Keith Law usually throws a curveball into his top Cubs prospect list. Two years ago, he was months ahead of anyone in recognizing and ranking the talented Gleyber Torres. Last year, he was high on Eddy Martinez well ahead of anyone else. On January 31, Law released his top Cubs prospect list (subscription required). For once, it was in line with other lists. In his top ten, you found the normal Eloy Jimenez/Ian Happ/Dylan Cease trifecta at the top.
The rest of the top ten followed with the usual suspects: Albert Almora, Oscar de la Cruz, Trevor Clifton, Jeimer Candelario, Eddy Martinez, Thomas Hatch, and Jose Albertos. From what I’m seeing, Law threw his patented curve in the “unofficial” second ten.
Coming in at 11 was Carlos Sepulveda, which is a loftier spot that you’ll find him on any other list that goes beyond 10. I was lucky enough to watch Sepulveda grow as a hitter at low-A South Bend last year, when debuted in the Midwest League at the ripe age of 19. After missing the first couple months of the season, he got off the bus hitting in June, July, and August. Sepulveda’s average for those months went .330/.337/.296, but his OBP was only .370/.374/.360, respectively. What was really encouraging, though, was that he struck out only 41 times in 332 at-bats (12.3% K rate).
A second baseman, Sepulveda is not an elite defender and does not have an elite arm. He is passable, just not great. But when you can hit and avoid strikeouts, you get people’s attention. As evidenced by the lone HR and 11 doubles, there is not much power in his 5’10” frame. On the other hand, he showed often in July and August that he has the propensity to pull the ball. Still just 20 years old, I think he will be in Myrtle Beach all year.
In the final part of his list, Law offered some praise — not to mention a lot of complaints — for several Cubs hitters, including Chesny Young, Isaac Paredes, Donnie Dewees, Mark Zagunis, and Victor Caratini.
Overall, there wasn’t much excitement or surprise in the list outside of Sepulveda. I guess that also explains why Law had the Cubs ranked 18th out of 30 farm systems. That could certainly change this year as several young international free agents make their stateside debuts. Plus, the Cubs have two top-30 draft picks to help re-energize the system after so many graduated to Chicago the past two years.