Minor League Ball’s Top 20 Chicago Cubs Prospect List is Out

cubs azl spring training logo

As the offseason winds to a close – at least, that’s normally something you can say in late January – the various analytical/prospecting sites around the web begin to roll out their top prospect lists.

So far, we’ve gotten top Cubs prospect lists in from Baseball America and FanGraphs, as well as Chris Mitchell’s KATOH prospect system. Interestingly, all three rankings have been decidedly different. The Cubs, it seems, have replaced their former no-doubt top tier, with an extremely deep, well-rounded system – one that includes at least 15 prospects who could arguably be in the top 10.

Joining them, and adding yet another, different top five is Minor League Ball, which released its iteration of the Chicago Cubs Top 20 Prospects for 2016. You can see the list below, as well as some of my own thoughts, but for more context and a write-up on each player I encourage you to read the entire article on Minor League Ball. Given stark differences in the various rankings so far, it’s worth checking out as much information as you can, eh?

First, the list:

  1. Gleyber Torres, SS
  2. Ian Happ, OF-2B
  3. Billy McKinney, OF
  4. Willson Contreras, C
  5. Duane Underwood, RHP
  6. Carl Edwards Jr., RHP
  7. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
  8. Eloy Jimenez, OF
  9. Albert Almora, OF
  10. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  11. Dylan Cease, RHP
  12. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  13. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  14. Ryan Williams, RHP
  15. Victor Caratini, C
  16. Donnie Dewees, OF
  17. Trevor Clifton, RHP
  18. Carson Sands, LHP
  19. Bryan Hudson, LHP
  20. Ryan Kellogg, LHP

[adinserter block=”1″]Before I dive into any specifics, I want to address the makeup of the list as whole, forming two unrelated conclusions.

First, take a look at the overall positions. By my count, I see exactly 10 pitchers and 10 position players. Alongside the compliments of the Cubs’ former glut of positional talent, there was a narrative that the organization lacked any pitching. Now, to be sure, the Cubs’ pitching prospects never held a candle to their positional talent, but no one team’s prospects could. This list should serve as a reminder that the Cubs system does have talented pitching prospects. They may not be top 100 types (yet), but the depth is there and should show up at the Major League level soon.

Second, if you are unfamiliar with the way Minor League Ball ranks and evaluates their prospects, take a look at the original article. Essentially, their analysts assign grades to each player (like A, B, C, etc..) as well as pluses (+) and minuses (-) to indicate that extra bit of confidence or concern. To reinforce just how deep, but not top heavy, the Cubs MiLB organization is, take a look at how many “B” grade players they have. The answer is 13. That means, according to John Sickels, the Cubs’ top 13 prospects all have a good chance of enjoying successful MLB careers. That is an extraordinarily deep pool of MLB-caliber players and should not go unnoticed.

Like FanGraphs and Baseball America before him, John Sickels pegs Gleyber Torres as the Cubs’ top prospect, overall. It’s becoming clear he has the highest ceiling of the bunch, and his performance to date hasn’t done anything to make you think otherwise. Despite recognizing the obvious talent, though, Sickels isn’t quite positive on any of the specifics. He posits that Torres could stick at shortstop … or he could outgrow the position, he could grow into a power hitter … or be more of a high-average/doubles type of guy; such are the reviews of a 19-year-old prospect. This should be a big year for Torres, who we just found out will head to High-A Myrtle Beach to start the season.

[adinserter block=”2″]It’s also becoming increasingly common to see both Ian Happ, the Cubs 2015 first round pick, and Duane Underwood in the top five of every list. Sickels is impressed with Happ’s strike-zone judgement, power and speed, but is uncertain about his ultimate future position. We did just hear that Happ will be committing to second base for at least the entirety of the 2016 season. On Underwood, it remains all about his ceiling. With the capability to hit 95-96MPH with his fastball, as well as two near-plus pitches (changeup and curveball), Sickels places 3rd starter upside on Underwood’s future, which would be just swell.

For me, this list reflects the closest set of rankings that might resemble my own top five, the particulars of which I’ll keep to myself. Although I would rearrange the order, the top five listed above represent, to me, the clear upper echelon of Cubs’ minor league talent. From there, the depth and legitimacy of the next 10-12 players is so consistent that separating them or rearranging them further becomes a matter of preference and value (and many of the “just missed” group in Sickels’ piece could all be in there, too). It’s a good time to be fan of the Major League Cubs, but the minors are still roaring and loaded with talent.

written by

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami

more cubs news

Brewers Reportedly Discussing a “Landmark” Pre-Debut Deal with Top Prospect Jackson Chourio

Significant report on the Milwaukee Brewers' plan for the offseason, as they are apparently getting ready to take a big risk with a potentially really big payoff. And they don't even have to go outside of the organization to do...

Lukewarm Stove: Wide Market for Dylan Cease, Don’t Count on a Bo Bichette Trade, Brandon Belt for Cubs? More

MLB Rumors — Earlier this morning, we learned that the Chicago Cubs are active in trade talks for Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow. And in that article, I mentioned that as many as four aces were reportedly available this offseason....

