The Chicago Cubs have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, and it’s not even close.
With talented players like Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and CJ Edwards among the top prospects and recently-graduated players like Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs have one of the deepest minor league systems. The farm has gotten richer and richer since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took control of the team back in 2011.
The system’s strength has been widely acknowledged by several experts and this time, it was Baseball America who selected the Top 10 prospect in the Organization. Once again, the quality of players and quantity of depth is surprising and it shows that the Cubs are building a pipeline that’s expected to keep producing talent for the next two or three years, at the latest.
The Top 10 is as follows:
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
- C.J. Edwards, RHP
- Billy McKinney, OF
- Albert Almora, CF
- Gleyber Torres, SS
- Pierce Johnson, RHP
- Duane Underwood, RHP
The list included an incredible collection of talent. Soler is already with the MLB team and should be able to surpass his rookie limits early this year while both Bryant and Russell are expected to be, at least, above average players in the Majors. Edwards and Johnson appear as the only two pitchers with capacity to start – although both have some questions going forward – while Underwood could end up as a late-inning reliever.
Albert Almora and Billy McKinney both appear to be long-term solutions in the outfield, but McKinney needs to develop more power while Almora is coming off a down year even though he reached Double-A in 2014. Schwarber is expected to be the team’s catcher of the future and the Venezuelan infielder Torres is still a raw prospect as he’s only 17 years old, but he has already shown flashes of being a game-changing player after signing as an IFA with a $1.7 million bonus.
Even with his impressive list, there are some notable omissions that could have easily made the list on other organizations.
– Dan Vogelbach is a power hitting first baseman that has raw power to all fields and a good command of the strike zone. However, he’s only able to play first base and he’s a bit limited on defense. He didn’t exactly impress in the Arizona Fall League and needs to have a big year if he wants to be an attractive trade chip (because Anthony Rizzo has the position locked down for the foreseeable future).
– Eloy Jimenez is another bonus baby from the 2013 IFA class, and while he doesn’t appear to be on the same level as Torres, he’s still a highly-touted prospect on his own. He has shown a lot of power in BP and doesn’t appear to have a lot of physical projection in his 6’4”, 205-lb frame. He needs to adjust to the life in the States but if he’s able to settle in, he could easily improve his ranking among the organization.
– Jen-Ho Tseng is expected to pitch between A+ and Double-A this year and the 20-year-old showed solid command and a feel for pitching that’s quite uncommon for international players his age. If he’s able to replicate his results in the higher levels of the Minors he could easily become one of the team’s top pitching prospects.
– Corey Black is one of the arms that could potentially end up in the bullpen but he spent last year pitching at the Double-A level for the Tennessee Smokies and had decent results as a starter (6-7, 3-47 ERA in 25 starts). He has a potent fastball that works in the 91-96 mph range, a hard slider that can potentially become a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch and a curveball that has made huge strides the past two seasons. If he continues to develop he could see the Bigs as soon as this year but that would probably be working out of the bullpen.
The Cubs have plenty more interesting prospects in the organization. However, Baseball America’s list only made stronger the idea that Chicago has one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball.
That’s not expected to change anytime soon.