For the most part, prospect rankings season has confirmed what we suspected would be true this time around: for the first time in over a decade(?), the Chicago Cubs have no consensus top 100 prospects. Obviously the reasons for this are totally moral and just – promotions of youngsters, trades to bolster the big league team, low/no draft position and IFA money, etc. – but it’s not as if this is a required happening for all successful big league teams. We can be honest: it kinda stinks.
HOWEVA, the Cubs did see a few prospects get mentioned at the back end of a couple top 100s, or just missed, and I genuinely believe they have a list maybe eight deep of guys who could very realistically become top 100 types by midseason if things go well in the first half and the reports from Arizona this spring are strong. Will they all get there? Of course not. Will some? Yes. I’m saying yes, they will.
With that preamble out of the way, FanGraphs’ top 100 was the latest to drop, and the latest to be without any Cubs on it.
The ZiPS projection-based top 100 also just came out, and that one does have a single Cubs prospect entrant, and he’s actually all the way up at 18(!). It’s shortstop prospect Aramis Ademan, who is certainly one of those guys who deserves to get top 100 consideration (Keith Law had him at 78), but no one is going to regard as a top 20 prospect in baseball right now. Because of the way ZiPS calculates production, it loves that Ademan is a young shortstop who put up good offensive numbers in two pitcher-friendly leagues (Northwest and Midwest) where he faced older competition. Hey, that’s why we like him, too! But again, it’s probably a bit on the optimistic side at this point to have him up there among the likes of the game’s best prospects.
A good 2018, though? If the 19-year-old bonus baby can show his .286/.365/.466 (135 wRC+) short-season line in full-season ball? While also showing the ability to stick at shortstop? He’ll be a consensus top 50 prospect by the end of the year with ease. Duplicating those numbers as he climbs the ladder, of course, is not sure thing.
Meanwhile, I’m looking for at least a couple of the pitchers – Jose Albertos, Adbert Alzolay, Brendon Little, Alex Lange, Thomas Hatch, Oscar De La Cruz – to become top 100 guys by midseason. One other pitching prospect I want to mention here, not because I think he’s a realistic top 100 type in the very near term, but because he’s a legit pitching prospect that doesn’t get talked about much: Cory Abbott. If his name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because he was a not-super-hyped draft prospect last year, whom the Cubs took in the second round after their top duo of Little and Lange in the first round – it was kind of the perfect recipe for a guy not to get much attention.