Top 41 Prospects: Chicago Cubs

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Chicago Cubs. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Cubs Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Nico Hoerner 23.1 MLB 2B 2020 50
2 Brennen Davis 20.6 A CF 2023 50
3 Miguel Amaya 21.3 A+ C 2021 50
4 Brailyn Marquez 21.4 A+ LHP 2021 50
5 Adbert Alzolay 25.3 MLB RHP 2020 45+
6 Cole Roederer 20.7 A LF 2022 45
7 Chase Strumpf 22.3 A 2B 2021 40+
8 Ryan Jensen 22.5 A- RHP 2022 40+
9 Kohl Franklin 20.8 A RHP 2023 40+
10 Cory Abbott 24.7 AA RHP 2020 40+
11 Christopher Morel 21.0 A 3B 2022 40+
12 Ronnier Quintero 17.6 R C 2025 40
13 Kevin Made 17.7 R SS 2025 40
14 Riley Thompson 23.9 A RHP 2022 40
15 Ethan Hearn 19.8 R C 2024 40
16 Michael McAvene 22.8 A- RHP 2022 40
17 Hunter Bigge 22.0 A- RHP 2022 40
18 Fabian Pertuz 19.8 R 3B 2023 40
19 Yohendrick Pinango 18.1 R CF 2024 40
20 Zack Short 25.0 AAA SS 2020 40
21 Trent Giambrone 26.5 AAA 2B 2020 40
22 Pedro Martinez 19.4 A- 2B 2023 40
23 Luis Verdugo 19.7 R SS 2023 40
24 Keegan Thompson 25.2 AA RHP 2020 40
25 Aramis Ademan 21.7 A+ SS 2022 40
26 Benjamin Rodriguez 20.9 R RHP 2023 40
27 Richard Gallardo 18.8 A- RHP 2023 40
28 Yovanny Cruz 20.8 A- RHP 2022 40
29 Rafael Morel 18.5 R SS 2024 40
30 Tyson Miller 24.9 AAA RHP 2020 35+
31 Jeremiah Estrada 21.6 A- RHP 2021 35+
32 Alfonso Rivas 23.7 AAA 1B 2021 35+
33 Michael Rucker 26.1 AAA RHP 2020 35+
34 Manuel Rodriguez 23.8 AAA RHP 2020 35+
35 Dakota Mekkes 25.6 AAA RHP 2020 35+
36 Reivaj Garcia 18.8 A- 2B 2024 35+
37 Nelson Velazquez 21.5 A LF 2023 35+
38 Tyler Schlaffer 19.0 R RHP 2024 35+
39 Josh Burgmann 22.4 A- RHP 2023 35+
40 Yunior Perez 21.5 A- RHP 2022 35+
41 Jose Albertos 21.6 A RHP 2022 35+
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50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Stanford (CHC)
Age 23.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 35/45 55/55 45/50 50/50

When Hoerner was at Stanford, it seemed reasonable to hope that he could pass as a shortstop by simply making all the routine plays, plus a few based on his level of effort. It also seemed reasonable to project him in center field because of his plus-plus speed. The Cubs have decided to have it both ways; beginning in July of last year, after he returned from a wrist fracture, they began playing him at all three up-the-middle positions. Barring a rep-based leap in center field, he projects to be a 45 defender at all three spots, but the versatility is valuable on its own.

This wasn’t the first developmental alteration the Cubs made. Hoerner’s swing changed not long after he was drafted. He was making lots of hard, low-lying contact at Stanford, but since signing he has added a subtle little bat wrap that has made a substantial difference in how he impacts the ball. He hit for much more power than was anticipated after he signed and may not have repeated the SLG in 2019 because of the wrist injury. He’s a lock regular for me and has some hidden value because of the defensive flexibility he provides, assuming he proves capable of handling both short and center.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Basha HS (AZ) (CHC)
Age 20.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 55/60 35/55 60/55 45/55 55/60

Davis made an incredible leap throughout his first year in pro ball. Some area scouts thought he was so raw as a hitter, and that his stock had fallen enough due to a pre-draft hamstring issue, that he might be better off going to school. The Cubs took him in the second round, tweaked his swing, and skipped him over a level; he responded by hitting .305/.381/.525 at South Bend, and he may just be scratching the surface.

