Two rankings of the MLB farm systems were released today and they came to different conclusions as to the overall state of the Cubs farm system.
Baseball America released their rankings of all 30 farm systems and ranked the Cubs as the 17th-best (Baseball America sub. req.), putting the Cubs firmly among the major league average. This is an improvement over their ranking of 22nd in 2020 and 29th in 2019.
In contrast, Keith Law of The Athletic also released his ranking of farm systems and he put the Cubs as the 26th-best, (The Athletic sub. req.) placing the Cubs among the bottom five in all of baseball.
Both rankings note that the Cubs farm system had been decimated by years of trades for major league talent and draft picks coming at the end of the first round. This wasn’t particularly bad news, since the Cubs front office was using the farm system to add major league talent to a contending team. But now that the Cubs appear to be looking to move on from the core of their World Series-winning team, they need to build that farm system back up to where it was from 2013 to 2015.
Baseball America is more confident that the Cubs have taken the first steps towards a rejuvenated farm system. They like the return the Cubs got in the Yu Darvish trade and think the Cubs have two future stars in left-hander Brailyn Marquez and outfielder Brennen Davis.
Law, on the other hand, is more pessimistic. He notes that the Cubs haven’t been spending on talent at either the major or minor league level, a common complaint around here. He also believes Davis is the only real impact prospect in the Cubs system.
It seems that at least some of the disagreement in these rankings comes from their different evaluations of Marquez. Baseball America thinks that Marquez is a potential top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. While Law doesn’t doubt Marquez’s pure stuff, he’s more skeptical of his ability to stay in the starting rotation. Although Law thinks Marquez could be one of the best closers in game. a pitcher who throws 50 innings a year is just not as valuable as one that throws 180.
In any case, these rankings are just that. They’re the personal opinions of knowledgeable writers. They’re informative and fun and they can help fans understand why one team has the prospects to make a deal and another one doesn’t. But in the end, the only ranking that really matters is the major league standings at the end of the next few seasons.