Although I think the express purpose of Keith Law’s updated prospect rankings earlier this week, which only go as high as the top-60 players, was to re-establish each player’s current value ahead of the trade deadline, they’re still updated rankings. And when three Cubs show up in the top-60, a couple as high as we’ve ever seen, well, we’re going to discuss it. Especially given that this set of rankings does include players from the 2022 MLB Draft.
In his preseason rankings, Law had just one Chicago Cub in the top-100 – Brennen Davis, and he was ranked at an impressive No. 28 overall, as he headed towards his first extended experience at Triple-A. Unfortunately, Davis had a rough start to the year and needed back surgery, which has had him out for most of the season.
That information forced a lot of prospect gurus to – in my opinion – overreact and drop Davis WAY down the various lists. But Law has him dropping just seven spots to No. 35 overall: “When healthy, he’s shown plus raw power and could end up a 25-30 homer guy who gets on base at an above-average clip and plays strong defense in right field. We may not see that version of Davis again until he gets a full offseason of rehab and rest.” I really appreciate the tempered reaction. Davis was a big-time prospect for a reason and his surgery, while not ideal, does help explain his small-sample offensive struggles to start the season. Also, the surgery wound up being not as serious as initially feared.
Further, given that Davis is coming back sooner than expected, there’s no reason to drop him out of the top-40 right now.
But Davis isn’t even the Cubs top ranked prospect! Surprise! That honor belongs to Pete Crow-Armstrong, who actually took Davis’ spot at No. 28, despite being unranked in Law’s pre-season top-100.
Crow-Armstrong has one of the highest floors of anyone in the minors, because he’s going to be at least a 60 defender in center, probably 70, who’ll hit – everyone agrees he’s going to hit. More of a contact/speed hitter in high school, he’s changed his stance and swing since hurting his shoulder last spring, starting more upright and less open, getting into his legs more to get to more power for 13 homers this year between Low and High A. The Mets’ first-round pick from 2020 played in just six games in 2021, then went to the Cubs in the Javier Báez trade. This year marked his Cubs debut, and now he’s their best prospect, a true centerfielder with very strong hit/OBP skills who might end up surprising us all with 20-ish homers at his peak.
A 60/70 center fielder “who’ll hit — everyone agrees he’s going to hit.” WOW. That is as confident as I’ve ever seen Law report on any prospect and it’s incredibly encouraging.
Also, PCA happened to show off that power last night, just for fun:
Not to be outdone in terms of finally getting some deserved love, outfield prospect Kevin Alcántara also makes his first appearance on Law’s top-prospect rankings, slotting in right there at number 60. And he too gets some serious love as “the highest-ceiling prospect” the Cubs got back last deadline who has “as projectable a body as you will ever see and surprising bat control.”
That’s three Cubs prospects in the top-60 for Keith Law, not including other potential top-100 types like Christian Hernández (65 to MLB Pipeline, 75 to BA), Caleb Kilian (79 to BA), and their two first-round caliber talents from the 2022 MLB Draft, Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Owen Caissie or Alexander Canario started getting back-end top-100 consideration soon, depending on how their seasons shake out. And there are another half-dozen guys who would probably fall in that 125-200 range right now.