Hey, friends! It’s been a minute since we’ve check in on the Cubs’ Minor League system, so let’s run through some of the headlines and see what’s up …
- Theo Epstein suggested that one of his top pitching prospects – right-hander Adbert Alzolay – is closer to a No. 1 pitcher than a 5, thanks to a great starter kit. That high ceiling is precisely why the Cubs had to resist the urge to include him in a number of trade packages over the summer (and expect to continue resisting over the winter). Epstein wouldn’t rule out the possibility of trading any of their young pitching prospects for established Major Leaguers at some point down the line, but it seems as though Alzolay, who broke out in 2017, may make it through to 2018.
- Relatedly, Hoyer stepped in to add that not only do the Cubs not have another top-ten pick to rush to the Majors (Ian Happ was the last of those guys), the guys they do have at the top are mostly pitchers, and they are harder to rush along. In other words, we will all have to remember that the next wave(s) of top prospects hitting the Majors for the Cubs probably won’t be as high-profile or consistent as they have been in recent years.
- From Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic: pitching prospect Jen-Ho Tseng will likely be considered part of the Major League rotational pitching depth (i.e. the “top eight”) at the beginning of the year, but isn’t really a competitor for the starting rotation right out of Spring Training (which feels right given the Cubs expected competitiveness).
- Similarly, Epstein mentioned that Alzolay could be a factor in 2018, but not until the end of the year.
- Over in the Arizona Fall League, Cubs utility prospect David Bote continues to lead the league with a .425/.489/.750 slash line, including 4 homers and a double. Check out that sweet swing in BP:
- But he’s not the only one killing the ball, as catcher Ian Rice’s 1.082 OPS also ranks among the top ten. Here’s a video of him ripping a three-run double to left field:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 25, 2017
- You can read about both of them here at MLB.com – and remember, while neither of these guys will necessarily become starting-caliber players in the Majors, there’s a lot of potential complementary value to be had.
- Another guy in a similar position down there in Arizona, Charcer Burks, discusses what it’s like to be in the Cubs’ Minor League system looking up on a crowded, young, and talented group of positional guys in Chicago.
- Meanwhile, on the pitching side, 2018 Triple-A rotational depth starter Alec Mills looks like he’s had a rough go of it, thanks to a 1-2 record, 4.91 ERA, and 1.45 WHIP … however, he’s recorded ten strikeouts to just one walk in 11.0 innings of work in the AFL. He’s allowed the hits to back up on him, but if he can keep up something close to that K/BB ratio, he’ll be in good shape. And not to keep making this about Alzolay, but … he’s got a 1.13 ERA, 8Ks, just 2 walks and two hits in 8.0 IP this fall. His 0.50 WHIP ranks second best in the league. Dude’s good.
- Over at Baseball America, they’ve put together a top prospect list by league, which more heavily favors future potential than current performance. You can navigate around the various league rankings and write ups at the links below (if you subscribe to BA), but here are the Cubs included in the top 20 prospects by league:
- Pacific Coast League (AAA): 1 – Victor Caratini (18th)
- Southern League (AA): 0
- Carolina League (A+): 1* – Adbert Alzolay (16th)
- Midwest League (A): 0**
- Northwest League (Short-Season A): 4 – Jose Albertos (4th), Aramis Ademan (8th), Javier Assad (9th), Miguel Amaya, (16th)
- Baseball America has chats to go along with each of these league rankings, as well as individual write ups for every player therein. If you have the time, that’s a nice way to catch back up on some of the Cubs and league’s best prospects.
*Eloy Jimenez was the top ranked prospect in the Carolina League, but he was traded from the Cubs to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana deal earlier this summer.
**Isaac Paredes (9th) and Dylan Cease (11th) were both ranked among the Midwest League’s best, but both were also traded in deals this summer.