Davis was his conference’s Defensive POY on a 2016 state championship basketball team and didn’t fully commit to baseball until his senior year of high school. He has a big, projectable frame that he’s already added a lot of muscle to over the last year and a half, and amateur scouts raved about Davis’ maturity as a student and a worker (often citing the odd hours he keeps taking care of a goat and the llamas at his family home), and all thought he’d be able to cope with likely early-career contact struggles and would work to improve his ability to hit. Watch out for the injuries here. In addition to the hamstring issue in high school, Davis was on the IL twice last year for hand ailments. We only have a 50-game sample of stats, but it’s just evidence supporting the athletic/makeup foundation and reinforcing that the swing change worked. This is a risk/reward power/speed outfield prospect.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Panama (CHC)
Age 21.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 30/45 40/30 45/60 55/60

Amaya continues to track as a good everyday catcher. He remains a polished defender with leadership qualities befitting an everyday backstop, and his body is built to withstand the rigors of the dog days. Like most catchers, Amaya’s offensive tools play down a bit in games because the position wreaks havoc on the body. For two years now he’s caught about 90 games, reached base at a .350 clip, and hit a dozen dingers. He’s now on the 40-man and was on pace to play at Double-A this year before the shutdown, though his big league timeline might accelerate if Willson Contreras is traded.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/80 50/55 40/45 45/50 35/40 93-97 / 99

Marquez is tied with Blake Snell for the title of Hardest-Throwing Lefty Starter on the Planet right now, as both averaged 95.6 mph on their heaters last year. He walked 13% of Low-A hitters over 17 starts but was promoted to Hi-A anyway because he was just bullying hitters with heat and not really refining anything. Marquez does unleash the occasionally nasty slider, his changeup sometimes has bat-missing tail and location, and, though it’s unclear if it’s purposeful or not, his throws what looks like a cutter. The consistency of his command, the quality of his secondary stuff, and the way his body developed before he has even turned 21 are all signs pointing toward a high-leverage relief role.

45+ FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 25.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 40/45 45/50 92-95 / 97

Alzolay has had health and durability issues for three consecutive years. He was given extended rest and had his pitch counts limited late in the summer of 2017 before he was shut down in August, then he had a PRP injection in 2018 after he was diagnosed with a lat strain, and had biceps inflammation in 2019. It’s the lone reason he’s not on the top 100. He has this system’s best two-pitch mix, a fastball/power curveball combo that would pretty cleanly profile in the back of the bullpen if the Cubs want to move him there for health reasons. He threw his changeup much more during his 2019 big league time than I would have guessed. He has feel for creating movement on it but not for locating it competitively. He has mid-rotation upside assuming good health and a little more changeup refinement, which is reasonable to hope for because he’s lost reps to all these injuries.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Hart HS (CA) (CHC)
Age 20.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 50/55 35/55 50/45 45/55 45/45

As a high school underclassman, Roederer looked like a hit-first tweener outfielder. He added a bunch of good weight and strength and had significantly more raw power when he arrived in the AZL after signing, and had already begun trading a little bit of contact for significantly more game power. He skipped the Northwest League, went right to full season ball, and didn’t perform statistically, but I’m not moving off of him at all. Roederer creates a lot of power in a short amount of space and I’m still bullish about him hitting for a mix of contact and power. If he can stay in center field, he’ll be an everyday player, but I think he’s more likely to end up in left. Even if that’s the case, I think he’ll be the larger half of a platoon pretty easily, and I also think he has a shot to outhit my projection and just profile everyday in left, too.

