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MLB Pipeline announces their top 30 Cubs prospects

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Many familiar names dominate another prospects list.

MLB: Chicago Cubs-Workouts
Adbert Alzolay
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another top prospects list. This time, MLB Pipeline released their top 30 Cubs prospects for 2018 and while the names are mostly the same from the other lists posted over the past few months, but the order that they are in is sure to bring forth some interesting debates.

The MLB.com list has one major advantage over the other lists we’ve examined over the winter in that it is free to read for everyone. It has the disadvantage of everything else produced by MLB.com in that the writers technically work for the team they are covering. But Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, who are behind these lists, are respected prospect analysts whose integrity isn’t in question. So while they may be a little nicer on prospects than some other evaluations are, that’s more a reflection of their personalities than it is of any sort of desire not to offend their bosses.

Having said all that, you can see the whole list of the top 30 prospects along with a scouting report for yourself. You should also check out Callis’ overview article on the Cubs system.

The top 30 Cubs prospects according to MLB Pipeline are:

  1. RHP Adbert Alzolay
  2. SS Aramis Ademan
  3. RHP Oscar De La Cruz
  4. RHP Jose Albertos
  5. RHP Alex Lange
  6. LHP Brendon Little
  7. RHP Thomas Hatch
  8. C/1B Victor Caratini
  9. OF D.J. Wilson
  10. OF Nelson Velazquez
  11. C Miguel Amaya
  12. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng
  13. RHP Dillon Maples
  14. OF Mark Zagunis
  15. 2B/OF David Bote
  16. LHP Justin Steele
  17. RHP Jeremiah Estrada
  18. RHP Erich Uelmen
  19. RHP Keegan Thompson
  20. RHP Erling Moreno
  21. RHP Michael Rucker
  22. RHP Alec Mills
  23. INF Zach Short
  24. RHP Javier Assad
  25. LHP Bryan Hudson
  26. 3B/1B Wladimir Galindo
  27. LHP Braylin Marquez
  28. RHP Trevor Clifton
  29. RHP Cory Abbott
  30. RHP Duane Underwood Jr.

I listed their positions as MLB Pipeline listed them.

I feel like I owe it to you to offer a few thoughts on the list. It’s a solid list and there really aren’t many disagreements with the other lists that I’ve posted this winter. That shouldn’t be a surprise, as all these analysts are talking with many of the same people to produce their lists. It also doesn’t differ too much from mine.

Having said that . . .

—I find it interesting that De La Cruz is ranked so high. On sheer talent alone, he should be ranked number one, but the question becomes how far do you knock him down for his repeated failure to stay healthy? I feel like their write-up of De La Cruz was pieced together from two different evaluations. In the first paragraph, they say he has “struggled to stay healthy.” in the third paragraph, they write “De La Cruz has a strong, athletic frame—he weighs more than his listed 200 pounds—that should lend itself to durability.” Huh? Should, maybe. It doesn’t, however.

—They rank Lange, Little and Hatch (terrific law firm, by the way) in the exact opposite order that I do. They seem much more optimistic that Lange will stay in the rotation than I do. (To be clear, I don’t think Lange is a lock for the ‘pen. I just think it is more likely than not.) They knock Hatch down for his lack of ceiling, which I can’t really argue with.

—They have Caratini ranked No. 9 because they don’t think his defense behind the plate will ever be starting catcher-worthy. I don’t either, but I think there is a lot more value in a player who can hit and be a backup at catcher and both corner infield positions. It’s hard to get a read on what they think his power potential is. They stick a below-average “40” grade on it, but then they say that the Cubs think they can get him to drive the ball more.

—Conversely, they rank Amaya so high because they love his glove, even though the Panamanian receiver hasn’t hit much in the minors so far.

—I’m glad to see more confirmation of David Bote’s prospect status. Bote has transformed himself from organizational depth to a guy with a real chance of a major-league future. That’s the kind of thing that makes following the minors so exciting.

—After years of the Cubs farm system producing hitters, 21 of the 30 prospects are pitchers. Ten of the 30 prospects are international players, including the top four.

—Callis thinks that seven of the 30 could see time in the majors this season.

All in all, it’s best to get as many different takes on the minor leagues as possible. I’m guessing that most of you will pay a lot of attention to this list in 2018, if only because it is one of the few that isn’t behind a paywall.