Cubs Prospect Notes: “Best” Set of Minor League Teams, Gallardo, Hill, Caissie, Mervis, More

I will keep pointing it out (to temper my own enthusiasm if nothing else), but the minor league records of an MLB organization’s farm teams do not necessarily tell you about the prospect talent – impactful big-league-caliber talent – on those teams. However, at the margins there is at least a modest relationship there, and maybe more importantly, having young players be part of consistently competitive and winning teams can be good for their individual development.

That is to say, we could debate how much it matters that the Chicago Cubs’ farm system has been winning a lot of games this year, but there is no argument that it is somehow a bad thing. Instead, I take this as a very nice and positive data point:

That is bolstered, by the way, by the Cubs having the single best record in the entire minor leagues down at Low-A:

And it’s not like that Pelicans team is just overloaded with older/experienced players beating up on youngsters. They *are* the youngsters.

Every single one of the Cubs’ farm teams has a winning record so far this year, with the Iowa Cubs (three games over .500) the least winning-y of the bunch. The Tennessee Smokies and South Bend Cubs are seven games over .500.

Other Cubs prospecting bits …

⇒ Lotta big days in the farm system yesterday:

⇒ Gallardo is a tricky one, because he’s only 20, but he looks physically maxed out. He’s getting results, but he’s not missing bats. He’s seen his velocity improve, but you don’t hear much praise for the overall stuff profile. That is to say, I worry a bit that the great results right now are coming because he’s so advanced and polished (despite being so young), rather than it projecting to future success up the ladder. Keep adding that velo, young man.

⇒ Hill is another trick one, because he’s hitting really well overall at Double-A in only his second full pro season (he was part of that bummer-for-development 2019 class, whose would-be first full season was cancelled) – .309/.360/.512/129 wRC+. He doesn’t strike out and takes some walks. The question has been whether there would be enough power there to support a corner outfield defensive profile, and it’s pretty hard to project when you watch his swing and look at his frame. This year, though, he’s got a perfectly good .204 ISO, so he IS currently producing power (including six homers in just 38 games). I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays the full year at Double-A to see if the power really sticks around, and then he’ll just do the traditional one-level bump to Triple-A next year, for his age 25 season.

⇒ Caissie is up to .238/.298/.381/93 wRC+ at High-A South Bend, which is absolutely bonkers if you remember how cratered those numbers were in April. That’s what happens when you hit .339/.403/.571 in May (as a 19-year-old at High-A). The arrow is pointing back up. Way up.

⇒ Speaking of big sluggers who’ve been hot as all get out, here’s that Matt Mervis homer:

⇒ So far at Tennessee – small sample alert! – Mervis is raking like he did at South Bend. You are reminded that this isn’t coming entirely out of nowhere: had the 2020 draft been longer than five rounds, Mervis was going to go somewhere in those next few rounds, and as a bat-mostly college first baseman, you wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be drafted much higher than that, and you certainly would think it was possible for him wind up being a fantastic professional bat. I suppose that’s my tortured way of saying you shouldn’t let Mervis’s unheralded, undrafted status lead to you to believe he’s not a legit big league prospect. He is. There are some questions about how aggressive he is (with some swing-and-miss), and there isn’t much defensive value there. But still, I think he’d have to make your top 30/40 Cubs prospects list at this point.

⇒ Pitching prospect Jose Albertos, who has outstanding stuff but has dealt with extreme wildness, had finally made it back from an injury earlier this year only to leave that outing quickly, and … dang:

⇒ Infielder Yeison Santana was promoted to High-A South Bend after hitting well at Myrtle Beach. Lotta folks wrote off the middle infield prospect from the Yu Darvish trade after a very forgettable 2021 season, but he’s just 21 and is now at High-A. He’s completely on track. The question with him is whether the profile – good discipline, line drives, no power – will allow him to rise through the system or if he can add a little power to his smaller frame.

⇒ Listen to the (other team’s) announcer on Pete Crow-Armstrong’s latest homer. You can hear the “ok, get this guy out of here” seeping through:

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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