40+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from UCLA (CHC)
Age 22.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 191 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 50/50 25/40 50/50 45/50 50/50

Strumpf has pretty average tools, but he had several years of strong statistical performance in a big conference and plays a premium position. The compact nature of his swing increases the likelihood that he’s going to hit, and he also has sneaky strength in his hands that should help him produce at least doubles power. His median outcome is probably that of a second division regular or utility man; if he’s better than that it’ll be because he hit more than anticipated.

8. Ryan Jensen, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Fresno State (CHC)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
70/70 45/50 45/50 40/50 93-96 / 99

Jensen had one of the best arms in the 2019 Draft. Strong and athletic despite being quite small, he holds 94-97 deep into games and has touched 100. He can make his fastball ride or tail, and he uses it very frequently. His secondaries are not as nasty, but they’re workable and flash average right now. There’s a lot pointing to a relief role here because of the size, delivery (Jensen’s arm action is very long), and the reality that two pitches need to develop for him to start, but the fastball gives him a chance to be a high-leverage or multi-inning reliever.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2018 from Broken Arrow HS (OK) (CHC)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 55/60 40/50 90-93 / 95

Franklin was only throwing in the low-80s as a high school junior, but his velocity spiked later in the year and he threw much harder the following season. He now sits in the low-90s and was up to 95 last year while working with an above-average changeup. His breaking ball has good raw spin but, visually, is average. He’s a bulldog who goes right at hitters, has good on-mound makeup, and is among the likelier rotation pieces in this system.

10. Cory Abbott, RHP
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Loyola Marymount (CHC)
Age 24.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/50 50/55 45/50 50/55 90-92 / 93

Abbott was a draft spring popup guy. He struck out 100 more hitters as a junior than he did as a sophomore in just 28 more innings. His scouting reports still lead with affection for his command rather than his improved stuff, but there was thought that the stuff might continue to blossom in pro ball. Instead it has plateaued, and Abbott now projects as a low-variance fifth starter. His fastball plays best when it’s moving most, which for him is when he’s locating it just off the plate to his arm side; it is hittable everywhere else, including up above the zone. He can locate there, but Abbott is limited in where he can attack with the heater, which also makes it harder for him to set up his breaking balls, the best of which is an above-average curveball. I have him in as a fifth starter but he might work efficiently enough and accrue enough innings volume to outpace the 1-1.5 annual WAR I associate with that role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 140 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 55/60 35/55 40/40 40/50 60/60

Morel has visible on-field leadership qualities and is one of the better athletes in this system. He’s wiry and projectable but already strong, and he has present pull power that projects to plus. He also has plenty of arm for the left side of the infield and has already moved from shortstop to third as he’s filled out, but there’s a non-zero chance he ends up in the outfield, where he’s taken some flies in practice and looked rather comfortable. Morel has some pitch recognition issues that lead to strikeouts. Those create uncertainty about his profile, but they’ll be more acceptable if he can stay on the dirt. He could be an athletic, power-hitting corner bat in the big leagues so long as he hits a little bit.

40 FV Prospects

12. Ronnier Quintero, C
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 17.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 45/50 25/45 30/20 45/55 60/60

There’s been a seven-figure Venezuelan catcher near the top of every international class dating back through 2016, and Quintero was last year’s model. He’s a little less polished on defense than most of his predecessors but has a plus arm and mature, strength-driven power. He has everyday offensive ability if he can remain lithe and mobile enough to catch.

13. Kevin Made, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 17.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 35/50 20/45 55/55 45/55 50/55

Made is a familiar type, the pure projection shortstop with actions and contact skills that you can dream on. During workouts in Arizona he showed average bat speed and his swing was geared for line drives, and he has a very lean, angular build with underlying musculature that suggests he’s going to get much stronger into his mid-20s. He also showed a very rotational, whippy swing with natural, pull-side loft, so he might hit for power without any sort of swing alteration. At this point, though, we just have no idea how he’ll look against live, pro-quality pitching because the Cubs didn’t do a traditional instructs that would have enabled him to show us.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2018 from Louisville (CHC)
Age 23.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/55 45/50 40/45 92-94 / 96

