It only makes sense that the Cubs’ own media arm would get into the prospect rankings world, offering up their take on the best in the farm system.
Lance Brozdowski put together his top 20 list based on his own perspective, player performance, and pro scouts he’s spoken with:
1. Brennen Davis, OF
2. Miguel Amaya, C
3. Brailyn Marquez, LHP
4. Adbert Alzolay, RHP
5. Ed Howard, SS
6. Kohl Franklin, RHP
7. Reggie Preciado, SS
8. Christopher Morel, 3B
9. Cole Roederer, OF
10. Chase Strumpf, 2B
11. Ryan Jensen, RHP
12. Cristian Hernandez, SS
13. Cory Abbott, RHP
14. Ismael Mena, OF
15. Riley Thompson, RHP
16. Keegan Thompson, RHP
17. Yeison Santana, SS
18. Burl Carraway, LHP
19. Michael McAvene, RHP
20. Ronnier Quintero, C
Head over to Marquee for the full write-up on each prospect – as well as a lot of honorable mentions – with some thoughts from Brozdowski on why he’s higher or lower on certain guys.
Immediately, you’ll probably note the stratifying there among the prospects acquired in the Yu Darvish trade, with them ranging here from Preciado at 7 to Owen Caissie unranked. In the Padres’ system, at the time of rankings over the summer, they were all kinda bunched together in the same spot. Clearly, there’s increasingly more information available on these guys, particularly after instructs.
You’ll also see that Brozdowski is really high on Franklin and Morel, which I dig because you’re talking about two of the higher upside guys in the system who have really obvious paths to big league contributions in the coming years (and who maybe don’t get talked about as much as the top four guys).
Among the comments on Morel:
Good prospects hit mistake fastballs and are able to produce average or even slightly below average results against major league secondaries. The best prospects show flashes of managing both even at lower levels. Often that gap between good and great comes down to intangibles like a player’s makeup. For organizations and scouts alike, this is one of the most difficult characteristics to understand as it can’t be distilled to an objective number (although some organizations have probably tried). Morel’s ability to hit major league quality secondaries at higher levels of the minor leagues and how the Cubs help him develop that approach will indicate where he’ll fall on the offensive spectrum. His makeup, which has drawn rave reviews from inside and outside the organization, could be a variable that skyrockets his future value.
We don’t have a great gauge yet on what Morel’s progress looked like at the alternate site or in his brief time at instructs, so it’s hard to project whether he’ll open the season at High-A or AA (he was great, when healthy, at Low-A in 2019). Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what he looks like, because his is the kind of talent and bat speed that can suddenly explode on the production side.
Among the comments on Franklin, whom Brozdowski knows he might be ranking higher than any other service:
[The ranking] ties directly to the value Cubs player development has extracted out of players like Alzolay under Craig Breslow and how vice president of player development Matt Dorey spoke of Franklin’s improvements since February 2020.
Franklin’s fastball sat 90-93 and topped out around 95 in 2019 with what some consider the organization’s best changeup. Indications are that Franklin has added some velocity in the past year that would place him around 93-95 mph and top out around 97. If that is confirmed this season and the Cubs can create an average to above average curveball from his naturally high raw spin on the pitch, Franklin could be the best starting pitching prospect in the organization by the end of 2021.
Love hearing that about Franklin, about whom every scout raves when they actually get to see him in action. The rub with Franklin is that he’s thrown just 50 pro innings total since he was drafted in 2018. The upside is all projection. Can’t wait to see him face real competition this year at Low-A Myrtle Beach or High-A South Bend.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 5, 2021