Chicago Cubs Top 52 Prospects

Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Chicago Cubs. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the third year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers. The ETAs listed generally correspond to the year a player has to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Manual adjustments are made where they seem appropriate, but we use that as a rule of thumb.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the ranked prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details (and updated TrackMan data from various sources) than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Cubs Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Pete Crow-Armstrong 21.3 AA CF 2024 55
2 James Triantos 20.4 A+ 2B 2026 50
3 Ben Brown 23.8 AAA SP 2023 50
4 Jordan Wicks 23.9 AAA SP 2024 50
5 Kevin Alcántara 21.0 A+ CF 2024 50
6 Hayden Wesneski 25.6 MLB SP 2023 50
7 Cade Horton 21.9 A+ SP 2026 45+
8 Owen Caissie 21.0 AA RF 2025 45
9 Moises Ballesteros 19.7 A+ C 2026 45
10 Daniel Palencia 23.4 MLB SIRP 2023 45
11 Jefferson Rojas 18.2 A SS 2027 45
12 Caleb Kilian 26.1 MLB SP 2023 45
13 Cristian Hernandez 19.6 A SS 2025 45
14 Javier Assad 25.9 MLB MIRP 2023 45
15 Miguel Amaya 24.3 MLB C 2023 40+
16 Haydn McGeary 23.7 AA 1B 2025 40+
17 Jackson Ferris 19.5 A SP 2027 40+
18 Michael Arias 21.6 A+ SP 2025 40+
19 Kevin Made 20.8 A+ SS 2025 40+
20 Drew Gray 20.2 A SP 2026 40+
21 Derniche Valdez 17.3 R SS 2029 40+
22 DJ Herz 22.5 AA SIRP 2024 40+
23 Alexander Canario 23.2 AAA RF 2024 40+
24 Nazier Mule 18.7 R SIRP 2027 40+
25 Brody McCullough 23.0 A+ SP 2026 40
26 Pablo Aliendo 22.1 AA C 2024 40
27 Christian Franklin 23.6 A+ CF 2025 40
28 Ezequiel Pagan 23.0 A+ LF 2025 40
29 Alexis Hernandez 18.5 R SS 2027 40
30 Riley Martin 25.3 AAA SIRP 2025 40
31 Kohl Franklin 23.8 AA MIRP 2024 40
32 Brandon Birdsell 23.3 A+ SIRP 2026 40
33 Zac Leigh 25.6 AA MIRP 2025 40
34 Miles Mastrobuoni 27.7 MLB SS 2023 40
35 Chase Strumpf 25.3 AAA 3B 2023 40
36 Ludwing Espinoza 17.6 R SS 2029 40
37 Tyler Schlaffer 22.1 A+ SP 2024 40
38 Danis Correa 23.9 AAA SIRP 2024 35+
39 Eduarniel Nunez 24.1 AA SIRP 2024 35+
40 Cayne Ueckert 27.1 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
41 Bryce Windham 26.8 AAA C 2024 35+
42 Connor Noland 24.0 A+ SP 2026 35+
43 Richard Gallardo 21.8 AA SP 2023 35+
44 Brennen Davis 23.7 AAA RF 2024 35+
45 Ryan Jensen 25.6 AAA MIRP 2023 35+
46 Matt Mervis 25.2 MLB 1B 2023 35+
47 Max Bain 27.8 AA SIRP 2023 35+
48 Riley Thompson 27.0 AAA MIRP 2023 35+
49 Cam Sanders 26.6 AAA SIRP 2023 35+
50 Jeremiah Estrada 24.7 MLB SIRP 2023 35+
51 Carlos Guzman 25.1 AA SIRP 2024 35+
52 Ben Leeper 26.1 AAA SIRP 2024 35+
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55 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Harvard Westlake HS (CA) (NYM)
Age 21.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr L / L FV 55
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 50/55 35/45 60/60 60/70 55

Drafted by the Mets, the slick-fielding PCA played just six games at Low-A in 2021 before missing the remainder of the season with a labrum injury. While injured, he was dealt to the Cubs, and when he returned in 2022, he wasted little time demonstrating why he’d netted the Mets Javier Báez and Trevor Williams in return. Having made noticeable adjustments to his swing, Crow-Armstrong tapped into in-game power previously missing from his offensive profile. He tore up Low-A, slashing .354/.443/.557 with a 12% walk rate and an 18% strikeout rate over about two months before a promotion. After that promotion and into the start of 2023, a much more aggressive approach was exposed, with PCA running a 4.9% walk rate at High-A, then starting this season at Double-A with an even lower one, as of our last check-in. Since then, however, he’s brought his walk rate back up to about 8%, while his strikeout rate has stabilized. Along with bringing down his chase rate, he’s hitting the ball harder this year, increasing the percentage of his contact that leaves his bat at 95 mph or higher to over 42% (up from the mid-30s last season).

As an amateur, Crow-Armstrong’s swing resembled that of Blake Rutherford. It was bottom hand-driven and geared in the extreme for low-ball contact. The revamped swing he showed once he was healthy post-trade from New York was more top-hand driven and direct to the top of the strike zone. While his current swing is definitely better than the one from high school, it still leaves Crow-Armstrong vulnerable at the top of the zone. Most all of his balls in play so far in 2023 have been on pitches down and in, and he doesn’t cover the upper and outer thirds very well. This, in concert with a higher rate of chase, is likely to dilute Crow-Armstrong’s offensive production. Aspects of his report read like Cristian Pache‘s and Drew Waters‘ scouting reports did at one point, as they both performed on the surface despite clear underlying issues. His Gold Glove-caliber defense and the power he generates on contact will still carry PCA’s profile.

That brings us the to lede we’ve buried: PCA’s defense is an unassailable aspect of his profile. He’s an acrobatic wizard in center field, ranging from gap to gap and making athletic plays at the wall, showing elite hands and ball skills. The floor for a prospect who plays a premium position this well is very high. Essentially, even if PCA’s top-of-the-zone hole and propensity to chase result in him being a frustrating offensive player, his defense will still end up making him a valuable big leaguer. Jackie Bradley Jr. is a fair comp.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from Madison HS (VA) (CHC)
Age 20.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 30/50 50/50 30/40 40

Triantos started 2023 on the injured list, having undergone meniscus surgery just before the start of the regular season, the first disruption to an explosive start to his professional career. After his 2021 draft selection, he put up cartoonish numbers on the complex to close out that season. He then spent 2022 at Low-A, where he performed just above league average at 19 years old. Triantos hit the ground running when he came back from the meniscus in early May. He’s still demonstrating a knack for barrel adjustment and has, albeit in a small sample, cut his strikeout rate in half compared to last year. He has just two multi-strikeout games so far this season and is walking more often than he has punched out as of list publication. Triantos’ swinging strike rate is just 6%, more statistical evidence of his impressive barrel control. We think his walk rates will trend back toward his semi-aggressive career norms, as he’s still a bit chase prone, but he can really hit. He weirdly inside-outs a lot of high fastballs to the opposite field and swings with rotational verve. He’s not hitting for a ton of power yet, but he’s still just 20 years old.

Defensively, Triantos was drafted as a shortstop, played both middle infield spots in rookie ball, then spent 2022 at third base. Now he’s moved back over to the keystone, which he hadn’t manned since 2021. He’s not very quick or smooth, and he lacks the ranginess that might be necessary to hold down a middle infield position. He could be a 40 defender at second, but it’s definitely a flaw. The Cubs should give him every opportunity to stay on the dirt because it’s Triantos’ best shot at profiling as an everyday bat, which we think he’ll become. He’s similar to Nick Yorke in a few ways and slides up near him on the Top 100.

3. Ben Brown, SP

Drafted: 8th Round, 2017 from Ward Melville HS (NY) (PHI)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 60/60 40/45 94-96 / 98

A late bloomer, Brown blossomed in 2022, his first fully healthy, uninterrupted season. He started the year at the Phillies’ High-A affiliate before being acquired by Chicago for David Robertson at last year’s deadline. Upon entry into the Cubs org, the 6-foot-6 righty was sent straight Double-A Tennessee, where he continued his breakout season. He combined for a total of 104 innings between the two levels, which is more than he’d logged across the entirety of his pro career to that point, dating back to when he was drafted in 2017. After four starts back at Tennessee to start 2023, Brown got a quick hook up to Iowa, where he’s continued to strike out a ton of guys while struggling with walks.