Thompson had great stuff while at Louisville but only threw about 50 career innings and he struggled to throw strikes during that time. He not only made control/command strides in 2019, but also developed a better changeup. His fastball/curveball combination (both have vertically-oriented shape) make him a likely bullpen piece even if there’s a strike-throwing regression. If not, he’ll be a 45 FV on next year’s list.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Mobile Christian HS (AL) (CHC)
Age 19.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 50/55 25/45 40/30 45/55 60/60

Hearn is a strong, athletic catcher who has a chance to be an above-average defender with a plus arm (he needs to be more accurate, though) and above average raw power, but he needs a reworked swing and may never be more than a 40 bat.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Louisville (CHC)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
65/70 50/55 35/40 94-98 / 100

McAvene’s velo popped late during his draft year and was up to 100 during Louisville’s regionals, and he flashed a tight, mid-80s slider. If that holds, he could be a set-up type. If not, it’s more middle relief.

17. Hunter Bigge, RHP
Drafted: 12th Round, 2019 from Harvard (CHC)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
55/60 50/55 40/50 92-96 / 99

Bigge looks like a 2019 12th round steal. He was sitting in the upper-80s and low-90s at Harvard, then spiked into the 92-95 range out of the bullpen after the draft. By the fall, he was touching at least 97 and I have one source who had him up to 99. He now looks like a quick-moving bullpen weapon, but obviously it’d be better to see him do it for a whole season.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Colombia (CHC)
Age 19.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 156 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 45/50 20/50 50/50 40/50 50/50

A small-ish infielder with above-average bat speed, Pertuz has good pull-side pop for his age. His swing is geared for contact at the top of the strike zone, which is where more and more pitchers are starting to work. He’s a bit over-aggressive and needs to get stronger as he ages, but there are power-hitting components here if he can, as well as a good shot to stay on the infield at either second or third base.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 18.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/40 60/60 40/50 55/55

Pinango has pretty electric bat speed and runs well enough to stay in center field. He made a high-end rate of contact and walked more than he struck out in the DSL last year but hit for almost no power despite his bat speed. Pinango takes some pretty erratic swings and often loses his balance through contact because of how hard he’s rotating, but it didn’t hurt his ability to make contact last year and lots of guys, Cody Belligner most notably, have successfully dialed down their swings without compromising their power output. Pinango isn’t that kind of athlete (who is?) nor is his frame all that projectable. He’s pretty curvaceous for an 18-year-old, so I’m a little bearish on his ultimate power projection and think there’s some risk he moves to a corner despite his present speed. If you feel better about him staying in center then he belongs up between Made and Hearn.

20. Zack Short, SS
Drafted: 17th Round, 2016 from Sacred Heart (CHC)
Age 25.0 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/40 45/45 45/45 45/45 50/50 50/50

Short struck out at an alarming rate last year, much more than he ever has before (32% last year, 21% career). Some of that may have been due to a smaller sample of at-bats, as he missed much of 2019 with a hand injury. He has good ball/strike recognition, hits the ball in the air consistently, and is a capable defender all over the infield, including at short. He’s now on the Cubs 40-man and I think he’s a big league ready utility man.

Drafted: 25th Round, 2016 from Delta State (CHC)
Age 26.5 Height 5′ 8″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 50/50 45/45 55/55 45/45 50/50

Much like Short, I have Giambrone projected as a versatile bench bat (I don’t like him at shortstop, but 2B/3B/OF are fits) who strikes out a lot but hits for power when he makes contact. His athletic, contemporary, full-body swing makes efficient use of his little frame, and he’s able to tap into in-game pull power because of it.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/50 45/40 40/50 50/50

