Baseball America is doing their tour of the minor leagues where they talk to scouts and coaches in order to rank the top prospects are in each league. And while their scouting reports are all behind a pay wall, I can tell you that they rank Cubs prospects very high in several leagues.
In order to be eligible to be on these lists, a hitter must have at least one plate appearance for each game that team played. Starting pitchers have to have thrown a third of an inning in that league for every game their team played. Relievers had to have made 20 appearances in the full season leagues or ten appearances in a short-season league. You can make the top 20 list in more than one league.
While the actual reports are behind a pay wall, you can see the list of players here. Baseball America announced the Southern League top 20 prospects today. They have yet to announce the Pacific Coast League, but with apologies to the Iowa Cubs, I don't think the Cubs will have a prospect on that list. It's always hard to get on the PCL top 20 list with 16 teams in the league and the Cubs best prospects were below Triple-A this year. If I'm wrong, I'll be more than happy to give Iowa their own post.
The Arizona rookie league team did not place a prospect in the top 20 as well.
Going from low to high, because that's what Baseball America did, these are the Cubs they listed.
Yes, there are only eight teams in the Northwest League. But the Hawks had an amazing six out of the 20 players on the list.
The players named as top prospects in the NWL included 3B Kris Bryant, whom they listed as the #1 prospect in the league.
The complete list of Hawks were
1. Kris Bryant--3B
7. Paul Blackburn-RHP
9. Yasiel Balaguert--OF
10. Dillon Maples--RHP
12. Shawon Dunston Jr.--OF
17. Kevin Encarnacion--OF
Kane County Cougars
It was a pretty miserable season in Kane County as far as wins and losses go, but the team still managed to place three players in the top 20 prospects, which is awfully impressive in a 16 team league. They players listed were:
6. Albert Almora--OF
10. Pierce Johnson-RHP
17. Daniel Vogelbach--1B
Who? Are they a Cubs farm club I haven't heard of? Actually, the Crawdads are a Rangers farm team in the South Atlantic League, but one Cubs prospect made the list on the basis of his work there before getting traded to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal.
3. C.J. Edwards--RHP
As you'd imagine, the FSL Champion Daytona Cubs had a few prospects on the top 20 list, but not as many as you might expect because some of the stars at the end of the year, Edwards, Bryant and Vogelbach, did not have enough appearances to make the list. Others like Corey Black, Ben Wells and Dustin Geiger got votes, but not enough to make the list.
So only three Daytona Cubs made the list. They were:
3. Javier Baez--SS
8. Jorge Soler--OF
15. Pierce Johnson--RHP
Third might seem a little low for a top ten prospect like Baez, but the Twins affiliate in Ft. Myers had both Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano on it. Even then, it was close between Baez and Sano.
Two Smokies ended up making the Southern League Top 20 prospects list. The Southern League list is always a hard one to crack because for a lot of the top players, it's their last stop before the majors. Four players in the top ten finished the season in the majors, including the #1 prospect Yasiel Puig, who isn't a prospect anymore, of course. Diamondbacks hurler Archie Bradley was #2, in case you were wondering.
3. Javier Baez
9. Arismendy Alcantara
Even though the list is a little light on major league ready players, it's a real strong list of prospects for the Cubs. There's little doubt that these players are a sign of a brighter future in Chicago.