Cubs News: Farm system 'stronger than it has been since 2015'

Chicago Cubs Introduce Dansby Swanson
Chicago Cubs Introduce Dansby Swanson / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

A multi-pronged approach to reloading the farm system has paid off in a big way for the Chicago Cubs, according to the latest MLB Pipeline update. The outlet's 2023 preseason prospect rankings dropped on Wednesday and Jim Callis loves what he sees on the horizon for the North Siders.

The rankings, headlined by outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong and Kevin Alcantara, feature a boatload of pitchers - a promising sign given the organization's very intentional focus on developing arms this time around. Fifteen of the 30 are pitchers, signifying a healthy balance throughout the system.

"The Cubs farm system is stronger than it has been since it ranked as the best in the game in 2015 and was funneling players to Chicago who would snap a 108-year World Series championship drought the next season. It's not as deep as it was eight years ago, but there's plenty of prospect talent on hand to return the Cubs to contention in the near future."

Jim Callis, MLB Pipeline

The team's top 5 is rounded out by Brennen Davis (3), Cade Horton (4) and Hayden Wesneski (5). Davis is looking to rebound from an injury-riddled 2022 campaign that dinged his standing in prospect circles, while Horton looks to further establish himself after the Cubs took him with the seventh overall pick last summer.

Cubs Prospects: Matt Mervis the biggest climber in MLB Pipeline rankings

The biggest climber? None other than 2022 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year Matt Mervis, who rocketed up prospect boards, going from unranked in last year's preseason list to #7 this time around. Assuming he picks up where he left off last season, it stands to reason we'll see the slugger at Wrigley Field at some point this year.

Former top pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez has dropped off the top 30 altogether and, although he's back with the Cubs on a minor league deal, you can't expect anything from at him at this point. If you do wind up getting something productive, that's just icing on the cake.

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What caught my eye was the pair of 80-grade tools Callis handed out - one being no surprise in Crow-Armstrong's 80-grade work with the leather and the other coming via Daniel Palencia's 80-grade fastball. The right-hander came to the Cubs in the Andrew Chafin trade two years ago and, while his long-term role on the staff is yet to be determined, no one is doubting the stuff, evidenced by this latest rating.