Baseball America continued its series of ranking the top prospects in each minor league. And three very familiar names from the Cubs system ended up in the Southern League Top 20 Prospects.
C/OF Kyle Schwarber checked at No. 4 based on his performance in the first half of the season. Schwarber is no longer considered a prospect but his inclusion in Baseball America’s list provided an opportunity to look back at his incredible numbers.
Baseball America ranked C Willson Contreras the 11th best player in the Southern League and OF Albert Almora made the cut at No. 19.
C/OF Kyle Schwarber
Baseball America’s post-season rankings often include players that have already been promoted to the majors. Baseball America ranks the players in each league based on the season that was just completed. It’s been a while since Kyle Schwarber hit balls all over the Southern League parks. The numbers he put up with Double-A Tennessee are rather impressive to look back on.
Schwarber played his first 58 games of the season with the Smokies. As one half of ‘The Bash Brothers’ Schwarber batted .320/.438/.579 with 10 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs for a 1.017 OPS. Schwarber walked 42 times with 49 strikeouts in 243 plate appearances.
C Willson Contreras
The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year and Southern League Batting Champ had a breakout season. Willson Contreras’ offense caught up with his defense this season. Contreras stepped out of Schwarber’s shadow when he was called up. And Contreras put his name on the map.
Willson Contreras batted .333/.413/.478 in 126 games with 34 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .891 OPS. Contreras had 57 walks and 62 strikeouts in 521 plate appearances. Baseball America said Contreras uses a “compact stroke that produces lots of contact and power to the gaps.”
Baseball America described Willson Contreras as “a high-energy receiver who excludes confidence, Contreras combines strong receiving ability, good hands and average arm strength that can be improved by shortening his arm path and quickening his release.”
OF Albert Almora
Albert Almora had a rough year at the plate, but a very good August. To Almora’s credit while he was working on his offense, he still made the plays in the field while seeing time at all three outfield spots.
Almora hit .272/.327/.400 in 106 games with 26 doubles, four triples and six home runs for a .727 OPS. Almora was more selective. He walked a career-high 32 times with 47 strikeouts in 405 at bats.
After hitting .244/.285/.340 in the first half (55 games) with eight doubles, three triples and two home runs for a .625 OPS, Almora caught fire at the plate in August. In 31 games, Almora batted .352/.413/.504 with a .917 OPS. Almora hit 14 doubles, a triple and a home run with 11 walks and 13 strikeouts in 125 at bats.
Scouts Baseball America spoke with about Almora “love his competitive makeup and his ability to focus in big spots.” Questions remain if Almora will be a starter in the majors or an extra outfielder.
Baseball America League Prospect Rankings
Fifteen different players from the Cubs system have been ranked among the top prospects of their respective leagues.
Arizona Rookie League
- RHP Dylan Cease (2)
- OF/2B Ian Happ (2)
- OF Eloy Jimenez (3)
- OF Donnie Dewees (11)
- LHP Justin Steele (12)
- LHP Carson Sands (13)
- RHP Oscar De La Cruz (16)
- RHP Pedro Araujo (19)
- SS Gleyber Torres (1)
- OF/2B Ian Happ (6)
- RHP Duane Underwood Jr. (7)
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (13)
- OF Mark Zagunis (15)
- C/OF Kyle Schwarber (4)
- C Willson Contreras (11)
- OF Albert Almora (19)
Baseball America’s Top 20 Prospects ranking for the Pacific Coast League (Iowa Cubs) did not include any players from the Cubs’ system.