Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cubs azl spring training logoThe Cubs have been powered to a record that is 16 games above .500 thanks in part to contributions from several key players who were elite prospects in a blooming farm system.

Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler have graduated, but MLB Pipeline still has the Cubs farm system ranked fourth after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Even though the Cubs have relinquished their preseason No. 1 ranking, this update seems to suggest that the Cubs still have some players with upside who are climbing the organizational ranks despite losing three key cogs to graduation.

Of course, catcher Kyle Schwarber — who ranks first in the system and seventh overall in this installment — will soon lose prospect status, which would theoretically slide the Cubs further down the list. But maybe not too far, considering that the Yankees only have three top-100 prospects and rank 10th on the list.

Shortstop Gleyber Torres tops the list with his 35th overall ranking, while outfielder Billy McKinney (40th) represent bats with upside in the organization. McKinney is probably the closest to The Show, with an ETA of 2017. But Torres’ ETA is listed as 2018. In either case, both hitters are worth keeping an eye on.

Meanwhile, one of the most encouraging signs might be Jim Callis’ inclusion of the pitchers making their way in the system.

The Cubs have some pitching on the way, too, with right-handers Carl Edwards Jr. (No. 65), Duane Underwood (No. 78) and Pierce Johnson in the first wave and several high-school picks from the past two Drafts (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Justin Steele, Carson Sands) in the second.

Edwards Jr. has worked solely out of the bullpen this season and has posted big strikeout numbers (73 in 53.1 innings). However, that has come with an unfortunately high walk total (40 in 33 appearances).

Underwood has the highest upside among pitchers currently working their way as starting pitchers. However, Underwood has been sidelined for quite sometime with elbow injury that showed inflammation, but was found to have no structural damage back in July.

Underwood was 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 64.1 innings over 12 starts prior to being shelved.

Still, the inclusion of Edwards Jr. and Underwood in the top-100 is a bright spot for an organization that lacks high-end pitching in the upper levels of the minors.

Overall, the Cubs’ appearance in this top 10 is a reminder of the commitment the front office seems to have for keeping the foundation it built in prior drafts strong.

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