The Yankees Apparently Held Back Uniform Number 18 to Offer It to Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Well, shut it down. The Yoshinobu Yamamoto competition is over. No other team has a shot now. The New York Yankees held out the number 18 jersey for him over the 2023 season, and I've gotta assume that he will...

Two More Posted Players: Naoyuki Uwasawa and Woo-Suk Go

Two more pitchers are going to be coming over from the Asian leagues this offseason, and you should have each on your radar. RHP Naoyuki Uwasawa First, Japanese pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa is being posted out of the NPB, and he'll...

How Much Money Do the Cubs Have Coming Off the Books After This Season?

With Jason Heyward's contract finally falling off the books this winter, I think this offseason FELT like the one that would see the biggest drop in future financial commitments for the Chicago Cubs. But another bigger drop is on the...

Andre Dawson Wants His Hall of Fame Cap Changed to the Cubs

For most players who are voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the decision of which team's cap to wear on their official plaque is pretty obvious. Either they spent the vast majority of their years with that team,...

Rosenthal: Yeah, Juan Soto is Gonna Get Traded (UPDATE: Yankees Softening?)

This is going to be a short post relative to our usual deep dives, but given the gravity of the news (and it's potential relationship to the Chicago Cubs), I didn't want to just bury this Juan Soto update in...

REPORT: Cubs “Active in Trade Conversations” for Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow

Even in a winter defined by its volume of quality free agent starters, the trade market is not to be ignored. This offseason, there are as many as four aces available via trade by my count. And on at least...

Counsell on Developing Timely Hitting, Gray and the Cardinals, Yamamoto MVP, and Other Cubs Bullets

If you could guarantee the Cubs sign Shohei Ohtani by eating a massive number of pancakes - large, fluffy, NO butter or syrup - how many pancakes could you eat? One sitting. If you puke or dump, it's over, but...

Obsessive Shohei Ohtani Watch: Ohtani “In Play” for the Cubs, Dodgers Still the Favorite, Timeline is Uncertain, More

Eventually, Shohei Ohtani is going to pick his next team, and I still can't fully brace myself for the moment (no matter what team it is). I'm just accepting that it's going to knock me off my feet, for reasons...

Latest News

The Hero World Challenge Betting Odds, Streaming Live, TV Channel – Round 1

Defending champ Viktor Hovland is the favorite (+400) at the 2023 Hero World Challenge ($3.5M purse), taking place at Albany from November 30 - December 3.Ludvig Aberg shot -29 to end up on top at The RSM Classic, with Mackenzie...

Albany (NY) vs. Boston University Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Boston University Terriers (2-4) are 6.5-point underdogs as they try to break a four-game road losing streak when they square off against the Albany (NY) Great Danes (3-3) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at SEFCU Arena. The matchup airs...

High Point vs. Morgan State Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Morgan State Bears (2-6) are heavy underdogs (by 12 points) to break a six-game road losing streak when they visit the High Point Panthers (4-3) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET. The matchup's over/under is set...

Lipscomb vs. Chattanooga Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Lipscomb Bisons (5-3) hit the court against the Chattanooga Mocs (5-1) as 3.5-point favorites on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 12:00 PM ET on ESPN+. The over/under is 152.5 in the matchup.Lipscomb vs. Chattanooga OddsLipscomb odds to win: -153Chattanooga...

SFA vs. Tarleton State Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (4-2, 0-0 WAC) are at home in WAC action against the Tarleton State Texans (4-2, 0-0 WAC) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 7:30 PM ET. The 'Jacks are favored by 9 points in the...

Cornell vs. Monmouth Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Cornell Big Red (5-1) are heavy favorites (-10) as they look to continue a three-game home winning streak when they take on the Monmouth Hawks (4-3) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at Newman Arena. The matchup airs at 7:00...

Tulane vs. Prairie View A&M Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Prairie View A&M Panthers (4-2) are big, 13-point underdogs as they look to continue a three-game winning streak when they visit the Tulane Green Wave (4-1) on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at Devlin Fieldhouse. The contest airs at 7:00...

Seattle U vs. Utah Valley Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

WAC foes meet when the Seattle U Redhawks (4-2, 0-0 WAC) visit the Utah Valley Wolverines (4-2, 0-0 WAC) at UCCU Center, tipping off at 8:00 PM ET on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. The Wolverines are 2.5-point underdogs in the...

Iowa vs. North Florida Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2) take on the North Florida Ospreys (4-3) as heavy, 23.5-point favorites on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 9:00 PM ET on Big Ten Network. The over/under is 164 in the matchup.Iowa vs. North Florida OddsIowa odds...

Army vs. Cent. Conn. St. Prediction: Spread, Total Points, Moneyline Picks – Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Army Black Knights (0-6) are favored (-3) to stop a six-game losing streak when they host the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (1-4) at 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at Christl Arena. The contest airs on...

more cubs news

Latest News