The once highly touted Chicago Cubs Farm System of the early to mid 2010’s has fallen from grace and is currently ranked in the bottom third of the league in every experts’ opinions, landing at #23 according to MLB Pipeline. I have even seen them as low as 29th on one list. This is hard to imagine for anyone that watched the Cubs win the World Series in 2016; much of which could be attributed to the strength of and development within their Minor League System. However, for most systems there is a regrouping or dare I say rebuilding period after this level of success because not every organization can be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs appear to be in one of those particular periods; trying to be as diligent as possible with development, while not having the abundance of talent that they have become accustomed to.
With all of that being said, it is not like the Cubs Minor Leagues are completely devoid of talent. They have 4 prospects in the current MLB Top 100; 3 of whom are on the cusp of reaching the big leagues. Not included in these ranks is RHP Adbert Alzolay, who was potentially scheduled to arrive at Wrigley Field on a full-time basis this season. There are other players similar to Alzolay within the ranks of their organization that fall just outside the top tier of talent, which I could turn into many separate articles (and I just might). However, for today I am just going to stick with the Top 5 according to MLB Pipeline.
1) Nico Hoerner-SS/2B/OF (MLB Pipeline #51)
From being drafted in the 1st round (24th Overall) of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Stanford University to making his Major Leagle Debut on September 9th of this past season, Hoerner’s rise through the Cubs Farm System can be described as nothing other than meteoric. After slashing .284/.344/.399 with 3 home runs and 22 total extra base hits in 70 games with the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago’s AA Affiliate) of the Southern League, Hoerner got his call up to The Show. Over the last 20 games with the Cubbies Horner batted .282 with 3 home runs and 17 RBIs. An average fielder (50) with an above average hit tool (60), he has the potential to have a long career in the MLB.
2) Brailyn Marquez-LHP (MLB Pipeline #68)
Signed by the Cubs for $600,000 in August of 2015 from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, this young left hander has all the makings of a front of the rotation starter. With a lights out/80 grade fast ball that reaches between 96-98 mph consistently and an above average/55 grade slider that slurves away and into hitters, Marquez finished the year in High A/Advanced with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In his last five starts of the season he posted a 1.71 ERA, a 1.063 WHIP and 26 Ks in 26.1 innings; after having struck out 102 in 77.1 innings at the Low A level.
3) Brennan Davis-OF (MLB Pipeline #78)
The Cubs 2nd Round Pick in the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft from Basha HS in Arizona, Davis shined in his first full season of professional baseball this past year with the South Bend Cubs (Chicago’s Low A Affiliate) in the Midwest League inspire of suffering multiple injuries to his right index finger. In 50 games he slashed .305/.381/.525 with 8 home runs and 20 total extra base hits. Currently project as an everyday Centerfielder of the Cubs in the fairly near future (aka 2022 to 2023), Davis has all the tools of a potential superstar including speed (60), fielding (55) and arm strength (55) to go along with the bat; 55 hit and 55 power.
4) Miguel Amaya-C (MLB Pipeline #95)
Pittsburgh Pirates fans are already jealous of the Chicago Cub for securing Miguel Amaya’s services in July of 2015 for a cool $1 million dollars out of Panama, seeing as the Pirates do not have a single catching prospect in their entire Top 30. This past season the now 21 year old catcher put up some pretty promising numbers in High A/Advanced for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In 99 games he hit .235 with 11 home runs and 24 doubles. He also has been working very hard at improving his defense; showing off a now 60 grade in fielding due to his framing and blocking abilities. Amaya also has an above average arm (55), throwing out 35% of potential base runners for the Pelicans.
5) Cole Roederer-OF
Roederer was selected in the 2nd Round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft from William S. Hart HS in California. As a young and aggressive hitter he has struggled at times during his professional career, striking out at a rate of 24% across two levels in 144 games. He has exhibited the potential power he was drafted for by crushing 14 home runs and 45 total extra base hits. There is uncertainty as to whether or not he will be able play Centerfield at a big league level, but at only 20 years of age there is plenty of time for him to develop all of his tools to achieve their highest future value.
The Chicago Cubs could once again return to the upper echelon of Minor League Farm Systems, but it is not going to be an easy path. They have to get back to the basics of drafting well, successfully developing and possibly acquiring young talent via trades. If they are able to do all three of these well, they have the chance to not wait another 108 years to hoist a World Series trophy on the North Side of Chicago.