Had you ranked the Chicago Cubs’ farm system fourth best in baseball at this time last year, it would have been a mild surprise.
No, it’s not that it wouldn’t have been deserved. Instead, with a cache of top prospects like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell and Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber, a top three ranking would have been more appropriate. (And, indeed, the Cubs’ system at the time was universally held as one of the best in the game.)
Seeing a publication rank the Cubs’ farm system fourth this year, however, would register as much more than a mild surprise. After all, those notable prospects have all graduated. The Cubs have done a great job adding as much talent as they reasonably could over the past 12 months, but to expect a top five farm system after losing so much elite, impact talent would be unrealistic.
Releasing his farm system rankings today, Law put the Chicago Cubs fourth in all of baseball, behind only the systems you’d expect at the top (Braves, Dodgers, Twins), and ahead of some truly excellent, deep systems. Even being under consideration in this range is a testament to (1) how well the Cubs have accumulated talent over the past several seasons, (2) how well they’ve developed that talent, and (3) how well they’ve been able to hang onto that talent (despite dramatically improving the big league team).
Law’s piece is part of ESPN Insider, so you’ll have to read it for yourself to get the full run-down of info, but suffice it to say, Law believes the Cubs are still loaded with talent, even if it’s further away than the top talent was last year.
I suspect his is the highest ranking we’ll see for the farm system this year (although not yet online, Baseball America’s farm system rankings are available in their handbook, and the Cubs are all the way down at 20 … which seems even crazier than having them up at 4).
If you want more prospect goodness today, make sure you read Michael’s earlier piece on some of Jason McLeod’s prospect comments.