My guess from the jump was that the Chicago Cubs’ farm system would be a consensus top-five system when all the 2024 farm rankings were out, and so far, that’s held. The latest continues the streak, but just barely.
Keith Law ranks the Cubs’ system as the 5th best in baseball, behind the Orioles, Brewers, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks (wut?). The Diamondbacks generally rate out in the 15 to 22 range in the other rankings so far, so it’s safe to say Law is the super-duper extremely-high man on their system (but his write-up of their system sounds more like a mid-tier group, so it’s kinda odd).
Anyway, you’re picking nits if you complain too much about being 5 instead of 4 or whatever, so I’m still pleased to see yet another prospecting pundit seeing the Cubs’ system as top-five caliber.
“This system got good in a hurry; I could argue for 10 Cubs prospects to be in the top ~125 or so if I were inclined to keep ranking guys (note: I am not so inclined). They’ve drafted so well the last few years, landing two top 100 prospects and a guy who’ll probably start the season in their rotation with their last three first-round picks, while four of their top 10 guys came over in trades. They’ve got players coming on the mound and at positions up the middle, maybe a little light on potential middle-of-the-order bats. They’ve had some misses on the international front, and they might have only one pitching prospect with a chance to be more than a league-average starter right now, but this is the best shape the Cubs’ system has been in since before Anthony Rizzo caught that final out in 2016.”
Mostly that’s all great stuff, but you’ll understandably blanch at that line about the system maybe having only one pitching prospect with a chance to be an above league-average starter (Cade Horton). I think that’s probably playing extremely fast-and-loose with the word “chance,” as it’s quite clear that the Cubs have MANY starting pitching prospects with a “chance” to be an above-average starting pitcher in the big leagues. We could debate how GOOD those chances are, of course, but there are chances. The other thing to keep in mind: a league-average big league starter is a really good outcome for most prospects!
Read more on the farm system rankings here from Keith Law.