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The Complete 2017 Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospects List, and the Challenge of Sustaining Success

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects
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And finally, here is the complete 2017 Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospects List, all in one place.

For the fully detailed rundowns of each prospects, you can read up on  middle infield here, right-handed pitching here, left-handed pitching here, catchers and corner infielders here, and the kickoff to this entire series here. After the list, we’ve got more thoughts on how the farm system looks overall, and how that will necessarily change in the coming years.

1. Eloy Jimenez, OF
Age: 20
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2014 season.
ETA: Maybe late 2018. If you’re an extreme optimist, you can dream on a cup of coffee this September (Jimenez is Rule 5 eligible after this season), but I won’t be joining you.
What to expect: Good hitter with serious power. Left field could be his domain for a long, long time.


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2. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Age: 23
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2011 season.
ETA: Now, essentially.
What to expect: Good, patient hitting from both sides of the plate. Better defense than you probably expect.

3. Dylan Cease, RHP
Age: 21
Acquired: 6th round, 2014 draft
ETA: 2019, maybe late 2018 as a reliever
What to expect: He will throw hard and pile up the strikeouts, but we don’t know if that will be in the rotation or out of the pen.

4. Ian Happ, 2B/OF
Age: 22
Acquired: 1st round, 2015 draft
ETA: Mid to late 2017
What to expect: Decent hitting from both sides plates, lots of walks, but more strikeouts than we’d really like. Don’t expect much from his defense right away.

5. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
Age: 22
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2013 season.
ETA: 2019 or 2020
What to expect: He has the stuff and size to be a starter, and possibly a very good one.


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6. Trevor Clifton, RHP
Age: 22
Acquired: 12th round, 2013 draft
ETA: 2018
What to expect: Solid starting pitcher who can limit the homers and get his share of strikeouts.

7. Rob Zastryzny, LHP
Age: 25
Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft
ETA: Whenever the Cubs need him
What to expect: Lefty outs, bullpen innings, spot starts, back of the rotation work … whatever the Cubs need, Zastryzny could probably provide.

8. Jose Albertos, RHP
Age: 18
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2016 season.
ETA: 2020?
What to expect: Myths and legends about his hard stuff and strikeouts, at least for now. We’ll see what reality shapes up to be once we can see him in action a bit more.

9. Chesny Young, INF/OF
Age: 24
Acquired: 14th round of the 2014 draft
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Decent defense all over the diamond (including shortstop) and a very good contact (if light overall) hitter with moderate speed.


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10. Alec Mills, RHP
Age: 25
Acquired: Traded from the Royals.
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Grounders, grounders, and more grounders. And more strikeouts than you’re probably expecting.

11. Mark Zagunis, OF
Age: 24
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2014 draft
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Lots walks and a decent average, but not a ton of speed or power.

12. Ryan Williams, RHP
Age: 25
Acquired: 10th round of the 2014 draft
ETA: Maybe 2017, should the Cubs need him and his number comes up.
What to expect: Grounders, grounders, and more grounders.

13. D.J. Wilson, OF
Age: 20
Acquired: 4th round of the 2015 draft
ETA: 2020, maybe late 2019 if everything goes well
What to expect: The defense is excellent, and so is the speed.

14. Bryan Hudson, LHP
Age: 20
Acquired: 3rd round, 2015 draft
ETA: 2020?
What to expect: Good question. The potential here is huge, but he is just too raw to project with any confidence.


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15. Victor Caratini, C
Age: 23
Acquired: Traded from Atlanta.
ETA: As soon as he is needed.
What to expect: He’ll likely hit for a good average and do all right behind the plate, but defensive development and a lack of power will limit him.

16. Jose Paulino, LHP
Age: 22
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2012 season.
ETA: 2020
What to expect: Possibly a back of the rotation option, but more likely a lefty arm out of the pen.

17. Eddy Martinez, OF
Age: 22
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2016 season.
ETA: 2019
What to expect: Good defense, and a decent mix of power and speed at the plate.

18. Jake Stinnett, RHP
Age: 25
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2014 draft
ETA: 2018
What to expect: His stuff is good, and one day his results will catch up with that stuff.

19. Wladimir Galindo, 3B
Age: 20
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2014 season.
ETA: 2021
What to expect: Pretty good right-handed power, but there are questions about his ability to make enough consistent contact.

20. Isaac Paredes, SS
Age: 18
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2016 season.
ETA: 2020
What to expect: For his age he’s relatively polished at the plate, so he could move fairly quickly. Profiles as a good offensive middle infielder.

21. Felix Pena, RHP
Age: 27
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2009 season.
ETA: Now
What to expect: Strikeouts. Be they in middle relief or late innings work, he can pile up plenty of strikeouts.

22. Jose Rosario, RHP
Age: 26
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2008 season.
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Good, not great, but fairly reliable middle relief work.

