As we approach the baseball season, prospect rankings season is in full swing. In the last week, we saw the Cubs land exactly zero prospects on Baseball America’s Top 100 rankings, but were thankfully thrown a bone when Keith Law added not one, but two Cubs Minor Leaguers – Aramis Ademan and Adbert Alzolay – to the back end of his top 100.
Clearly, Law is a bit higher on those two Cubs in particular, as well as Jose Albertos – who snuck into his “just missed” category thanks to his promising potential – which is probably why he didn’t rank the organization as a whole as the worst in the Majors … but that doesn’t mean it’s not close.
In his just-released ranking of all 30 farm systems, Law slapped a big old #25 on the Chicago Cubs, meaning that they just barely missed being one of the bottom five systems in the Majors (though, after last night I’d argue that, if the Cubs were bottom six, they became bottom five (more on that in a bit)). For Law’s full take on the state of the 30 farm systems, you can see his article here (ESPN Insider).
The top five systems, according to Law – and just about all observers – are the Braves, Yankees, Padres, White Sox, and Phillies. The Reds just miss the top five, and the Brewers and Cardinals also rate well.
On the flip side, the bottom six systems are the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Royals, Marlins, Giants, and Mariners. Notably, the rankings were finalized just before last night’s Christian Yelich trade.
So up front, I think it’s fair to say that the Marlins have leapfrogged at least past the Cubs with the addition of Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison (#32 on and #85 Law’s top 100), as well as two other legit prospects in Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto, in the deal with the Brewers for Christian Yelich last night. And while the Brewers will fall in the rankings, they were all the way up at #8 … so, yeah, the Cubs are probably among the bottom five farm systems in baseball.
Not only that, but the Cubs also experienced a pretty significant drop from last season (previously ranked 18th – losing Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease, among others, in trades throughout the season will do that to you). But I’m still just not concerned by this.
For one, the Cubs still have one of the best scouting and development machines in all of Major League Baseball, led by a director of scouting and player development, Jason McLeod, that many teams have wanted as their GM. For another, and you know this one already, the Cubs Major League team is FILLED with talented youngsters, many of whom are still of prospect age.
But most of all, the Cubs have a system brimming with talent that could take a big step forward as soon as this season. In addition to the existing top 100 players (Ademan and Alzolay) and the guy who just missed (Albertos), the Cubs have recent first-round picks Brendon Little and Alex Lange, as well as their first overall pick from 2016 (third round), Thomas Hatch, primed for big seasons. Then there’s the clearly talented, but oft-injured Oscar De La Cruz, who’s another sure-fire top 100 type if he can stay on the field (obviously a big IF), the switch-hitting catcher Victor Caratini, and even a guy like Jen-Ho Tseng, who’s knocking on the door of the Majors.
All together, you can squint and see something like nine prospects who could either contribute to the organization in the Majors – or as assets – as soon as this season. That doesn’t mean the system as a whole deserves to be ranked higher, but it does offer promise for the future.