An Overview of the Cubs’ High 10 Prospects

Cubs’ OF prospect Brennen Davis; Picture by way of Minda Haas Kuhlmann

The Cubs are a extremely fascinating group, resulting in an extremely attention-grabbing farm system. As everyone knows, the Theo Epstein period was marked by nice success and an eventual World Collection Championship, however by the top of his tenure, the Cubs have been left with a mediocre MLB squad and an insufficient farm system. Jed Hoyer took over and started an try to usher in a brand new period of successful baseball within the Windy Metropolis. His first precedence was to restock the farm system. Many probably bear in mind the 2021 commerce deadline firesale during which Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Craig Kimbrel have been dealt. All of this got here after the Yu Darvish commerce and Kyle Schwarber non-tender within the prior offseason. Whereas it considerably examined the endurance of Cubs’ trustworthy, the North Siders have acquired an intriguing mixture of prospects that would contribute on the large league degree comparatively quickly. Right here’s a breakdown of my prime 10 Cubs prospects, together with some notes on all of them.

1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF


Not too way back, there was a time when each media publication would’ve had Brennen Davis on this spot. Because of the mixture of Davis’ damage historical past and Pete Crow-Armstrong’s unbelievable efficiency within the 2022 marketing campaign, he has develop into the overwhelming alternative for this number-one spot. The MLB Pipeline crew voted Crow-Armstrong as the perfect defender within the minor leagues. When acquired from the Mets, he was seen as an ideal defender who can be a below-average big-league hitter. Pete proved doubters unsuitable this season and made the Mets’ brass extraordinarily bitter that they gave him up for under two months of Javier Baez. PCA posted a 174 wRC+ in A ball and a 125 wRC+ in A+ whereas flashing above-average energy at each ranges. If Crow-Armstrong may be a median hitter, he’ll be a helpful MLB participant, but when the bat can play prefer it did this yr, we’re a perennial All-Star.

2. Kevin Alcantara, OF


Whereas interviewing with Dylan for a TDA writer place, I used Kevin Alcantara for example of easy methods to consider a participant’s bodily projection. The outfielder, standing at 6’6”/185, is just about the definition of bodily projection. Acquired for Anthony Rizzo from the Yankees, Alcantara has instantly develop into an enormous piece of the Cubs’ future plans. He raked at Low A this yr and confirmed off spectacular energy and plate self-discipline. I determine he has about 20 kilos of muscle to placed on, which ought to come via extra years on an MLB-caliber power routine. His uncooked energy and exit velocities are already spectacular, so when he will increase his physicality, I can envision him smacking 25-30 house runs per yr. Defensively, he’s fairly strong, however there’s not a complete lot to say concerning the glove. He’ll probably find yourself shifting over to a nook and be above common there. Of Chicago’s top-tier prospects, he’s the furthest away from Wrigley, so his growth (or lack thereof) will say fairly a bit concerning the Cubs’ participant growth crew.

3. Hayden Wesneski, SP


Whereas I’m admittedly increased on Wesneski than most, it’s laborious to not love the man after his electrical September within the bigs final season. A part of the wacky Scott Effross deal, Wesneski could possibly be part of the Cubbies’ rotation as quickly as subsequent yr. The fastball is low to mid-90s however has nice life. He {couples} the fastball with a completely devastating slider. His flashes of greatness final yr might need earned him a shot on the rotation at the start of 2023. If not, he’ll open the season in Triple-A or within the bullpen and finally transition right into a starter position. He’s fairly polished for a prospect and expertise goes to be the largest key to his growth.

4. Brennen Davis, OF


I touched on Davis a bit earlier. He’s an athletic specimen and an exceptionally good baseball participant. Going into 2022, he was thought-about to be a top-30 prospect within the MLB. Whereas the efficiency wasn’t nice in 2022, it was in a restricted pattern and shouldn’t be taken too significantly. The larger concern needs to be his lingering again points that basically set his growth again a yr. 2023 will likely be very telling for Davis. He may both propel himself again into the elite prospect dialog or fall additional behind the competitors. From a 5-tool perspective, Davis is correct there with Crow-Armstrong on the prime of the Cubs’ system. He has unbelievable bat velocity and put up wonderful energy numbers via a lot of the minor leagues. His athleticism helps him out within the area, and he’ll grade out as a superbly sufficient defender anyplace within the outfield.

5. Matt “Mash” Mervis, 1B/DH


Mervis is a feel-good story and a testomony to the Cubs’ participant analysis crew. Signed as an undrafted free agent within the shortened 2020 draft, Mervis burst onto the scene with an astonishing 2022 season at Triple-A Iowa. The 24-year-old earned the nickname “Mash” after sending 36 balls over the fence throughout 3 ranges. His 2023 MLB debut is a matter of when, not if. The Eric Hosmer signing shouldn’t present any form of blockade, as they’ll each play at 1B and DH. The Mervis present is ready to hit Wrigley very quickly, however he’s going to wish to maintain the facility output excessive and proceed to make constant contact to determine himself because the Cubs’ on a regular basis first baseman shifting ahead. Matt has been a think about each 2023 ROY prediction, so look out for the opportunity of him slugging his option to the award.

