The first new top 100 prospect list of the rankings season is out, and God bless those services for doing their best to put these together despite no 2020 minor league seasons. I can imagine this was very hard, and the variability is probably really high.
That’s not just my way of setting you up for the reveal that only two Cubs prospects made the list (Brailyn Marquez at 52, and Brennen Davis at 72) – it’s all gonna be weird and hard this rankings season:
2021 TOP 100 PROSPECTS.
Our annual preseason list is here, presented by @rapsodo.
See the full list, which includes new names, information and plenty of player movement.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 18, 2021
To be fair, I wouldn’t have *expected* many or any Cubs additions on a new top 100 list after the 2020 year. There were no minor league seasons, and there was no in-person scouting. So you just aren’t going to see too many guys “pop” based on word of mouth (mostly from that player’s own organization), and a limited bit of instructional ball. If you didn’t draft a tip top prospect or add one in trade (sigh), you just aren’t going to have seen a totally new member of your organization show up on the top 100.
Graduations, however, did happen. And those spots did have to be filled by guys who were previously just outside the top 100, and this is where I would have lodged an argument that Miguel Amaya could’ve made it (though, to be honest, I’ve been on him as that caliber of prospect for a year and a half now, so nothing really changed for me). It’s a bummer that he wasn’t included.
Also a bummer that Adbert Alzolay, who still qualifies for these lists by about 1/3 of an inning, was not up there, but you’d have to be convinced that his pitch changes in 2020 (added a slider for two outings, added a two-seamer for most outings) are locked in and showed complete repeatability going forward. I do think that’s a possibility, and if it does play out like that, the guy is pretty clearly a top 75 prospect. But can I say it’s a lock? Can I say a third party service is wrong for going by the much longer track record of consistency and durability questions? I cannot.
As for Marquez and Davis, you could also pick nits that they aren’t higher on the list, but once again … on what basis would you really bump them higher from where they were last offseason? You’d have to be going almost entirely on what the Cubs organization told you about their progress … and every organization is going to have certain things to say about their prospects’ work at the alternate site and/or in instructionals and/or in side work. I just can’t get too upset about where guys land right now.
Also, you can think about it this way: Marquez is ranked as the 6th best lefty pitching prospect in baseball right now, despite having only barely pitched at High-A (plus one let’s-just-have-fun big league appearance). Davis, for his part, has barely played professional ball at all (just 18 rookie ball games in 2018, and just 50 A-ball games in 2019), yet here he is solidly in the top 100.
With the Cubs adding to their farm system this past year, and with them investing heavily on the developmental side throughout 2019, what you’d want to see is a huge jump from guys THIS year. Maybe we would’ve seen in last year if we’d have the visibility, but we didn’t. So, if things are going right, you’d expect the Cubs to have several more top 100-ish additions by this time next year. We’ll see.