Brown throws a mid-90s power fastball that he pairs with two nasty, distinct breaking balls, both with north-south profiles that allow the fastball to play up despite coming from a high approach angle that might otherwise dampen the effects of its shape. The type of ride he creates on the heater is more often deceptive when it’s coming from shallower angle, but his fastball has played well thus far, and there are examples of success with this combination of approach angle and fastball shape, Justin Verlander being the pinnacle.

Brown’s present lack of fastball command puts him on the starter/reliever projection line. Ideally, his fastball would live at the very top of the strike zone more consistently, but his unintentionally low fastballs at times help to set up his hard, upper-80s slider as a chase pitch below it. Because his track record of actually pitching is relatively short, Brown stands a chance to improve in the control and command realm, and if he doesn’t and makes a move to the bullpen, he might throw even harder than he does now. He has three plus pitches and is major league ready even if he isn’t totally polished, fitting toward the back third of the Top 100 list with other relief risk pitching prospects.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Kansas State (CHC)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 50/50 60/60 45/50 55/60 91-94 / 96

Wicks arguably had the best changeup in the 2021 draft as well as plus command projection, putting him firmly in the middle of the first round. Lefties with plus changeups and plus command almost always tend to carve out a role at the back of a rotation, and he has been tracking like a no. 4/5 starter since he broke out during the summer of 2020. His fastball, while not all that hard, has traits that enable it to play at the top of the strike zone when he is throwing the four-seam version, and he helps himself further by hiding the ball well. Wicks will vary his breaking ball shape in the 77–83 mph range, at times showing hitters a slider with lateral action and at others imparting more vertical break on a curve. It looks as though he’s added a cutter this year, giving him a sixth pitch. Neither of Wicks’ slower breakers is especially nasty, but again, his command helps them shine. He started the 2023 season with a 17% swinging strike rate at Double-A over 13 starts, seven of which lasted at least five frames, earning him a promotion. One of the more stable starting pitching prospects in the minors, Wicks doesn’t technically have to be added to the Cubs’ 40-man until after the 2024 season, but he’s on pace to debut well ahead of that schedule. He’s a high probability no. 4 starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (NYY)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/70 20/60 55/50 40/50 55

A backfield wunderkind who stood out immediately because of his rare combination of size and athleticism, Alcántara has been a Top 100 prospect at FanGraphs for a couple of years and continues to hold steady among the young, high variance hitters in the back third of the list. Originally a high profile Yankees amateur signee, the pandemic and a hamstring injury limited him to just nine stateside minor league games before he was traded to the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo in 2021. He had a successful foray into full-season ball, slashing .273/.360/.451 with 15 homers and 14 steals with Low-A Myrtle Beach. Even though he was still eons from the big leagues, the Cubs were compelled to put Alcántara on their 40-man roster during the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He broke camp at High-A South Bend to start the 2023 season and his peripherals have backed up a bit, but Alcántara has still hit .276/.318/.452 since the end of April and his overall performance has garnered a wRC+ above league average, though it’s admittedly low compared to his past standards.

Meanwhile, Alcántara’s power has started to arrive, with nearly half (48%) of his contact leaving his bat at 95 mph or higher (the big league average is 39%). Because the Cubs had to 40-man Alcántara at such a young age, he’s at least one level behind the developmental curve typical of a player in his first option year. At some point in 2023 or 2024, the Cubs may want to accelerate his climb. He’s hopefully on track for a late look in Double-A, which would put him on a more comfortable pace to compete for an Opening Day roster spot in 2025.

There’s definitely hit tool risk here, but athletic, 6-foot-6 outfielders who can rotate like Alcántara can are rare. He is loose and fluid in the box, but there are some swing-and-miss concerns, which is standard for a hitter with levers this long. He sometimes has trouble turning on hittable fastballs and tends to pepper the right-center field gap, which is an indication he might struggle to catch up to big league heat at all. The good news is that Alcántara already has enough pop to do damage to the opposite field and will probably grow into much more as his frame continues to fill out.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Sam Houston (NYY)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/60 45/50 50/50 55/60 92-95 / 96

Wesneski was on the offseason Top 100 and graduated from rookie status a few weeks into the season. As things currently stand, it looks like we over-shot this one. Wesneski was shipped to Chicago as part of the Scott Effross trade with the Yankees. During his time in New York’s system, he underwent an overhaul to his mechanics and now throws with a more typical starter’s delivery, characterized by impressive flexibility in his shoulders and back. He features a five-pitch arsenal with three distinct fastballs — a four-seamer, sinker, and cutter — all of which have taken a step back in terms of their bat-missing ability thus far in 2023. Not a single one of Wesneski’s offerings is generating an above-average swinging strike rate, compared to three of them doing so during his 2022 cup of coffee. He throws the sweeper (as it’s now called) about a third of the time, with the rest of his mix split between his three fastballs. His inability to miss bats consistently, along with one of the highest HR/9 in baseball, resulted in a move to the bullpen, where his slider usage has seen a more exaggerated uptick. He’s thrived in the handful of long relief outings he’s had since the shift. If that’s where he stays, he’ll still be an effective member of a pitching staff, but more the sort of arm we’d ideally place in the 40+ FV tier.

45+ FV Prospects

7. Cade Horton, SP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2022 from Oklahoma (CHC)
Age 21.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 211 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 50/55 35/45 30/50 95-97 / 99

Horton has wasted no time making his presence known in pro ball. The Cubs’ 2022 first round pick posted a 13.19 K/9 in four starts at Low-A, then earned a promotion to South Bend, where he’s held serve; his strikeout rate is just shy of the 40% mark. His fastball averages 95-97 mph with ride and cut, and he throws it for a strike more than 70% of the time. But he doesn’t solely rely on the heater for strikes. His sequencing and willingness to vary his pitch selection regardless of count prevents opposing hitters from predicting what they’re up against, resulting in hapless swings. His two-plane slider showed vast improvement over the course of his last season at Oklahoma, and the rest of his arsenal has seen similar progress; he’s only given up one hit off his tumbling, mid-80s curveball this season, and his ability to place his high-80s changeup has made it a viable weapon against lefties.

His athletic delivery features a short, repeatable arm action, and as a former walk-on quarterback at Oklahoma, he radiates a palpable determination on the mound during his starts. Having missed time in college due to Tommy John surgery, this season is his first test of pro durability. The org is being somewhat careful with him, allowing at least seven days (sometimes more) between his starts, resulting in relatively few innings overall, usually four to five per start. That context is important. Horton is definitely poised to move into the offseason Top 100 if he can maintain his stuff through the end of the season. His delivery has more effort than is typical of a workhorse starter and we’re not ready to move him in just yet, but Horton has mid-rotation stuff.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Notre Dame Catholic HS (ON) (SDP)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 70/80 55/65 40/30 30/50 60

Caissie, who came over from San Diego in the Yu Darvish trade, had never played a night game until the Arizona Complex League opener in 2021, the most extreme detail of an amateur profile rife with late-bloomer traits. While his career strikeout rates have hovered around a concerning 30% mark, Caissie is a .272/.377/.460 career hitter in the minors as of list publication. His huge, broad-shouldered frame has filled out as expected and he now has plus-plus raw power. His high-end exit velos have not only been the best in this system, but are among the top 20 in all of minor league baseball, with max exit velos in 2023 up around 117 mph and a 90th-percentile exit velo averaging 111 mph. That’s up in Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Judge, and Jo Adell territory (not everyone way up there is good), and it’s possible Caissie will grow into even more power. He also has on-base skills, with just a 24% chase rate so far in 2023. Caissie’s swing is stiff and long, and he struggles with strikeouts (lots of whiffs against soft stuff away from him, even in the zone) and probably always will. His overall contact rate (64%) is lower than that of any qualified big league right fielder this year and any qualified outfielder of the last 10 years except for Joey Gallo. That’s a scary detail, and is ultimately keeping Caissie off the Top 100. We clearly like him as a player, but more as a strong side corner platoon option.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 19.7 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 55/60 25/55 20/20 30/40 40

It’s possible that Ballesteros will become an Alejandro Kirk sequel, with power at the forefront of his offensive profile rather than premium feel for contact. Ballesteros is a husky young catcher with an incomplete defensive skill set. He’s a good enough receiver to catch but anything that requires mobility is lacking, especially the consistency of his throwing mechanics to second base. Still, he’s too young to declare him a DH-only prospect. Ballesteros’ ceiling is sizable if he can stay behind the plate, and the Cubs should give him as long as possible to polish his ball-blocking and his throwing.

