Over the past calendar year, the Cubs have traded their top pitching prospect and their top hitting prospect not once but twice. Gleyber Torres? Gone. Dylan Cease? Gone. Eloy Jimenez? Gone. So where does that leave the farm system now? Are the Chicago Cubs doomed for the future?
The answer to that last question is a resounding “NO!” As it stands now, there are 14 (!) players on the active roster that are 27 years or younger and also locked up through at least the 2021 season. That means the championship window that is talked about so often is still open with this core of young talent for the next four seasons at least.
But it is always nice to have a highly touted farm system just in case things go wrong up north in Chicago, and as fans of the Cubbies, we have grown accustomed to seeing top prospects make their way to the Friendly Confines and have a ton of success. As it stands now, the farm system is built with players that fit into three categories.
These players are currently sitting at the upper levels of the minors in Double-A Tennessee or Triple-A Iowa. If you have paid any attention to Cubs prospects over the past three years or so, then you are familiar with these names. Players that fit into this category do not have the star-power that the currently Chicago hitters like Bryant, Baez, and Contreras have to say the least. But not every player that reaches the big leagues necessarily has to be a star.
Each and every one of these players could be called up to the Major Leagues tomorrow and compete well enough to not stand out in a negative way. They each have one or two plus tools that would allow for them to get by or they have a multitude of average tools that would help them every day at the next level.
Possible names for this category: Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis, Victor Caratini, Chesny Young, Jacob Hannemann, Charcer Burks, Ian Rice, Jason Vosler, Jeffrey Baez, David Bote
High Floor Pitchers
For years, pitching was a weakness in the minor league system for this organization. That was mostly due to the fact that the organizational method to winning a championship was the draft college bats that were already almost Major League ready. That emphasis on hitters created an obvious gap on the mound. Over the last couple years, that has significantly changed by the drafting of (mostly college) arms early and often.
With the Jose Quintana trade sending Dylan Cease over to the White Sox, the Cubs again are absent of a starting pitcher that has top of the rotation upside. Arguments could be made for a couple of players, but for the most part the system contains starting pitchers that fall could fit into the rotation at the 3-5 slots at one point in their career.These players are spotted throughout all levels of the system and feature guys with all different Major League ETAs. Generally speaking, each and every one of these guys could get a shot at an MLB starting rotation one day.
Possible names for this category: Jen-Ho Tseng, Trevor Clifton, Adbert Alzolay, Oscar De La Cruz, Thomas Hatch, Justin Steele
Toolsy but Raw
Over the past few years the front office has been very successful at finding very young talent that has begun to succeed at the lower levels of the minors. Using draft picks to select high school talent and sign them away from college as well as heavily scouting international talent, especially in Mexico, has been what Theo & Co. have been focusing on recently.
So far, the scouting has paid off and there are several players that have the potential to develop into stars in the Major Leagues. The next step is to successfully develop those players so that they can realize their great potential.
It is too soon for these players to be projected at the next level with any certainty and they are all at least a few years away from getting their taste of the bigs, but these are the players that could get a call when the aforementioned young Major League talent hits free agency around 2021.
Possible names for this category: Carlos Sepulveda, Eddy Martinez, Isaac Paredes, DJ Wilson, Wladimir Galindo, Aramis Ademan, Delvin Zinn, Miguel Amaya, Bryan Hudson, Erling Moreno, Jose Albertos, Bailey Clark, Yapson Gomez
There are exceptions all throughout the system but most of the players that are hitting prospects lists this season can be fit into one of these three categories. It gives you an idea with what the farm system currently looks like and can also double as a primer into the Road to Wrigley Top Prospects list that should be published soon after the trade deadline.