Baseball America has released their annual list of the Top 100 prospects in baseball (sub. req.) and two members of the Cubs’ organization, left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez and outfielder Brennen Davis, have both been named to the list. Marquez is ranked as the 52nd-best prospect in baseball and Davis is listed at number 72.
Marquez, 21, is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball, regularly sitting in the 97-98 miles per hour range and often hitting 100 or more. Baseball America notes that Marquez has the potential to be top-of-the-rotation ace, but he needs to improve his control before then. Anyone who saw his Major League debut last September would agree with that, as Marquez had three walks and two wild pitches in just two-thirds of an inning. Baseball America also noted that Marquez worked hard on his breaking pitches last season at the alternative site. Before he had a hard-breaking slider, but he’s now refined that pitch and added a separate curve, giving hitters two different looks.
Davis, also 21, was among the youngest players that the Cubs took to the alternate site last summer, a sign of how highly he is regarded in the organization. When the Cubs drafted Davis in the second round in 2018, he was expected to be a long-term project, since he had split his time in high school between baseball and basketball. Instead, he’s proven to be a quick learner who has made great strides in a short amount of time. Baseball America praises his athleticism, noting that he has the arm and the speed to play center field but warning that he could have to move to a corner once he adds more muscle. He has potential power to all fields and he’s shown good plate discipline in the minors.
In a normal year, Marquez would likely start the season at Double-A Tennessee, but the delayed start to the minors this year might mean starting at Triple-A Iowa. Davis is likely to spend his third-straight season in South Bend, although each time it would be under different circumstances. (Low-A in 2019, alternate site in 2020, High-A in 2021)
The rebuilding of the Cubs’ farm system is just starting to show progress. Davis and Marquez are both expected to be key parts of the Cubs future, but both are more 2022 and 2023 players than 2021. Other potential impact players are just as far away or, in the case of the players acquired in the Yu Darvish trade, even farther. It’s a long way away from the salad days of 2014, when the Cubs had the best farm system in baseball, but at least it’s heading in the right direction.
UPDATE: Baseball America named their Top Ten “Just Missed” prospects and Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya is on that list.