The Chicago Cubs must’ve forgotten what year it is, because they just placed five prospects in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 MLB Prospect rankings.
After placing just three players – Eloy Jimenez (12th), Ian Happ (63rd), and Dylan Cease (86th) – in Keith Law’s Top 100 prospect rankings late last week, the Cubs have added two more names to the rankings – Albert Almora Jr. and Jeimer Candelario – and moved some other names up the list.
In the meantime, let’s discuss.
- #14 – Eloy Jimenez, OF: 14th
- #28 – Ian Happ, 2B/OF
- #76 – Albert Almora Jr., CF
- #77 – Dylan Cease, RHP
- #96 – Jeimer Candelario, 3B/1B
On Law’s top 100, Eloy Jimenez ranked 12th overall, which is obviously two spots better than he appears above; however, there’s no real love lost. At this level of the rankings (the top 15 or so), it’s much more of a you’re either in or you’re out, than anything else. In fact, I might go as far as to say, precisely where you rank among the top 15th – with a tiny exception for the top 3-5 – is mostly irrelevant. Eloy Jimenez is one of the top prospects in baseball, and is considered the fourth best at his position.
Ian Happ, on the other hand, is probably the biggest story of the list. Ranked well into the back-half of the top 100 by Law, Happ receives some strong votes of confidence from the Pipeline group as a top 30 prospect in baseball. The reason for the split in opinions, if I had to venture a guess, is the different in values. If you value upside, Happ is probably not going to be among the highest valued prospects in the game; however, if you value some Major League certainty, he might be.
As a switch-hitting, multiple-position prospect with a polished approach at the plate, Happ is almost certainly going to play in the Major Leagues at some point in the near future. Given how many top prospects flame out immediately (or even before) getting to that point, it’s not hard to see why the MLB Pipeline crew likes him.
However, in order for Happ to move up in the rankings (or in the eyes of other team’s in the league, for that matter), he’ll have to hit for a bit more power and really transform his defense into a sure-fire second basemen. But let’s not lose sight of how great this is: the Cubs, once again, have multiple top 30 prospects.
Albert Almora and Jeimer Candelario – the two new entires, vis a vis Keith Law – are too often overlooked in these sort of rankings, but for understandable reasons. They are both ready for Major League action, and have each already made their debut, but haven’t quite nailed down a permanent job with the Cubs (to various extents).
Almora, for example, is expected to make the team out of camp, but will likely share time in center (and sometimes) left field. The front office is undoubtedly hoping that he steps up and takes over the center field roll on a more permanent basis, but that’ll depend on how far his bat can take him. Candelario, on the other hand, can really play only third and first base (for now), which represents a bit of a problem (hello: Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo). Until he develops some positional flexibility or a spot opens up on the Cubs bench, Candelario might be relegated to Triple-A Iowa.
Finally, there’s Dylan Cease – the guy whose story we’ve discussed a great many times, including once more today.
In short, Cease was a first-round talent (potentially even a top 10 overall) who fell much further than that due to impending Tommy John surgery. He has since put the injury behind him and has been known to hit triple digits with his fastball (with plus off-speed offerings, as well). If he can stay healthy and work on his command, Cease has as much upside (top of the rotation starter) as any Cubs pitching prospect we’ve seen in years.
The Chicago Cubs organization may have as many as five top 100 prospects, with at least another 3-4 interesting names who would fall in the 100-200 range. It’s not the system we came to know a few years ago in the heart of the rebuild, but it’s still quite strong and teeming with young talent. As a whole, the state of the Cubs’ organization is strong.
Peruse the full top 100 for more on the other prospects around baseball – there you’ll note that former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres ranked third overall, Cardinals pitching prospect Alex Reyes ranked 6th overall (and was the top pitcher), and Pirates pitching prospect Tyler Glasnow ranked 9th overall (and was the second pitcher).