The carrying tools here are Ballesteros’ feel for contact and power. He isn’t remotely projectable (this is a young hitter with a high-risk build who needs to keep things in check as he enters his 20s), but there’s already above-average raw pop here as well as lovely feel for opposite-field contact. Ballesteros pushes a lot of contact to left field and there is a subset of scouts who are concerned about his inability to pull the ball (he can send balls into the right/center gap, but can’t yank anything down the first base line), enough that they worry it will be a problem against big league velo. We think there’s enough stick here for Ballesteros to be a role-playing bat in the Daniel Vogelbach mold even if it turns out he can’t catch. His offensive profile doesn’t have a hole — his bat-to-ball, power, and patience are all average or better. If he can develop as a defender, he has the ceiling of a primary catcher.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (OAK)
Age 23.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 55/60 30/40 97-99 / 100

Palencia had barely pitched in the U.S. and had only been seen by a few scouts when the A’s traded him to the Cubs for Andrew Chafin. Palencia’s fastball stood out from the jump, as he was sitting 97–99 mph immediately during backfield activity. His heater still sits 98–99 and frequently tops out in the triple-digits with late life, a near-elite offering that plays down due to his middling control. His two secondaries include an above-average slider that he throws hard enough (it averaged just south of 90 mph in 2022) to make up for its generic shape. He hasn’t yet been able to locate any of his three offerings consistently, and that erratic control carried over to 2023, with Palencia starting the season as a Double-A starter who maxed out around three innings (the last time he lasted longer than four innings was back in June of 2022). After five starts there, he didn’t pitch in a game for a couple weeks, then reemerged as a single-inning reliever at Triple-A. Since the promotion and reassignment to the bullpen, he’s gotten wilder, but he’s still garnering a lot of swinging strikes, both in and out of the zone.

Listed at 5-foot-11, Palencia has a maxed-out, muscular frame that might not age well athletically. The combination of power and fluidity he shows in his mechanics (even though he doesn’t have consistent feel for release right now) is akin to Pirates righty Luis Ortiz, who is similarly built and has been able to withstand a starter’s workload while maintaining upper-90s velo. While we buy that he’ll hold his stuff under a starter’s load of innings, Palencia hasn’t proven it yet. He may indeed be better in small, electrifying doses, and that seems to be the avenue the Cubs are exploring with Palencia at the moment. His big league debut came in extra innings on July 4. In both of his frames, he retired the side in order, while his defense threw both zombie runners out at the plate, which means in two full innings, he’s only faced four batters while recording his first big league win on just 12 pitches. His fastball sat 98-99 and touched 100 several times, with his slider garnering big league chase at 90 mph. With the type of velocity he provides, Palencia is a good fit for a high-impact relief role.

11. Jefferson Rojas, SS

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 18.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 40/50 20/50 45/45 30/45 55

Rojas raked all throughout extended spring training and was sent to Myrtle Beach after just a few official complex games. He is now in a middle infield timeshare with Cristian Hernandez and has played more shortstop than Hernandez has since his promotion. Rojas may not be an infielder at all. He plays high and has below-average hands, though his arm is okay at short.

Rojas might hit enough to play anywhere, though. He has a rhythmic in-and-out stride that results in a big, athletic move forward, he has a top hand-driven swing, and he’s bent at the waist through contact, giving his swing natural loft akin to Dylan Crews (albeit without quite as much bat speed). He can get tied up inside — he doesn’t have that Justin Turner-esque ability to tuck his hands and and barrel up-and-in pitches yet — and Low-A arms are already attacking him in this area. There are promising components here and enough offensive ability to stack Rojas over hitters in the system who are less likely to mash enough to play a core role.

Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Texas Tech (SFG)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/45 50/50 40/45 55/55 50/50 92-96 / 99

A 2019 eighth rounder out of Texas Tech, Kilian missed what would have been his first full pro season due to the pandemic and looked underwhelming during 2020 instructs, sitting 91–93 mph with fringe secondary stuff in a few short outings. In the couple of seasons since then, he was sent from San Francisco to Chicago as part of the Kris Bryant trade, experienced a velocity spike, and saw his command (once projected as a 70-grade attribute) regress somewhat (due to a stylistic shift) en route to his big league debut.

Kilian will work with a nasty two-seamer that eats right-handed batters alive on the inner third. He also throws a four-seamer that at times has natural cut, as well as a more overt cutter in the upper-80s. He can reach back for velocities peaking in the 97–99 band but tends to sit in the 92–96 range throughout a start, and his stuff is much more about inducing weak contact than it is about missing bats. After showing a precise east/west style of pitching early in his pro career, Kilian has begun to take a less efficient north/south approach, especially with his four-seamer. He doesn’t have a plus bat-missing secondary, so pure velocity is his best way of punching hitters out. He’ll frequently show you a 77–82 mph curveball, but that pitch is as much about stealing early-count strikes as it is about finishing hitters off. Without the tools to strike out a batter per inning, Kilian is more of an innings-eating sort who projects toward the back of a good rotation.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 19.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/35 50/60 25/50 55/55 40/50 50

Hernandez was on the offseason top 100 but he’s been struggling on offense for long enough now to reposition him. We don’t want to come off of him a ton, as he’s still a high-probability shortstop with a long-limbed, projectable frame and huge bat speed, but his strikeouts and contact quality have not been up to snuff.

Hernandez is your traditional top-of-the-class international amateur who excels in a workout environment. His infield actions are smooth and athletic, his swing has a gorgeous, pronounced finish, and he has the right amount of overt physical projection that he might mature into the unteachable, star-making Goldilocks Zone, where he stays at short and also develops impact power. Hernandez’s cut is pretty long, and he swings underneath lots of fastballs, but he also has rare power for a teenage shortstop. The latter is important at this stage of his career. The Cubs have had some recent success in tweaking swings, and if Hernandez can shorten up his cut and even be a 40-grade contact hitter at maturity, then he’s likely to be a good big league shortstop because every other tool is in place. Thus far, he’s shown no movement on his hit tool, hence the slight re-evaluation.

14. Javier Assad, MIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 25.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 55/55 40/45 55/60 50/55 92-96 / 97

For most of his life as a prospect, Assad has looked like a kitchen sink pitchability righty with spot starter’s stuff. But his velocity has blossomed over the last few years and it spiked comfortably into the mid-90s when he was deployed as a long reliever for Mexico’s WBC team in the spring of 2023. The thick, bespectacled righty attacks hitters with a variety of fastball and breaking ball shapes, most frequently his upper-80s cutter. The repertoire depth and command to start are most certainly here, and that’s what Assad’s projection is in a vacuum, but he broke 2023 camp in a long relief role with the big league team. He’s mostly stayed in the major league bullpen so far this year, with a handful of starts at Triple-A and one at Wrigley, though it was shorter than several of his relief appearances. He entered this season having thrown about 100 innings each of the last four years, so he has the innings foundation to leapfrog into a rotation role if Chicago needs him to during the summer. Until then, he’ll be a nasty multi-inning reliever.

40+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Panama (CHC)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 30/40 40/40 40/50 45

The pandemic and an unfortunately-timed Tommy John surgery limited Amaya to just 60 games across the 2020–22 seasons, and during that time he went from a relatively advanced young catching prospect to a 24-year-old who clearly looks rusty and unpolished back there. His arm strength is average coming off the TJ and his exchange further dilutes pop times in the 2.05 area. His glove hand is slow to match pitch location, making it tough for him to make borderline pitches look like strikes when the pitcher doesn’t hit his spot. On a knee with the bases empty and in a high crouch with runners on base, Amaya is also not a sticky ball-blocker and gives up lots of long rebounds that allow runners to advance. He hasn’t progressed as predicted when he first broke onto the scene as a quick-moving teenager who looked like a shoe-in to catch, but the time off is a good reason for him to suddenly be behind. Still, important development is going to have to be compressed into Amaya’s next 10 months. The 2023 season is his fourth and final option year, so he needs to progress enough as a defender for the Cubs to feel good about permanently carrying him as their backup.

