cubs azl spring training logoOne of the first updated, post-season Chicago Cubs top prospects lists is now out, and it comes from Kiley McDaniel at FanGraphs. Not only does he have a list, mind you, it’s a really expansive look – complete with video – at the Cubs’ system and the individual prospects therein. If you read only one thing today (and you haven’t read it already), make it this.

First, a look at the list, and then some discussion:

  1. Kris Bryant, 3B
  2. Addison Russell, SS
  3. Jorge Soler, OF
  4. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
  5. Albert Almora, OF
  6. C.J. Edwards, RHP
  7. Duane Underwood, RHP
  8. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  9. Gleyber Torres, SS
  10. Billy McKinney, OF
  11. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  12. Eloy Jimenez, OF
  13. Victor Caratini, C
  14. Jake Stinnett, RHP
  15. Armando Rivero, RHP
  16. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  17. Carson Sands, LHP
  18. Jefferson Mejia, RHP
  19. Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
  20. Dylan Cease, RHP
  21. Paul Blackburn, RHP
  22. Corey Black, RHP
  23. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
  24. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  25. Jeffrey Baez, OF
  26. Justin Steele, LHP
  27. Jonathan Martinez, RHP
  28. Jacob Hannemann, OF
  29. Daury Torrez, RHP
  30. Erick Leal, RHP
  31. Rob Zastryzny, LHP

It’s a deep list, and McDaniel discusses each player.

You are immediately noticing number seven: Duane Underwood. The Cubs’ second rounder in 2012, taken after Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn, who were supplemental first rounders, Underwood was always an upside play, because of his extreme youth (he was one of the youngest players in the draft) and raw stuff. It seems McDaniel is buying that upside, as Underwood didn’t quite break out on the performance side this year, and putting him ahead of guys like Johnson and Torres and McKinney, among others, is quite a statement. According to McDaniel, it was a breakout year on the scouting side for Underwood (which would explain why he was well-ranked on the Midwest League list from BA), who showed up in shape, added velocity, and has front-line stuff when it clicks.

McDaniel’s take fits with what seems to be true about the Cubs’ system right now: there’s a ton of offensive impact at the top, but not quite as much offensive depth as you’d like; and there’s a ton of pitching depth, but not much impact at the top. On the balance, though, it’s an extremely impressive system (even now without Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara), and one that McDaniel says is a clear top five group, and maybe top overall.



There’s so much to read in the piece, but if you need help narrowing things down, I was particularly interested in McDaniel’s thoughts on Soler, Almora, Jimenez, Stinnett, Rivero, Tseng, Black, and Vizcaino.




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