Cubs Prospect Notes: Prospect Rankings, Horton, PCA, Caissie, Canario, Brown, More

Just some things to get in front of you this afternoon from around the Cubs farm system …

  • Cade Horton started for South Bend this morning – yes, it was a morning start – and struck out a whopping EIGHT batters over four innings:
  • That’s a big league slider right there, and a nice snag. Four hits allowed in the appearance, and no walks. Horton is clearly one of the top three pitching prospects in the system, and merits any top-100 consideration he gets.
  • But not necessarily top-50 yet. Kiley McDaniel did a unique revision of his top-50 at ESPN, looking at risers and fallers over the first two months of the season, while also noting grade bumps. For the Cubs, Pete Crow-Armstrong fell to 39th (it is crazy top me that pundits are dropping him based on his performance so far this year – I could make the argument that ranking him top-20 before the season was too aggressive to begin with, but nothing he’s done so far at Double-A should’ve changed your mind to the negative). Jordan Wicks just missed the top-50, and Ben Brown and Moises Ballesteros both got a grade bump to a 50 FV, which would have them in top-100 consideration. Still looking at the Cubs having anywhere from three to six top-100 types.
  • Speaking of PCA, the Tribune reports that the games he missed last week were due to a skin infection. He returned last night, taking a couple walks in the process, as if to remind folks that, yes, he can and will walk if the drive-able pitches aren’t there. He currently sports a 5.0% BB rate and 20.0% K rate, which might make you more concerned about an overly aggressive approach if his ISO wasn’t approaching .200. Talk to me about the approach when the power disappears. Then I’ll worry. For now, I’m not worried about a 21-year-old plus-plus defensive center fielder hitting .278/.333/.463/119 wRC+ at Double-A in his second full pro season.
  • That Tribune report also had an update on Owen Caissie, who left a game late last week after running to first base. The injury was hamstring-related, but the Cubs “don’t consider it serious.”
  • Speaking of injuries at first base, we could be getting close-ish to seeing Ed Howard (hip) assigned out and Alexander Canario (ankle, shoulder) in some kind of game action. My guess is the former is closer than the latter – Howard has been playing in extended for a while now, and my gut says he heads to South Bend next week (where the Cubs will have to figure out playing time for Howard, Kevin Made, James Triantos, Scott McKeon, and Fabian Pertuz on the infield).
  • As for Canario, he is reportedly taking live BP, which would leave full baserunning as the last hurdle to game action. That could come at the tail end of extended spring training, or maybe in the Complex League next month (more likely the latter). I don’t know that it’s a “week or two away” situation, but a couple weeks? A month? It feels plausible. I cannot wait for Canario to be back and we can get a sense of how the injuries and the layoff have impacted him.
  • I didn’t realize what a journey Ben Brown had before he was drafted by the Phillies in the 33rd round in 2017. Turns out, he had a terribly-timed ruptured appendix his junior year, which messed him up physically and mechanically, messed up his college options, and left him having to beg for any team to draft him at any price the next year:
  • Then the Cubs got him in trade after Brown dealt with the pandemic and then Tommy John surgery, after which he really broke out last year. Might have been a perfect storm situation for Brown to just never have been heralded, and yet turn into something special.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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