With so many players going out of the Cubs organization in such a short period of time, that means there are also so many players coming into the Cubs organization in such a short period of time. While it’s easy enough to remember the former group off the top of your head because of your connection to them, it’s a lot harder to stick the new players and prospects in your head without a lot of mentions. Especially when things were just so dang crazy the last couple days.
To that end, I wanted to recap the 12(!) new players and prospects the Cubs have received this trading season. These are just the very high-level descriptions for stick-em-in-your-brain purposes. Deeper dives have either already taken place, or will take place in the future.
In alphabetical order, with age, position, and expected team:
Kevin Alcantara, 19, OF, ACL Cubs (Complex Ball)
Considered by most to be the top piece in the Anthony Rizzo trade, Alcantara was a top ten system prospect in the Yankees’ quality system, and figures to be in the top ten in the Cubs’ system, too, by most accounts. Tooled up athlete with huge raw power from the right side, plays well in the outfield, and you could mentally think of him as falling into that group of positional prospects in the Yu Darvish trade: very young, very high upside, very far away. Listed at 6’6″ and 188 lbs, you can imagine a whole lotta projection as he gets older and fills out.
Bryan already had a chance to dig in more on Alcantara here.
Bryce Ball, 23, 1B, South Bend Cubs (High-A)
Hey, remember him? The first prospect the Cubs netted this trade season, all the way back on July 15. The big power first base prospect is an extreme three-true-outcomes guy, though more of the power needs to come out if he’s going to be a big leaguer.
I already had the chance to dig in more on Ball here.
Alexander Canario, 21, OF, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Low-A)
The top piece in the Kris Bryant trade, Canario is a huge raw power guy with all the tools to break out, and was starting to rake at Low-A before the trade. Good athlete, good speed, and has starting-caliber upside. Canario figures to be a top 15 system prospect for the Cubs, which is definitely a big compliment at this point. He’s been a well-above-average bat since early-June (might’ve been a guy who really needed a few weeks to get back to facing in-game pitching after the shut-down), and I wonder if he’s got a shot to head to South Bend before the year is up.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, 19, OF, Myrtle Beach Pelicans IL (Low-A)
One of the top prospects in the 2020 MLB Draft, Crow-Armstrong figured to be a big breakout guy this year for the Mets when his non-throwing shoulder went poof and he required surgery. That is what made him available in the Báez/Williams trade, and his recovery – as well as his ability to develop some power – will be the decider on whether he’s a future big league starter, or a depth guy. The speed and the athleticism and the glove are not in question.
He’ll be in the top ten in the Cubs’ system to most prospecting services, and, together with Alcantara, is the best pure prospect the Cubs received in the trades.
Greg Deichmann, 26, OF, Iowa Cubs (Triple-A)
The first piece in the Andrew Chafin trade, Deichmann’s development trajectory – injuries and the pandemic – have left him a little older than you might prefer for a true prospect at Triple-A, but he’s a legit prospect. The raw power hasn’t translated as he’s efforted to cut down on his strikeouts, but he’s a potential big league contributor soon. You can tentatively expect him to be a next-man-up in the outfield mix, especially next year.
Bryan already had a chance to dig in more on Deichmann here.
Anderson Espinoza, 23, RHP, South Bend Cubs (High-A)
A surprisingly fun and good return for Jake Marisnick, Espinoza was a tip-top prospect a long time (and two Tommy John surgeries) ago. Now he’s an upside play on his ability to bounce back quickly enough to justify his spot on the 40-man roster. He’d been starting in the Padres’ system, but I wonder if the Cubs will quickly move him to relief if he isn’t otherwise showing a readiness for Double-A by the end of the year.
Codi Heuer, 25, RHP, Chicago Cubs
A big league reliever in the Craig Kimbrel deal, Heuer will slide right into the bullpen and the Cubs will try to get him back to what he was doing in 2020 when he was dominating. When it comes to young relievers, I very much trust the Cubs to maximize the results. They just keep doing it.
Bailey Horn, 23, LHP, South Bend Cubs (High-A)
The return for Ryan Tepera, Horn was a 5th rounder in 2020, and who sufficiently dominated Low-A in his pro debut that he was quickly moved up to High-A. It’s a pure scouting play on a guy the Cubs probably knew well from the draft last year and his time at Auburn.
Bryan already had a chance to dig in more on Horn here.
Caleb Killian, 24, RHP, Tennessee Smokies (Double-A)
The pitching prospect in the Kris Bryant trade, Killian was an over-slot 8th round college pick in 2019, and then rocketed up to the point where he’s been dominating at Double-A this year. Certainly feels like he’s a guy who is going to be much higher in the prospect rankings when the various re-evaluations take place.
Nick Madrigal, 24, 2B, Chicago Cubs IL
I reckon you know more about Madrigal than anyone else the Cubs acquired, and that makes sense because he’s the best and most developed player the Cubs acquired. Still more of a “prospect” entering the 2021 season, Madrigal was breaking out for the White Sox – adding more power and taking more walks, to go with his super-extreme contact bat – when he tore his hamstring bad enough that he had to get surgery to end his season. The Cubs are undoubtedly betting that the hamstring will be fine, and that Madrigal will continue that step forward as a really unique bat at second base.
(That Kimbrel trade was certainly your signal that the Cubs don’t intend to punt on 2022. He was their most valuable trade chip, and the Cubs opted for two big leaguers instead of prospects. Instead, the Cubs wanted to get the best returns they could and fill up the farm system, but also set themselves up to be competitive in the very near-term. I get the sense that I liked the Kimbrel trade more than most folks, even if it caught me by surprise.)
Daniel Palencia, 21, RHP, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Low-A)
The second piece in the Andrew Chafin trade, Palencia is a smaller righty with an explosive fastball, but who will need a lot of development if he’s going to be a starting pitcher. The timing of his signing and the pandemic meant that he didn’t make his pro debut until this year at age 21. He’s probably not a top 30 system prospect for the Cubs until he shows a little more video/data/etc. Big scouting play based on the stuff.
Bryan already had a chance to dig in more on Palencia here.
Alexander Vizcaino, 24, RHP, South Bend Cubs (High-A)
The second piece in the Anthony Rizzo trade, though really not that far off from each other in terms of prospect standing, Vizcaino is a top 15 system type prospect for the Cubs because of the great velocity and stuff. But you’re obviously wondering about his age and level, and you would be correct in surmising that he’s been slowed by injuries. That’s what made him available, and that’s also what creates a lot of risk (particularly that he might wind up a relief-only guy). People love his fastball and his split change.
Bryan already had a chance to dig in more on Vizcaino here.