The Cubs organization has come a long way in three calendar years and Tuesday the staff of MiLB.com awarded the Cubs with a 2014 MiLBY for the Best Farm System in baseball. The fan vote for the 2014 MiLBY for Best Farm System of the Year went to the New York Mets.
Several of the top position player prospects in the game reside in the Cubs system, even with the promotions of Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to the majors. Kris Bryant is widely considered the best prospect in baseball and Addison Russell is usually mentioned among the top 10 minor league players.
Three affiliates in the Cubs’ system went to the playoffs in 2014 and the Kane County Cougars (Class Low-A) not only won the Midwest League Championship but finished with the most wins in the professional baseball. The Daytona Cubs and Boise Hawks also made the post-season in 2014.
MiLB.com pointed out that what separates the Cubs system from the rest is the amount of talent in the organization. MiLB.com said, “No team, in our estimation, could compete with the performance of Chicago’s top prospects. The best players took strides toward stardom, and it added even more impact talent at the trade deadline.”
When the front office took over baseball operations three years ago, there was talk about building a system with waves and waves of talent. According to MiLB.com, “And at the lower levels, a second tier of high-ceiling prospects emerges as the initial cavalry began graduating to the Major League level.”
C.J. Edwards leads the group of young arms according to MiLB.com. Pierce Johnson, Rob Zastryzny and Duane Underwood had good seasons and the staff at Kane County, that included Underwood, Jen-Ho Tseng, Paul Blackburn, Daury Torrez and Jonathan Martinez, garnered a lot of attention for turning in good numbers and results on the field.
There is a lot of impact talent at the top of the Cubs system that is pushing its way to the big leagues. And the position player redundancy is a perceived problem that many teams would love to have.
The Cubs notable in-season additions to the organization included Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, and Billy McKinney. All three are considered impact talent and each player took his game to the next level once in the Cubs system.
According to MiLB.com, the players in the Cubs system are ‘buying in’ and a lot of that has to do with the front office scouting “players who fit their player-development model, particularly from a make-up standpoint” and once the players are in the system it’s the job of the coaches and coordinators to maximize their talent.
Jaron Madison, the Cubs’ farm director, told MiLB.com, “We expect a lot out of those guys and we tell them that straight out. This is what we expect, do it or get out.” Madison pointed out the Cubs haven’t had any discipline problems due to the “high-quality makeup guys with the work ethic” that have been brought into the organization.
The organization as a whole took big steps forward for the second year in a row. The challenge for the Cubs will be to continue the development of the players at the Major League level to turn the talent into a team that wins ballgames at the highest level.