Today Baseball America, the oldest and most widely-followed of all minor league news sources, published their list of the top ten prospects for 2015. The list and the introductory piece on the system are free to all. Only subscribers can read the detailed scouting reports. The list is full of names that you already know if you've been a regular reader around here.
- Kris Bryant
- Addison Russell
- Jorge Soler
- Kyle Schwarber
- C.J. Edwards
- Billy McKinney
- Albert Almora
- Gleyber Torres
- Pierce Johnson
- Duane Underwood
Eligibility for this list is based on whether or not a player has exhausted their rookie status. Therefore Javier Baez, who had more than 130 plate appearances last season, is ineligible for the list whereas Jorge Soler did not, so he's still eligible for the list despite finishing the season in the majors.
Baseball America does talk about the three big rookies from the last season, Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks. The write that Baez's "all-or-nothing approach" won't work in the majors and, presumably, he'll have to make adjustments. They praise Alcantara's versatility while acknowledging that he struggled in 2014. And they predict that Hendricks will settle in the back of the Cubs rotation for the foreseeable future.
Looking over the list, there are few surprises. Some of you might be surprised to see Duane Underwood appearing on the the list instead of some of his former Kane County teammates, but Underwood has perhaps the best fastball in the system as well as the size and athleticism to hold up in a major league starting rotation.
Torres is yet another shortstop in the Cubs system, although they note he's most likely to end up at second base. He had a better season than his fellow 2013 international sign Eloy Jimenez and made it to the Northwest League before his 18th birthday. That also speaks to his maturity, which Baseball America was also quick to praise. Those of you planning to make the trip out to South Bend this season should have Torres at the top of your list of sights to see.
Other than that, it's no surprise to see Bryant at the top of BA's list. He was, after all, their unanimous choice for 2014 Minor League Player of the Year. What's scary (for the rest of the NL Central at least) about Soler is that they say he has even "more buzz" than Bryant. We've heard a lot about Cubans coming into MLB over the past few seasons, but Soler has the raw ability to be as good or even better than all of them. That includes Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig.
The intro article ends with a note that when the Cubs hitter are ready, the Cubs will be contenders. It also says that could be as soon as 2015.
Of course, as with any of these prospect lists, they come with no guarantees. If all ten of these players live up to their potential, the Cubs will win multiple World Series in the next few seasons. Of course, that's not going to happen. Some of these players will never live up to the hype. Some will get injured and never live up to their potential. Some will likely be traded elsewhere. But going into the 2015 season, there is not another farm system in baseball that I would trade for the Cubs system. There will be some growing pains, but it will be an exciting next few seasons on the North Side.