One Updated Ranking Has the Cubs Farm System Taking a Big Step Forward
I feel like I have to drop some upfront caveats so that we – OK, me – don’t take too much away from one updated ranking. That ranking? FanGraphs just bumped the Chicago Cubs’ farm system to 6th best in all of baseball.
First of all, I don’t want to oversell one ranking just because it says something I want it to say. That’s just a general human tendency. And when it’s your favorite team in the midst of a rebuild, yeah, you’re going to desperately want to shout, “SEE! IT’S WORKING!”
I also want to acknowledge that other rankings will assuredly be more down on the Cubs’ farm system for this reason or that. There have been high-profile injuries. Some development leaps that haven’t happened. And there are some prospects near the top of the system that are still polarizing.
Moreover, FanGraphs was already the high man, so to speak, on the Cubs’ system coming into the year (their method of ranking would have had the Cubs’ system as 9th best in baseball before the season; most others had the Cubs right around the middle of the pack). So clearly FanGraphs already dug the Cubs’ prospects a bit more than some other services, and they might therefore still be the high man.
OK. Enough caveating. Let’s just enjoy this: according to FanGraphs’ just-released pre-draft farm system rankings, the Cubs now have the 6th best farm system in baseball.
The Cubs’ system, per FanGraphs, now trails only that of the Rays, Pirates, Guardians, Orioles, and Red Sox.
The strength of the system, as we have long sensed anecdotally, is the incredible depth of “legit prospects.” The Cubs have the 5th most ranked prospects, and the 3rd most at a 40 FV or better. That depth matters when evaluating a farm system, because 40s and 45s can often come up and be big league contributors, while others break out and become 50s or better. I tend to think quality depth is a little underrated by some other services that focus primarily on the tip-top impact talent in a given system. (FanGraphs, for its part, puts a future dollar value on the prospects and ranks the systems from there, which puts a finer point on the idea of how many 40s you’d have to have to be worth one 55 or whatever. You don’t just have to go with your gut. (It’s nearly 30 prospects, by the way!))
Even setting aside the final number, it’s just nice to see that, at least according to one service so far, the Cubs’ farm system has improved relative to the rest of the league from Spring Training until now. No new infusions of prospects. Just development. You love to see that most of all.
And now comes the draft, where the Cubs will hopefully add another fringe-top-100 type prospect, and do well in the later rounds, too …