When MLB.com released their rankings of the top 100 prospects Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs found seven of their prospects on the list: Pierce Johnson (100), Arismendy Alcantara (89), Jorge Soler (49), CJ Edwards (42), Albert Almora (18), Kris Bryant (9), and Javier Baez (7).
After two pieces of disappointing news on Wednesday (Masahiro Tanaka’s decision to sign a 7-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees, and more trouble in the negotiations between the Cubs and rooftop owners), Thursday evening provided Cubs fans with reason for enthusiasm. We have seen some rough baseball in Chicago during the Ricketts era of ownership. The Cubs major league team has lost 87 or more games in each of the last four years. The team has received major criticisms about bloated major league salaries, and for having a very weak minor league system.
While it has been very frustrating to see the Cubs field bad major league teams, it has been even more frustrating to listen to management make promises of “the future” based on low-level minor league players. The Cubs finally have a large number of players that are approaching the major leagues. These prospects have a lot of potential, but it is important to remember that baseball history is full of stories of “can’t miss” prospects… that missed. A strong minor league system does not provide a short-term fix for Cubs fans, but it does promise one of two things: either the Cubs will field a competitive team when these players are promoted to the major leagues and succeed, or Tom Ricketts will need to reevaluate his approach towards building a winning franchise (and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer may need to reconsider their system of building entirely through the draft).
Earning recognition from scouts and experts is a great place to start. Don’t forget that the Cubs will also have a chance to add to this talented minor league system with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft. Hopefully 2014 will bring an opportunity for Cubs fans to see players like Bryant, Baez, and Alcantara earn major league opportunities, while Soler, Edwards, Almora, and Johnson continue to develop.