Baseball America's New Cubs Top-10 Prospect Rankings Are In ... Hello, Matt Mervis!

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Baseball America’s New Cubs Top-10 Prospect Rankings Are In … Hello, Matt Mervis!

Chicago Cubs

The updated Top-100 Prospect Rankings at Baseball America won’t be released for another month or so. But in the meantime, the BA team is previewing their insights with individual team breakdowns (top-10 rankings, scouting reports, best tools, etc.). That gives us a LOT to dig into — you can see the entire Cubs report right here.

Long story short? I think we’ll all be pretty excited about how the BA team feels about a guy who could end up being the starting first baseman for the 2023 Chicago Cubs.

BA Cubs Top-10 Prospects

  1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
  2. Brennen Davis, OF
  3. Kevin Alcantara, OF
  4. Matt Mervis, 1B
  5. Cade Horton, RHP
  6. Ben Brown , RHP
  7. Cristian Hernandez, SS
  8. Hayden Wesneski, RHP
  9. Miguel Amaya, C
  10. Caleb Kilian, RHP

Working our way up to Mervis (the CUBS FOURTH BEST PROSPECT), the BA team has absolutely wonderful things to say about PCA, who should “contend perennially for Gold Glove awards in center field” and could arrive in Chicago by the end of this season.

And although it’s always all about the glove for PCA (he has an 80-grade fielding tool!), the team at Baseball America make sure to remind us how much of an impact he can have offensively, calling him a “threat at the plate” with a “discerning eye for the strike zone” who makes a ton of contact due to his exceptional hand-eye coordination. On top of all that, he has the ability to tap into average pull-side power, which is a really nice compliment for a line-drive, gold-glove-type center fielder with speed.

For Brennen Davis, it’s more of the same. We know how good he is/can be — he’ll likely wind up as a top-50 prospect when the rankings are released next month. We know he can play center field capably, but is probably destined for a corner spot. And we know that there have been increasing concerns about his health. Nothing new here, Davis will just have to show everyone he can stay on the field this year. And I think he will. I’m glad to see BA keep him ranked highly. He’s still very, very good.

No. 3, Alcantara, gets the nod for having one of the “highest ceilings” in the organization, with the present ability to cover center field with plus power right now that … somehow has room to grow into even more?! Woo. Love that. If you’re looking for true superstar potential, Alcantara is the guy.

And that brings us to MATT MERVIS. The No. 4 prospect in the Cubs system! That is an insane leap, and an absolutely enormous compliment from the Baseball America team. Seeing as the guy ahead of him, Alcantara, was a top-100 prospect the last time the rankings were released, this relative placement means Mervis could soon join those ranks (or come close). Of course, we all hope he loses his prospect eligibility almost immediately thereafter.

The write-up is a somewhat sober-take, relatively speaking, but there’s a reason Mervis was ranked above the Cubs 2022 first rounder, Cade Horton, the top pitching prospect they got from the Phillies, Ben Brown, and the former Yankees starter who had a TON of success in his big league debut with the Cubs, Hayden Wesneski. That has a ton of implicit meaning:

Scouting Report: Mervis is a hulking lefthanded hitter with plus raw power. He previously struggled to make enough contact to get to it, but he shortened his swing and honed his approach in 2022 to focus on pitches in the middle-third of the plate, leading to his breakout year. He has excellent bat speed and natural timing, and his improved swing path and selectivity give him a chance to be an average hitter. Mervis can be a touch aggressive on soft stuff below the zone and isn’t as dangerous against lefthanders, but he demolishes fastballs, has good strike-zone recognition and keeps his strikeouts low for a power hitter. He mostly pulls the ball and will benefit from the new rules banning shifts in the majors. Mervis’ value is tied almost exclusively to his bat. He is a well below-average runner and a below-average–but passable–defender at first base. He has retained the plus-plus arm strength that helped him reach 96 mph as a pitcher in college.

The Future: Mervis projects to be an everyday first baseman who hits for power, a case he amplified by tying for the Arizona Fall League lead with six home runs. His big league debut should come in 2023.

Scouting Grades: Hitting: 50. Power: 60. Speed: 30. Fielding: 40. Arm: 70

After missing out on Jose Abreu in free agency (and seeing their chances at one of the impact-bat free agent shortstops dwindle by the day), the Cubs are going to rely on Mervis to make an impact offensively pretty much right away. But it seems the confidence, league-wide, is that he has a chance.

I’ll leave the rest of the rankings and write-ups for you to go and see, but among the highlights to examine more closely, for one reason or another:

  • Best power hitter: Owen Caissie
  • Best control: Caleb Kilian (… is that still true?)
  • Best defensive infielder: Ed Howard
  • And my personal favorite, Cade Horton’s pitch grades … Fastball: 70. Curveball: 50. Slider: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 50

That is AWESOME. Check out so much more at Baseball America.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami