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Chicago Cubs: Top young Cubs’ prospects to watch in 2017

jfrancis
Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; East outfielder Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago Cubs during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Surprise, AZ, USA; East outfielder Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago Cubs during the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The system is working. With the change in the team, leadership came focus on improving the farm system. Now, the Chicago Cubs are loaded with prospects.

It is easy to see. The Chicago Cubs organization is one of the best operations in all Major League Baseball. When Theo Epstein was hired as the President of Baseball Operations, a focus on building from in was established.

The goal was to find and develop young talent, bringing them to the big leagues to help create a winning club. Or, at least to help synthesize trades.

The list is long: Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Carl Edwards, Kyle Hendricks. All of these players spent time in the Cubs’ farm system.

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A few, such as Russell and Hendricks, became Cubs via trade. The rest through the draft. But there is one common thread for them all: each significantly contributed to the teams’ 2016 success.

Who’s Next?

Young talent fills the current 25-man rosters, players that (we hope) will be with the team for many years. This is a good problem to have; however, it is causing a problem. The Chicago Cubs minor league system is stocked with promising players.

Blocked by All-Stars and contributing players, the top prospects must navigate a difficult road to the Majors. If the recent past spoke anything to us, it is that prospects need to be ready to perform when called up. Injuries happen.

When Miguel Montero became injured, Contreras filled in nicely. As a matter of fact, he earned his way onto the team for the rest of the year. Including the playoffs. So did Almora. And Bryant, Schwarber, and Soler in 2015.

So, who is next?  There are several lists stating the Chicago Cubs’ Top Prospects. Some of them include players like Almora, Rob Zastryzny, and Felix Pena since they have yet to exceed rookie limits. With Spring Training less than a month away, it is time for us to talk about our top prospects. Here is our Top 10 list:

  1. Eloy Jimenez (OF)
  2. Ian Happ (2B/OF)
  3. Mark Zagunis (OF)
  4. Dylan Cease (RHP)
  5. Jeimer Candelario
  6. Oscar De La Cruz (RHP)
  7. Duane Underwood (RHP)
  8. Trevor Clifton (RHP)
  9. D.J. Wilson (OF)
  10. Jose Albertos

Why?

These rankings are established by several criteria. Most noteworthy is how they project in the Majors in terms of WAR. Secondly, their level of performance regardless of level. While there is much to assess, these areas provide key indicators for each player.

Next: How will the centerfield situation shake out?

Yet, these are just projections – guesses – though educated. It is like forecasting the weather: you can study maps and conditions that help you predict, but sometimes it is better to just look out a window.

Over the next few weeks, we will dig deeper into each player. A few will see time on the field in Spring Training. Will any make it to Wrigley? Only time will tell.

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