Yesterday, we took a look at Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect rankings, examining why the Chicago Cubs didn’t land a single player on the list (promotions and trades, mostly).
Obviously, as we covered, the Cubs are still flush with talented youngsters, and a solid overall roster at the Major League level, but I won’t say I wasn’t hoping for a couple guys to sneak into the back end of that top 100.
With that said, I was quick (and happy) to believe Brett’s parenthetical that “the Cubs sure seem to have a very healthy volume of prospects who probably fall into that 101 to 200 range, many of whom would burst into the top 100 at midseason if they show health and productivity in the first half.”
We’ll see if he was right as the year goes on, but if another prospecting pundit is to be believed, the Cubs already have a couple guys who’ve made their way onto a top 100. Keith Law (ESPN) recently dropped his own top 100 prospects rankings in two chunks (#100-#51 and #50-#1), and, as it turns out … the Cubs landed two guys on the list!
#78 Aramis Ademan, SS
#84 Adbert Alzolay, RHP
Celllll-a-brate good times COME ON!
According to Law, Ademan has emerged as the top position player prospect in the Cubs system, and showed some promise in the the first of 2017. Law concedes that he was a bit overmatched upon his promotion to South Bend near the end of the year, but at just 18 years old (at the time), I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Law adds that Ademan has sneaky power and strength that could eventually develop in 20+ homer seasons in the Majors – of course, if that power growth comes, he may ultimately move to second base, where he’d be an offense first, defense-adequate player. Either way, that works.
On Alzolay, 23, Law says a big 2017 season took from relative obscurity to top 100 prospect. In fact, he believes that Alzolay’s performance in Double-A this past season (3.03 ERA, 2.56 FIP) helped the Cubs feel more confident trading Dylan Cease to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana deal (thank you, Adbert!).
As far as an upside goes, Alzolay could be an above-average starter in the Majors, but it’ll depend on if he can stay aggressive, keep limiting walks (as he has been), and maintain his velocity? Why? Well, according to Law, he’s a bit of a fly ball pitcher, which, as we know, can be a bit of a grind for pitchers in this era. If he doesn’t work out as a starter, though, Law believes he can end up as a dominant reliever, leaning on his plus curveball and mid-90s fastball.
And, hey, if he’s really a strike-thrower, that might not be a bad piece for the Cubs bullpen as soon as the second half of this season. Given that Alzolay is about to turn 24 and has already succeeded in Double-A, that’s not a stretch. In theory, Alzolay could break through in the bullpen first at some point this season in Chicago, get acclimated to big league life and big league hitters, and then he could try to win a rotation spot in 2019.
So there you go, Cubs fans, the system has two top 100 prospects! It’s not multiple top-50 types, but it’s a start.