To promote the upcoming 2016 Baseball Prospectus annual, Turner Publishing has released a .pdf of the book that contains their Top 101 prospects for the upcoming season. Six Cubs made the list this year, headlined by shortstop Gleyber Torres. This is down from seven in last year's list, but all but one of the players who dropped off the list are because they graduated to the majors, not because they disappointed in 2015.
The five players on this year's list are:
41. Gleyber Torres
57. Willson Contreras
67. Ian Happ
74. Billy McKinney
83. Albert Almora
97. Eddy Julio Martinez
McKinney and Almora return from last year's list. Pierce Johnson is the one player who dropped off for reasons other than he went to the majors. Torres, Contreras, Happ and Martinez are new.
BP compares Torres to Starlin Castro, although they make the point that it's not the Castro of today who is a mild disappointment but rather the Castro that we thought he would be. With Contreras, they point out that he wasn't even on the prospect radar a year ago and that he could make a similar climb next year he could be near the top of next year's list, assuming that he's not in the majors by then.
With Happ, BP writes that he's a polished switch hitter who is equally strong from both sides of the plate. In McKinney, they acknowledge the debate about his power and defensive position, but they rightly point out that when a guy hits like McKinney can, a team will find a use for him. With Almora, it's mostly about his defense although his bat did take some baby steps forward last year. They urge patience. Finally, with Martinez they don't have a lot to say so they just talk about restaurants in South Bend.
While this group isn't quite as impressive as the group on last year's list, it's still a great sign that the Cubs farm system is in no danger of going dry. And be sure to follow my countdown of the Cubs top prospects this week.