At this time last season, the Chicago Cubs’ top ten prospects, according to Baseball America, looked like this:
- Gleyber Torres, SS
- Ian Happ, 2B/OF
- Eloy Jimenez, OF
- Mark Zagunis, OF
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
- Dylan Cease, RHP
- Trevor Clifton, RHP
- Duane Underwood, RHP
- Eddy Julio Martinez, OF
Since then, the Cubs have traded Gleyber Torres (#1), Eloy Jimenez (#3), and Dylan Cease (#7), while promoting Ian Happ (#2). At the same time, each of Mark Zagunis (#4) and Jeimer Candelario (#5) got some time at the Major League level, giving scouts a better (or, at least different) take on their potential. Oscar de la Cruz suffered through en elbow injury at the end of May. Duane Underwood has failed to yet capitalize on his potential. I could go on.
Needless to say, a huge top 10 reshuffling was clearly on its way, and that’s just what Baseball America did with their just-released 2017 Chicago Cubs Midseason Top Ten Prospects update.
Here’s what the best of the Cubs’ system looks like now:
- Victor Caratini, C
- Thomas Hatch, RHP
- Jose Albertos, RHP
- Adbert Alzolay, RHP
- Isac Paredes, SS
- Brendon Little, LHP
- Alex Lange, RHP
- Aramis Ademan, SS
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B
- Oscar de la Cruz, RHP
To be clear and upfront, the Cubs are – at least, right now – most likely rolling without a sure-fire top 100 prospect. Of course, if you performed one of those best 25 or under talent in the organization reviews, the Cubs would probably be up there in the top 10. Even still, it’s not hard to tell that the upper-level-elite portion of the cupboard has been ransacked by promotions, trades, and injuries over the past year.
But even though the top ten is full of tier 2 type prospects, I still like the potential.
First of all, six of the top ten players on the list are pitchers. Better yet, three of those pitchers were recent high draft picks and former college players – Thomas Hatch (3rd round, 2016), Brendon Little (1st round, 2017), and Alex Lange (1st round, 2017). And while Lange and Little have the higher upside, Hatch has proven himself nicely in his first full professional season (18 starts, 3.49 ERA, 3.06 FIP). In any case, all three have a shot at rising quickly, given the levels at which they’ve already performed.
Two of the remaining pitchers, Jose Albertos and Adbert Alzolay, were international free agents who’ve seen their stock rocket up in the last year (remember, Alzolay is the “pitching prospect everyone is going to be asking for“), and the third IFA, Oscar de la Cruz, would’ve been right there with them, had he not been injured earlier this season.
Of course, this list is probably going to change again soon, as the Cubs #1 prospect, Victor Caratini, is currently catching in the big leagues, and Jeimer Candelario may also find himself losing prospect eligibility soon. The good news is that the organization still has a great deal of quality depth behind the top ten, even if not the same top-tier impact types we’ve been used to seeing.
So, sure, the Cubs’ Minor League system isn’t what it used to be, but the overall organization is still strong. With any luck, a breakout player or two will work his way into the Top 100 by season’s end. Because a top 100 prospect list without any Cubs prospects would be pretty wild.