At a certain point, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head: let’s talk about 100 guys for the Cubs prospect list this year. Round numbers are silly, but hey, so are prospect lists! Might as well embrace it.
So, after we ranked the top 40 Cubs prospects, that means I’ve got 60 MORE Cubs prospects to discuss! I am not, by any means, suggesting these are definitely the numbers 41-100 prospects in the Cubs system. Parsing something like number 75 and number 120 would be an insane exercise, especially without a 2020 season. I’m only kind of insane, so this is just 60 more players that I have something to say about. David Bote wouldn’t have been in a post like this for me in 2014, so there are plenty of other dudes in the system with a chance.
And a note: I’m not even necessarily intending you read this as a single post. Come back to it when the minor league season starts and these guys start doing fun stuff! They’re listed alphabetically, and the age listed is their 2021 baseball age.
Aramis Ademan, MI, 22. The glove and contact skills that made him a highly-regarded prospect are still there. Looks to have continued adding muscle, perhaps that will translate to more hard-hit balls. Utility bench infielder potential.
Jose Albertos, RP, 22. Rooting for Jose to conquer his difficulties throwing strikes. What else can you say.
Pablo Aliendo, C, 20. Athlete-first catcher that got more run at Fall Instructs than I’d have expected. Super-light bat so far, but he’s entirely projection, and the swing looks fluid. Deep, deep cut.
Edmond Americaan, OF, 24. Good athlete, good swing, good teammate. So far it’s been too many groundballs-plus-strikeouts.
D.J. Artis, OF, 24. A really fun and unique player, quirky leadoff type with interesting batting stance and athleticism. I’d challenge him with a Double-A assignment and see what’s what.
Max Bain, P, 23. Sleeper alert. Extremely hard worker and deep pitching thinker that keeps unlocking more and more velocity. 96-98 now, but also someone that is thinking about spin efficiency and pitch design.
Cam Balego, C/3B, 26. Was the best and most consistent hitter on the 2019 High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which led to Cubs deciding to continue a previous experiment to play Balego at catcher. If he plays there, I like developing him as a 26th man.
Moises Ballesteros, C, 17. Signed in January, has a projectable frame and a swing built for power. Check back four years from now.
Bradlee Beesley, OF, 23. The rare player to achieve more wood bat than metal bat success during his college years. I got a Reed Johnson comp that I thought Cubs fans would find fun.
Craig Brooks, RP, 28. Has a K/9 over 11 at every level from college ball to Triple-A. This is due to a plus slider and a flat vertical approach angle. Control has hit a wall each time he’s played in Iowa, and age is beginning to be an issue.
Bailey Clark, RP, 26. Since we last saw him, moved to a short arm delivery in the Giolito/Jason Adam mold. If you add deception to his good fastball/slider mix, that might be what pushes him over.
Danis Correa, P, 21. Has pitched two innings since 2017, but if you’re 5-foot-10 and throwing damn near 100 mph, you deserve a place on honorable mention lists, dammit.
Brad Deppermann, P, 25. I decided to limit myself to one of the 2019 draft mid-round guys, but this could be Josh Burgmann or Chris Kachmar or Zach Bryant or Bryan King too. I think Deppermann’s stuff is the most advanced from that group, and I think the Cubs push him the hardest out of Spring Training.
Tyler Durna, 1B, 24. Gifted glove at first that doesn’t get cheated at the plate. In fact, he deserved mention in the Best Contact Hitter conversation from our Best Tools piece.
Manny Espinoza, SP, 20. Command-first righty without a ton of projection, but the secondary feel (especially with changeup) is advanced for his age.
Jeremiah Estrada, P, 23. I reached out to Jeremiah about how he was doing 18 months out from Tommy John and he reported: “I feel amazing and I’m ready to compete this upcoming season!” Great news. If the three-pitch mix is where we saw it in June 2019, could be a swift return back onto the list.
Reivaj Garcia, 2B, 19. Without the age-relative-to-league benefit working hugely in his favor anymore, 2021 will be big for Garcia in showing advancements in plate approach.
Trent Giambrone, UT, 27. Probably deserves to be in competition with Ildemaro Vargas this Spring Training for that MLB infield bench role (with an emphasis on slugging southpaws), but I think Cubs want to see a bit more contact before contemplating bringing him to 40-man roster.
