I don’t love that it’s a very similar story to the one we were telling this time last year, but just because I don’t like telling it again doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
The Chicago Cubs have loads and loads of quality prospect depth. They might have one of the two or three deepest – in terms of true prospects – systems in all of baseball. But the reason they won’t be roundly considered a top five system overall is that they are generally lacking the kinds of upper-level, tip-top, big-impact type prospects – you know, the ones who show up on consensus top 100 lists. (The ones we hope are coming as soon as the midseason updates arrive.)
That’s why, as the top 100 prospects lists roll out, we’re generally seeing only a few Cubs prospects in each, and only Pete Crow-Armstrong in the top 50. They don’t have those OBVIOUS top 50 types right now, at least in terms of what the prospects have shown over the last couple years.
But that doesn’t mean having tons of quality prospect depth doesn’t still matter a great deal, and it doesn’t mean that the Cubs wouldn’t have as many or more prospects that would fall into that 101 to 200 range, compared to any other org. I am biased, but I think they might!
It’s hard to generate evidence for a statement like that, since prospects 101 through 200 are not nationally ranked.
Still, we get a little bit of a useful data point from Baseball America, who supplemented their top 100 list with the next 15 prospects who were closest to making the list but didn’t, and then a number of other prospects for each organization who were under consideration (at least received top 150 votes).
For the Cubs, who placed PCA, Brennen Davis, and Kevin Alcántara on the top 100, Matt Mervis shows up in the group of 15 who just missed:
Matt Mervis, 1B, Cubs: After a standout 2022 and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, Mervis earned serious consideration for the Top 100 but ultimately fell just short. A nondrafted free agent in 2020, Mervis rebounded from a poor full-season debut in 2021 to hit the third-most home runs in the minor leagues in 2022. Across three levels Mervis hit 36 home runs while slashing .309/.379/.605 over 137 games. He pairs above-average bat-to-ball skills (76% contact rate) with plus power (105 mph 90th percentile) and has the profile of an everyday power-hitting first baseman.
Among the other Cubs prospects who were considered: Righty Ben Brown, shortstop Cristian Hernández, righty Cade Horton, and righty Hayden Wesneski.
So that’s five total Cubs prospects who were in consideration for the top 100, but didn’t quite make it. Only the A’s (6) and Brewers (7) had more (though I would point out that the A’s (1) and Brewers (2) had fewer actual top 100s than the Cubs).
To be sure, a number of other organizations also had five prospects in the “under consideration” group for the top 100, so I’m not saying this PROVES anything in particular about the Cubs’ farm system. Moreover, a lot of the Cubs’ quality depth is probably even further down the hypothetical rankings list – I suppose I could understand why guys like Daniel Palencia and Jordan Wicks and Porter Hodge and Alexander Canario and Owen Caissie and whoever else weren’t listed as under consideration in that top 150 range … but they are very good prospects, and the Cubs have TONS of them.
Anyway, the point here is simply that the Cubs once again have an extremely deep farm system. This data point supports that position.
Now it’s time to hope more of them break out in to sure-fire top 100 types, while others simply skip that step entirely and come up and contribute. A guy like Christopher Morel was never a top 100 prospect. Neither was Justin Steele.