Baseball America continues its unveil of the top prospects in each league, today releasing the top 20 list for the Northwest League, home to the Eugene Emeralds. The Cubs’ short-season Low-A club featured a mix of international, just-drafted college, and recently-drafted high school talent.
Tons of talent.
Seven of the top 20 prospects in the league talent. Given that eight big league organizations are represented in the league, that’s an incredible showing.
You can see the full list here at BA, together with a write-up on each prospect. Top 2015 Cubs draft pick Ian Happ came in at number two on the list, behind only top overall draft pick Dansby Swanson. And then big-time Cubs outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez was next on the list, behind only Swanson and Happ, and one spot ahead of heralded 2014 high school prospect Alex Jackson.
Also representing: OF Donnie Dewees (11), LHP Justin Steele (12), LHP Carson Sands (13), RHP Oscar De La Cruz (16), and RHP Pedro Araujo (19).
You really should read the write-up on each prospect, but here’s a sample on Steele:
Steele’s fastball topped out at 95 mph this season. The lefthander attacks the strike zone, generating nearly a strikeout per inning and plenty of groundballs. Steele has competitive fire and athleticism and works downhill with the fastball and also a curveball that projects as a future plus weapon. He commands his fastball well, keeping it low in the zone and has yet to allow a home run as a pro.
It’s going to be fun to follow the trio of starting arms there – Steele, Sands, and De La Cruz – next year to see if any breaks out in full season ball. All have that potential.
It’s particularly notable that Araujo made the list, by the way, when you consider his age (at 22, he’s a bit older than most of the top prospects in the league), his experience (he was signed back in 2011), and the fact that he’s exclusively been a full-time reliever the last two years. You don’t see too many guys with that profile make a top prospect list in Low-A ball, but you also don’t see too many guys strike out 70 and walk just 9 in 50 innings of work. Even if Araujo is “just” a reliever going forward, he’s mighty interesting.
I love that BA provides the following context, too: of the top 20 prospect list from five years ago, 12 – including each of the top 5 – have reached the majors. Making the list is no small feat.