cubs azl spring training logo[Oh, hey, weird – we have to talk about other stuff today, too … ]

MLB Pipeline has now updated their 2016 Top 30 Prospects for the Chicago Cubs, and it can be found here.

Along with the rankings, they’ve released a discussion-piece about the many changes to the list, explaining the decisions, the biggest changes and the best tools of the Cubs top minor leaguers.

Moreover, Jim Callis – who wrote that accompanying article – breaks down all 30 players by position, where they came from and, finally, their estimated time of arrival.

The full list is below, but you’ll want to check out the MLB Pipeline’s work for a full write-up and scouting report on each player:

  1. Gleyber Torres, SS
  2. Willson Contreras, C
  3. Ian Happ, 2B/OF
  4. Duane Underwood, RHP
  5. Albert Almora, OF
  6. Billy McKinney, OF
  7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  8. Dylan Cease, RHP
  9. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
  10. Eloy Jimenez, OF
  11. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  12. Donnie Dewees, OF
  13. Bryan Hudson, LHP
  14. D.J. Wilson, OF
  15. Eddy Julio Martinez, OF
  16. Carl Edwards, Jr., RHP
  17. Justin Steele, LHP
  18. Mark Zagunis, OF
  19. Ryan Williams, RHP
  20. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  21. Trevor Clifton, RHP
  22. Jake Stinnett, RHP
  23. Carson Sands, LHP
  24. Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
  25. Victor Caratini, C
  26. Christian Villanueva, 3B/1B
  27. Corey Black, RHP
  28. Jacob Hannemann, OF
  29. Brad Markey, RHP
  30. Josh Conway, RHP



First and foremost, let’s discuss the breakdown by position. To my eye, there are 15 pitchers and 15 position players listed in the rankings above. I’ve beaten this drum before, but the Cubs minor league system does have pitching depth/prospects – and plenty of it. The source of folks’ concern (we’ve become so used to hearing) is that the pitching just so happens to be quite a bit away. Or, for a deeper take, the prospects that are close (Carl Edwards, Pierce Johnson) are more likely to end up in the bullpen.

Otherwise, I don’t see too many unusual components to this list. Perhaps you could take issue with the order in spots, but, as we’ve said, there’s so much bunching for the Cubs in the 6 to 20 range that you could almost organize them in any order and make a good argument for it.

The top three of Gleyber Torres, Willson Contreras and Ian Happ continues to be solidified and, I have to say, I love that variability at the top. In Torres, you have a young, high-upside, far-away shortstop with a lot of projection and a high ceiling. In Contreras, you have a nearly big-league ready catcher, who will start the year out at AAA Iowa and could reach the majors in 2016. And, in Happ, you have the most recent first round draft pick of the Cubs with a polished college bat, just ready to burn through the system.

In a way, the Cubs top prospects are mitigating factors against each other. There isn’t an overload of way-far-away potential or only low-risk, low ceiling guys in the upper minors; there’s a nice balance of projection, readiness, experience and upside.

On the best tools, according to Callis, there aren’t many surprises, either. Albert Almora takes home best defense; Dylan Cease, Jake Stinnett and Duane Underwood have the best fastball, slider and changeup, respectively; and Ryan Williams (who were going to keep an eye on over the next few years) has the best control.



I suppose it was moderately surprising to see Eloy Jimenez – who stands tall at 6’4″ and 205 lbs – projected to have the best power in the minors, but with that big of a frame at just 19 years old, it’s easy to understand. He slashed .284/.328/.418 in 250 plate appearances as an 18 year old in low A. There’s a lot to like.



There is plenty of more good stuff in Callis’ write-up here, including who made the biggest jump/fall, top tool rankings, how the Cubs acquired each player, and the individual estimated times of arrival. There’s also individual scouting reports listed for each individual player, by clicking on their names here … so check it all out!


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