Minor League Ball released its ranking of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system. And the list, headlined by Eloy Jimenez, looks a lot different than it did a year ago.
The 20-year old outfielder Eloy Jimenez tops John Sickels ranking of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system. Jimenez is the only Grade A prospect in the organization, right now, according to Minor League Ball.
Jimenez had an excellent year, one that started with Low-A South Bend and recently ended with an AFL Championship. Jimenez participated in three All-Star games, led the Midwest League in several offensive categories and among his accolades was being named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year.
Jimenez was promoted during the Myrtle Beach’s run to the Mills Cup Championship and he helped the Pelicans win their second straight Carolina League title.
As just 19 years old and in his first year of full-season baseball, Jimenez hit .329/.369/.532 with 40 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs for a .901 OPS. Jimenez had 81 RBI, scored 65 runs and totaled 230 bases for the South Bend Cubs.
RHP Dylan Cease and RHP Trevor Clifton follow Jimenez on Sickels’ list of the Cubs’ top prospects with 2B/OF Ian Happ and OF Albert Almora Jr. rounding out the top five.
Six of the top 10 best young players in the organization are position players but of the 20 Cubs prospects ranked by John Sickels, less than half are position players.
The Cubs have several pitchers that finished the season in the lower levels that project as big league starters or relievers. The continued development of those arms next season will be key to the Cubs success moving forward.
John Sickels agrees with most assessments of the Cubs system. It is deep, even with promoting so many prospects the last two-plus seasons. Sickels pointed out the Cubs “have a lot more C+ prospects who could blossom into more” and the pitching that has been added to the organization “could bear fruit soon.”
Minor League Ball’s Top 20 Cubs Prospects for 2017
(2016 Minor League Ball’s Ranking in Parenthesis – NA – Not Available, NR – Not Ranked)
Key – Player, Position, Minor League Ball Grade, 2016 Ranking
- Eloy Jimenez, OF, A-, (8)
- Dylan Cease, RHP, B+ (11)
- Trevor Clifton, RHP, B+/B (17)
- Ian Happ, 2B/OF, B+/B (2)
- Albert Almora Jr., OF, B (9)
- Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, B (7)
- Mark Zagunis, OF, B- (NR)
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B, B- (12)
- Duane Underwood Jr., RHP, B-/C+ (5)
- Victor Caratini, C/1B, B-/C+ (15)
- Donnie Dewees, OF, B-/C+ (16)
- Jose Albertos, RHP, B-/C+ (NR)
- Thomas Hatch, RHP, B-/C+ (NA)
- Wladimir Galindo, 3B, C+ (NR)
- Rob Zastryzny, LHP, C+ (NR)
- Ryan Kellogg, LHP, C+ (20)
- Erling Moreno, RHP, C+ (NR)
- Zach Hedges, RHP, C+ (NR)
- Jose Paulino, LHP, C+ (NR)
- D.J. Wilson, OF, C+ (NR)
Other Grade C+ Prospects
- Bryan Hudson, LHP
- Chad Hockin, RHP
- Preston Morrison, RHP
- Isaac Paredes, INF
- Jose Rosario, RHP
- Carlos Sepulveda, 2B
- Jake Stinnett, RHP
- Christian Villanueva, INF
- Ryan Williams, RHIP
- Chesny Young, INF
Other Top Prospects
RHP Corey Black, OF Charcer Burks, RHP Bailey Clark, OF Jacob Hannemann, C P.J. Higgins, RHP Pierce Johnson, OF Eddy Julio Martinez, RHP Ryan McNeil, RHP Felix Pena, 1B/OF Chris Pieters, C Ian Rice, RHP Michael Rucker, LHP Carson Sands, LHP Wyatt Short, LHP Justin Steele, RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, LHP Kyle Twomey
Four of the Cubs top six prospects for the 2016 season helped the big league team reach the ultimate goal. Gleyber Torres, Ian Happ, Billy McKinney, Willson Contreras, Duane Underwood Jr. and Carl Edwards Jr. were the top six Cubs prospects in January of this year according to John Sickels.
Contreras and Edwards Jr. produced for the Cubs. Contreras played a huge role in the 103-win season, in the playoffs and World Series. And the front office used Torres and McKinney as half of the trade with the Yankees to acquire Aroldis Chapman.
While the farm system does not garner the attention it did for the first three years of the current administration, development of the young players in the organization is just as important now as it has been for a team that is focused on sustained success and multiple championships.