MLB.com revealed it’s top 100 prospects last night, and, as expected, some notable Chicago Cubs’ farmhands made an appearance.
Outfielder Brett Jackson, 23, was the Cubs’ top draft pick in 2009, and came in at number 33. He is thought by most to be the Cubs’ top prospect, and MLB.com appears to agree. Jackson is expected to start the year at AAA Iowa, where he finished the 2011 season. Depending on injuries and how the outfield shakes out, he could be in Chicago by midseason.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo, 22, is new to the Cubs’ system, having been acquired in an early January trade in a deal that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres. Rizzo was ranked 37th on the list, and, like Jackson, is expected to start the year at AAA Iowa before possibly coming to Chicago mid-season.
Shortstop (probably soon-to-be third baseman) Javier Baez, 19, was the Cubs’ top draft pick in 2011. He was ranked 62nd, and will probably at low-A or A-ball next year. His time is still a long way off.
Before you get too excited, keep in mind: with 30 teams in baseball, mathematically, each team should have about three players in the top 100 (3.333 to be more precise (3.333333 to be even more precise (I could go on))). The Cubs, therefore, are actually slightly behind the curve.
It’s fair to guess that the only other player who was close to making the list was outfielder Matt Szczur, who is uniquely athletic, and had modest success in his first full professional season in 2011. The Cubs’ top pitching prospect, Trey McNutt, is coming off an injury-filled, disappointing 2011 season. Otherwise, you can assume he would have been in there somewhere as well.
Fear not. The future remains bright in the Cubs’ system, but it shines brightest at the lowest levels. Once a number of those untested youngsters are tested – and pass – the Cubs’ farm system will be getting a great deal more due.