Chicago Cubs prospects: The glass is half full entering 2023
By Logan Whaley
The Chicago Cubs are in an interesting spot heading into 2023. Sure, things have gone differently than expected these past two seasons, with the outflow of top talent and the influx of veterans making up a roster that Cubs fans had not previously been accustomed to. However, there is hope in looking forward to next season and beyond with the current crop of young talent.
One of the biggest frustrations within the prospect ethos was the injuries to some of the top guys in the system. If losing top-tier veteran talent was not painful enough, the Cubs faced this tough reality. The likes of Miguel Amaya, Ed Howard, and former top pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez felt that affliction in a big way.
Onward and upward is what they say: the attitude the Cubs and fans should adopt. Of course, it is not fun to have back-to-back losing seasons, especially when the club is zapped of its once previous electric nature. All is not lost, though, and 2023 will bring a new look and an opportunity to continue that forward progression.
Climbing the prospect ladder towards success in 2023
When the Cubs sent Javier Báez and Trevor Williams to the New York Mets in a deal to acquire the talent of outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong in the summer of 2021, they had some sense as to what to expect. However, they did not foresee how great the now 20-year-old would be in his first season in the organization.
Crow-Armstrong slashed a stammering .354/.443/.557 in 38 games at Single-A Myrtle Beach before earning a promotion to High-A South Bend, where he slashed .287/.333/.498 playing with prospects who, on average, were two years older. He also showed off his speed in swiping 32 bags combined between the two levels. Crow-Armstrong will likely start at High-A next season, and it shouldn't be long before he finds himself in Double-A.
Kevin Alcantara is another 20-year-old outfielder who should share the Wrigley outfield with Crow-Armstrong for years to come. Showing his talents off in the Arizona Complex League with the Cubs over a 25-game stint in 2021 after being acquired in the deal with New York Yankees for first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Alcantara put his power on display last season at Single-A.
Having previously hit just four home runs, Alcantara set a career-high with 15 long balls in 2022 in only 112 games. In addition, he planted some tape-measure shots while slashing a respectable .273/.360/.451 in his first season in Myrtle Beach. Alcantara also improved his strikeout rate, seeing a decrease from 26.2 percent to 24.8 percent following the promotion. His frame and speed project well above average, and his upside is as high as any prospect in the system.
Looking forward to the rotation and how that projects, especially with the news about Brailyn Marquez, there is one guy who should be on everyone's radar next season: Hayden Wesneski. The Cubs acquired Wesneski in a deal with the Yankees at the end of this past summer for nearly nothing, and the results have been excellent.
The 24-year-old right-hander was all over the place at the beginning of his minor league career before finding more consistency last year. After an inauspicious beginning at Triple-A for the Cubs, where Wesneski posted a 5.66 ERA, he appeared in six games, including four major league-level starts. He dominated, posting a 2.18 ERA and a 47.1 percent ground ball rate.
He'll likely begin next season back at Triple-A to develop some of his secondary pitches further, and long-term can be viewed as a backend rotational piece. The hope for Wesneski as he continues developing is that he can be a consistent piece to the rotation.
The Cubs are primed for a breakout for many of their guys in 2023. We'll continue going in-depth with many more faces as we get closer to next season, and fans should be excited to see what the next steps for these four individuals will be in their continued development as they climb the ladder toward Wrigley.