That the Cubs farm system is lacking the sort of prospect power it once boasted is a secret to nobody.
After three seasons of promotions (Javy Baez, Kyle Hendricks, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, and a few others), two seasons of significant trades (Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes, others), and one draft (2016) without a first or second round pick, it’s a very empty cupboard – at least, for now.
But did you know the extent of the emptiness?
As of now, the current top 100 prospect list from MLB Pipeline, which reflects where things stood after the season (plus recent signings), had exactly zero Cubs on it:
— Daren Willman (@darenw) January 10, 2018
Now, to be sure, these rankings will be updated before the season starts (in fact, the new list is expected on January 27), but if the Cubs still wind up with a big old goose egg in the top 100, it’ll be the first time that’s happened since MLB Pipeline started ranking guys in 2011.
When they last ranked the Cubs system, the top ten shook out like this:
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
- Jose Albertos, RHP
- Adbert Alzolay, RHP
- Alex Lange, RHP
- Brendon Little, LHP
- Victor Caratini, C/1B
- Thomas Hatch, RHP
- Mark Zagunis, OF
- Trevor Clifton, RHP
- Justin Steele, LFP
My guess is that 19-year-old shortstop Aramis Ademan (#11 to MLB Pipeline) jumps up quite a bit in the updated rankings (he’s frequently been ranked as the Cubs best prospect over the winter), while Oscar De La Cruz falls a bit. In any case, your three most likely options to pop into the back of the top 100 are probably the Killer A’s: Albertos, Alzolay, and Ademan (in one order or another).
I also think, however, that in the future, recent first-round draft picks Alex Lange and Brendon Little could easily be in the conversation. As polished college starters, they should do well in the lower Minors, and even if the bullpen is in their future, it won’t likely be this season. So, then, perhaps when the mid-season updates come out, look for them to take a step forward.
And moreover, De La Cruz would probably already be a top 100 type, but injuries have kept him off the field enough to also keep him out of the rankings. At some point, you have to prove you can stay healthy, otherwise the poor rankings are justified.
This isn’t exactly the renaissance of Cubs prospects, but, hey, there are definitely some irons in the fire.
Final thought: I know we’re all aware of the fact that, despite lacking any top 100 prospects, the Cubs’ overall organization – anchored by a TON of young Major Leaguers – is doing quite fine. To that end, I’ll point out that 7 of the top 50 prospects according to MLB Pipeline’s latest list are the same age (or older) as Albert Almora, Ian Happ, and Addison Russell. If you could plop any of those three into the Minors/rankings, they’d all be immediate top 25 types, so don’t worry about the rankings too much.