Baseball America announced their much-anticipated Top 100 prospects in all of baseball today and for only the second time in the 25 year history of the list, there were seven Cubs on this year's list.
The seven players named to the list were
#5-- SS Javier Baez
#8-- 3B Kris Bryant
#28-- RHP C.J. Edwards
#36-- OF Albert Almora
#41-- OF Jorge Soler
#87-- RHP Pierce Johnson
#100-- 2B Arismendy Alcantara
The seven players on the list were tied with the Pirates for the second-most on the list, only one behind the Red Sox eight prospects. You probably already know what those two farm systems have in common.
The seven players on the list were an improvement over the four prospects on the list that the Cubs had in both last season and in 2012. Baez, Almora and Soler were on last year's list, joined by Arodys Vizcaino, who dropped off because he missed his second season in a row because of injuries. Two players, Bryant and Edwards, were acquired over the course of last season and Johnson and Alcantara played their way onto the list through outstanding seasons in 2013. The four players on the list in 2012 were Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Baez and Matt Szczur.
The 2011 list, the final list of Jim Hendry's time with the Cubs, had only two players: Jackson and Trey McNutt.
In the 25 years that Baseball America has been doing the list, only one other time, in 2002, did the Cubs place seven players on the list. But that list provides a cautionary tale about getting too excited about the players in the system.
The 2002 list had Mark Prior (at #2 behind only Josh Beckett), Juan Cruz (number six, one spot above Joe Mauer), Hee Seop Choi (#40), David Kelton (#45), Bobby Hill (#48), Nic Jackson (#68) and Carlos Zambrano (#80). Of that list, only Zambrano had a big career. Cruz had a long career as a relief pitcher, but was clearly a disappointment. I don't need to remind you what happened to Prior. Jackson never made the majors (although he's still playing in independent ball) and Kelton only had 22 career at-bats. Hill and Choi had careers that can only be termed disappointments, but they became important building blocks in the Cubs future as they were traded for Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee, respectively.
So remember that when you start to wonder how all these players are going to fit in the Cubs lineup. As good as these seven players are, the Cubs would have to be very happy if even four of them turned into productive, first-division major league players.
With those caveats, it's still a reason to celebrate. These players are the future of the Cubs, either as starters themselves or as trade chits for other players. The 2002 list may have been a disappointment, but that farm system was still a major reason the Cubs made the post-season in 2003, 2007 and 2008. I think this list is even better.