Two of MLB Pipeline’s Top Ten Sleeper Prospects Are Chicago Cubs
I would like to think MOST lists that try to capture prospects who are really interesting, but just outside the top 100, would include at least one Chicago Cubs prospect. That’s one of the senses we have right now about the system, confirmed by pretty much every data point we get: for whatever lack the Cubs have on the sure-fire, tip-top prospect front, they have a number of guys for whom you could make a top 100 argument, and then another number of guys who COULD become top 100 guys as soon as midseason if this goes right or that goes right.
So then, I’m not surprised to see a Cubs name appear on a list of ten prospects that MLB Pipeline believes could play their way into the top 100 soon. What’s nice is that there are actually TWO Cubs names:
From Pipeline, the Cubs get the nod at third base and in one of the outfield spots:
James Triantos, 3B, Cubs (No. 12 Cubs Prospect)
Compared to Alex Bregman and David Wright as an amateur, Triantos has feel for the barrel and makes good swing decisions but needs to add some strength and improve his defense.
Alexander Canario, OF, Cubs (No. 11 Cubs Prospect)
After coming to the Cubs in the July 2021 Kris Bryant trade with the Giants, Canario celebrated his first full season with his new organization by smashing 37 homers and fits the right-field profile with his power and arm strength.
What’s interesting about Triantos and Canario getting these spots is that they have NOT been included among the group of Cubs prospects who are getting at least some top 100 consideration (outside of the ZiPS list that had Canario on there for statistical reasons). So it’s not like it’s a cheat to have these guys as top 100 “sleepers,” since it’s fair to say they were probably not yet seriously considered for a top 100 list this cycle. Instead, these are just ADDITIONAL guys who could wind up top 100 prospects in the Cubs’ very deep pool of those types, and guys who are already right on the cusp of top 100 consideration.
For Canario, you know the unfortunate story: a massive breakout in 2022 would’ve had him at least in that group of guys who were already at the edge of, or just inside of, top 100 consideration … but a terrible set of injuries in a freak play at first base in winter ball clouded up the whole thing. Canario fractured his ankle in a pretty serious way AND jacked up his shoulder on the same play, both requiring surgery.
He’s still young (22) and is extremely athletic, so you wouldn’t necessarily assume Canario can’t come back to full skills, but he’s going to have to actually do that before he would get top 100 consideration. In other words, to fulfill this sleeper status, I expect pundits will need to see Canario return by the second half of this season, and resume his assault on Triple-A pitchers. From there, it’ll just be about any of the questions that existed before the injuries, including the consistency of his contact against better pitching.
For Triantos, I think the equation for top 100 consideration is pretty simple: show at High-A South Bend that the bat is above-average and the glove plays at third base (or projects to be playable at second base), and that probably does it. Those aren’t modest conditions, of course, as putting up above-average numbers at High-A as a guy who only just turned 20 would be impressive. And I’ve read a number of reports that are concerned about the defensive ability. Checking both those boxes would be huge, and that’s how he jumps onto most top 100 lists by the end of the year.