3 Chicago Cubs prospects the advanced metrics love and 1 they don't

The Chicago Cubs have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball, and even more insiders are showing that love with a recent article.
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We already know that the Chicago Cubs have one of the most loaded minor league systems in all of Major League baseball according to MLB Pipeline, but an outlet that tends to get a lot of love from fans of analytics just mirrored that sentiment with some names you might not expect to see.

Fangraphs tends to look less at box scores and eye tests and instead focuses more on deeper analytics and advanced metrics. They have a few names on their recently published Top 47 Chicago Cubs Prospects list that the average fan might not recognize.

Three players Fangraphs loves

The highest level instance of this is Brandon Birdsell, who appears as the 13th-best,t prospect in the system with a Future Value (FV) grade of 45. He comes in significantly lower at 21st according to MLB Pipeline but the 24 year-old Double-A Tennessee pitcher is considered to have a high-end fastball and slider and “projects as a good team’s no. 4 or 5.” For a team constantly searching for bullpen help, a guy that sits 92-97, can touch 99 with a fastball, and has an excellent breaking pitch to pair with it might be someone who could help the Major League club sooner rather than later.

Nazier Mule is another player who is considered by Fangraphs to have a significantly higher upside than MLB Pipeline gives him. He’s considered the 18th-best prospect according to Fangraphs but the 29th-best according to MLB Pipeline, and that’s likely due to the risk factors associated with him. He was considered “one of the most electric athletes in the entire 2022 draft” according to Fangraphs and while he’s likely no longer going to be developed as a two-way player, he’s had an excellent fastball with a plus-plus slider since returning from Tommy John surgery this year, so there’s plenty to like about his potential moving forward. 

Tyler Schlaffer is the exact reason that I love Fangraphs. He’s a starting pitcher that was drafted in the 9th round in 2019 and is someone that is not on MLB Pipeline’s list at all, but Fangraphs has him as the 21st best prospect in this absolutely loaded system. The description that they give essentially calls him a pitchability starter with a good feel for his, albeit extremely ordinary, fastball, curveball, and an excellent feel for his changeup. He strikes me as the exact kind of player that will get traded as a secondary or tertiary piece in a deal to a smart team and he’ll end up having a Kyle Hendricks-like impact on the team that he’s dealt to. 

One player Fangraphs doesn’t love

Haydn McGeary received no love whatsoever from Fangraphs as they have him ranked as the 47th best prospect in the system despite his extremely impressive 2023 season and MLB Pipeline showing him respect by not only naming him the 15th best prospect in the system but also one of the top first base prospects in all of baseball prior to the season beginning. Fangraphs sees him as being too stiff to be able to do much with good breaking pitches and someone who can take advantage of mistakes but when he gets to the majors and those mistakes are less frequent, his success will be less frequent as well.

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