We’re not quite into “prospect ranking season” just yet – that usually comes well after the World Series, in the cold of winter – but a few publications have already put together some post-Minor League Season All-Star Teams in order to recognize some of MiLB’s best.
Most recently, Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports) collaborated with about 20 scouts to put together the 2016 Yahoo Sports All-Minor League Team … and a Cub made the cut (and a few others were honorable mentions)!
Unlike some other Prospect Rankings, the Passan’s All-Minor League team was put together based primarily on performance. Reputation and pedigree can be very important, but that was not the basis for this project. That said, age did matter. Minor League veterans crushing younglings at Triple-A were not as heavily considered as their younger counter-parts.
So without further adieu, let’s jump into the list and see which Cubs made the cut.
2016 Yahoo All-Minor League Team
- Catcher: Francisco Mejia (Cleveland Indians)
- First Base: Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Second Base: Yoan Moncada (Boston Red Sox)
- Shortstop: Alex Bregman (Houston Astros)
- Third Base: Ryon Healy (Oakland A’s)
- Outfield: Dylan Cozens (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Outfield: Eloy Jimenez (Chicago Cubs)
- Outfield: Brandon Nimmo (New York Mets)
- SP: Brock Stewart (Los Angelas Dodgers)
- SP: Yohander Mendez (Texas Rangers)
- SP: Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- SP: Stephen Gonsalves (Minnesota Twins)
- SP: Dietrich Enns (New York Yankees)
- RP: Joe Jimenez (Detroit Tigers)
Eloy Jimenez is your obvious choice for one of the outfield spots, given the absolutely monstrous breakout season he had (and at such a young age), but they had much more to say on him than that. According to Passan, Jimenez may be well on his way to becoming a top-10 prospect in all of baseball next season, after hitting .329/.369/.532 in his first full year in 2016. While his walk rate could stand a slight improvement, Passan suggests the Cubs will have nothing to worry about and no reason to rush him – which could prove invaluable to his overall development.
But it didn’t end there. There are more Cubs to discuss.
While the following three players were excluded from the main roster, they were listed as honorable mentions among their respective positions. This team was assembled from a list of over 5,000 minor league players, so their inclusion here (instead of up above) is no slight against them:
- Second Base: Ian Happ
- Third Base: Jeimer Candelario
- SP: Trevor Clifton
Ian Happ didn’t quite finish the year as strongly as he started it, but he remains a guy to keep your eye on. His switch-hitting ability and advanced approach at the plate make him an exciting, but polished prospect who could break into the Majors as soon as 2017. He’ll likely begin the year out at Triple-A Iowa.
Jeimer Candelario was the 2016 Spring Training darling, before beginning his season out at Double-A Tennessee. He struggled a bit there, but flourished upon his promotion to Triple-A Iowa. Through 76 games at that level, Candelario slashed .333/.417/.542. He did get a quick taste of the Majors earlier this season, but ultimately finished his year up in Iowa. And although he’s on the 40-man roster, he wasn’t a part of the September call-ups, and will not likely play again with the Cubs this season. Next year, however, he’s a candidate to make the team right out of the gate and could play in a variety of roles around the infield.
Trevor Clifton just wrapped up a hugely impressive season that won him Carolina League Pitcher of the Year, High-A Pitcher of the Year, and Chicago Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the year. Here’s what Brett had to say of him when he won:
Clifton, 21, had a very solid year at Low-A in 2015, his first full season league. All he did in 2016 was improve in pretty much every single way at a higher level. With the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Clifton posted a 2.72 ERA, a 3.05 FIP, a 26.2% K rate, and an 8.3% BB rate. He gave up just 4(!) home runs in 119.0 innings. Hit this guy hard, you could not.
So like we’ve said a number of times before, the Cubs Minor League system may not be what it used to be, but it’s still pretty impressive. There’s star power at the top, and a very clear, very solid second tier of 3-4 prospects that could be top-100 types when the rankings start rolling out. With the number of young players already in Chicago, that’s the mark of a healthy system.