It's the season of projections and they're all starting to come out or already have. About ten days ago I was looking at Javier Baez's page on Fangraphs and saw that Oliver projected him to have a .336 wOBA (109 wRC+) and 4.2 fWAR. Of course, about 15 runs of that was defense and from what we know, Baez isn't the most gifted fielder, but word last year was that he can stick at shortstop.
Other projections haven't been so kind. CAIRO projects .322 and 1.9 WAR. Then again, CAIRO is only projecting 385 PA and Oliver is projecting 600 for everyone right now. Surely that will be updated at some point. Two of the biggest projections are projecting league average or better seasons at the plate and considering position, a very good WAR from the recently turned 21 year old. That is impressive and makes one wonder whether or not he's ready for big league action at the start of the season.
We know there's very little chance that will happen. Maybe even no chance at all. Probably somewhere between little chance to no chance (closer to the latter). It also makes us wonder what position he should play and if that position is shortstop, what position Starlin Castro should play.
That's to figure out at a later date.
I'm having trouble buying the Oliver projection. It is projecting a 34% strikeout rate and only a 5.8% walk rate. Only the Astros (assuming this isn't the same guy who did The X-Files) Chris Carter struckout more than 34% last year among qualified players and he was worth 0.4 fWAR. Mike Napoli struckout over 32% of the time and was worth 3.9 fWAR, but he also walked in over 12% of his trips to the plate.
The closest in comparison may be Pedro Alvarez who struckout 30.3% of the time and walked 7.8% of the time. He was worth 3.9 fWAR at a lesser position. Move him to shortstop and you basically have Javier Baez's Oliver projection. Still, Alvarez walked more and struckout less.
Scout.com published their top 100 yesterday and since I'm not a member, I can't see the numbers. However, they had 3 Cubs in the top 20 and surprisingly, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant were ranked higher than Javier Baez. There's no reason to throw a fit and proclaim these rankings aren't right. They probably aren't, but that's just because it's so difficult to rank prospects.
It depends entirely on what the criteria is. If we're ranking based on highest ceiling, it's very difficult for anyone to argue the top ranked prospect in the Cubs system is anyone other than Baez. If it's the likelihood of reaching ceiling you probably put Bryant there. At least I would. Then again, I'm not as high on Almora as a lot of people are so maybe I should just take their word for it.