Prospect experts continue to praise the Chicago Cubs' farm system

Matt Shaw, Kevin Alcantara and Cade Horton still give glimmers of hope for the future of this franchise that can't seem to put it all together at the same time.
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The Chicago Cubs had an extremely rough month of May and there’s no way around that. However, regardless of whether that month has sunk their 2024 season or not, it’s important to note that the future is still extremely bright according to a recent prospect ranking completed by The Athletic (Subscription Required).

Of the first 32 players ranked, the Cubs have three prospects listed.

The three young Cubs on the list are Double-A infielder Matt Shaw (15th), Double-A outfielder Kevin Alcantara (21st), and Triple-A right-handed pitcher Cade Horton (32nd). 

The list doesn’t include outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong or infielder Michael Busch who have both exhausted prospect status and have had moments this season of helping the major league club win games, nor does it include some of the prospects that are further away like catcher Moises Ballesteros or infielder Jefferson Rojas.

Matt Shaw had a rough start to the year and a May that was about as bad as the one the Cubs experienced, but he had four multi-hit games in a row between May 26th and May 30th, so there’s hope that he’s figured it out and will get closer to his outrageous 2023 slash line than his current .234/.360/.389. That being said, even his “poor”.749 OPS would be fifth on the major league team in that category, behind only Mike Tauchman, Seiya Suzuki, Michael Busch, and Cody Bellinger. 

The long-term future remains bright for the Cubs.

Kevin Alcantara has had a similar year in 2024 as the one he had in 2023. He began the season as cold as ice, going hitless in his first seven games of the season before turning it on. In May he hit .295/.343/.389, but he only hit one homer in the entire month which is fewer than he hit in a single game in April. He’s still got a lot to work on as proven by the fact that he had a batting average more than 60 points higher than Shaw’s and yet had an OBP almost 20 points lower. That means that he’s not drawing enough walks, but more importantly, it means that he’s getting hits based on his athleticism rather than because he’s getting pitches he can do something with (which also proves itself from his identical slugging percentage with Shaw). 

Cade Horton pitched almost 90 innings in 2023 with a 2.65 ERA and 117/27 K/BB ratio. This season, he’s returned to earth and has walked nearly half as many batters (13) in about a third as many innings (34.1). He’s still striking out more than a batter per inning but he’s given up multiple earned runs in every outing he’s had in Triple-A Iowa,, and he carried a 7.50 ERA for May while issuing 11 walks in just 18 innings. 

All three of these players are playing at a new level this season so the growing pains are expected. Some of the most respected baseball minds in the business look at these three players and see future stars despite those growing pains and so the next time you’re watching the major league bullpen blow a game late, or the offense get shut out, just know that help is on the way. Eventually.