Baseball America dropped it’s new top Cubs prospect list this week, and, in conjunction, J.J. Cooper hosted a chat about the system to get deeper into the particulars.
I don’t want to give too much away, since it’s a worthwhile premium part of a BA membership, but I did want to point out a couple broad things that Cooper shared about the state of the Cubs’ farm system: the Cubs, in his view, probably have a bottom five farm system in baseball, and very well may not have *any* top 100 prospects.
It’s no secret that the Cubs are in an ebb period in their farm system, having graduated so many of their top talents, having traded other top talents to augment the big league roster, having had no first or second round pick in 2016, and being in the IFA penalty box for the past two years. Of course you’d love to have a top farm system in perpetuity, but the system is designed to make it difficult not to have a fall-off when you’re successful.
To that end, Cooper points out that if the Cubs still had Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres – just those two prospects – they’d be a top 10 system in baseball. That’s how enormously two top tier prospects can swing an overall system, because of the impact potential and the higher hit rate.
Development in the coming months will also help the Cubs’ system. Consider that if guys like Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Aramis Ademan, Brendon Little, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, or Thomas Hatch simply have solid starts to their 2018 season, each would be a top 100 candidate for the second half of the year. I’m not talking about COMPLETELY UNFORESEEABLE breakouts for these guys – just solidly showing what they can be. And with an unforeseeable breakout or two, the picture could be even rosier.
The Cubs lack elite, clear impact prospects right now. There can be no question. But what they lack in top 100 prospects, it sure seems like they make up for with a ton of quality prospects in the 101-200 range. Some of those guys step forward.
On the whole, and maybe it’s just the prospect homer in me showing, I feel really good about the Cubs’ system. No, I’m not saying it’s actually a much better system than it’s being ranked, but I do think there’s so much upside potential in a system that:
- Has most of its best talent at the lowest levels (where ranking prospects is a harder confidence game, but if you have a whole bunch of them, you know that some will break out);
- Has a blowout IFA class of prospects (from two years ago) just now reaching Stateside and/or full-season ball;
- Had two first round draft picks last year and will have as many as four picks in the top 80 selections in 2018; and
- Is run by one of the best scouting and player development machines in baseball.
So, given everything, I feel good about the system. It’s ranked where it’s ranked, and the significant impact talent is not immediately apparent. But this is normal, this is part of the process, and it’s kind of exciting to get to follow along and see which guys step forward in 2018.