Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cubs azl spring training logoLast week, we learned that two Chicago Cubs prospects, Dylan Cease and Jeimer Candelario, moved into MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect rankings.

Although MLB Pipeline didn’t actual re-rank any players, the two were added after a few other players graduated beyond prospect eligibility. MLB Pipeline’s actual update is still in the future, but they aren’t the only publication out there.

Take, for example, Minor League Ball. They’ve just updated their top 100 prospect rankings, and four Cubs prospects made the cut!

Each of the Cubs prospects relative positioning isn’t necessarily as high as we’ve to expect (both in general and for a couple of the individual players), but landing four on the list is notable. Here’s where everyone shook out:

28. Eloy Jimenez, OF

80. Ian Happ, 2B

86. Dylan Cease, P

91. Oscar De la Cruz, P

An outfielder, an infielder, and two pitchers. Hooray for positional diversity! By now you know the story on each of the players above, but Minor League Ball does add some grade ratings you may not be aware of.

Eloy Jimenez, for example, went from a previously unranked B- player to the 28th best prospect in baseball with an excellent B+ grade (Gleyber Torres (one of the prospects in the Aroldis Chapman trade), for what it’s worth, was also listed as a B+ prospect, but was ranked 16th overall). He hit .329/.369/.532 as one of the youngest players in A-Ball.

Ian Happ, the Cubs’ last first round pick (2015), is ranked lower than we’ve seen him at other publications, but still secures a B rating, while moving up from 112th (pre-season) to 80th today. In 2016, Happ split time between High-A Myrtle Beach (where hit .296/.410/.475 and Double-A Tennessee (where hit .262/.318/.415). Despite mashing the ball initially upon his promotion, Happ did hit a bit of a wall near the end of the season. Even still, reaching Double-A in your first full professional season is impressive (even for a polished, college bat).

Dylan Cease’s name keeps popping up lately, as scouts and analysts from around baseball begin to believe in his absolutely enormous upside. If you recall, Cease was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft despite his first-round upside, because he had a known arm injury. He has since gotten Tommy John Surgery, rehabbed and has been ramping back up ever since. Through 12 starts at Low-A this season, Cease recorded a 2.92 ERA and a 36.3% strikeout rate. Walks/control continue to be issues for Cease (possibly the reason for his C+ rating), but that might be something that improves as he distances himself from surgery.

Lastly, we come to Oscar De La Cruz. The Cubs signed De La Cruz back in 2012, and he’s worked his way up to A-Ball for the first time this season. Through six starts with the South Bend Cubs, he recorded a nice 3.25 ERA, but an even nicer 2.14 FIP. He’s met success by sticking to the basics: striking out a bunch of batters (31.0% K-rate) and walking a lot fewer (7.1% BB-rate). If he can keep that up, he’ll be someone to watch very closely over the next year and a half. De La Cruz received a grade of B, and was ranked 162nd coming into the season.

More rankings will be arriving as the Minor League offseason begins, and there are sure to be wild variations on the relative positioning and even the prospects who make the cut. Either way, you can rest assured that the Cubs are well represented in the Minor Leagues.

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