Baseball America has finished out their lists of the top prospects in each minor league and the Cubs’ two highest affiliates, the Tennessee Smokies and the Iowa Cubs, each had players who were ranked among the league’s top 20 prospects.
If you want to see the rankings for the four lower affiliates in the Cubs system, my article on that can be found here.
While the actual ratings and scouting reports are behind a paywall, I can report on who was ranked and a short summary of what they said. In the Double-A Southern League, the Tennessee Smokies only had one player ranked among the Top 20 prospects, and that is 2015 first-round pick Ian Happ. Happ was ranked as the 9th-best prospect in the league. Scouts praised his strike-zone judgement and a good swing from both sides of the plate. Defensively, they were more critical of his defense at second base, saying that he’ll be a bat-first second baseman, similar to the Nationals Daniel Murphy.
Happ was also ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Carolina League.
Matt Eddy, who compiled the list, said in a chat that catcher Victor Caratini and right-handed pitcher Zach Hedges also got some mentions.
In the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, three members of the Iowa Cubs made the Top 20 list. Those players were:
2. Catcher Willson Contreras
12. Outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
17. Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario
All three of those players played in Chicago this summer and two of them are even on the postseason roster, so I don’t think any I have to tell you too much about them. Contreras was ranked only behind Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes. They praised Contreras’ talent for hitting and defensive versatility.
Almora’s defense was naturally praised, but they also thought he could develop some power as he ages. They like his hitting stroke, but worry that he’ll never develop much patience. Candelario was praised for his “sweet swing from both sides of the plate,” plate discipline and 15-20 HR power potential. They also liked his defense at third base.
The Cubs farm system has certainly taken a step back over the past two years, but for all the right reasons. Every year, another kid (or two or three) from the farm comes up and makes an impact on the major league stage. But these lists indicate that even with all those graduations, there is still talent down on the farm.