6. Cristian Hernandez


Hernandez is by far the toughest prospect within the system for me to guage. He’s the Cubs’ most extremely touted worldwide prospect since Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres (you most likely didn’t bear in mind they have been each within the Cubs’ system) and has had excessive expectations since he was 16 years outdated. He’s bodily projectable, silky clean at shortstop, and has a really spectacular bat for a 19-year-old. His numbers within the Arizona Advanced League didn’t fairly dwell as much as expectations, however you actually can’t fault him for 150 at-bats of mediocre baseball. The instruments are what places Hernandez on this record. That being stated, within the subsequent yr or two, he’s going to wish to translate these instruments into outcomes to maintain his standing as a blue-chip prospect. From the minimal movie I may discover, his swing appears a bit inconsistent and he simply regarded a little bit out of types. This offseason offers him a chance to get again on monitor, and he’ll probably be given a chance at A ball subsequent yr.

7. Jordan Wicks, SP


To be 100% trustworthy, I actually couldn’t separate Wicks and Ben Brown, my quantity 8 Cubs prospect, whereas making this record. They’re interchangeable, however I’ll give Wicks the slight edge for the sake of this text. Wicks was a extremely protected choose within the 2021 draft. There’s not lots he’ll do that may blow you away, however he has good things and is fairly artful on the mound. When he was drafted out of school, the primary focus from the participant growth facet was giving him a 4th pitch. Aside from that, he got here out of the Large 12 extra polished than most faculty prospects. He received’t want way more time within the minor leagues and may most likely be written into rotation plans on the large league degree by 2024. The changeup is his greatest providing, however his fastball is a strong pitch, and his curveball and slider have each made progress. The Cubs’ Pitching Lab has aimed to make his slider a bit extra of a sweeper to present his arsenal a unique look. Equally to Wesneski, I feel expertise might be crucial a part of his growth at this level.

8. Ben Brown, SP


In my view, the David Robertson for Ben Brown deal was one of the lopsided trades at this yr’s deadline. Brown presents mid to excessive 90’s velocity and has an impression slider. I’d actually wish to see his third providing (curveball or changeup) enhance as a result of proper now, I have a look at him as a two-pitch man. Brown had nice success within the minors this yr and vaulted himself up each single prospect rating record. Not like Wicks, I feel it’s helpful for Brown to get some extra time to develop within the minor leagues so the participant growth crew can work with him on increasing his arsenal. That might additionally give Ben wanted time to mess around with completely different pitches. Worst case state of affairs for Brown, he finally ends up turning into a viable late-inning reliever with the fastball and energy slider mixture. Finest case state of affairs, he’s a Jack Flaherty-type pitcher who can get by with a extra restricted arsenal as a consequence of good command and actually good motion on each of his main pitches. Brown will likely be an attention-grabbing one to comply with within the coming yr.

9. Daniel Palencia, SP


I would like you to consider every part I stated about Jordan Wicks and reverse it… now you’re occupied with Daniel Palencia. Daniel is on no account a high-floor man. I may see him being an efficient starter, a lights-out nearer, or out of baseball 5 years from now. Palencia is a firecracker with a cannon for an arm. He flew beneath the radar till late final season when he began to place up some actually spectacular numbers at A+. The fastball sits excessive 90s and may make its means as much as triple digits beneath the proper circumstances. I feel he has the perfect fastball in the complete system. His pitching mechanics would most likely scare each pitching coach within the nation, as he has a extremely lengthy arm movement and the rotation is a bit too herky-jerky to be thought-about “repeatable”. Nonetheless, concern about mechanics considerably decreases once you constantly throw 98 miles an hour. There may be some damage threat in the long run, and his stuff profiles as extra of a reliever’s arsenal than a starter’s. That is going to be one other challenge for the participant growth crew, however Palencia’s genetics and pure expertise are an ideal place to begin. If they’ll fine-tune the slider and add one other strong pitch, Daniel Palencia may escape and set up himself as a clear-cut future beginning pitching possibility.

10. Owen Caissie, OF


Final however not least, Owen Caissie. The entrance workplace put some religion by sending him to A+ at the start of the 2022 season, which is a little bit of an aggressive project for 19-year-old Caissie. After an abysmal first month, Owen began to regulate and ended up placing up very respectable season-long numbers. A part of the Darvish deal, Caissie seems to be like the perfect participant out of the return package deal. At 6’4”/190, he’s a reasonably sturdy man and produces top-tier exit velocities, resulting in sky-high uncooked energy grades. It’s began to translate into some sport energy, however there’s nonetheless an extended option to go in that division. He made some strides defensively this yr and appears to be an honest possibility in proper area. With a construct like Caissie’s and the excess of outfield depth within the Chicago system, it’s laborious to not envision him as a future first baseman, however Owen runs effectively sufficient to stay within the outfield.

Simply missed:

SP Cade Horton, SP Jackson Ferris, 3B James Triantos, OF Alexander Canario, SP DJ Herz, SS Kevin Made

There are higher days forward on the North Facet. Kudos to Jed Hoyer and crew for stockpiling farm system depth after promoting off the outdated core. 5 of my prime 10 have been acquired via trades since December 2020. Whereas this technique nonetheless lacks a participant who’s a can’t-miss, future perennial MVP candidate, the general depth makes them one of many extra formidable techniques in Main League Baseball. Whereas most of those guys may nonetheless be a yr or two out from Wrigley, will probably be actually attention-grabbing to trace their trajectory all through the minors and see the place they find yourself.

Sources:


Fangraphs.com

MLB.com

Brennen Davis second Triple-A at bat = 2nd Triple-A homer!” by way of Minda Haas Kuhlmann licensed beneath CC BY 2.0