The good news is that strapping catchers built like Amaya are the sorts who tend to break out in their late 20s, à la Tyler Flowers. A swing grooved through the bottom portion of the zone will likely prevent him from being an average contact hitter, but his on-base skills and meaningful power (for a catcher) already make him more a more dangerous offensive player than your typical backup. There’s enough of a gap between the typical primary big league catcher’s defense and Amaya’s current glove to forecast him as a bat-first backup early in his career, and some of his career history (so much time missed) suggests the finer points of the defense have a chance to arrive later on.

16. Haydn McGeary, 1B

Drafted: 15th Round, 2022 from Colorado Mesa University (CHC)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 70/70 45/60 40/40 30/40 50

Selected in the 15th round in 2022 and signed away from a commitment to Kentucky, McGeary played a few games on the complex and at Low-A at the end of last season and hit for power right away. He carried his momentum into 2023, starting with a month at High-A during which he slashed .368/.467/.592, albeit at a level he was slightly too old for. Now at a more age-appropriate Double-A, he has a 133 wRC+ as of list publication, with a mid-teens walk rate and more hits than any other player in the Cubs system. Moreover, he’s done so with mouth-watering underlying power metrics that are some of the best in all of pro baseball, including a 50% hard-hit rate, a 119 mph max exit velo, and a barrel rate above 12%. His 90th-percentile exit velocities average higher than most guys’ maximum exit velocities on the season — McGeary’s are actually tied with Shohei Ohtani and Vladdy Jr.’s at 110 mph. His swing is smooth and uncomplicated and takes advantage of his muscle-bound 6-foot-4 frame to generate power that frequently sends balls way, way out to the opposite field.

McGeary’s offensive performance coincides with him abandoning catching, and perhaps removing this burden on his body elevated his ability to mash. He’s putting up similar numbers to the ones fellow R/R first baseman Spencer Torkelson posted when he was at Double-A (though Tork was younger at the time), and assuming he holds steady (or even improves) on his impressive start, McGeary looks the part of a power-hitting, everyday first baseman in many ways.

Let’s hold our horses for one second, though, and talk about some of the potential pitfalls on McGeary’s skill set. He’s really great at getting extended on pitches away from him and vaporizing them to right field, but he’s apt to get tied up in on his hands. Before we declare this guy the next Paul Goldschmidt, let’s see him handle upper-level fastballs for a while longer. He was already one hell of a Day Three pick and is arguably opposing teams’ most important eval in this entire system.

17. Jackson Ferris, SP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2022 from IMG Academy (FL) (CHC)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/50 50/55 45/55 20/50 92-95 / 96

Ferris’ combination of velocity (up to 96 mph), fastball carry, breaking ball snap, and frame give him tremendous upside. His feel for location is so raw that he has a little more relief risk than a typical $3 million signee, though sometimes guys with lanky frames like this gain control of their bodies later. Ferris has a powerful lower half, bending deep into his blocking leg. He also strides open, clearing his front side to help enable an extremely vertical arm slot. The combination of the two helps Ferris’ fastball have flatter angle than is typical for a pitcher this tall and with such a high arm slot. If he can live more consistently at the top of the strike zone as he matures, Ferris’ mid-90s fastball could dominate up there. The vertical slot helps him create depth on his breaking ball, and Ferris can turn over a changeup from that slot, albeit with a little variation. After breaking camp on a bit of a delay, he’s missing bats at Low-A Myrtle Beach while sitting 92-94 most of the time. Ferris was utilizing a changeup-heavy approach during our extended spring training looks but has been working more with his two different breaking balls so far this year. There are three or four potential impact pitches here, a ton of physical projection, and a delivery that some scouts see as the key to the whole operation, but that others think points toward the bullpen. He remains a young pitching prospect of extreme variance, one with mid-rotation upside.

18. Michael Arias, SP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/45 45/55 30/50 94-97 / 98

Arias is a converted shortstop who moved to the mound around the time he signed with the Cubs. He was walk-prone in 2022 but has gotten that more under control in 2023 as he’s climbed through both A-ball levels. At a lanky 6-feet or so, Arias is fun to watch pitch because his stuff is nasty, his delivery is funky, and he wears a pair of Jordan 1-style spikes that look really slick with the South Bend Cubs unis. Arias’ low-slot delivery creates huge tail and uphill angle on his 94-97 mph heater. This pitch alone and Arias’ mechanical funk should enable him to be a reliever at the very least. Stuff-evaluating pitch metrics are more bullish about Arias’ secondary weapons than visual reports. His upper-80s changeup has so much tailing movement that it often doesn’t entice opposing hitters, and Arias’ mid-80s slider is terse and cutter-y.

While he’s developmentally a bit behind the typical 21-year-old starter prospect, Arias is still a likely post-2023 40-man add. He’ll probably need to spend his first option year completely in the minors. He’s on pace to work about 80 innings this year, so he should be built up to around 120 innings by 2025. There’s relief risk here, but Arias has a better chance to start than a lot of the hard-throwing arms in the system and his stuff is nastier than the Drew Gray/Jackson Ferris types whose command makes them a more likely starter. Though his long-term role still isn’t totally in focus, Arias is new to pitching and has a special fastball. He projects as an impact arm of some kind.

19. Kevin Made, SS

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 20.8 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 40/50 30/45 55/55 45/55 55

Made is still percolating in the mid-minors, but we caution against prospect fatigue here. He’s a projectable, well-rounded shortstop whose bat-to-ball performance is improving. The game is still a little too fast for him at times, especially on defense, but his age, present skills and body projection give him a chance to break out during the next couple of years. He split 2022 between Low- and High-A, and while his numbers dipped after his mid-season promotion, he seemed much more comfortable at the plate than he had the previous season when he was challenged with a perhaps premature entrance into A-Ball as an 18-year-old. His most significant step forward was a vastly improved recognition of balls and strikes, with his walk rate jumping from a meager 2.5% in 2021 to 11% throughout 2022. He began 2023 at High-A and has maintained his double-digit walk rate, while simultaneously lowering his strikeout rate into the mid-teens. Made’s swing is balanced, with simple mechanics and lots of rotation, but he’s yet to tap into power. He’s running a 77% contact rate so far in 2023, more because of his swing’s simplicity than his feel for the barrel. He’s young enough to hope he’ll grow into meaningful power. We’ll stop short of projecting Made as an everyday shortstop, but he has a puncher’s chance to be one.

20. Drew Gray, SP

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2021 from IMG Academy (CHC)
Age 20.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/55 45/60 30/45 30/40 88-92 / 93

Gray is back from his 2022 TJ and his arm stroke has been a little inconsistent as he shakes off the rust, but he otherwise looks like he did before the injury. He’s sitting 93, creating big lateral sweep on his mid-70s breaking ball and flashing bat-missing action on his changeup. He gets way down the mound and is very balanced over his lead leg as he delivers home, generating big extension and flat angle on his heater. Release consistency is the developmental key for Gray, and was before he got hurt. He’s not quite as projectable as Jackson Ferris, but the two of them are similar in a few ways, as both are volatile young arms with right-tail mid-rotation upside.

21. Derniche Valdez, SS

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 17.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 35/45 20/45 55/55 40/55 50

While he’s only of medium build, Valdez was one of the better infield athletes in the 2023 international class, as is apparent with his infield feet and actions as well as the way his lower half works throughout his swing. While he’s on the smaller side, Valdez does not get cheated at the plate and has a huge, flexible stride that coaxes more power than you’d expect from his little frame. He is quite like Rangers prospect Luisangel Acuña in this way. During his first few weeks in the DSL, Valdez has struck out a ton but he is hitting for power. It’s too early to draw hit tool bust concerns from a this small sample, but it is something to monitor as the summer progresses.

