Many of the moves Jed Hoyer has made in the nearly two years he’s been running baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs weren’t exactly well-received.
First, it was the trade that sent 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish to the Padres for what felt like a bunch of teenagers who amounted to little more than lottery tickets. Then came last summer’s emotional trades of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez, among others. But those difficult and oft-criticized moves have paid off in spades based on the latest farm system rankings from MLB Pipeline.
"The Cubs system hasn’t been this deep since Chicago was assembling the talent that won the 2016 World Series. Though all three of their Top 100 Prospects are outfielders, their pitching depth is also notable. Most of their best arms have been acquired in the last 13 months, including Cade Horton, Jordan Wicks, Ben Brown, Jackson Ferris, Hayden Wesneski and Caleb Kilian."
Their midseason update has the Cubs ranked #10 overall, a spot the organization hasn’t seen in years – not since the peak of the World Series window. The last midseason rankings during Theo Epstein’s tenure in 2020 had Chicago ranked 26th of 30 teams. In the two years since, the Cubs have rocketed back into the top third in the league, and it’s all thanks to Hoyer.
That’s not to say you can draw a direct line from ‘strong farm system’ to ‘World Series title’ – because you can’t. Just ask the San Diego Padres, who just jettisoned their system to land Juan Soto, only to lose Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games and still be nowhere near the Dodgers in the NL West pecking order.
But having that strong foundation and consistent pipeline of young talent, more often than not, leads to sustained success – and having that in place has the Cubs in a position to really go out and make a splash in free agency this winter.
Cubs will face renewed competition from within the NL Central
Unfortunately for Hoyer’s ballclub, two of the nine teams ahead of them in MLB Pipeline’s midseason rankings also play in the National League Central in the Cincinnati Reds (4) and Pittsburgh Pirates (7).
Those two teams have been the doormat of the division for awhile now, but have assembled quality groups of prospects in recent years in hopes of returning to contention. It’s worth noting, as well, this is the fourth straight year the Bucs have carried a top 10 system and neither have climbed the rankings as efficiently as Chicago.
Outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong (#31 in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100) and Brennen Davis (#51) lead the charge for the Cubs’ minor league talent, followed by a third outfielder in Kevin Alcantara (#91) – who, as you might recall, came to the North Side in the Rizzo trade with the Yankees last July.
The Cubs are an organization on the rise – with a restocked farm system, new front office brain trust and a bank account flush with cash, it won’t be long before they’re back in the thick of the National League playoff picture.