Baseball America released its midseason ranking of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system, and there are significant changes from the pre-season list.
Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler headlined the No. 1 system in the game. Fast forward four months and all three of those players are part of Joe Maddon’s everyday lineup. Kyle Schwarber, C.J. Edwards, Billy McKinney, Albert Almora, Gleyber Torres, Pierce Johnson and Duane Underwood rounded out the top 10 in February.
Kyle Schwarber has moved into the top spot in the Cubs’ system followed by SS Gleyber Torres, OF Billy McKinney, RHP Duane Underwood Jr. and OF Mark Zagunis.
Baseball America recently included Kyle Schwarber (6), Gleyber Torres (28) and Billy McKinney in its Midseason Top 50.
The Cubs have one of the deepest systems in the game that is known more for the position player prospects than pitchers. The Cubs have several arms, especially in the lower levels, that project as big league starters.
RHP Duane Underwood Jr. is the Cubs’ top pitching prospect. And he was having an excellent season at High-A Myrtle Beach. Underwood was recently shutdown after an MRI on his right elbow revealed swelling but no structural damage, and surgery will not be required. Including his last start (June 26) in which he left early with pain his elbow after allowing six runs on four hits in one inning, Underwood posted a 6-3 record in 12 starts with a 2.66 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
Reports have been more than encouraging for RHP Dylan Cease and both LHP Carson Sands and LHP Justin Steele are off to good starts for Short-Season Eugene. Steele has 27 strikeouts in 22 innings with only five walks allowed in four starts.
The position players in the Cubs’ system will continue to be the focus until the arms catch up. Baseball America did not include any of the Cubs recent draft picks in the midseason update. OF/2B Ian Happ, OF Donnie Dewees, LHP Bryan Hudson and OF D.J. Wilson will be included in the rankings when they are released in the off-season.
Cubs Top 10 Prospects – Midseason 2015
2015 Pre-Season Ranking in Parenthesis (NA – Not Available, NR – Not Ranked)
- Kyle Schwarber, C (4)
- Gleyber Torres, SS (8)
- Billy McKinney, OF (6)
- Duane Underwood Jr., RHP (10)
- Mark Zagunis, OF (15)
- Carl Edwards Jr., RHP (5)
- Dylan Cease, RHP (28)
- Albert Almora Jr., OF (7)
- Willson Contreras, C (NR)
- Pierce Johnson, RHP (9)
Six of the Cubs’ top 10 prospects are position players. It is good to see Willson Contreras ranked in the top 10 after being overlooked for several years. And with the way OF Eloy Jimenez has played this season he could have easily slipped in the top 10.
The Cubs moved two of its top pitching prospects in Carl Edwards Jr. and Corey Black from the starting rotation to bullpen roles with the possibility of helping the big league team this season and in Edwards Jr.’s case as a way to limit his innings.
Pierce Johnson has pitched rather well since his return from the DL (3-0 in five starts with a 1.14 ERA and 1.14 WHIP). But the Cubs top two starting pitching prospects (Underwood Jr. and Johnson) have spent significant time on the disabled list this season.
- Rising Prospect – RHP Ryan Williams
- Falling Prospect – RHP Jake Stinnett
Ryan Williams has opened a lot of eyes this season. After starting the year with Low-A South Bend and posting a 4-1 record in nine games, eight starts, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.71 WHIP (36 hits, two walks and 37 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings), Williams is 3-0 in six games, five starts, for Double-A Tennessee with a 2.08 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
Jake Stinnett has struggled in his first season in pro ball. Stinnett is 3-3 in 14 starts with a 5.24 ERA and 1.66 WHIP (72 hits, 39 walks and 50 strikeouts in 67 innings).
At the midway point of the season, several players have improved their stock while others have slipped a little in the rankings due to injuries, changing roles or struggles on the field. It will be interesting to see how many players are bumped up a level in the second half and how they perform against better competition.