Hitting Prospects 2015

This is a ranking based on total bases, walks, steals and games played. It takes the sum of total bases + walks + SBs, adjusts it slightly, and divides by games played to arrive at a score, according to which the players are ranked. (Hitting prospects are starters, not pinch hitters or defensive replacements, so dividing by games is roughly the same as dividing by at-bats or plate appearances.)

The adjustment represented by the “adj points” column is Points minus Games. This adjustment rests on the idea that one total base (or walk or SB) per game is a baseline, required to get you to zero.

Players included here are at South Bend (“sbn”) or higher. I include Eugene (half-season league) numbers and even Arizona League (“cbz”) numbers if a player has advanced to South Bend (A ball) or above.

Bryant, Schwarber and Russell are ex-prospects, and Lake is gone, but I leave their numbers on the table for reference. The top ten hitting prospects, then, based on this formula and these full-season numbers, are:

1. Baez (Javier)
2. Happ
3. Szczur
4. Zagunis
5. Andreoli
6. Vogelbach
7. Contreras
8. Baez (Jeffrey)
9. Young
10. McKinney

I don’t feel that I should give Gleyber Torres a bump up for being a flashy shortstop, since this is a list of hitting prospects. I am aware that in previous years, the list’s top echelon has featured more than a couple of 1B-LF types who could hit as well as any shortstop but were not real prospects, since you have to hit almost like Rizzo to play first base in the majors. (Rizzo is a superb 1B as well.) When Rizzo played 70 games at Iowa in 2012, we ranked him at the top of this list, with a score of 1.91.

I neglected to produce this ranking in 2013 and 2014. In 2010, there were six players at the top of the ranking with a score of 1.40 or higher: Starlin Castro (1.88), Brett Jackson (1.69), Brandon Guyer (1.68), Brad Snyder (1.62), Robinson Chirinos (1.51) and Micah Hoffpauir (1.40). Castro, Guyer and Chirinos are solid major leaguers. Snyder and Hoffpauir are first basemen. I can’t explain the demise of Brett Jackson.

Right behind Hoffpauir in 2010 were Dubois, LaHair and Canzler, three more first basemen. This was the Cub organization in 2010: draft picks and time and money wasted on 1B-LFs. In 2011, the year before Theo took over, a second-round pick was used on Dan Vogelbach, who four-and-a-half seasons later is still at AA. The organization has changed since Vogelbach was picked. First basemen are not prominent in the 2015 list. I see Vogelbach near the top, Jacob Rogers in the middle and Balaguert and Matt Rose farther down, out of sixty-five names.

Happ may be a little high in the ranking, since he put up his best numbers, by far, at Eugene. (Players who weren’t promoted from Eugene don’t even get their names and numbers in this list.) On the other hand, Happ did rack up 65 total bases in 38 games at South Bend, with just about half his hits going for extra bases. It’s just his first half-season of ball anyway, but he has shown what we should be looking for in a hitter: hard contact, the ability to take a pitch, and speed and aggressiveness on the bases.