After landing just two prospects in Baseball America’s pre-2021 top 100 prospects list (albeit with a third prospect just missing), the Chicago Cubs’ farm system fares a bit better in Baseball Prospectus’s just-released pre-2021 top 101 list. It’s prospect rankings season after all!
The full BP list is right here for your perusing, and you’ll note that four Cubs prospects make the cut: LHP Brailyn Marquez (63), OF Brennen Davis (78), SS Ed Howard (88), and C Miguel Amaya (89). Those are likely to be the top four prospects in the Cubs’ system to most services right now, so it makes sense that they’d be the four included. That said, I want to note that Howard’s ranking is quite high for a 2020 draftee who was selected 16th overall – I reckon BP was and is higher on him than the other services, even as they acknowledged he was the top prep shortstop in the draft. We loved the Howard pick, and he’s got the upside of a stud.
The reality of prospect rankings this time around is that, because there were no minor league seasons in 2020, the lists are going to be (1) heavily reliant on last year’s takes, and (2) heavily reliant on whatever word you’re hearing around the league on prospect development during the shutdown. And that’s tricky stuff when you’re trying to pack 200-ish possibly deserving prospects into a list of 100 or 101. That is to say, I don’t really put too much concern in where these guys are showing up on these lists (fairly low), and instead just find it good to know they’re being included in these considerations.
What matters even more is what the Cubs’ farm system shows in 2021. It is obviously an enormous priority for the organization both in terms of external additions and internal development. They’ve been investing heavily in both aspects now for a good long while, and they’ll either show the fruits in 2021 or they won’t. If you told me this time next year the Cubs will have just two consensus top 100 prospects, I’d believe you. There’s a whole lotta flameout potential when your best prospects are almost exclusively very young and very inexperienced.
But by the same token, if you told me this time next year the Cubs will have six or seven consensus top 100 prospects, that wouldn’t shock me either. What the Cubs have right now, arguably much more than the average system, is a huge group of tooled out very young prospects who could pop when they get back on the field. And if their heavy investment in player development the last two years actually shows up? It could be a very big and quick turn (well, seemingly quick, but it actually is the product of a multi-year change in acquisition and development approaches).
Any of the four prospects the Cubs got from the Padres in the Yu Darvish trade could pop. Cubs 2019 first rounder Ryan Jensen could break out. Maybe top IFA signing Cristian Hernandez shows up impressively right out of the gate. Maybe Kohl Franklin or Riley Thompson or Cole Roederer or Chase Strumpf or Christopher Morel (and on and on) blow up. The Cubs’ top prospect list right now is just loaded with “well, yeah, maybe” guys with high ceilings.
More on Marquez and Amaya from this morning, and how about a stray clip of Davis ripping ropes:
#Cubs Brennen Davis
6’4 – 175 lbs
-Quick, compact swing
-Fast hands/ bat
-Not a lot of loft. Should allow for good contact through the zone
-Swing should help cut down on holes in the zone w/ his size
-Frame should fill out more
Really like what I see!
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) January 18, 2021