Baseball America, the publication that has been doing these prospect rankings list longer than anyone, has announced their rankings of the Top 10 Cubs prospects (subscription req.) for this upcoming season. In their estimation, the best prospects in the Cubs’ minor league system at the moment are:
- Brailyn Marquez. LHP.
- Nico Hoerner. SS.
- Brennen Davis. OF.
- Miguel Amaya. C.
- Chase Strumpf. 2B.
- Cole Roederer. OF.
- Ryan Jensen. RHP.
- Ethan Hearn. C.
- Riley Thompson. RHP.
- Cory Abbott. RHP.
BA has full scouting reports available to those who subscribe, but I can share a little of what they wrote in order to help explain their rankings.
- Marquez may come as a surprise at number one, but BA always values upside and it’s tough to argue with the upside of a left-hander who can hit 102 on the radar gun. They also noted that Marquez benefitted from the Cubs’ “take it slow” approach to Marquez and that he’s improved his secondary offerings. There’s still a ton of risk there, but Marquez could be a difference maker if he stays on his current track.
- With their emphasis on upside, it may seem strange that Hoerner is at number two. But Hoerner appears to have a bit more upside than we thought at this time last season.
- Marquez and Hoerner are both on their Top 100 Prospects list.
- Davis has big upside, of course. Amaya projects out to be a “solid but not spectacular” starting catcher at the major league level.
- The Cubs thought Roederer got “pull-happy” this past year. They want him to start hitting to all fields again. BA thinks his ceiling is a solid, everyday left fielder, which means they think he can hit a lot if he break his bad habits at the plate. He projects to be passable in center field.
- Baseball America liked the Cubs’ 2019 second-round pick (Strumpf) better than their first-round pick (Jensen) before the draft, so it’s not surprising that they rank Strumpf above Jensen now. They think adjustments that the Cubs made on Strumpf’s swing means that more power could be coming, which would make his upside is even higher now than Jensen.
- The one player you may not be familiar with is Hearn, whom the Cubs took in the sixth round last season. Baseball America thought Hearn was the best high school catcher available and their mind has not changed. While acknowledging that high school catchers are an incredibly risky demographic, BA feels that Hearn’s ceiling is a left-handed hitting catcher with massive power and superb defense behind the plate. We should get to see him in Eugene this summer, but maybe he’ll pull a Brennen Davis and force his way into South Bend.
- Thompson potentially has four solid pitches and BA raves about the “spin rate” on his curveball. They also think he’s improved his changeup in South Bend.
- Adbert Alzolay misses the top ten, presumably because of injury questions. I’m still his biggest fan, but even I admit the injuries are worrisome.
The Cubs system is not the strongest as it has been drained by years of promotions, trades and low draft picks. It’s still probably among the bottom-ten systems in the majors but Baseball America does feel that it is moving in the right direction and has escaped the bottom-five. Of course, trades made this winter could change that.