Once again, a top 100 prospect list is out, and once again, the still-incredibly-deep Chicago Cubs farm system places six names on the list. Last time, it was at Baseball Prospectus, and this time it’s at MLB Pipeline. The cool part? It’s not the exact same six names, so we get to say the Cubs have seven top 100 prospects! Things to say!
First, the names and placements of Cubs prospects in MLB Pipeline’s new top 100:
28. Gleyber Torres, SS
50. Willson Contreras, C
76. Ian Happ, 2B/OF
77. Duane Underwood, RHP
86. Albert Almora, OF
88. Billy McKinney, OF
So, then, the Pipeline crew is considerably higher on Underwood than BP, and that variance is understandable, given that Underwood is still almost entirely projection at this point. He’s got 1-2 upside, but he’s still very much honing his craft, and also missed a chunk of time last year with an elbow inflammation issue. I can understand divergent opinions.
How about that Torres ranking? Wow. I tentatively expected both of Torres and Contreras to be in the top 50, but only barely. This year’s top 100 group is a little lighter on true impact talent because of so many high-end graduations last year, but I’ve always thought of the real “impact” range as the top 25 or so in baseball. According to Pipeline, at least in this year’s crop, Torres is almost right there. They are clearly buying that he’s a shortstop, and are projecting that the power will come along. I am stoked to see that ranking.
I am also stoked, in a different kind of way, to see the Happ/Almora/McKinney trio almost indistinguishable in the rankings (once you get past the top 50, names within 10 spots of each other really could probably be swapped around because the differences in rankings are so subtle). Why does that stoke me? Because I, too, have a really hard time deciding how I’d order those three as prospects, (and, for me, Jeimer Candelario would be right there, too. I feel like the Cubs have a clear top two positional prospects in Torres and Contreras, and then I have a tough time sorting through the guys who are the clear next four – again, just to me – and it’s those four guys. If pressed as I sit here today, I think I’d go Almora, McKinney, Happ, Candelario … but I could totally be talked into some other order. That’s how close they all are. Might as well not even rank them and instead just keep them in a group.
And a video with Mayo and Jim Callis discussing the Cubs’ entrants into the list and the overall farm system: