Even after signing free agent starter Tyler Chatwood and relievers Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow, the Chicago Cubs are likely to add a bit more to their roster before the start of the 2018 season.
And while the free agent market continues to boast a fair number of quality options at most positions of need, there’s always a chance the Cubs swap some young Major League/prospect talent for a player via trade.
So, to that end, let’s take a look at one of the more recent re-rankings of their top ten prospects, this time according to Baseball Prospectus:
- Adbert Alzolay, RHP
- Jose Albertos, RHP
- Aramis Ademan, SS
- Brendon Little, LHP
- Alex Lange, RHP
- Victor Caratini, C
- Thomas Hatch, RHP
- Oscar de la Cruz, RHP
- Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
- Alec Mills, RHP
Looking for a pitching prospect? The Cubs have many. Like most recent lists before this one, the Chicago Cubs top ten prospects are dominated by pitching prospects, most of whom are actually a fair bit away from the Majors. But that’s not necessarily the case for everybody.
Alec Mills, for one example, has previously made his Major League debut with the Royals (2016) and Jen-Ho Tseng debuted as a starter for the Cubs last year. While neither arm is necessarily projected to jump into the front of a rotation anytime soon, both with serve as immediate depth for the big league roster at Triple-A Iowa this year. In fact, I expect both will see time at Wrigley Field before the summer is over (Luke recently took a deep dive into Mills’ role in the Cubs organization, and I encourage you to check it out).
Meanwhile, Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs number one prospect according to BP, could figure into the Cubs bullpen plans sometime this season. He still stands a chance to be a mid-to-back rotation starter, but according to BP his two plus pitches (a mid-90s fastball and sharp 11-5 slider) could take him to the back of a bullpen very soon. Perhaps that’s how he gets himself welcomed to the big leagues this year, manages his innings, and then preps to compete for a starting gig in 2019.
Unfortunately, despite seven of the next nine prospects also being pitchers, only one (Jose Albertos) project for anything above a Major League #4 – and even he’s only projected to turn into a number 3. Obviously, any one of these arms could take a big step forward – and make no mistake, there is some ceiling here – but at some point the Cubs are going to have to draft and develop a front-of-the-rotation arm to help protect against the need to overpay for one in free agency/trade.
I know it’s easier said than done, but, well, that’s why it’s a tough job. Hopefully the Cubs started that process by taking two arms in the first round of the 2017 draft, each of whom show up on this list. Maybe they both take big steps forward next year, and those future projections take a positive turn.
Among the most notable rankings in this particular top ten list is Oscar de la Cruz’s fall out of the top five (or even out of the top two, really). The talented, high-ceiling starter has not been able to stay healthy these past couple years and that’s catching up to his rankings. BP doesn’t argue that he doesn’t have the stuff to be the type of pitcher for which the Cubs have been searching, but they just don’t think he’ll stay on the mound enough to make it count. Prove ’em wrong, kid. Please. No, really. Please.
If de la Cruz can stay healthy this season, you could see him rocket up through the system very quickly, and perhaps even emerge as a late-season bullpen option for the Cubs, who may not want to waste his talented bullets solely in the minor leagues.
None of this particular Baseball Prospectus content is protected behind a paywall, so everyone can get access to the top ten list and individual scouting reports (stats, good, bad, role, risks, ETA, etc.). If you have a second, it’s a nice introduction into the best of the Cubs Minor League system.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.