Every so often, some organizations consistently exceed expectations, turning one championship into a dynasty. The Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s come to mind. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are a different example. Following the 2016 World Series championship season for the Chicago Cubs, discussion of a “dynasty” came into play.
The current core had an amazing run from start to finish that season. A powerful lineup paired with a strong rotation and bullpen put the Cubs on what felt like the brink of multiple championship-winning seasons.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out and now that core’s window is nearly closed. Looking at the future of Cubs baseball with a glass-half-full approach, however, there is a lot to be excited about as we could be looking at the next core on the northside.
Cubs: Talented young depth will breed success
If you’re not adept with farm system rankings or prospect talent, there inevitably exists a belief of long seasons and lack of results. Incomparable to those top-tier systems like the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres, the Cubs have a bright future in their ranks.
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Breaking down the positional depth, the Cubs have many key spots already covered. Left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez ranks atop the list and is considered one of the most substantial pitching prospects in baseball. The newly-minted 22-year-old has been a dominant force since his first days in the organization. In 2019, Marquez notched 102 strikeouts in only 77 1/3 innings.
His big league debut didn’t pan out how he’d hoped. However, Marquez did make the reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu look silly, striking him out on a 99 MPH fastball. The ceiling is sky-high for the future hopeful ace. To add to the talent, the Cubs are squared away across the diamond.
Catcher Miguel Amaya will eventually be the guy called upon to take the reigns from Willson Contreras. Amaya gained national attention this past winter for his numerous bombs hit in the Puerto Rican Winter League. He has been an above-average performer in three of his first four seasons. At High-A last season as a 20-year-old, Amaya posted a 122 wRC+ and will begin the 2021 season at Double-A Tennessee with exciting expectations.
Cubs are starting to climb the farm system rankings of late
Continuing with the exceptional talent, future hopeful center fielder Brennen Davis adds to the enthusiasm. Davis is 21 years old and has dominated in two minor league seasons with seasons of a 132 wRC+ and 160 wRC+, respectively. He will start 2021 with the minor league camp.
Lastly, existing within the top five are a pair of shortstops in 2020, first-rounder Ed Howard, and freshly inked international talent Cristian Hernandez. If there is one comp for Howard at present, it would be Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. Howard looks like a carbon copy of Anderson and shows signs as an advanced hitter at his age.
He’s yet to play in a professional game, but the expectations are high, and Howard’s profile matches a guy who can profile as a future all-star. Hernandez has already drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and was the top-ranked shortstop in this past year’s international class.
It is difficult to imagine a team without the current core, and while that is not an immediate reality, soon enough, there will be a change in the guard. Organizations are fluid, and talent comes and goes. While we should continue to celebrate the current core, we need to look towards the future and the endless possibilities the next wave will bring to Wrigley.