Minor League Monday: Player Development
After cranking out "Closer Look at this player's Minor League Career" articles all season, I wanted to push pause and look at some data as a whole. Given that some players blew threw the minors while others needed extra seasoning, I wanted to examine each hitter I've looked at so far and chart out some averages. This will also allow you to catch up on any players you might have missed. Here's a list of Cubs homegrown hitting on the MLB roster.
Victor Caratini: 7 Minor League Seasons, 510 Games, started at age 19, some seasoning required.
Ian Happ: 4 Minor League Seasons, 326 Minor League Games, started at age 20 after 163 college games, and a half season of going back down.
Nico Hoerner: 2 Minor League Seasons, 89 Games, started at age 21 after 168 college games.
Javy Baez: 7 Minor League Seasons, 397 Games, started at age 18, and had to go back to the minors for more seasoning.
Anthony Rizzo: 6 Minor League Seasons, 445 Games, started at age 17, and had to go back after a rough first half season with the Padres.
Willson Contreras: 9 Minor League Seasons, 520 Games, started at age 17
Kris Bryant: 4 Minor League Seasons, 187 Games, started at age 21 after 62 college games.
Kyle Schwarber: 3 Minor League Seasons, 158 games, started at age 21 after 120 college games. Some minor seasoning needed in 2017.
David Bote: 8 Minor League Seasons, 611 games, started at age 19.
Albert Almora Jr. : 6 Minor League Seasons, 418 games, started at age 18, and has had some back and forth shuttling to AAA
Kudos to the Cubs for developing so many minor league hitters. The above list is pretty solid, and you could argue that some of the Cubs's trade bait from over the years could belong up there as well (guys like Soler, Eloy Jimenez, Gleybur Torres, even Addison Russell, etc.) There's a good mix of college bats who came into the system in their early 20s, as well as a bunch of guys who started as draftees or free agents in their teens. Here's another list of observations I made after examining the list of players.
Average number of years in the minor league system: 5.6. That number may be skewed by Contreras and Rizzo starting at age 17, but it gets balanced out by guys like Kris Bryant who started at age 21.
Average number of minor league games played: 366.
The Cubs have four college players on the list: Bryant, Schwarber, Happ and Hoerner. Those guys averaged 137 career college games, and averaged 3 years in the minors before coming up. It's safe to say that college games do count towards development.
The list's record for most minor league games played is David Bote, with 611. Willson Contreras had most seasons in the system overall, with nine.
The quickest player to the show was Nico Hoerner, with list leading two seasons and 89 games played. He did have some college to supplement that experience. And after some of his struggles, I think he's going to get some more seasoning.
Out of the 10 players on the list, six have had to go back down to the minor leagues after making their debut: Caratini, Happ, Baez, Rizzo, Schwarber, and Almora. Arguably Hoerner will too. Very few players come up and perform like Kris Bryant. I thought that there would be a stronger link between college experience and not needing to go back to the minors, but arguably three of four college players on the list needed seasoning (Happ, Schwarber and Hoerner).
Most of these players made their big league debut at age 23.
So there are a few things to consider. If these trends continue going forward, you can expect a top Cubs minor league hitting prospect to be:
• If drafted as a teen: To make his big league debut at age 23, and likely need to go back for a half season or so's worth of seasoning. It will take them five-seven years to work their way up through the system.
• If drafted as a college player: To also make their debut at age 23, likely need seasoning, but need just three years of development time.
What trends did you notice?