving.

6. Manuel Margot, CF Red Sox, age 20
Margot is probably my favorite prospect in all of baseball.  He hit 43 extra base hits in 2014 and added 43 stolen bases across two levels of A-ball as a 19-year old.  Margot has plus hit, average power and plus, plus speed potential, and he could put up  .285/.340/.460, 17-22 home runs, 30-40 stolen bases. 

If he reaches his ceiling he’ll be a roto monster so I recommend trading for him now.  A+ to start 2015, should see Double-A at some point.

7. Kyle Schwarber, LF Cubs, age 22
A top 5 pick by the Cubs in the 2014 draft, Schwarber has above average hit and plus power potential .280/.350/.480, 25-30 home runs and up to five stolen bases.  I’ve read the plan is for Schwarber to start catching in 2015, which is the position he was playing at The University of Indiana prior to signing.  As much as I like the idea of having Schwarber as my starting fantasy catcher, the problem is he’s a big guy and I suspect it will take a few years for him to be good enough defensively to play there as a pro.  If he stays in left field he’ll probably make his debut in 2015 or 2016.  Either way I’m a big fan of the bat.

Likely Double-A to start 2015

8. Henry Owens, LHP Red Sox, age 22
Owens gets underestimated by a lot of prospectors in part because he doesn’t have a 95 MPH fastball.  He sits more in the 88-92 range, but he hides the ball well and it tends to jump on hitters.  He also has a potentially plus, plus changeup that allows his fastball to play up further.  Scouts grade the fastball as an above average pitch.  The other question about Owens is his third pitch.  He throws a curve ball that he tightened up in 2014 and scouts now grade as an average offering.  He projects as a mid rotation arm with the potential for a bit more.

He will begin the year in triple-A, and should be in Boston at some point.

9. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP Red Sox, age 21
Rodriguez came to the Red Sox at the 2014 trade deadline from the Baltimore Orioles.  I read a few scouting reports at the time of the trade and they all said, plus fastball with average change and slider.  Both secondary offerings flashed more than that but not consistently.  He was placed at Double-A Portland and I’ve read reports that Sea Dogs pitching coach Bob Kipper told him to use his secondaries more, a lot more.  He was pretty unhittable after the trade and now the scouts are saying his changeup is a plus pitch and the slider is above average.

A lot of people have Rodriguez listed ahead of Owens at this point and they might be right,  but I’m a bit more bullish on Owens than most.

He projects as a mid rotation arm and should begin 2015 at triple-A

10. C.J. Edwards, RHP Cubs, age 23
Edwards has a 91-95 MPH fastball that grades as a plus pitch, and a curve that also grades as plus, while the changeup is graded as average, which is the recipe of a mid-rotation starter.  The only thing that gives scouts pause is at 6’2″ 155 lbs,  he’s rail thin and it’s questionable if he can hold up over 200 innings.  If he’s a future reliever he does have closer stuff.

Likely returns to Double-A to start 2015

11. Rafael Devers, 3B Red Sox, age 18
Devers is a left-handed hitter who potentially has a plus hit and plus power profile but he’s really young having just made his stateside debut in 2014.  He has shown excellent barrel control and the rare ability as an 18-year old to hit the ball out of any part of the park.  There’s a really good chance that Devers tops the Red Sox list next year.  It’s early but we could be looking at .285/.360/.480, 20-25 home runs and up to five stolen bases, and that feels conservative to me.  One word of caution, Devers isn’t a chiseled athlete, he has the type of body that will require a lot of maintenance going forward to stay in game shape.

He should see his full season debut in 2015, with an assignment to single A Greenville, which is pretty aggressive for an 18 year old.

12. Albert Almora, CF Cubs, age 20

Almora is a line drive hitter and he should hit for a good batting average.  The power projects as fringe average and he doesn’t project to steal many bags.  He’s likely going to be more valuable in real baseball than fantasy, especially when you factor in his potential gold glove play in center field. I think we might be looking at .285+/. 330/.430 with 10-15 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases.  Also with only 33 walks in nearly 1,000 minor league plate appearances, you’ll have to knock him down a peg in leagues that count on base percentage.

One note, I didn’t include Rusney Castillo in the rankings because I don’t feel as though he’s a prospect anymore than Masahiro Tanaka was last year.

This marks the end of part one.  In the second final article, I’ll take a good look at the vaunted Red Sox depth, and the Cubs high-ceiling prospects who are just starting their climb.

Battle of the Prospects: Cubs vs Red Sox Part II – Click Here

John Calvagno

John is a staff writer for legends on deck. A Red Sox fan and Minor league enthusiast, he's usually writing about minor league baseball.John also loves Bruins hockey and Syracuse basketball.
John is married with two grown daughters and lives in Asheville, NC.
you can find John on Twitter @AshevilleSoxFan