Happy MiLB Opening Day! Getting Underway Today, Updating Our Top 20 Prospect List, More

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Happy MiLB Opening Day! Getting Underway Today, Updating Our Top 20 Prospect List, More

Chicago Cubs

Sometimes, the best medicine for bad baseball is … yes, more baseball. Today marks the beginning of five-games-per-night for the Cubs organization, as all four full-season minor league teams open their season.

Here’s a look at what is on the slate tonight, and note that all 4 games will be available on MiLB.tv:

AAA = Iowa at Nashville, 6:35 CST, starter TBD

AA = Mississippi at Tennessee, 6:00 CST, Tom Hatch

A+ = Lynchburg at Myrtle Beach, 6:05 CST, Alex Lange

A = West Michigan at South Bend, 6:05 CST, Derek Casey

A few notes, including a little bonus prospect ranking for BN readers …

  • The Iowa roster is still not finalized, as the Cubs are probably hashing out the last few decisions as it relates to minor league veterans. We will have that preview for you before first pitch, as clearly the Iowa Cubs will be an important feeder into Chicago this year.
  • The White Sox pre-emptively canceled their home opener today, so it would be a mild surprise if that South Bend game ends up getting played. South Bend did play an exhibition game last night, beating Notre Dame 1-0 behind Brailyn Marquez’ left arm. Marquez apparently sat 93-95, and according the broadcast, touched 97 on the stadium gun. If he’s doing that in 40-something degree weather in April, I imagine there will be more fun readings to come in the summer.
  • This may shock you, but Nico Hoerner hit an RBI double in his first at-bat for AA Tennessee, as the Smokies combined to no-hit Walters State Community College in their exhibition yesterday. Jared Young walked three times; if he’s going to be more patient this season, given his blossoming power, his prospect status will keep going higher.
  • Tyson Miller, Michael Rucker, Manuel Rondon, and Zach Hedges combined on that 13-K no-hitter, and as Brett told you yesterday, that Double-A rotation is going to be fun. It will be interesting to see if Rucker, who really looked good when I saw him in Arizona, is being used as a piggyback reliever or 6th starter.
  • Myrtle Beach played their exhibition game on Tuesday night, against the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs, and came away with a 9-4 victory. D.J. Wilson and Jimmy Herron both hit home runs in that game, giving a glimpse hopefully that the Pelicans will have some good bats ahead of Miguel Amaya in the order.
  • Prospect rankings are more living, breathing things than they are generally presented, and the second I pressed ‘publish’ on the BN list, I wanted to make changes. Then, I went to Arizona, observed the players and got some information, and wanted to make more changes. And finally, the Cubs initial roster assignments gave a little more insight that impacts rankings at the margins.
  • Therefore, I can’t help myself but update my top 20 for you guys to give a more up-to-the-minute reflection of where my head is currently at:
  1. Miguel Amaya, c, Myrtle Beach
  2. Nico Hoerner, ss, Tennessee (but the gap has really shrunk)
  3. Brailyn Marquez, sp, South Bend
  4. Cole Roederer, of, South Bend
  5. Adbert Alzolay, sp, Iowa Injured List
  6. Brennen Davis, of, Extended Spring Training
  7. Zack Short, ss, Iowa
  8. Aramis Ademan, ss, Myrtle Beach
  9. Justin Steele, sp, Tennessee
  10. Keegan Thompson, sp, Tennessee
  11. Alex Lange, sp, Myrtle Beach
  12. Dakota Mekkes, rp, Iowa
  13. Yovanny Cruz, sp, Extended Spring Training
  14. Cory Abbott, sp, Tennessee
  15. Riley Thompson, sp, South Bend
  16. Paul Richan, sp, Myrtle Beach
  17. Richard Gallardo, sp, Not Yet Pitching
  18. Jared Young, 1b/of, Tennessee
  19. Tyson Miller, sp, Tennessee
  20. Christopher Morel, ss/3b, Extended Spring Training
  • Not a ton of changes, but I’ll hit on the big ones. I essentially swapped Brennen Davis and Alex Lange. Davis is a prospect I sort of struggle with, as the gap between what he is and what he can be is still so wide. But his work ethic and the number of changes he’s already made is a good indication that he’ll find a way to close that gap. Lange, meanwhile, clearly didn’t have the spring we hoped. I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone too harshly for Spring Training, but in hindsight, I think my initial high ranking was more of a hope for what he could be, had he come to camp with more velocity.
  • I moved Cory Abbott up a few places, because seeing him in person really reminded me that I had mis-ranked him. Abbott’s stuff doesn’t jump out, but he’s constantly making hitters have bad swings. It’s a sign that his stuff tunnels really well, and he commands it well enough to always have the upper hand.
  • Jose Albertos and Erich Uelmen drop off the list for now, as neither is with a full-season team right away. Albertos is pitching in relief in Extended Spring Training trying to come back from something close to the yips, while Uelmen is currently injured. New to the top 20 is Jared Young, given that he showed some more blossoming power. And Christopher Morel, a player that impressed both Brett and me, and is sort of the perfect #20, as he’s as boom-or-bust as an offensive prospect comes.

Author: Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith is a Minor League Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @cubprospects.