22. DJ Herz, SIRP

Drafted: 8th Round, 2019 from Sanford HS (NC) (CHC)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/45 45/45 70/70 30/40 91-94 / 96

Herz has an extreme crossbodied delivery that aids in deception and makes him a nightmare for lefty hitters to pick up. His stride direction looks more like Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move than it does a traditional delivery. Deception and an incredible changeup have helped him strike out well over a batter per inning since he showed a little bit of a velo spike coming out of the pandemic, but even though he’s only ever started, his mechanical look and walk totals both point to the bullpen. After starting the year on the shelf with a hamstring strain, Herz spent some time rehabbing in Arizona, where he sat 90 mph and touched 92. Since returning to Double-A in May, his fastball has been back to where it had been in 2022, sitting 91-92 and touching 94. It’s plausible the velocity bump that often accompanies a transition to the ‘pen could occur here if and when the Cubs move him. The 2023 season is Herz’s 40-man evaluation year, and he’s a pretty good bet to be added after the season even though he’s struggling badly with walks. Most teams don’t ‘pen young, optionable starters, however flawed, so Herz has at least one more year to improve his strike throwing before it’s time to change his role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (SFG)
Age 23.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/60 45/55 50/45 45/50 70

Canario is a bat speed maven who came to the Cubs from San Francisco via the Kris Bryant trade. He is a prototypical right field prospect with plus raw power, and he clubbed a whopping 37 homers in 2022 (mostly at Double-A) before suffering a couple of severe injuries (fractured ankle, dislocated shoulder) in a collision at first base during winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Those injuries had him shelved for the early portion of 2023, but he returned to the complex in mid-May. He is now at High-A and is likely to ramp up to where he left off before his injury, at the upper levels of the Cubs’ system.

A healthy Canario is one of the more explosive rotational athletes in baseball. His max-effort cuts are scintillating, and his swing’s finish — his bat finishes in the dirt behind him — is an indication of how loose and whippy he is in the hips and torso. He is going to whiff a bunch, both because of his style of hitting, which causes him to swing inside a bunch of sliders, and because his bat path makes it tough for him to get on top of high fastballs; an overwhelming majority of his contact comes against pitches out away from him. There will probably be too many strikeouts here to justify Canario playing an everyday role, but he has such electric bat speed that he’ll likely get to enough power to play a part-time corner role, with some peak years of 20 or so homers. He has looked rusty on both sides of the ball since returning from his injury, but it’s prudent to let things air out for the rest of the season and re-evaluate Canario at its conclusion.

24. Nazier Mule, SIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2022 from Passaic Tech (NJ) (CHC)
Age 18.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/70 45/60 30/45 20/40 93-97 / 100

One of the most electric athletes in the entire 2022 draft, Mule was a two-way prospect with hit tool question marks partially generated by his swing’s bizarre look. He was a capable defensive shortstop with a 70 arm, and his strapping frame was poised to grow into huge power, but Mule’s hit tool was scary enough that we, and most teams, had him projected as a pitcher only. Elite arm speed generated upper-90s velo, but also very little feel for location and an extremely inconsistent slider. A young-for-the-class developmental project with elite arm strength and body projection, pro dev has their work cut out for them if Mule is going to start. He was sitting in the mid-90s and flashing a better slider during backfield live BPs the fall after he was drafted, but he blew out during the spring of 2023 and won’t throw his first official pro pitch until 2024. If Mule develops one plus secondary pitch, he could easily be a late-inning reliever. The missed time at the front end of his pro career makes a bullpen outcome even more likely.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 10th Round, 2022 from Wingate (CHC)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 40/45 45/50 45/55 35/55 91-94 / 96

A four-pitch righty from Division-II Wingate, McCullough has the look of a four-pitch backend starter. He sits in the 92-94 range with cut/rise action and his nearly seven feet of extension helps his heater play up. His secondary pitch quality is often below average, with the changeup flashing average or better most of all. He’s thrown plenty of strikes to this point and, aside from the more famous guys who you’ve already read about, McCullough has the best chance to stick as a starter in this system.

26. Pablo Aliendo, C

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/55 30/45 40/40 30/45 70

Aliendo is an athletic and angular catcher who badly needs to improve his receiving and ball-blocking. He has an absolute hose, often popping sub-1.80 seconds on throws to second base. Aliendo also has a power-over-hit profile on offense. His uppercut swing produces big pull-side pop for a young catcher, but he’s extremely vulnerable to sliders. This is a watered down Jorge Alfaro skill set with a long-term, bat-first backup fit.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2021 from Arkansas (CHC)
Age 23.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 50/50 35/45 50/50 40/50 45

Franklin is a well-rounded player who performed in the SEC, slashing .288/.402/.499 during his career at Arkansas while drawing tweener fourth outfielder visual evaluations. He suffered a torn patellar tendon and missed all of 2022, which would have been his first full season. Back from injury in 2023, Franklin looks fine at all three outfield spots (average in center, plus in the corners) and he’s hitting the ball hard. His swing works best in the bottom of the zone, so there’s some trepidation about it because there’s so much top side velo in the big leagues now and Franklin’s injury has him behind the minor league progression of a typical SEC hitter. But the combination of pop and the viable center field defense Franklin brings doesn’t grow on trees. He projects as a role-playing, part-time outfielder with a puncher’s chance for his on-base skills and power to play enough in games to make him a 45.

28. Ezequiel Pagan, LF

Drafted: 13th Round, 2018 from Pro Baseball HS & Academy (PR) (CHC)
Age 23.0 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 163 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 30/30 30/35 55/55 40/50 45

Pagan was drafted in 2018 as a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico’s Pro Baseball High School and Academy, and bounced between rookie ball, the complex, and A-ball until sticking at Low-A for all of 2022 and posting a 125 wRC+ there as a 20 year old. He advanced to High-A to start the 2023 season, and has improved in most statistical columns at the higher level. His swing is geared to make contact, and make contact he does, at an 82% rate. He’s spent most of this season and last in a corner outfield spot (mostly left field), and his contact-over-power profile isn’t a great fit there, but it’s unlikely he’ll see much up-the-middle opportunity while he’s sharing an outfield with Kevin Alcántara, as he has for the past two seasons. He looks to be on track for a fifth outfield role, but we wonder how he’d look if he were allowed to play more center field.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2022 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 18.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 30/45 20/40 55/60 40/50 45

A 2022 $1 million signee, Hernandez is still more about projection than present skill. In this case, we’re talking about premium frame projection. Hernandez is a very lithe 6-foot-2 and already has some oppo gap power. He’s flexible in the hips but not always in the knees, and he has the range, actions, and arm to develop at shortstop. There’s some hit tool risk here and Hernandez has performed like a power-over-hit prospect so far as a pro but, similar to a lot of the infielders in this system, his likely defensive home gives him a utility floor and his long-term power forecast gives him a ceiling above that.

30. Riley Martin, SIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2021 from Quincy University (CHC)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/55 70/70 40/40 93-94 / 96

Martin is going to pitch out of big league bullpens for a while because he has really nasty breaking stuff, two low-80s breakers with tight movement and bat-missing depth. His heater has enough carry to keep it above barrels. Martin’s feel for location is only fair, but he looks an awful lot like Brooks Raley 레일리.

31. Kohl Franklin, MIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Broken Arrow HS (OK) (CHC)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 40/40 60/60 40/45 90-93 / 95

Franklin missed 2020 due to the pandemic and all of 2021 with oblique and shoulder strains. He returned in 2022 and worked 69 innings across 23 starts, struggling with walks while showing his usual 93-94 mph fastball and plus changeup. Franklin’s performance didn’t compel the Cubs to add him to their 40-man after the season, and they actually sent him back to High-A to start 2023. Franklin’s strikeout rate is up and he was promoted to Double-A in mid-May. His command and breaking ball quality are still not quite at a big league starter’s level, but Franklin’s fastball/changeup combo should play, especially the cambio, which has enough action to miss a bat even when Franklin doesn’t locate it. Even though the breaking balls aren’t great, having them gives Franklin weapons to work more than one inning at a time.

32. Brandon Birdsell, SIRP

Drafted: 5th Round, 2022 from Texas Tech (CHC)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 45/50 30/40 30/45 92-97 / 99

Birdsell was selected by the Twins in the 2021 draft, but an ill-timed shoulder injury resulted in him returning for his senior year at Texas Tech instead of signing with Minnesota. His 106 strikeouts in 85 innings on the mound in 2022 led to his fifth round selection by the Cubs, who sent him directly to High-A to begin the 2023 season. His mid-90s fastball generates over 18 inches of induced vertical break, and he throws it with impressive precision, as illustrated by the heater’s strike rate of around 70% this season. He also places his mid-80s slider well, and the two offerings play off each other in a way that keeps hitters off balance. He works mostly fastball/slider against righties, with his more rarely seen upper-70s curveball (which is a looser version of the slider) and his high-80s changeup mostly deployed against lefties. His short-armed delivery is stiff and upright, and that, along with a heater-heavy arsenal (nearly 60% usage) and proficiency for glove-side fastball/slider placement, gives him a reliever look despite his role as a starter thus far this season.