23. John Andreoli, OF
Age: 26
Acquired: 17th round of the 2011 draft
ETA: 2017, if there is an opening
What to expect: Lots of walks and lots of steals.

24. Jack Leathersich, LHP
Age: 26
Acquired: Acquired via waivers from the Mets prior to the 2016 season.
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Might be a lefty specialist to start with, but he could turn into a late inning guy down the road.

25. Jacob Hannemann, OF
Age: 26
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2013 draft
ETA: Late 2017 or 2018
What to expect: Good defense, good power, good speed, and a good chance of being a good fourth outfielder.

26. Ryan McNeil, RHP
Age: 23
Acquired: 3rd round of the 2012 draft
ETA: 2018
What to expect: Late-inning strikeouts. He could be a closer or setup man in the making, most likely middle relief.

27. Chris Pieters, 1B/OF
Age: 22
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2012 season.
ETA: 2020
What to expect: Hard to say, but an athletic defender with a good mix of power and speed is certainly in his range.

28. Pierce Johnson, RHP
Age: 26
Acquired: 1st round of the 2012 draft
ETA: 2017
What to expect: Good fastball and curve sets him for middle to late inning relief roles. With a little more command, he could move back to starting one day.

29. P.J. Higgins, C
Age: 24
Acquired: 12th round of the 2015 draft
ETA: Late 2019
What to expect: Good receiver who can control the strike zone at the plate.

30. Bijan Rademacher, OF
Age: 25
Acquired: 13th round, 2012 draft
ETA: 2017, if needed
What to expect: He’s a good bet to be a good fifth outfielder.

31. Tom Hatch, RHP
Age: 22
Acquired: 3rd round, 2017 draft
ETA: 2020
What to expect: He has the stuff to be a quality middle of the rotation starter.

32. Bailey Clark, RHP
Age: 22
Acquired: 5th round of the 2017 draft
ETA: 2020
What to expect: Possibly a mid-rotation starter, possibly a strikeout artist working out of the pen.

33. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B
Age: 20
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2015 season.
ETA: 20
What to expect: Could be a future starting second baseman, albeit a relatively light-hitting one.

34. Erling Moreno, RHP
Age: 20
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2014 season.
ETA: 2020
What to expect: He could be a future fifth starter option.

35. Charcer Burks, OF
Age: 22
Acquired: 9th round of the 2013 draft
ETA: Late 2018
What to expect: He’s a safe bet to be a defense-first fifth outfielder, but the bat could make him an average or better starting option in time.

36. David Bote, INF
Age: 24
Acquired: 18th round of the 2012 draft
ETA: 2018
What to expect: Right-handed hitting utility infielder, but a potentially good one.

37. Yeiler Peguero, INF
Age: 19
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent prior to the 2015 season.
ETA:2021
What to expect: We’ll need to see how the bat shapes up, but the potential is here for another solid utility guy.

38. Justin Steele, LHP
Age: 21
Acquired: 5th round of the 2014 draft
ETA:Late 2019
What to expect: Most likely a mid-rotation or back of the rotation starter.

39. Duane Underwood, RHP
Age: 22
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
ETA: Late 2017 or 2018
What to expect: Probably a middle reliever, but you can be forgiven for dreaming on a front of the rotation starter.

40. Michael Cruz, C
Age: 21
Acquired: 7th round of the 2016 draft
ETA: 2020
What to expect: Most likely a backup catcher long-term, but we’ll know more when Eugene gets underway.

So what does this list say about the future of the Cubs?

The future looks bright – as bright today as any organization in baseball. That is largely due, though, to the enormous amount of very young, very good talent already on the Major League roster. The Cubs have the luxury of being more judicious in how they spend their prospect capital; they don’t need to bank on several of these guys becoming stars in order to maintain their success over the near term.

But with that luxury comes a caveat. As we have discussed before, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement means that the Cubs are severely hamstrung in terms of restocking the farm system, especially so long as they stay competitive. For now they have done well finding value outside the first round (as seen above), and they have even found somewhat of a loophole in the international restrictions that allows them to stock up on more high end talent than we’d otherwise expect via Mexico (short version is that you can pay them a little more because the local team keeps some (Albertos, Paredes, and Sepulveda were signings out of Mexico)). But they are now in a position where these tricks are simply buying time. The CBA dictates that their farm system will decline, and there is effectively nothing they can do about it.

How to spend these assets, then, becomes a bigger question than we might think in looking simply at the short term. They have plenty of room for mid-level trades, and they can even still absorb a premium trade. But I’m not sure they can absorb more than one. Given the current trade market, they simply don’t have the assets to trade for rental arms in 2017, and then also trade again to restock the rotation prior to 2018. Not without effectively gutting the farm the system to the point even the Angels look down on them, and that is a very risky plan indeed if the Cubs have any pretentions of sustaining their success.

It is going to be interesting to see how the Cubs handle their organization over the next few seasons. Maintaining a winner is very different from building one; I think we’re about to get a crash course in how it is done.


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Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.

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