Baseball Prospectus announced its Top 10 Cubs Prospects today. In this article, they have high praise for the Cubs system, saying that "This may be the best system in baseball, providing impact and depth while boasting high level talents ready to step out of the upper minors and into the bright lights of Wrigley."
The article itself is behind a paywall, but I can share the actual list of names.
- Addison Russell
- Kris Bryant
- Jorge Soler
- Albert Almora
- Kyle Schwarber
- Billy McKinney
- Pierce Johnson
- Gleyber Torres
- Daniel Vogelbach
- Carson Sands
Baseball Prospectus subscribers can read the full article here. In case you were wondering, eligibility for this list is based on whether or not a player has exhausted their rookie eligibility. Thus, Javier Baez is not eligible and Soler is, despite Soler finishing up the season in Chicago.
Every list has it's own idiosyncrasies, and this list is no different. It's the first annual list by Nick J. Faleris, who took over from Jason Parks, who is now working for the Cubs in their scouting department. Faleris seems to put a premium on being able to play an impact defensive position, thus the high rankings of Russell, Almora and Torres. (Although then he tosses in the Vogelbach wild card.)
As far as Russell goes, Faleris goes so far as to say he might be the top prospect in the game. He loves Russell's combination of both offensive and defensive skills as well as his plus makeup. He believes Russell will be able to contribute in the majors from the moment he's called up.
Ranking Bryant below Russell is not a knock on Bryant. He just really loves Russell. (And who doesn't, really?) But he does point out some of the weaknesses of Bryant that we've mentioned on the board before: some contact issues and a question as to whether he can stick at third base.
Almora's high ranking both surprises me and it doesn't. For one, Faleris seems to put a great deal of emphasis on defense, and Almora can potentially provide stellar defense in center field. Almora did struggle with the bat in Double-A, but he was only 20 and he struggled to adjust to High-A as well before figuring it out. Almora also has one thing that a lot of other prospects on this list don't have, and that the ability to put the ball in play consistently. Almora does not strike out much.
One thing that may stick out to you is the ranking of Johnson in the top ten and C.J. Edwards out of it. Faleris' reasoning is nothing you haven't heard before. He believes Edwards is simply too scrawny to stand up the to the demands of being a starting pitcher. This knock is going to follow Edwards around until he can prove it wrong. Faleris does, however, believe that Edwards could be a force out of the bullpen as early as this upcoming season.
With the emphasis that Faleris seems to place on defense, it does seem kind of odd that he has Vogelbach at number 9. He also thinks Vogelbach is a DH-only, and even if he could play first he'd be blocked by Anthony Rizzo. But he does like Vogy's bat (who doesn't?) and he expects Vogelbach to be traded to the American League sometime this season.
Left-handed pitcher Carson Sands might be the one name on this list you may not be familiar with. He was the Cubs 4th round pick this past June and he signed for an above-slot $1.1 million. As he's never pitched above Rookie Ball, he's all projection at this point. But he's one guy in the Cubs system that could rate out to being a number 2 starter.
Other "prospects on the rise" that were mentioned were lefty Justin Steele, righty Jake Stinnett and catcher/outfielder Mark Zagunis. All three were taken in this past June's draft in the 5th, 2nd and 3rd round respectively. So the Cubs top five picks this past June all deserved at least a mention in the article.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva and reliever Arodys Vizcaino were mentioned, along with Edwards, as players who could contribute at the major-league level this coming summer.
As Faleris writes, this is a strong system, even after graduating out such players as Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks. We can only hope that this is just the first wave of talent that will reach the shores of Lake Michigan in the upcoming years.