33. Zac Leigh, MIRP

Drafted: 16th Round, 2021 from Texas State (CHC)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 40/40 30/40 91-95 / 98

Drafted in the 16th round in 2021, Leigh looks to be a diamond in the rough, albeit one with relatively few professional innings under his belt; sporadic injury throughout his still-young career has caused him to miss weeks (or sometimes months) at a time here and there. He spent time at High- and Double-A in 2022, then started the 2023 season on the injured list before returning at the end of May. His fastball sits 94 (down a tick from last year) with uphill ride, and he mixes it with a power low-80s breaking ball that has huge depth. We’ve had promising grades on Leigh’s changeup in the past, but that pitch looks like a 40 so far in 2023, so we’ve dialed Leigh’s projection down to a standard middle-inning relief role.

Drafted: 14th Round, 2016 from Nevada (TBR)
Age 27.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 30/30 30/30 50/50 40/40 50

Mastrobuoni had a very eventful six months leading up to the 2023 season. He was part of Tampa Bay’s annual 40-man roster crunch, was traded to the Cubs in mid-November, spent some time with prospect-rich Licey in the Dominican Winter League, then played for Team Italy during the WBC and broke camp with the big league team for the first time in his career in March. He’s been up and down between Wrigley and Triple-A this year, as he has yet to adapt his approach to major league pitching. He’s a career .287/.371/.397 hitter in the minors and doesn’t have the kind of power typical of an everyday player, but the contact and on-base pieces, combined with a Ryan Freel-like defensive versatility, make him a high-probability big league utilityman. While he plays all over the place, Mastrobuoni is not a very good defensive player at any of those spots. He seems likely to play all over the place in more ways than one, as he is poised to hop on and off the fringe of many different rosters for a long time because of his on-base skills and panoply of defensive fits.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from UCLA (CHC)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 191 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 50/50 40/45 50/50 50/60 50

Strumpf’s role projection is trending down, as he has seen no time at shortstop and doesn’t have the hit/power combo to support an everyday role at 1B/2B/3B, the positions he does play. But he still brings some important skills and traits to the party, and is a likely part-time infielder who will probably debut either late in 2023 or sometime in 2024. Strumpf has excellent breaking ball recognition, he lifts the ball consistently, which makes him a threat to do doubles damage when he does put balls in play, and he’s also a very good defender at third base, where he splits time with second base. That’s enough for him to have situational big league utility and make the occasional start, projecting in the 1-WAR annual range.

Signed: International Signing Period, 2023 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 17.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 140 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 20/40 20/35 55/55 40/55 55

A glove-first utility prospect, Espinoza is a true shortstop who we wrote up as having precocious feel to hit when he was an amateur. He signed for $1 million in January and is just a few weeks into his pro career in the DSL. It’s a small sample, but his contact rates are below our expectations to this point. It’s too soon to be concerned about this, but it’s something to monitor.

37. Tyler Schlaffer, SP

Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 from Homewood Flossmoor HS (IL) (CHC)
Age 22.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 45/50 45/55 30/50 91-93 / 95

Schlaffer is recovering from Tommy John. When healthy, he sits about 91-93 and reaches back for 94-95 at peak. Prior to his injury, he had improved his ability to create action on a low-80s changeup, but his meal ticket secondary was still an upper-70s curveball with solidly average big league depth. He was tracking like a fifth starter before he blew out and is a name to monitor when he returns.

35+ FV Prospects

38. Danis Correa, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Colombia (CHC)
Age 23.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 20/30 96-98 / 101

Correa has been hurt a lot, but he’s currently healthy and touching 101 while routinely showing a plus, power-sink changeup in the 87-91 mph range. He has very little idea where his stuff is going, but he’s still just 23 and has missed a ton of time, so viable control might arrive late.

39. Eduarniel Nunez, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
70/70 70/70 20/30 97-99 / 100

Nunez is the second-hardest thrower in the entire org behind Daniel Palencia. Emphasis on “thrower,” because his command is not good. He may also have the best curveball in the entire org, a mid-80s yakker with tight, late break and bat-missing depth. His lack of command really hamstrings the effectiveness of both pitches, and the 24-year-old Nunez has worked just 14 innings above A-ball since turning pro in 2017. He’s throwing 100 and has maybe a 70-grade curveball, but even though his walks are way down this year compared to last, he’s still only been okay.

40. Cayne Ueckert, SIRP

Drafted: 27th Round, 2019 from McNeese State (CHC)
Age 27.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 30/40 95-98 / 99

Ueckert was drafted in 2019 and added several ticks of velocity to his riding fastball after joining the Cubs system. He climbed his way up the minor league ladder and arrived at Triple-A in 2022, spending the entire season there. In previous seasons, his walks had been in the low double-digits, which was on the uncomfortably high side, but he was striking out about a third of his opponents, which made up for a chunk of those free passes. At Triple-A, though, Ueckert’s strikeouts dipped into the mid-20s, while his walk-rate surged to just over 20%. He was sent back to Double-A to start the 2023 season and is more or less back to his old ways. The difference seems to be his inability to get more advanced hitters to offer at unhittable sliders below the zone. This year, his slider has garnered 40% chase with a 26% swinging strike rate (up from 28% and 17% last season, respectively). His long, loose delivery is effortful but effective, and he works mostly fastball/slider now, with those two pitches combining for 96% of his mix this season. He’ll need to refine his ability to miss advanced bats, but still looks the part of a single-inning reliever.

41. Bryce Windham, C

Drafted: 32th Round, 2019 from Old Dominion (CHC)
Age 26.8 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
50/55 30/30 20/20 40/40 40/45 55

Windham has emerged as a high-contact sleeper whose throwing has recently improved. He played all over the diamond at Old Dominion, but he didn’t move behind the plate until 2019 and didn’t commit fully to the catching position until the 2022 season. A fair receiver and ball-blocker, his exchange was very slow for the first half of 2022 and teams ran on him at will. He began throwing from his knees and while his throws are still a little inaccurate, his pop times are not only much better than they were before, they’re often hovering around the 1.80 mark. He’s improved on defense substantially in a short period of time and despite being on the older side for a prospect, he has continued to impress at the plate, slashing .344/.421/.453, with much of that OBP aided by a walk rate significantly higher than his single-digit K-rate over the first half of the season at Triple-A. Indeed, Windham is tough to whiff. He has an athletic lefty cut and plus raw bat-to-ball ability. The quality of his contact had been mediocre such that his hit tool looked likely to play down a bit — until, of course, he started raking this year. He’s a late-blooming backup prospect who would be a cool utilityman if he re-introduces another position to his toolkit in the near future.

42. Connor Noland, SP

Drafted: 9th Round, 2022 from Arkansas (CHC)
Age 24.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/40 55/60 40/50 30/50 89-92 / 94

Noland had a busy freshman year at Arkansas. He played quarterback in four football games in the fall, then finished the school year with a trip to the College World Series and SEC All-Freshman honors. He lost most of 2020 to the pandemic and much of 2021 to a forearm injury, returning in a bullpen capacity that year. He reclaimed a rotation spot in 2022, filling in for fellow Razorback Peyton Pallette, and he made the most of his Friday starter role with a dominant senior year that earned him a ninth round selection by the Cubs. He was assigned to High-A, where he’s only issued 10 walks in 62 innings, with much of the contact he has allowed coming on the ground. His fastball lives around 89-90, but he mostly uses it to set up his curveball and slider, both of which sit around 81-82. The curveball is a 12-6 offering that was his preferred secondary in college, though it has been surpassed in usage by his slider, which offers more of a two-plane look. A velocity bump would go a long way toward his viability as a starter, but he could find a home in a multi-inning relief role otherwise, especially if he can develop his seldom-thrown changeup.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/50 50/50 45/50 40/50 92-96 / 97

Gallardo’s athleticism belies his short, maxed-out physique, and he added velocity to his fastball in 2022 that he has maintained into 2023, with the heater still in the mid-90s this season. He began the season at High-A, where he spent most of last year, and continued to showcase his precise command, posting a walk rate under 5%, and a groundball rate just shy of 50%. Those grounders are largely thanks to his ability to pair his sinking, tailing fastball with an increasingly effective diving curveball, which induced whiff and chase rates near 40% during his time with South Bend. His high-80s changeup is plus, with a shape that pairs well with that of his fastball, though he doesn’t throw it as often as his curveball, and its bat-missing ability has been relatively average this season.

