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MLB Pipeline releases its Top 30 Chicago Cubs prospects list

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The more looks at the minor league system the better, and MLB Pipeline has offered a take on the Cubs top 30 prospects.

MLB: Chicago Cubs-Media Day
Adbert Alzolay
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I know what you’re thinking. It’s been at least a week and a half since we’ve had a ranking of the Cubs minor league prospects. How will I know who to follow in the upcoming minor league season without yet another ranking of the Cubs’ prospects?

Fear no more, readers, for last week MLB Pipeline, the official prospect site of MLB.com, released their Top 30 Cubs prospects for 2019. And for as much fun as I’m making of this whole situation, when it comes to prospect talk, the more the merrier.

The Cubs top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline are:

  1. Miguel Amaya, C.
  2. Nico Hoerner, SS.
  3. Brailyn Marquez, LHP.
  4. Adbert Alzolay, RHP.
  5. Cole Roederer, OF.
  6. Aramis Ademan, SS.
  7. Brennen Davis, OF.
  8. Justin Steele, LHP.
  9. Cory Abbott, RHP.
  10. Keegan Thompson, RHP.
  11. Zack Short, SS.
  12. Alex Lange, RHP.
  13. Brendon Little, LHP.
  14. Richard Gallardo, RHP.
  15. Nelson Velazquez, OF.
  16. Yovanny Cruz, RHP.
  17. Thomas Hatch, RHP.
  18. Paul Richan, RHP.
  19. Tyson Miller, RHP.
  20. Trent Giambrone, SS/2B.
  21. Reivaj Garcia, 2B.
  22. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP.
  23. Jose Albertos, RHP.
  24. Dakota Mekkes, RHP.
  25. Duane Underwood Jr., RHP
  26. Christopher Morel, 3B/SS.
  27. Riley Thompson, RHP.
  28. Luis Verdugo, SS/3B.
  29. Jhonny Pereda, C.
  30. Andy Weber, SS/2B.

The nice thing about MLB Pipeline is that their rankings and scouting reports are always free for everyone, so anyone can go to their Cubs page and read up on all their scouting reports on the minor leaguers. In addition, Jim Callis, who is one of the most-respected names in the prospect evaluation business, has written up a general overview of the Cubs system with added information like best hitter, best fielder, best fastball, best curve, etc. Callis also ranks the biggest climber in the rankings (Marquez) and the biggest drop (Outfielder D.J. Wilson, who went from being ranked 9th last year to falling off the list altogether.)

If you look at this list, the same five names on the top here are pretty much the same five that I put in the top five and that everyone else has put in the top five, or at worst, in the top six. After that, there’s a pretty big drop-off in the system and a lot of disagreement over who should be ranked where. Usually, it’s not as much as disagreement on the player’s actual skills as much as a difference of opinion as to how much value that particular skill set has.

Fully 17 of the 30 prospects in this list are pitchers and this reflects the Cubs’ recent efforts to rectify their system’s lack of success in developing arms by simply drafting and/or signing a lot of them and hoping a few of them turn out. However, as Callis notes in his piece, despite the recent emphasis on acquiring pitching, the top two prospects in the Cubs system are still hitters. Most of these pitchers are still a year or more away from the majors, although Alzolay, De La Cruz and Underwood would be exceptions. Mekkes is close to the majors as well, although he’s strictly a reliever.

Looking forward to the minor league season, the fans in Myrtle Beach will probably get the best look at the system as Amaya and Hoerner are both likely to start the season there. Ademan will probably repeat Myrtle Beach as well after struggling at the plate there in 2018. South Bend, the minor league affiliate that most of you are most likely to see in person, will almost certainly get Marquez to start the year after he made two starts in the Midwest League to finish the season in 2018. Velazquez should get a second shot at South Bend after flopping there in 2018 (and then doing much better after a demotion to Eugene) but South Bend fans will certainly be looking forward to the arrival of Roederer and Davis. Neither one is likely to start the season there, but both could make it there by later in the year.

In any case, all of these players and all the ones that weren’t ranked will be fighting in 2019 to prove the prospect mavens wrong and return the Cubs farm system to being one of the top systems in the majors instead of one near the bottom.