In full disclosure, this list was released earlier in the week, but, well, the week was a little busy. Thus, when you see former Cubs pitching prospect Jefferson Mejia – who was sent to the Diamondbacks in the Miguel Montero trade – listed as the Cubs’ 20th best prospect, that’s not a John Sickels error. That’s just a timing thing.
So, without further ado, the top 20 prospects for 2015, according to Minor League Ball (together with Sickels’ grades, about which you must educate yourself by reading his explanation):
1) Kris Bryant, 3B, Grade A
2) Addison Russell, SS, Grade A
3) Jorge Soler, OF, Grade A
4) Kyle Schwarber, C-OF, Grade A-: Borderline A.
5) C.J. Edwards, RHP, Grade B+
6) Albert Almora, OF, Grade B+: Borderline B.
7) Pierce Johnson, RHP, Grade B
8) Billy McKinney, OF, Grade B: Borderline B-
9) Duane Underwood, RHP, Grade B-
10) Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP, Grade B-
11) Gleyber Torres, SS, Grade B-
12) Carson Sands, LHP, Grade B-
13) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Grade B-
14) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Grade C+ (After Jimenez, Sickels notes that there is some interchangeability.)
15) Victor Caratini, C, Grade C+
16) Corey Black, RHP, Grade C+
17) Armando Rivero, RHP, Grade C+
18) Jake Stinnett, RHP, Grade C+
19) Mark Zagunis, C-OF, Grade C+
20) Um, well, Mejia
Other C+ prospects: Gioskar Amaya, 2B-C; Jeffrey Baez, OF; Dallas Beeler, RHP; Paul Blackburn, RHP; Jeimer Candelario, 3B; Dylan Cease, RHP; Jonathan Martinez, RHP; Justin Steele, LHP, Rob Zastrynzny, LHP.
The article is a great read if you want more on each prospect, as well as a list of other guys who were very close to this list. Sickels notes that Bryant is the top prospect in baseball for him, and Russell and Soler would also be in the top 10 overall.
Sickels’ list looks fairly similar to how my own would look if I did the ranking thing. I could pick some nits at the back end, but that’s really more of a product of the Cubs’ excellent prospect depth right now than me really thinking Sickels was clearly wrong about anything. There’s a relatively clear elite tier of prospects for the Cubs (the top three on Sickels’ list), a clear second tier that would be top tier in most systems (Schwarber through McKinney), and then a group of guys whom you could rank in any order, but who are pretty clearly the next seven or so (I include Caratini in that group). And, then, finally, you’ve got a good 30 or so legit prospects who could be ranked all over the map depending on what scouting reports and statistics you favor, as well as personal preference.
All in all, so far, it looks like the top system in baseball to Sickels. It’s been a good week.