Chicago Cubs Minors: Breaking down grades for this year’s draft picks

(Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by B51/Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The 2021 MLB Draft was loaded with plenty of talent and the Chicago Cubs were able to add some intriguing young names to their prospect ranks. Baseball America hands out annual draft cards, giving grades to those individual prospects allowing a further detailed breakdown into the most vital aspects of their respective games.

High school third baseman James Triantos, from Madison High School in Virginia, set the season on fire as a second-round pick and, quite honestly, a steal for the Cubs. In his first season with the Cubs, Triantos hit .327 with six home runs and 19 RBI. He managed 14 extra-base hits in only 101 at-bats and carried a slugging percentage of .594.

Triantos is by far the best hitter in this past year’s Cubs class of prospects. In a year where the club shipped Kris Bryant to San Francisco, third base became a topic of hot conversation. A power guy like Triantos, assuming he continues to develop well, will fit the mold for a bright future in Chicago and can become a reliable presence in the lineup.

Chicago Cubs Minors: Who else earned a top draft grade?

Triantos is the most well-known prospect on this list, assuming you’re one to follow the draft talent through their respective levels. Triantos is not, however, the only guy worthy of our attention. So let’s get into some more of the talent who shined this past season.

Dominic Hambley was selected in the 18th round and is only one of five players to hail directly from Canada. He struggled in his only appearance at the Arizona Complex League, allowing a couple of earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings. However, as a big right-hander with an already-established curveball and a slider that is coming into its own, this $200,000 righty may yet prove to return a fair bit of value so long as there is consistency in his development.

Sticking with pitching, we move to the club’s third-rounder in Drew Gray. The Cubs went prep-heavy this past year, and Gray proved valuable in a small sample size. In four innings, Gray went scoreless with a whopping nine strikeouts to just one walk. His only run allowed was unearned and, across those four innings, he allowed just three hits. His jump in competition level helped Gray earn enough clout to be seen in a healthy light.

Finally, there is Zac Leigh. a right-hander out of Texas State University. In a very similar showing to Gray’s, Leigh struck out nine over 3 2/3 in the Complex League before his rise to High-A South Bend. He struggled with his control a bit; however, he still managed to stay consistent with a ridiculous strikeout rate of 14.4 K/9 which says a lot with more competition in the fold. Leigh was seen as the best late-round prospect pick, and that says a lot.

Overall, there are so many more prospects we could speak on. However, as new faces traverse new places, it is great to get acclimated or re-acclimated to some of those names and their skills to make an impact.

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For a team in dire need of pitching across each area in terms of starting and relieving, the crop of talent has already been working harder and smarter to find their guys. Let’s hope it continues to swing in a positive pendulum of talent.