Although the full Chicago Cubs prospect re-rank is yet to come for MLB Pipeline, and the farm system rankings will also be coming later, we now have a sense of how they’re viewing the Cubs’ system overall. Improving!
Among the five biggest jumps in farm system rankings, you will find the Chicago Cubs:
The Cubs are noted as having the fourth largest jump in farm system ranking from the start of 2022 to the end:
Preseason rank: 18
It’s difficult to think of now, but Pete Crow-Armstrong began the season with only six Minor League games on his résumé due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Fully healthy in 2022, he blossomed into a promising hitter who is capable of being an elite defender in center field, thus making him MLB Pipeline’s No. 30 overall prospect. He’s one of three Top 100 prospects for the Cubs now, all of which are outfielders, alongside Brennen Davis (No. 48) and breakout performer Kevin Alcantara (No. 86), who like Crow-Armstrong, was acquired in a ’21 trade. The selection of College World Series star Cade Horton at No. 7 in the 2022 Draft was a big swing that could pay off if the former Sooners right-hander’s plus fastball and 65-grade slider translate well to the pros. Somehow, we’ve gotten this far without mentioning 36-homer man Matt Mervis, who went from obscurity to being potentially the Cubs’ Opening Day first baseman — essentially the poster boy for the system’s improvements since the spring.
Hey, top ten ranking!
That means at least two of the major services (FanGraphs) will see the Cubs as having a top ten farm system heading into the 2023 season. To be sure, farm system rankings don’t win division titles, and the subjectivity leaves them open to all kinds of wrong-ness. But given the Cubs’ clear efforts to dramatically improve the farm system the last few years – sometimes to the exclusion of wins at the big league level – it would be a problem if the Cubs weren’t seeing marked improvement in their rankings, and the general perception of the quality of their system.
You still want to see more improvement from here. You’d like to see a handful more prospects emerge into that “impact” tier, and you’ll want to see more surprising breakouts – the guys who go from entirely off your radar to “oh, hey, that might be a future big leaguer. There are no laurels here upon which to rest. But I’m just hearted to hear that at least one more national service sees the improvement for the Cubs heading into 2023.