The Cubs deservedly received a lot of attention this past season for their starting lineup with four stellar rookies and the future looks just as bright. From the moment that Theo Epstein took control of the Cubs organization, the front office has prioritized player development and the team is now seeing the results.
But the process of developing talent on the farm is never complete. With that, Baseball America announced their Top Ten Cubs Prospects for 2016 today and while they may not be quite as impressive as the four rookies on the team in 2015, they're still pretty impressive. Even better, there is a lot of much-needed pitching on the list.
While the list itself and the accompanying scouting reports are behind a paywall, I can tell you who is on the list:
- SS Gleyber Torres
- C Willson Contreras
- OF/2B Ian Happ
- RHP Duane Underwood
- RHP Dylan Cease
- OF Albert Almora
- OF Billy McKinney
- RHP Oscar de la Cruz
- OF Eloy Jimenez
- 3B Jeimer Candelario
Baseball America says Cubs executives say that Torres has an "it" factor that Kris Bryant and Addison Russell have that make them think he's destined for similar heights. But they also note, as many others have, that Torres may not have a place to play in Chicago. A similar problem awaits Candelario, although he is projected out to be more of a solid regular than a star.
Contreras is the one most likely to play for the Cubs in 2016.
Among the pitchers, Underwood is the one closest to the majors and is the surest bet, although his upside is more of a mid-rotation starter. Cease has still only thrown 24 professional innings and is still slowly coming back from Tommy John surgery, but can hit the upper 90s regularity. Finally, you may be less familiar with de la Cruz, but he's coming off a very successful season in Eugene. The exciting thing about de la Cruz is that as good as he is now, there is still a lot of projection left in him. Listed at 6'4" and still growing at age 20, the Cubs think de la Cruz could be a giant on the mound. He already can touch 97 and if he grows another couple of inches and works on his mechanics, the Cubs think he could sit up there.
It's always easy to get excited about the Cubs prospects and here's where I always say that prospects fail all the time. But this past season, the Cubs went 4 for 4 on rookie call-ups. While I always urge keeping expectations in check, I'm not going to doubt this front offices' ability to discover and develop talent. Some of these players may be dealt for major league talent, but I'd expect many of them to be at Wrigley Field in the near future.