Bolick's Guide contains profiles of 120 minor league prospects, analyzed from the perspective of fantasy baseball play. The first three in the National League section alphabetically are members of the Chicago Cubs.
Arismendy Alcantara – 2B/SS, Cubs, 5'10” 170lbs – Medium Risk, Medium Reward
Each of the last two seasons have produced a dramatic increase in home runs per fly ball for Arismendy Alcantara, reaching 7.8 percent in 2012 and 13.9 percent last season. Although someone his size wouldn't generally project for much power, 36 doubles in 2013 further speaks to the quality of his contact. Alcantara did see a jump in strikeout rate in AA, but more than doubled his walk rate, which is a very promising sign if he can maintain most of that gain. Chicago appears to be grooming him as a super-utility player given his experience at third, short, and second base, and second is his most likely destination if he gets the opportunity to play regularly. His proficiency as a base stealer makes him even more appealing to fantasy teams.
Albert Almora – OF, Cubs, 6'2” 180lbs – Somewhat Low Risk, Low Reward
I do not disagree with conventional prospect rankings that have Albert Almora listed among the best in the National League. By all accounts he has exceptional makeup, great contact skills, and superior defensive ability. The problem is that most of these attributes that make him special aren't applicable to fantasy baseball. He should hit for a high average, which would be even more appealing if he drew more walks, but he might never reach double digits in home runs or steals.
Javier Baez – 2B/3B, Cubs, 6'0” 190lbs – High Risk, Very High Reward
No minor leaguer had a more impressive fantasy season in 2013 than Javier Baez, given his .282 average along with 37 home runs and 20 steals. While many have noted his concerning strikeout rate of 24 percent, the real red flags are his Z-Contact percent and his overall contact rate, both of which are almost as bad as George Springer's. Baez looks like a can't-miss prospect in every other respect, but those two metrics are so hugely important to major league success that they make me very worried about his future. A flyball rate that rose to 36.4 percent and line drive rate that fell to 12.4 percent also points to inevitable struggles with batting average.
Present: The Cubs have openings at second and third base, with third being the bigger liability now but also the position they hope Kris Bryant will fill by next season. Even though Baez could use more refinement in the minor leagues, his statistical success and his giant ego probably force Chicago to keep him in the major leagues for most of the season.
Future: The enticing combination of bat speed, power, and athleticism gives Javier Baez the potential to be one of the best players in fantasy baseball, but I cannot bring myself to expect that out of a batter with inferior contact skills. He will likely produce some seasons with monstrous numbers and many more with disappointing ones.
Bolick's Guide to Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2014Top 120 Rookies, 60 In Each League
By JD Bolick
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