Baseball America’s 2016 Prospect Handbook arrived Friday with a new Cubs prospect list and a comprehensive look at the farm system.
Baseball America released its list of the top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system in November. A 19-year old shortstop and the best catching prospect in the minor leagues were ranked one-two in the organization.
The Cubs top 10 prospects according to Baseball America: SS Gleyber Torres, C/3B Willson Contreras, OF/2B Ian Happ, RHP Duane Underwood Jr., RHP Dylan Cease, OF Albert Almora Jr., OF Billy McKinney, RHP Oscar De La Cruz, OF Eloy Jimenez and 3B Jeimer Candelario
An organization heralded for its position players, Baseball America’s top 31 prospects in the Cubs system consists of 15 position players and 16 pitchers. There are high ceiling and projectable top of the rotation arms in the lower levels of the organization that should continue to push their way through the system this year.
Pierce Johnson is the closest starting pitching prospect to the big leagues in the organization followed by Ryan Williams. Duane Underwood Jr., Dylan Cease, Oscar De La Cruz might have the highest ceilings while Carson Sands, Justin Steele, Trevor Clifton and Bryan Hudson project as Major League starters.
And due to the promotions of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber along with the talent added to the system from the draft and International signings, there are 11 new names on this year’s list.
Baseball America thinks RHP Carl Edwards Jr. will be the Cubs’ top rookie during the upcoming season. RHP Trevor Clifton was tabbed as the Cubs breakout prospect and the sleeper prospect in the Cubs’ system, 1B/3B Matt Rose.
SS Gleyber Torres is considered one of the top 50 prospects by most publications. Torres ranked in each of Baseball America’s four individual top 50 prospect lists. John Manuel had Torres No. 50 on his list. Torres was 42nd on Matt Eddy’s ranking and 33rd on J.J. Cooper’s list. Ben Badler had Torres as the 36th best prospect in baseball on his list.
Players such as Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Duane Underwood Jr., Albert Almora Jr., Billy McKinney and Eddy Julio Martinez have been ranked among the top 100 prospects this off-season. Baseball America’s Top 100 will be released Feb. 12.
Cubs Top 31 Prospects for 2016
2015 Ranking in Parenthesis (NA – Not Available, NR – Not Ranked)
BA Grade and Risk Factor in Parenthesis – Click here for an explanation of Baseball America’s grade scale and risk factor
- Gleyber Torres, SS (8, 55, Medium)
- Willson Contreras, C/3B (NR, 50, Medium)
- Ian Happ, OF/2B (NA, 55, High)
- Duane Underwood Jr., RHP (10, 55, High)
- Dylan Cease, RHP (28, 60, Extreme)
- Albert Almora Jr., OF (7, 50, Medium)
- Billy McKinney, OF (6, 50, Medium)
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP (NR, 55, Extreme)
- Eloy Jimenez, OF (20, 55, Extreme)
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B (24, 50, High)
- Mark Zagunis, OF (15, 50, High)
- Pierce Johnson, RHP (9, 50, High)
- Carl Edwards Jr., RHP (5, 45, Medium)
- Justin Steele, LHP (19, 55, Extreme)
- Bryan Hudson, LHP (NA, 55, Extreme)
- Darryl ‘D.J.’ Wilson, OF (NA, 55, Extreme)
- Donnie Dewees, OF (NA, 50, High)
- Trevor Clifton, RHP (23, 55, Extreme)
- Paul Blackburn, RHP (18, 50, High)
- Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP (11, 45, Medium)
- Jake Stinnett, RHP (12, 50, High)
- Carson Sands, LHP (26, 50, Extreme)
- Brad Markey, RHP (NR, 45, High)
- Victor Caratini, C (13, 45, High)
- Dan Vogelbach, 1B (25, 45, High)
- Jacob Hannemann, OF (17, 45, High)
- Ryan Williams, RHP (NR, 40, Medium)
- Eddy Julio Martinez, OF (NA, 50, Extreme)
- Andury Acevedo, RHP (NA, 45, High)
- David Berg, RHP (NA, 45, High)
- Jeffrey Baez, OF (NR, 50, Extreme)
Baseball America’s Grade Scale and Risk Factors
BA Grade Scale
- 75-80: Franchise players and No. 1 starters
- 65-70: No. 2 starters and perennial all-stars
- 55-60: First-division regulars and No. 3 starters and elite closers
- 45-50: Most players reside here. The high end (50s with lower risk) are second-division regulars with higher peaks, eighth-inning relievers and fourth starters on playoff teams. The lower end are platoon/utility players, back-end starters and relievers.
- 35-40: Players with fifth starter or utility/backup catcher upside, or relief pitchers. It will be rare for a 35 to make the book.
- Safe: Has shown realistic ceiling in big leagues
- Low: Likely to reach realistic ceiling, certain big league career barring injury
- Medium: Still some work to do to turn tools into Major League-caliber skills
- High: Most draft picks in their first seasons, players with plenty of projection left
- Extreme: Teenagers in Rookie ball or players with significant injury histories
Cubs Source of Top 30 Talent
- Homegrown players – 26 (College – 9, Junior College – 0, High School – 10, Non-Drafted Free Agents – 0, International – 7)
- Acquired – 4 (Trades – 3, Rule 5 Draft – 0, Independent Leagues – 0, Free Agents/Waivers – 1)
Best Tools in the Cubs System
- Gleyber Torres – Best Hitter for Average
- Eloy Jimenez – Best Power Hitter
- Mark Zagunis – Best Strike Zone Discipline
- Darryl ‘D.J.’ Wilson – Fastest Baserunner
- Jacob Hannemann – Best Athlete
- Dylan Cease – Best Fastball
- Bryan Hudson – Best Curveball
- Tyler Skulina – Best Slider
- Jen-Ho Tseng – Best Changeup
- Daury Torrez – Best Control
- Victor Caratini – Best Defensive Catcher
- Carlos Penalver – Best Defensive Infielder
- Jeimer Candelario – Best Infield Arm
- Albert Almora Jr. – Best Defensive Outfielder
- Darryl ‘D.J.’ Wilson – Best Outfield Arm
Despite Baseball America’s ranking, the Cubs system is considered one of the deepest in the game with projectable talent at each level of the organization. While the focus will be on the big league team this season, the front office will continue to put every available resource into player development and talent acquisition.
2016 Cubs Prospect Rankings
- Baseball America’s Top 10 Cubs Prospects for 2016 [includes scouting reports]
- FanGraphs Top Cubs Prospects List for 2016
- Minor League Ball’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2016
- Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Includes Six Cubs Prospects
- Six Cubs Prospects Land in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 List for 2016