ESPN’s Keith Law took a leap into the NL Central’s top prospects, with a look at the players who make up the best of the Cubs minor league organization.
Law/ESPN is the fourth top ten list of Cubs prospects this rankings season, following some of the other major publications this offseason – Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects, FanGraphs Top 31 Cubs Prospects, Baseball Prospectus Top 10 Cubs Prospects – but he’s also routinely one of the most interesting. Let’s dig in.
Keith Law’s Top Ten:
- Miguel Amaya, C (91st overall)
- Nico Hoerner, SS (“Just missed”)
- Brailyn Marquez, LHP
- Adbert Alzolay, RHP
- Brennen Davis, OF
- Cole Roederer, OF
- Matt Swarmer, RHP
- Aramis Ademan, SS
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP
- Erich Uelmen, RHP
If you’re looking for a little more information on the players listed above, including 2019 impact, sleeper candidates, and fallen prospects, Law has write-ups for each player (plus more) right here.
As for the broader trend, how about this: Miguel Amaya has now twice grabbed the top spot in the Cubs prospect rankings (Law and FanGraphs) while Nico Hoerner has taken home the honor twice (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus). Both players offer intriguing offensive upside and play positions of high defensive value. As a college player who played very well against the tough competition of the AFL, Hoerner might be a little more polished than Amaya. But Amaya is younger, plays (better?) at a more valuable position, and tends to get a little more top-100 attention than Hoerner at this point in their respective careers. I guess we’re going to need Bryan to deliver a BN Top Prospect list at some point to break the tie.
In any case, one thing is clear: those guys are the clear top two prospects in the Cubs system and will be extremely fun to follow this season.
Beyond that upper-tier, however, things have been a little less clear. BP placed Alex Lange and Adbert Alzolay third and fourth in their rankings (though that feels a little outdated on Lange compared to the rest of the prospectors), while FanGraphs went with Aramis Ademan and Alzolay. But given everything I’ve seen and read, I think I’ll have to agree with Baseball America and now Keith Law that Brailyn Marquez is the Cubs third best prospect at the moment.
Law isn’t as goo-goo over Marquez as others, but he can squint and see a future mid-rotation starter – something the Cubs have been desperate to develop through the system (Kyle Hendricks notwithstanding). In short, Law sees “big upside” for Marquez – potentially better than mid-rotation, it seems – but concedes that he has “several development boxes to check” before that can happen. Aside from Amaya and Hoerner, there is no other prospect I will be watching more closely this season than Marquez.
Clearly, everyone is still in agreement that Alzolay has something to offer after an injury-shortened 2018 season, because this is the third time he’s been ranked fourth (BP, FanGraphs, Law). But Bryan got into Alzolay and his 2019 outlook earlier, so I’ll just nudge you in that direction for more.
Cole Roederer and Brennen Davis are a bit like this year’s Brendon Little and Alex Lange. Whereas the latter Cubs duo were college starting pitchers both taken in the first round by the Cubs in 2017, the former were high school center fielders both taken in the second round by the Cubs in 2018. Law believes Davis is the better athlete (a 70-grade runner on the 20-80 scouting scale), but Roederer has the better approach at the plate (and is still an above-average runner, for what it’s worth). Both guys project to stick in center field and could even share time there as they move up the ladder.
Like I’ve said a few times before now, this is the most excited I’ve been for a Cubs Minor League season in a while, regardless of how down it is in the rankings. This is still not a top system, but for the first time in long time, it feels like the pieces are there for several breakouts to happen at once. A few lucky breaks here or there and we might be preparing for that next wave soon enough.