At the outset of the 2018 Minor League season, I saw a lot of potential for growth in the Cubs prospecting world – and, no, that wasn’t a well, there’s nowhere to go but up! joke.
Because, on top of another first-round pick being added to the mix in June, guys like Oscar De La Cruz and Adbert Alzolay were healthy and rising into AA/AAA and ready to deliver on all that promise, Jose Albertos was finally going to get to pitch in full-season ball, while last year’s first-round picks, college starters Brendon Little and Alex Lange, figured to be fast risers thanks to their experience and pedigree.
Sadly, the Cubs’ 2018 first-round pick, Nico Hoerner, hurt himself on a diving play and is out for the season, De La Cruz was suspended 80-games after testing positive for a masking agent, Adbert Alzolay is out for the season with a lat strain, Brendon Little has been adjusting in Low-A, and Jose Albertos completely lost the ability to throw strikes. If it wasn’t for Alex Lange (3.61 ERA, 3.22 FIP) killing it in High-A, none of that particular group of guys we expected to take a big step forward would’ve come through.
That said, there were always other prospects to keep an eye on, with other guys on the cusp of “legit good prospect”-dom if they put together a good first half. For example, how about Miguel Amaya breaking out and become the Cubs’ first top-100 prospect in a year:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 23, 2018
Yesterday, we found out that Baseball America had broken the seal and finally ranked one of the Cubs prospects, Miguel Amaya, among the overall top 100. So today, when they released the rest of the Chicago Cubs Top Ten prospect rankings, we weren’t surprised to see him at the top:
- Miguel Amaya, C
- Adbert Alzolay, P
- Aramis Ademan, SS
- Nico Hoerner, SS
- David Bote, UT
- Alex Lange, P
- Keegan Thompson, P
- Brendon Little, P
- Oscar de la Cruz, P
- Richard Gallardo, P
Head to Baseball America for individual write-ups on each of the players above, as well as other ranked distinctions (rising, falling, hurting, graduating, etc.).
According to BA, Miguel Amaya is the new top Cubs prospect – but he got his own write-up here yesterday – so let’s focus on the rest of the list for now.
Adbert Alzolay remains near the top of the Cubs ranking, in part because he was “very close” to a big league call-up before his season ended. They believe he’s got a dynamic three-pitch mix and is just an ironed out fastball away from contributing in the big leagues.
Elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised by the elevated ranking for Nico Hoerner, but I really get it. The Cubs newest shortstop showed off his glove a lot in such a short period of time and was hitting very well. In fact, according to Baseball America, Hoerner should hit well enough to be an everyday starter in the Majors even if he moves to second base, where you have to be a slightly better hitter than you would as a shortstop. Considering that he still has the potential to stick at short, that’s very good news.
Given the way the seasons have gone for the various starting pitching prospects, I would have probably ranked Lange a little higher on this list, but he’s not egregiously low, so it’s not terrible. Lange is getting appropriate love, as is 2017 third rounder Keegan Thompson, whose already made his way to AA in his first full professional season.
And lastly, how about the rise for David Bote? He’s become a bit of a fan-favorite in Chicago during his fill-in stints throughout the year, and he’s getting prospecting love because of it. Bote may never be an everyday starter for the Cubs, but as a utility guy who can fill in at multiple positions and, so far, hit quite well while doing it, he has a ton of value.
All in all, it’s not difficult to squint and see a system with potential to land a couple more guys in the top 100 by next year – the talent *is* there – but the Cubs will need more health and bigger steps forward to see it by the offseason.