Gallardo made 13 starts at High-A, the best of which came at the end of May when he issued 11 strikeouts and no walks over five innings of work. He’s such a fast worker that the pitch clock rarely got below 10 seconds in that outing, and he spent a combined total of under 18 minutes on the mound. He was promoted to Double-A at the end of June, and his first appearance at the higher level was a rocky one: he issued a career-high five walks and recorded his first two wild pitches of the season, though it’s fair to chalk some of that wildness up to post-promotion jitters, especially given his consistent track record. Still just 21, his mature command, along with the progress he’s made with his secondaries, keep Gallardo on a track that leads to the back end of a starting rotation.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Basha HS (AZ) (CHC)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/60 40/55 40/40 45/50 60

Davis reached the upper levels of the minors after relatively few games because of the combination of the pandemic and a spate of injuries (some severe) that prevented him from being healthy and accruing plate appearances for meaningfully long stretches; he entered the 2023 season having played roughly two minor league seasons worth of games since 2018. That makes it tougher to project on his hit tool, a still-raw aspect of his game in the middle of his age-23 season. Since high school, Davis has been an athletic developmental project with huge power and a questionable hit tool. Even with below-average bat-to-ball ability, there was hope he would get to enough power to profile in an outfield corner, but coming off his most recent injury (he had pain and would lose sensation in the area stretching from his lower back to his hamstrings, which doctors surgically corrected by cauterizing a cluster of blood vessels in his back), he has lost some of the explosiveness that at one point made him a Top 100 prospect.

Davis tends to push most of his high-quality contact to the opposite field, which is another way of saying that he struggles to be on time enough to pull pitches with power. His cut is grooved through a portion of the zone that tends to leave him vulnerable to sliders (even ones that finish in the zone) and high fastballs, a combination that will be tough to overcome unless Davis is generating big power when he does make contact. In the first three months of 2023, he’s made a noticeable effort to shorten up and has been able to cut down significantly on his swing-and-miss issues, bringing his K-rate into the teens, though with virtually no slugging. We want Davis to succeed, but it just doesn’t look like he’s going to hit, and he hasn’t since 2021.

45. Ryan Jensen, MIRP

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Fresno State (CHC)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/40 40/40 40/45 35/40 93-96 / 99

Jensen’s raw athleticism and arm strength have been the crux of his profile since he was an amateur, and they still are, though he hasn’t really developed in a meaningful way. While he now has a five-pitch mix — including two distinct mid-90s fastballs — none of Jensen’s secondaries are especially good, and his command of them is poor; not one of his trio of secondaries (curveball, slider, changeup) garnered a strike percentage over the 50% mark in 2022. At the time of our last update on Jensen earlier this season, the Cubs were still using him as a starter. Since then, he has only been used in a relief role, first moving to the bullpen at Double-A. There, he improved his strikeout rate by more than 7% and cut his walk rate in half, but his command backslid upon a promotion to Triple-A Iowa. Lackluster command of his secondaries and a violently effortful delivery that features a long arm action were perhaps always likely to push him to the ‘pen. Even though none of those pitches are very good, it’s possible Jensen’s repertoire depth will enable him to work in a multi-inning relief role. He certainly has the stamina to sustain plus velocity for multiple innings, but most big league relievers have at least two plus pitches, and he has been searching for a second one for a while now.

46. Matt Mervis, 1B

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (CHC)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/30 60/60 50/50 30/30 40/45 40

A 2020 undrafted free agent, Mervis has been one of the more impressive upper-level statistical performers during the last two seasons, producing more than 40 home runs since the start of the 2022 campaign. Perhaps equally notable is the way his strikeout and walk rates have trended during that span. After spending the first several months of his pro career on the complex in Arizona, he played 2021 and the early portion of 2022 at the Cubs’ lower-level affiliates, where he struck out roughly 24% of the time — a somewhat concerning mark in any case, especially so for a first base-only defender and even more so when the prospect in question is 23–24 years old. As the Cubs promoted Mervis to Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, his strikeout rates came down into the teens, and his walk rates have improved. The data under the hood is a little less encouraging: Mervis’ contact and chase rates are a bit worse than what is typical of the average big league first baseman. That’s arguably daming because, again, we’re talking about a player who spent most of the season in question as a 24-year-old at High- and Double-A.

His raw power is real, though. Mervis’ hands are fast and powerful, and he’s capable of hitting titanic pull-side blasts. He once hit a home run that struck the Cubs’ spring training stadium’s upper level… from their primary minor league backfield. Hanging breaking balls and anything that finishes on the inner third of the plate are vulnerable to his pull-heavy style of swinging. Mervis can also slice doubles the other way against pitches low and away, but pitchers who can elevate on the outer third of the plate stand a pretty good chance of sneaking above his bat altogether. His hands work in a way that is very similar to former top-five pick JJ Bleday, albeit with more twitch and explosion. Mervis ends up being pretty long to the outer third of the zone, and big league fastballs up and away from hitters who swing like this tend to present a real problem. Mervis’ initial big league trial was pretty rough and we don’t anticipate things will get much better. He’s got a lot of Quad-A signals and we’re now receiving them.

47. Max Bain, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (CHC)
Age 27.8 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 240 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 30/40 93-96 / 98

Bain is an indy ball signee who impressed on the backfields in the spring of 2021, holding 96–98 mph fastball velocity late into games before heading into his first year of affiliated ball, during which he struggled to throw strikes. He again struggled with walks in 2022 and was moved to the bullpen halfway through the season amid several changes to his delivery. On the IL to start 2023, Bain rehabbed exclusively from the stretch in Arizona, and is now on the complex, making short relief appearances as he ramps up to a return to Double-A, where he left off. He appeared healthy and touched 97 at least once during his rehab, flashing an occasional plus slider and above-average changeup, the latter appearing to be of developmental focus. His approach has changed, and he’s now apt to throw his secondary stuff early in counts before trying to rush velo past hitters late. It’s plausible that, with more consistent upper-level pro instruction and the help of a big league pitching coach, he’ll eventually polish his command enough to play a more central bullpen role, but for now he projects as an up/down relief option.

48. Riley Thompson, MIRP

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from Louisville (CHC)
Age 27.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 55/60 40/40 45/45 35/35 93-95 / 97

Thompson has shown great stuff since college, but myriad injuries (a TJ and multiple shoulder maladies) have plagued him and limited his reps. He worked about three innings per outing across 19 starts in 2022, and while it appeared as though he’d been downshifted into a bullpen role early in 2023, he’s since returned to the Triple-A rotation, though to somewhat lackluster results, with both his walk and strikeout rates hovering in the mid-teens since reclaiming his role as a starter. His injury history is long enough and his delivery violent enough to anticipate he’ll deal with more issues throughout his career, impacting his evaluation. His stuff is big league quality, however, as he attacks hitters with a riding mid-90s fastball and a variety of breaking ball shapes and velocities. It’s worth noting that Thompson’s breaker has lost several hundred RPMs since he was last healthy for a sustained stretch in 2019, but his curveball is still an above-average pitch. He works with little-to-no precision, but his repertoire depth and track record suggest he can work multiple innings out of the bullpen as an up/down option.

