The Cubs’ system has taken positive steps forward this season and the top prospects in the organization keep moving up the rankings. Keith Law released his mid-season ranking of the top 50 prospects in the game on Thursday. The Cubs placed four players in the top 27 and one received an honorable mention.
Law explained how he ranked the players due to the inclusion of several players that were drafted in June. Law based his ranking primarily on upside and projections and used the 20-80 scouting scale to describe the players tools.
Kris Bryant (15), Jorge Soler (20), Albert Almora (25) and Javier Baez (27) made Law’s list as four of the top 50 prospects in the game while Arismendy Alcantara received an honorable mention.
Kris Bryant left for Mesa on Monday and is expected to report to Boise in the coming days. While Bryant is yet to take a swing in pro ball, he has projectable elite power that is expected to translate into a 30-homer bat in the big leagues. Law’s ranking of Bryant ahead of the big three in the Cubs’ system was expected as many feel Bryant will hit whether he is playing third base or right field. The Cubs project him as a third baseman and he is expected to remain at third base as he moves up the system. There has been talk that if Bryant performs well at Boise, as expected, he could skip Kane County and finish the season in Daytona.
Jorge Soler jumped up 22 spots from Keith Law’s pre-season ranking of 42 to land in the top 20. As Law pointed out, if not for a fractured left tibia he would have played in the Futures Game and would likely be on his way to Double-A by now. The Cubs are hoping he is back on the field in August and Jed Hoyer mentioned Soler could play in the Arizona Fall League in order to help make up for the development time he missed this season.
Albert Almora, like Soler, has been slowed this season due to injury but has not disappointed in a short time with Kane County. Almora moved up eight spots in from Law’s pre-season ranking (33).
Javier Baez has the best bat speed in the minors according to Keith Law (and others) and Law acknowledged he should be ranked higher than he is. Baez thinks he can hit just about everything that is thrown his way and his improved approach at the plate was one of the reasons the Cubs gave for his recent promotion to Double-A. Law described Baez’s power as “insane” and his defense at shortstop has been “solid”.
While the bats in the system continue to garner the attention, several pitchers in the organization, such as Pierce Johnson, Kyle Hendricks, Matt Loosen, James Pugliese, Alberto Cabrera and Zach Cates, have shown improvement this year and have put together good seasons to this point.