mccutchen wainwrightEarlier this offseason, I wrote about the menacing strength of the Cardinals and Pirates: the have a crap-ton of young, cost-controlled (or prospect) talent. Being that the Cubs’ wave of young talent is going to be the core that pushes them into competitiveness, it’d be nice to know that the Cubs have more quality young talent than their nearest NL Central competitors – even if that talent isn’t yet showing at the big league level.

Well, Baseball Prospectus took a look at each organization’s talent aged 25-and-younger, whether in the big leagues or in the minors, and ranked them accordingly.

The good news is that the Cubs fared very well, coming in at number 10 (playoff caliber!), despite having only three current Major Leaguers on their top ten list:



1. Javier Baez (21)
2. Starlin Castro (23)
3. Kris Bryant (22)
4. Anthony Rizzo (24)
5. Albert Almora (19)
6. Jorge Soler (22)
7. C.J. Edwards (22)
8. Arismendy Alcantara (22)
9. Pierce Johnson (22)
10. Junior Lake (23)

The bad news is that the Cardinals and Pirates appear much higher on the rankings, at 1 and 4, respectively. The Cardinals:

1. Oscar Taveras (21)
2. Shelby Miller (23)
3. Michael Wacha (22)
4. Carlos Martinez (22)
5. Trevor Rosenthal (23)
6. Kolten Wong (23)
7. Matt Adams (25)
8. Stephen Piscotty (23)
9. Alexander Reyes (19)
10. Joe Kelly (25)

And the Pirates:

1. Gerrit Cole (23)
2. Starling Marte (25)
3. Jameson Taillon (22)
4. Gregory Polanco (22)
5. Tyler Glasnow (20)
6. Reese McGuire (19)
7. Josh Bell (21)
8. Nick Kingham (22)
9. Austin Meadows (18)
10. Jose Tabata (25)



If you’re really squinting for a positive, maybe it’s that the Cardinals’ strength skews to the big league side already, as does the Pirates’ at the top (plus each has those two guys pictured above, and some other quality long-term pieces that didn’t qualify for these lists). So maybe, because of the staggering of the Cubs’ window for success, you could convince yourself that the Cubs are better positioned for 2017/18/19 than the Cardinals and Pirates. But that really isn’t all that relieving.

The Cubs get a top five pick this year, while the Cardinals and Pirates pick late. How about that? Do anything for you? Not enough? Yeah, not enough.

This is all the more evidence that, to be successful in the medium to long-term, the Cubs are going to have to leverage their market advantage over other NL Central teams (i.e., increase revenues to then be spent on the big league roster).




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