Yesterday I wrote something that aired some of the frustrations that I’ve had as a fan since Jed Hoyer took over as baseball operations. His lack of spending in the offseason and his seeming unwillingness to be aggressive in just about any scenario have left me missing the days of Theo Epstein, but one thing you can’t find fault in is how he has built this farm system.
When Hoyer took over prior to the 2021 season he took over a system whose top ten prospects are as follows:
1. LHP Brailyn Marquez
2. OF Brennen Davis
3. C Miguel Amaya
4. SS Cristian Hernandez
5. SS Ed Howard
6. RHP Kohl Franklin
7. RHP Adbert Alzolay
8. INF Christopher Morel
9. RHP Ryan Jensen
10. 2B Chase Strumpf
To be fair, six of those players have played in some amount of major league games with five of them projected to play in the majors again this season.
Three of them are legitimate contributors to the current Cubs roster with Christopher Morel, Adbert Alzolay, and Miguel Amaya.
However, the rest have struggled to say the least. That could be due to poor drafting at the end of Epstein’s tenure where from 2016-2020 the Cubs used first-round picks on LHP Brendon Little, RHP Alex Lange, 2B Nico Hoerner, RHP Ryan Jensen, and SS Ed Howard. Despite the Cubs spending like a small market team in free agency, they don’t get the luxury of comp-round picks, so when they’re not hitting on their first-round picks you end up with a farm system that looks like the one above.
If you compare that to the top ten that the Cubs currently have in their system I think it’s very easy to expect a higher level of MLB contribution than this group:
1. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong
2. RHP Cade Horton
3. INF Matt Shaw
4. OF Kevin Alcantara
5. C Moises Ballesteros
6. OF Owen Caissie
7. INF James Triantos
8. SS Jefferson Rojas
9. LHP Jordan Wicks
10. RHP Ben Brown
That list also doesn’t even include the recently acquired INF Michael Busch.
The current top ten features all three of the first-round picks (as well as one second-round pick) that Hoyer has made in his time as President of Baseball Operations:
2023 Matt Shaw INF
2022 Cade Horton RHP
2021 Jordan Wicks LHP
2021 James Triantos INF (2nd Round)
The list also features two players he found in the international market with Jefferson Rojas and Moises Ballesteros.
The other four players were added via trade when the team was torn down to the studs, but even if you remove those players from the list I’d still argue that the current top ten is stronger than the farm that Hoyer took over.
OF Pete Crow-Armstrong- Trade with New York Mets for SS Javier Baez
OF Kevin Alcantara- Trade with New York Yankees for 1B Anthony Rizzo
OF Owen Caissie- Trade with San Francisco Giants for 3B Kris Bryant
RHP Ben Brown- Trade with Philadelphia Phillies for RHP David Robertson
The frustrating thing in 2021 was that the team wasn’t good enough at the MLB level and there wasn’t a lot to look forward to in the minor league system.
Going into the 2024 season that isn’t the case anymore.
If the Cubs don’t make another move this offseason then they’ll likely deploy a starting lineup that includes a fair amount of known quantities, and some legitimate cheap youth with upside.
When you pair that with a system that is overflowing with talent it becomes very easy to be excited about the future on the North Side, you’d just love to see a little bit of money spent in free agency to help round out the squad.