This is Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Jacob Hannemann. He’s off to a strong, if somewhat short of dazzling, start for the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League.
Hannemann was the Cubs’ third-round choice in the 2013 Draft. He’s an athletic, toolsy kid, as illustrated by his 10 early stolen bases (in 11 tries). He also has some work to do in terms of actual, professional hitting ability, as illustrated by his 32 strikeouts in 107 at-bats.
I actually posted this, though, for two reasons. One is the pair of diamonds representing Hannemann’s two home runs thus far. I wanted to see whether anyone could confirm or dismiss the apparent monstrousness of those shots.
The other is the fact that this chart exists at all. I wanted to point that out, and celebrate it, but also to raise an eyebrow at it. The chart comes from mlbfarm.com, an excellent resource for a wealth of minor-league information. It’s one example of a prospect world that’s fast becoming saturated with information. It’s possible to track players in greater detail than ever before, through smartphone apps, milb.tv and advanced stat-tracking like this. We’re also in the Golden Age of easily-accessed scouting reports on hundreds of players. Baseball Prospectus posts a new set of first-hand prospect reports and opinions almost daily.
I wonder how good that will all turn out to be, in the long run. I’m not sure whether it sharpens the focus dedicated fans can apply to minor-league analysis and follow-up, or whether it only worsens the distortion of the lens through which those fans view a world they fundamentally fail to understand.
I’ll tell you one thing, though: The next five or 10 years are going to teach us a lot about the basic nature of baseball. With so much prospect intelligence flooding public forums, prospect evaluation will either be perfected, or will prove to be an essentially unknowable mystery. If there’s a way to make prospects into reliable commodities at all, it’ll happen in the next few years.Next post: Whither the Freed Men: Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales and the Midsummer Free-Agent Period
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