Ben Hecht, RP, 26. In 2018 vs LHH: 950 OPS allowed, 17.9 K%. In 2019 vs LHH: 614 OPS allowed, 31 K%. His slider is good enough to work against any RHH, if that ridiculous LHH improvement is real, keep your eye on him.
Oferman Hernandez, OF, recent IFA signing. A nice left-handed swing that has received some love on social. Should be dropped right into the middle of the DSL Cubs order this summer.
P.J. Higgins, C, 28. Received a lot of praise in South Bend for building on the power bump that we saw in 2019. I’m not 100% sure that Austin Romine is better than Higgins.
Bryan Hudson, LHP, 24. I would think it’s a move to the bullpen this year, and I think it could really work. Bowling ball sinker out of 6-8 frame, career highs in velocity at Fall Instructs. If breaker can be whiff pitch, there’s a big leaguer here.
Josue Huma, IF, 21. A bit of the forgotten man due to the extreme infield depth in the low minors. But deserves more development time; contact rate even with a bit of a hitch gives me intrigue on what a smoothed out version could look like.
Adam Laskey, P, 23. It’s been more than 30 months since Laskey was last healthy, on a mound, against big-time competition. But he looked really good 30 months ago (at the Cape) as a three-pitch lefty.
Ryan Lawlor, RP, 27. The curveball was head and shoulders too good for A-ball hitters, it’s time for some sink-or-swim tests against better competition.
Ben Leeper, RP, 24. The Cubs are very excited to have signed Leeper in undrafted free agency last summer, they believe he’ll fly up the ladder this year. High 90s velocity, plus slider, bulldog mentality. Barely missed the 40.
Brendon Little. P, 24. Was number 41. The NRI to big league Spring Training might just be a hint that this video signaling some velocity development was no fluke. Post-hype sleeper I’m watching very closely.
Jose Lopez, OF, 19. While Yohendrick Pinango and Ismael Mena will have the eyes on them most closely in the AZL outfield this summer, Lopez is still a guy that earned a seven figure bonus as a teenager with plus tools too. The swing is a bit rough, but runs well, had a 20% walk rate in the DSL, and elevates the ball more naturally than those other two.
Joel Machado, P, 19. Has yet to pitch in Cubs organization since signing in 2018, but has passed the time with a significant muscle gain. Someone I’ll be tracking closely in the AZL this summer.
Nelson Maldonado, TBD, 24. The old-school, no-batting-gloves grinder with an awesome two-strike approach. His ultimate defensive home, and the ability for his lower power profile to play there, will significantly impact his chances to make it to the top.
Trevor Megill, RP, 27. Could hold a never-to-be-beaten record for longest time spent with the Cubs pitching infrastructure before pitching for any team in Cubs organization. I want to see what they’ve done to a slider that showed inconsistent potential when he was last on a mound.
Fidel Mejia, IF, 22. In 2019 Spring Training, Mejia went out and won a job in South Bend, was injured six days later, opening a spot for Chris Morel to breakout. There’s some bat speed here, but more, there’s the intrigue about what the Cubs player development staff saw two years ago.
Dakota Mekkes, RP, 26. Excited to see how the secondaries progressed in South Bend last year. Mekkes is someone who will benefit from measurements like “extension” and “perceived velocity.”
Matt Mervis, 1B, 23. The top offensive prospect the Cubs signed in undrafted free agency, Mervis already might have the most power in the system. There’s a lot of optimism surrounding this kid.
Connor Myers, CF, 27. Has a Jake Marisnick quality, where he plays centerfield with the look of an All-Pro free safety. The plate discipline isn’t good, but hits the ball hard, and has added some muscle since we last saw him.
Joe Nahas, RP, 21. Signed unconventionally in 2019 due to the really good FB/SL combo that Cubs scouts saw in the Cape Cod League. Still has those, might mix in curveball and changeup now, could get to Double-A quick.
James Norwood, RP, 27. You guys know the drill by now. The split-change can be nasty, the velocity is good, but the consistency has never been there. 2021 is his last season with a minor league option available.
Eduarniel Nunez, RP, 22. Deep, deep sleeper, as he had a WHIP over two in 2019. But it’s easy mid 90s velocity, sometimes even better, and I could see him thrive if moved to a short/mid relief role.