49. Cam Sanders, SIRP

Drafted: 12th Round, 2018 from LSU (CHC)
Age 26.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 55/60 55/55 50/50 30/30 94-96 / 99

Sanders had a two-tick velo spike after moving to the bullpen part way through 2022, and his fastball has averaged 95 mph and touched triple digits in the first half of 2023. His long, whippy, low three-quarters arm slot is tough to repeat but also tough for righty batters to see. The shape of his fastball causes it to play below its velocity, and Sanders’ slider is how he most often misses bats. There’s some other interesting stuff happening here, such as his curveball, which has about 20 mph of velo separation from his fastball, and his occasionally good changeup. He’s got about 20 more strikeouts than innings pitched so far this season, and his swinging strike rate has plumped up significantly, but the mid-20s walk rate that accompanies those improvements dampens their overall effect. It’s enough stuff to project Sanders will likely get a cup of coffee as an up/down reliever, but whether he ends up in a more reliable role depends on him honing his control, which at present is a real issue.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2017 from Palm Desert HS (CA) (CHC)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/50 40/45 92-95 / 97

Tommy John surgery, the pandemic, and a 2021 bout with COVID (which hospitalized him) limited Estrada to 33 innings from 2019 through 2021. Back on the mound in 2022 and armed with a newly-minted slider, he began the year with High-A and ended it in the big leagues. Once a changeup artist, he now tries to rip mid-90s velo past hitters at the letters to garner most of his whiffs, and he used his slider almost twice as often as his change in 2022. In 2023, he’s been up and down between Triple-A and the big league bullpen, and his preference for the slider has been further exaggerated; between the two levels, 95% of his offerings have been either a fastball or a slider. His stuff isn’t so nasty that you can comfortably project him in a middle-inning role. Instead, he’s forecast here as an optionable depth piece. If he outpaces that projection, it will likely be due to late-arriving improvements to Estrada’s command, which seems plausible given all of his time off.

51. Carlos Guzman, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (DET)
Age 25.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/50 40/40 94-96 / 97

Guzman is an infielder-turned-pitcher who was in the Tigers org until this past offseason when he was traded for Zach McKinstry. Several seasons ago, he was an exciting conversion arm who was sitting in the mid-90s with a steadily improving feel for his changeup before being shut down with an injury, then losing the 2020 season along with the rest of the minor leagues. He played 2021 at Low-A, then climbed from High- to Double-A in 2022 while still with Detroit. He’s had a bit of a resurgence in 2023 and was quickly moved up to Double-A, where his results have been so-so. He’s sitting 94-96 and throws an above-average, low-80s slider that he struggles to locate consistently; the same is true of his mid-80s changeup, which he pretty much only shows to lefties now. He’s worked exclusively out of the stretch and almost exclusively as a reliever since joining the Cubs. We like his arm speed, fastball carry, and late-bloomer traits, which give him an up/down relief shot.

52. Ben Leeper, SIRP

Undrafted Free Agent, 2020 (CHC)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
65/70 55/60 30/35 95-98 / 99

Leeper had an extreme collection of injury issues as an amateur, including two Tommy John surgeries. He was totally healthy and throwing very hard during his last few seasons at Oklahoma State, but he still ended up being passed over in the shortened 2020 draft and signed as an undrafted free agent. Less than a year after signing, Leeper was at Triple-A blowing upper-90s gas past veteran hitters and working with a plus slider. He seemed poised to debut in Chicago either late in 2022 or sometime in 2023, but he blew out again this spring and had his third career TJ in April. A successful rehab will put Leeper back on the doorstep of a big league relief role.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Fringe Infielders
BJ Murray Jr., 3B
Rafael Morel, 3B
Pedro Ramirez, INF
Luis Verdugo, 3B
Ed Howard, MIF
Fabian Pertuz, INF

Murray has the best stick of this group, but he’s the worst defender. The 23-year-old Bahamian is currently hitting pretty well at Tennessee. Rafael Morel’s brother, Chris, is out-slugging his approach flaws at the big league level right now. Meanwhile, Rafael is having a pretty solid year at Low-A after he repeated the complex in 2022, but he’s still striking out a little more than I’m comfortable with, which kept him from the 35+ section. Ramirez had a huge complex line last year, but my eyeball report was “5 bat with 3 power and no physical projection,” which makes it tough to profile unless you play shortstop. Verdugo can really pick it, but he has moved off short and at best has a 30 bat. Poor Ed Howard is back from severe injury and looks incredibly rusty on both sides of the ball. Pertuz is a scrappy little Colombian infielder who played his ass off during the WBC, but he hasn’t had an OBP over .300 in affiliated ball since 2019.

Young, High-Variance Guys
Ethan Roberts, LHP
Sam Thoresen, RHP
Brailyn Marquez, LHP
Yovanny Cruz, RHP
Burl Carraway, LHP

Roberts had TJ late in 2022 and could be back late this year, more likely next. He has one of the spinniest fastballs in pro baseball. Thoresen was a $20,000 undrafted free agent out of Minnesota. He sits 93 with two breaking balls that in-office pitch data types seem to love, but he’s currently injured. Marquez finally pitched again a few weeks ago and has been 92-94. His changeup is still good, but he’s lost about seven ticks from his heater. I’ve seen Cruz touch 100 with sink but not consistently, and he’s currently hurt again with a forearm strain. So far the nerds (who, including me, loved his vertical fastball/curveball combo) have been wrong about Carraway, and the scouts (some of whom intentionally nuked his pre-draft grades to try to counter their teams’ models) have been right. He was very wild in 2021 and 2022, and then got hurt.

More Hard Throwers and Depth Arms
Angel Gonzalez, RHP
Manuel Espinoza, RHP
Frankie Scalzo Jr., RHP
Porter Hodge, RHP
Luke Little, LHP
Hunter Bigge, RHP
Chris Clarke, RHP

Gonzalez is sitting 95-96 with a hard, upper-80s slider. Espinoza has the best chance to start of this group. He sits 93 and has an average cutter and changeup. Scalzo and his Squidman Palledorous mustache sit 94, with an above-average slider as part of a four-pitch relief mix. Hodge (93-94, good curveball) and Little (velo has backed up into the 92-95 mph range) both have monster extension. Bigge sits 95 with an average slider. Clarke has moved to the bullpen, where he can lean more on his great breaking ball and less on his low-90s sinker.

Tough Profiles
Felix Stevens, 1B/OF
Yonathan Perlaza, LF
Yohendrick Pinango, LF

Stevens, 23, easily has the most power of this group. Perlaza and Pinango both make a lot of contact but don’t have the pop to be a left field-only guy.

System Overview

This system is incredibly deep and is pretty comfortably a top 10 farm right now. It’s “high end” (prospects in the 40+ FV tier and above) is thicc, especially with hard-throwing pitchers. Every righty relief pitcher prospect on the main section of the list is averaging at least 95 mph this season, and several of the Honorable Mention guys are too. The Cubs haven’t demonstrated an ability to tease anything other than velo out of the bulk of their prospects, though. Jordan Wicks came ready-made and the Cubs helped him throw harder. They should take an approach more like Cleveland in the draft room, selecting pitchers with command and secondary stuff who they can help add velo, as they did Wicks. The inverse would be continuing to take the Ryan Jensens of the world. Jensen was a good draft prospect, but he already did the thing the Cubs are good at teaching, and he hasn’t progressed in other areas.

The Cubs have a recent track record of taking a couple of prep arms in each draft. That’s a high-risk group, and I’m not sure how Chicago’s recent success/failure compares to any sort of league-wide baseline. Let’s go through them! Jackson Ferris has been fine. Nazier Mule got hurt. Mason McGwire (a $200,000 in the 2022 eighth round and Mark’s son) has not been good. Drew Gray got hurt; he’s now back and seems okay. Dominic Hambley (a $200,000 2021 18th rounder from Victoria, BC who I liked pre-draft) has struggled. Erian Rodriguez (another Panamanian righty who came through Georgia Premier Academy and signed for $125,000) is super projectable but isn’t throwing strikes yet. Koen Moreno (a $900,000 signee in the 2020 fifth round) is really struggling. Is there anything to glean from this collection of guys? Not yet, though it isn’t as if any of them has taken a huge leap.

Aside from Triantos and a potentially emerging McGeary, the domestic draft hasn’t yielded impact hitters in this system. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ are somewhat recent examples, I guess, but not recent enough to absolve this issue. Ed Howard’s injury isn’t anyone’s fault and the club has largely used high picks on arms, so this is more of a draft approach issue than a talent identification one. The good news is that this weekend’s draft is loaded with young hitters, and that’s largely the demo of player the Cubs are attached to at pick number 13.

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10 months ago

Amazing as always. The breadth of your prospect knowledge is breathtaking. SOMEONE GIVE THIS DUDE A RAISE.

10 months ago
Reply to  amaass2

Ahem, give them *both* raises.

10 months ago
Reply to  amaass2

And another team member.