In the dregs of an offseason of few moves, the reinvigorated Cubs farm system has continued to provide hope for the organization. Baseball America’s list contained three Cubs prospects, triple what they’d been placing in recent years, and MLB Pipeline’s top 100 upped that number to four when it dropped Saturday afternoon. While not quite the heyday of 2015, when seven Cubs made the roster, but it’s a start.
For most of 2017 or ‘18, it was either Oscar De La Cruz, Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, or Adbert Alzolay taking turns, but only one of them is named now.
Nico Hoerner, Pipeline’s No. 9 shortstop prospect, came in at No. 51 overall to lead the organization. Though he’s got a shot at making the 26-man roster out of camp, Hoerner could also end back up in Iowa for a little seasoning. With some MLB experience and an excellent work ethic, Hoerner should be up in Chicago fairly quickly.
The skyrocketing left-handed phenom known as Brailyn Marquez continues his meteoric ascent since last summer, coming in at No. 68 on the list. The (almost) 21-year-old southpaw with a 102 mph heater should be plying his trade in Tennessee to open the season, putting him just a stone’s throw from Chicago.
The big surprise was Brennen Davis coming in at No. 78. His talent has never been in question, but he only saw action in 50 regular season games due to a delayed call-up and some contusions after being hit on the hand by pitches. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo usually hold off ranking young players until they get a little more experience, but Davis’s superior athleticism and 160 wRC+ atvSouth Bend were too impressive to pass up.
While Miguel Amaya just missed out on BA’s list, Callis and Mayo have a love affair with him dating back to rookie league and Eugene. That continued as he just made Pipeline’s list at No. 95.
Chase Strumpf, who Pipeline ranked as the No. 8 second base prospect, is not too far away despite not making the top 100. Strumpf should be at Myrtle Beach with Davis when the new season starts.
Though the Cubs’ top prospects are pretty clear-cut, they’ve got a wealth of players below that first tier who are starting to make noise. For example, Alzolay wasn’t ranked but should be on the Cubs’ roster come opening day. He could even get some starts if his new changeup grip works out. Justin Steele has legitimate upside as a lefty starter, then you’ve got Tyson Miller and Cory Abbott possibly knocking on the door as well.
Throw in the No. 16 pick from this year’s draft and the rumored signing of top-ranked international free agent shortstop Cristian Hernandez and the Cubs have stockpiled a pretty good collection of talent since 2018. These lists don’t tell the whole story, obviously, but the Cubs getting more and more players on them says a lot about the improvement in the system.