MLB Pipeline released its ranking of the Top 100 Prospects in the game. And for the second straight year, six Cubs cracked the list.
SS Gleyber Torres (28), C Willson Contreras (50), 2B/OF Ian Happ (76), RHP Duane Underwood Jr. (77), OF Albert Almora Jr. (86) and OF Billy McKinney (88) were included in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. And another publication thinks the top prospect in the Cubs’ system is a 19-year old shortstop with a very bright future.
Only Albert Almora Jr. made MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 last year. Kris Bryant (2), Addison Russell (5), Jorge Soler (22), Carl Edwards Jr. (47), Kyle Schwarber (49) and Albert Almora Jr. (57) were the six players from the Cubs system included in MLB Pipeline’s Pre-Season ranking for 2015.
Baseball Prospectus recently included six players from the Cubs system in its Top 101 Prospect List … SS Gleyber Torres (41), C/3B Willson Contreras (57), OF Ian Happ (67), OF Billy McKinney (74), OF Albert Almora Jr. (83) and OF Eddy Julio Martinez (97).
Gleyber Torres may have only been ranked as the ninth best shortstop prospect, but MLB Pipeline thinks Torres is the 28th best prospect in the game. Torres is considered the best prospect in the Cubs system after the graduations of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler.
The 19-year old Torres had an excellent season, one that started with Low-A South Bend and ended with the Carolina League Champs, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Torres hit .293/.353/.386 with 24 doubles, five triples and three home runs for a .739 OPS with South Bend. Counting the seven regular season games with Myrtle Beach, Torres finished his first year of full-season ball with a .287/.346/.376 line that included 24 doubles, five triples and three home runs for a .722 OPS.
Torres is expected to begin the upcoming season as High-A Myrtle Beach’s shortstop.
Willson Contreras is widely considered the top catching prospect in all of baseball.
Contreras is coming off a breakout season and is ticketed to start the year as Iowa’s everyday catcher. Contreras went from a relative unknown in the Cubs system to the organization’s Minor League Position Player of the Year. Contreras won the Southern League batting title after hitting .333/.413/.478 with 34 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .891 OPS.
Contreras had an excellent year behind the plate as well. The Cubs see Contreras as a frontline catcher in the big leagues. And Jason McLeod feels Contreras will benefit by working with David Ross and Miguel Montero during Spring Training.
The Cubs are converting Ian Happ to a full-time second baseman. Happ was taken in the first round of last June’s Draft and spent the rest of the summer just hitting the baseball and tracking balls down in the outfield.
Happ batted a combined .259/.356/.466 with 17 doubles, four triples and nine home runs for a .822 OPS in 67 games for Short-Season Eugene and Low-A South Bend.
Happ’s bat is likely ready for High-A Myrtle Beach. Making the move to the dirt could lead to Happ beginning the season with Low-A South Bend.
Duane Underwood Jr. should be the Opening Day starter for Double-A Tennessee. The Cubs top starting pitching prospect received a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Underwood Jr. should benefit greatly by being around Major Leaguers for at least the first part of Spring Training.
Underwood Jr. has a big arm but last year he started to learn how to pitch. The 21-year old right-hander lost development time with a stint on the DL, but he was very good in the 14 starts he made for High-A Myrtle Beach during the regular season.
Duane Underwood Jr. was 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. In 73 1/3 innings, he allowed 26 runs, 21 earned, on 52 hits with 24 walks and 48 strikeouts.
Albert Almora Jr. will be in big league camp once again this spring. Almora Jr.’s glove is considered ready for The Show, but his bat needs to catch up. The switch flipped last August and the Cubs were very encouraged by his performance. Almora Jr. batted .272/.327/.400 with 26 doubles, four triples and six home runs for a .727 OPS in 106 games.
Albert Almora Jr. should begin the season patrolling center field for the Iowa Cubs. The upcoming season is a big one for Almora Jr.’s development.
Billy McKinney is considered by some as the Cubs’ best outfield prospect. McKinney’s bat is expected to play in the majors. But he does not have the tools to play center field. McKinney’s best fit would be in left field and he has to hit for more power to hold down that position in the big leagues.
McKinney is only 21 years old and has plenty of time to develop power from the left side. McKinney excelled at the plate last season, first for High-A Myrtle Beach then for Double-A Tennessee. McKinney batted a combined .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .825 OPS.
Billy McKinney recently said he’s healthy and ready to go for Spring Training. As long as he doesn’t have any setbacks or is slowed in camp, McKinney should flank Almora Jr. in Iowa’s outfield on Opening Day.
2016 Cubs Prospect Rankings
- Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2016
- FanGraphs Top Cubs Prospects List for 2016
- Minor League Ball’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2016
- Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Includes Six Cubs Prospects