Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

billy mckinney smokiesWith Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara all graduating beyond prospect eligibility over the past year, I had made peace with the fact that the Cubs farm system, though still strong, might not be as top heavy as it has been for the last couple years.

But maybe I didn’t have to.

Baseball America has released its Midseason Top 50 Prospect list and three Cubs finished in the top 30: Billy McKinney, Gleyber Torres and Kyle Schwarber. Each player made a rather notable jump, here, and frankly, this is higher than I expected them to reach, this soon.

Kyle Schwarber comes in for the highest praise at number 6 overall. Yes, my friends, we have yet another top ten prospect in all of baseball – that’s what making it to MLB in less than a year does for you. Indeed, Ben Badler, Josh Norris and JJ Cooper believe that the top six prospects (ending with Schwarber) exist in a tier above the next several players on the list. Like everyone, BA acknowledges that his glove isn’t ready behind the plate, but being ranked this high on his bat alone is impressive. Schwarber is hitting .358/.414/.642 in his (extremely) short stint in AAA.

Next up on the list is 18-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres – coming in at 28 overall. The short podcast at the top of the rankings makes a special mention of Torres, identifying his advanced approach at the plate and fantastic performance in the offensively challenging Midwest league. BA questions his long term position, but admits that his bat will carry him as far as he needs to go. Torres is hitting .318/.388/.415 for the South Bend Cubs … again, as an 18-year-old shortstop.

Last up for the Cubs is 20-year-old outfielder Billy McKinney, who comes in at number 30 overall. McKinney has received no shortage of attention or awards this season, and this ranking is a nice cap on his fantastic first half. He is also mentioned in the podcast, and elicits praise for his advanced plate approach and for earning his relatively aggressive promotion to AA Tennessee. McKinney is hitting .302/.348/.443 for the Tennessee Smokies over 165 plate appearances in 2015.

Although 32 of the pre-season top 100 prospects were no longer eligible for this iteration, do not let that take anything away these rankings. All three players have earned the jumps and recognition they’ve received and the Cubs farm system is not slowing down any time soon – I’ll let you read the blurb on McKinney and Torres yourself for a smile. In a way, all three players were “under the radar” types that we’ve always known to be good, but never quite received national attention. Well now they are on the radar, and their showing up brighter and more often than expected.

If you missed it, Schwarber and Torres also recently made BP’s midseason list.

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