Yonathan Perlaza, OF, 22. Signed for $1 million back in 2015 as a shortstop, moved to 2B/3B after the lower half thickened, enters 2021 now moving to left field. But Cubs still like the bat, a line drive stroke from both sides, and I believe they’re going to work to open up a regular role for him at one of the A-ball locations.
Fabian Pertuz, IF, 20. Would have been in the next 20 off the list, if not even closer. Nice blend of baseball smarts and athletic tools, utility infield profile for now.
Bailey Reid, RP, 22. Got a good report of his slider at Instructs, nice job from the scouting staff identifying him as an undrafted free agent from Westmont College.
Peyton Remy, P, 24. Had a 1.64 ERA in his final 11 appearances in 2019, which were a mix of starting and relieving in South Bend, when he probably deserved to be starting in Myrtle Beach. Worked in pitch design since the lay-off, will be an interesting one to watch out of the gate.
Samuel Reyes, RP, 25. The 2020 minor league phase Rule 5 pick that I liked in my video review. Reyes looks like a gust of wind might send him flying, but he’s got live stuff, and I think it plays up with the angle he pitches from.
Ethan Roberts, RP, 23. Number 42, probably, though I’m going to regret not getting him on the list if some of those indoor Instagram workouts translate to the field. Elite blend of spin and command coming from low, unique release point.
Duncan Robinson, SP, 27. Was on the Cubs radar just as he needed Tommy John, so he’s really worth rooting for as a guy that deserves that moment at Wrigley some day.
Benjamin Rodriguez, SP, 21. Really hard worker with good spin and natural movement, has shown a possible velo increase that would jump him up a level. Stuff has to translate to more strikeouts. Would like to see him grab a Low-A rotation slot.
Michael Rucker, RP, 27. I hear he moved the slider to be more of a cutter in South Bend to better differentiate it with the curveball. If that cutter is a thing, and his velocity is like it was to end 2019, he’s a guy that could be in Chicago this season.
Cam Sanders, SP, 24. I didn’t think the Cubs would ever have a prospect who has touched 97 mph and posted a sub-3 ERA in 20 starts and not get any attention. Consistency was an issue with what stuff was working on the mound in each particular outing, but the consistency was always there in the results.
Wyatt Short, RP, 26. A five-foot-eight lefty that attacks, attacks, attacks. I feel like he’s bound to get pushed back to Double-A to start the season, which seems a waste, we need to see an extended look against Triple-A competition.
Felix Stevens, OF, 21. I didn’t have quite enough information to warrant putting him into the top 40, but is a massive dude with big power. It’s not going to take much for me to start the hype train.
Jerrick Suiter, RP, 28. Definitely read my profile on Jerrick’s move to pitching if you haven’t already. I’m not even sure if he’s a “prospect” by any definition of the word, but he’s fascinating as hell to me anyway.
Matt Swarmer, P, 27. Weird and funky and got beat up really bad with that Pacific Coast League ball in 2019. But also got to 150 innings, and was pitching his best in the final six weeks. Would like to see an improved arsenal vsLHH this year.
Eric Uelmen, P, 25. One of those guys on the border of the SP/RP line that the Cubs have a big decision regarding in a few weeks. That relief look in the 2019 Arizona Fall League has had a long time to marinate, and Uelmen’s power sinker would indeed look mighty good in that role.
Luis Vazquez, SS, 21. A tale as old as baseball: the amazing glove, with the bat that just needs to get to playable. Has some tools that make it a possibility.
Nelson Velazquez, OF, 22. Slugger build still has some athleticism, but needs the power to show up in a bigger way. Absolutely has the strength to do so.
Jacob Wetzel, OF, 21. Coaches liked the way he showed up and grinded at Instructs, with an edge that seems to have been a consistent selling point in the Cubs undrafted free agent signees. Some power, some athleticism, definitely worth a look.
Bryce Windham, C, 24. The transition to catcher is complete; probably now one of professional baseball’s most athletic backstops. Great plate approach, question will be whether there’s enough power to get offensive profile where it needs to be.
Jared Young, 1B, 25. Better hitter than he showed in 2019. Needs to better hunt for that pitch he can hit hard.
Delvin Zinn, IF, 24. One of the more fun guys in the system to watch play: good hands, quick feet, might play six positions in 2021. Best thing for his game would be more walks and better performance against southpaws.