Cubs: With or without Willson Contreras, the future is bright
The trade deadline is now behind us – and, for now, Ian Happ and Willson Contreras are still Cubs. Whether or not the front office views these guys as veteran leaders or simply didn’t get the deals they were looking for remains to be seen. Regardless, a farm system on the rise has the organization on much more solid footing than it was even 12 months ago.
With that in mind, let’s check in on some prospects you’re surely familiar with – and a few others who stand to leave their mark as members of the next great team on the North Side.
1. Brennen Davis (OF)
Despite an early-season injury, Brennen Davis remains at or near the top of every Cubs prospects rankings list. Drafted in the second round in 2018, Davis is currently with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, but remains on the injured list. Davis has played just 22 games with Iowa this season, hitting a disappointing .195. It’s hard to read too much into his numbers this year given the back issues, so here’s to hoping he can get healthy and back to what he’s done up to this point.
2. Cristian Hernandez (SS)
Cristian Hernandez, another top Cubs prospect, is not projected to come to the majors until 2025. Currently with the Cubs Rookie team, Hernandez was one of the Dominican Republic’s top international prospects in 2020. With physical comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado, this right-handed hitter has the tools to climb the ranks quickly throughout the minors. This year with the Cubs Rookie team, Hernandez is hitting .267 in 33 games. As it would be great to have that number higher, he is still very young and has years until we see him in the Majors.
3. Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF)
Drafted in the first round in 2019 by the New York Mets, Pete Crow-Armstrong (PCA) was the main piece the Cubs received from the 2021 Javier Baez trade, and currently the #3 prospect for the Cubs. The young outfielder was the lone Cubs representative to make it to the 2022 Futures Game. This season, PCA started with the Single-A team, but is now on the High-A team. In 30 games with the South Bend High-A Cubs, the 20-year-old is hitting .250. However, he clearly has the potential to maintain a higher batting average, as in Single-A, where he hit .354. Crow-Armstrong isn’t projected to come up until 2024, but if he catches fire, you could see him late next year.
4. James Triantos (2B/SS)
Drafted in the second round of the 2021 MLB Draft, James Triantos is currently the Cubs #5 prospect. An underrated player, and one who casual fans may not be aware of, has quickly risen on rankings boards. At the time he was drafted, Triantos was the Cubs #11 prospect. Just one year later, he has skyrocketed up to that #5 spot. Currently with the Single-A Cubs, he has appeared in 84 games, hitting .267, with 30 walks, and 69 strikeouts. Even though the strikeouts are high, he has the fifth-most walks on the Single-A team. Triantos is not projected to come to the majors until 2024, but between him, Hernandez, and current Cubs second baseman, Nick Madrigal, it will be interesting to see if the Cubs move Triantos or Hernandez around or move on from Madrigal altogether.
5. BJ Murray (3B/1B)
Many of you reading this may be thinking something like “who is this guy?” or “he is not even on the Cubs top 30 prospect list.”. Well, BJ Murray is one of the hottest-hitting players in the Cubs minor league system. Drafted in the 15th round of the 2021 Draft, Murray has been dominating with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In 39 games, he has the third-highest batting average on the team with a .305 mark. Murray has 26 walks with 31 strikeouts, which is the best ratio on the entire club, and has just three errors combined at first and third base. I would expect Murray to make his way into the Cubs top 30 prospect list by the start of next season and is definitely a player to watch.
The future for the Cubs is bright. From the top prospects to those who may not be quite as well known, anyone can emerge as a star. Christopher Morel was only ranked 20th on the Cubs prospect list and look at the year he is having, firmly cemented in Rookie of the Year talks. Whether the next generation of star winds up being Davis, Crow-Armstrong or an unheralded name, the future for this team is bright, and I look forward to seeing these young guys come up in a few years.