Well, it’s right there in the headline, so I won’t bury the lede: The Chicago Cubs have landed just two prospects among Baseball America’s updated top-100 rankings, one near the top (outfielder Brennen Davis, 16th) and one near the bottom (Christian Hernandez, SS, 81st).
No real surprises there, as the Cubs system continues to boast a lot of high-upside talent, but most of which is very far away from the majors.
The #Cubs land just two prospects on BA's new top-100:
16. Brennen Davis (3rd ranked OF overall)
81. Christian Hernandez, SS
I have a feeling, by midseason, that'll look very different. https://t.co/0sn6uLMS72
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 19, 2022
The No. 16 overall ranking (3rd highest ranked outfielder) is just about as high as we’ve seen Brennen Davis land on any of these lists, and if we’re lucky, that’ll be as high as he climbs. That is to say, hopefully he rakes at Iowa to open the season, and by midseason, he’s up with the big league team.
Davis’ long levers previously made it difficult for him to be on time against fastballs, but he adjusted his swing to be shorter and quicker and now has no trouble catching up to velocity. He turns around both fastballs and breaking balls, covers the entire plate and drives the ball hard to all fields.
Davis occasionally expands the strike zone, especially against secondary pitches down and away from lefthanded pitchers, but he generally forces pitchers to throw strikes and projects to be an average hitter as long he maintains his patient approach. Davis is a plus runner who uses his speed more effectively in the outfield than on the basepaths. He effortlessly runs down fly balls in all directions and projects to be an above-average defender in center field. He may slow down as he fills out and move to right field, where his plus arm will fit.
As for Hernandez, he’s a prototypical extreme-upside, but very young middle infield prospect — the type that find themselves in top-100 rankings often enough, but how high depends on the ranker’s risk tolerance (which is not to say Hernandez is particularly risky, he’s just very far away from contributing at the big league level, and that is its own kind of risk).
Here’s part of what BA had to say: “Hernandez is the rare explosive athlete who is also a polished hitter for his age. He generates excellent bat speed, gets on plane early and keeps his barrel through the zone for a long time. He effortlessly drives the ball hard to all fields and projects to grow into plus power as he fills out his projectable, 6-foot-2 frame.”
We already knew that these two prospects were going to be the top-2 in the Cubs system per BA, but figured they might not land any more players in their version of the top-100. FanGraphs, by contrast, will have Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara as their top-2 Cubs prospects, both of whom will be in the top-100, with a few other possibilities for the list, including Owen Caissie, James Triantos, and Reggie Preciado (the other 50 future value prospects in the Cubs system). To FanGraphs, Hernandez is the Cubs’ sixth best prospect, with a 45+ future value. It says a lot about the upside/risk/youth combination in this tier of the Cubs’ system that you can have one service putting a guy in the top-100 overall, and another service having him outside the Cubs’ top-5.
For what it’s worth, in the past seven months, I’ve seen Hernandez (Baseball America), Alcantara (FanGraphs), Brailyn Márquez (MLB Pipeline, The Athletic), and Pete Crow-Armstrong (can’t remember which list it was, but I saw it somewhere after the trade) show up as the Cubs’ number two prospect, though many lists will continue to be recalibrated as offseason information rolls in.
Brett got into some additional prospects notes yesterday, if you’re looking for the latest on the Cubs system:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 18, 2022