Of all the 18-, 19- and 20-year-old hitters in this system, Martinez is the one in whose bat-to-ball skills scouts have the most confidence. Where he fits on defense is far less certain. He’s already physically maxed out and has fairly limited range at second base, and his lateral agility might be a problem if he keeps getting bigger and slows down. For now, I think his hands and actions are good enough to continue projecting him as a shift-aided second baseman. If so, then he at least projects as a role player similar to Short and Giambrone, albeit one with a little less defensive versatility. Martinez can contact pitches at the top of the zone and go down and lift balls at the bottom. His righty swing is a little more linear and line drive-y than the left. He needs to be a little more selective and target pitches he can drive, but he has promising offensive ability for a teenager.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 19.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 172 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 45/50 20/45 45/50 50/60 55/60

Verdugo signed for $1 million out of Mexico in 2017. He can really pick it at shortstop and could be plus there at maturity. His hands, range, actions, footwork, and athleticism are all superlative, especially considering his age. He added a lot of muscle during his first 18 months in pro ball and now has average pull power, but I think his swing’s length will make him whiff-prone at the upper levels. He only struck out 17% of the time last year, but he was repeating the AZL. The glove and suddenly relevant power are real carrying tools, and even if Verdugo maxes out as a 4 bat, he probably plays some kind of big league role.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from Auburn (CHC)
Age 25.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 193 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/50 50/50 45/50 50/55 89-92 / 94

Thompson is a very stable fifth starter/swingman piece. He throws a lot of strikes with an average four-pitch mix, and misses in places where he can’t get hurt when he’s not locating exactly. He’s going to have to pitch off of his two breaking balls very heavily because of his lack of velocity, but Thompson makes diverse use of his slider and curveball, both of which he can spot for strikes early in counts or use as a chase pitch. His ceiling is limited, but he is arguably ready to take a big league mound right now if the Cubs need a competent starter.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/55 45/45 30/45 45/50 45/50 55/55

I struggled to decide what to do with Ademan. I, like many others, was smitten with his defensive acumen and precocious doubles power during his early days on the complex, but over the last couple seasons, he’s gotten heavier and slower without adding any power. He was still young for Hi-A, but he didn’t improve in his second year there, and he’s in danger of just falling off the radar entirely if he doesn’t start performing soon.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 20.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 45/55 40/50 30/50 90-92 / 94

Still a very young, lanky, good-framed prospect whose velocity has slowly climbed as he’s physically matured, Rodriguez has gone from sitting 88-92 to living in the 90-94 range over the last two seasons. His breaking ball, which had promising shape early on, has added more power and become more slider-y during that time. He’s athletic enough to project on his command and changeup to the point that he has a realistic chance of fitting in a rotation eventually.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (CHC)
Age 18.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 55/70 40/50 35/55 89-93 / 94

Gallardo signed for an even $1 million in July and was, in our opinion, the most well-rounded pitcher in his IFA class. He’s really loose, flexible, and athletic, and has some physical projection. He sat 89-93 at the time and he’s plateaued there. Scouts consider him a better bet to start than a lot of the other arms in this system, but don’t think he has much of a ceiling.

28. Yovanny Cruz, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 20.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 45/50 50/60 30/45 91-97 / 98

Cruz is a sinker/changeup prospect in a world where four seam/breaking ball prospects are increasingly desired, but he’s already sitting 92-96 and the change projects to plus. He lacks any modicum of physical projection and his control backed up badly last year amid some injury issues, but I think his stuff will play in relief even if that stuff doesn’t improve.

29. Rafael Morel, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 18.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/40 60/60 40/50 50/55

He’s not quite as explosive as his brother, but this Morel is faster and his slightly smaller frame gives him a better chance of staying at shortstop long-term. It also means he has limited, frame-based power projection and that a path toward regular playing time runs solely through the hit tool, but Morel’s feel for contact is pretty advanced and he has a non-zero chance to profile. I think it’s more likely he ends up in a utility role.

35+ FV Prospects

30. Tyson Miller, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from Cal Baptist (CHC)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 45/50 45/50 90-93 / 95

Miller’s crafty application of pretty average stuff enabled him to strike out a batter per inning at Hi-A Myrtle Beach last season, albeit as a prospect of relatively advanced age. He can manipulate the shape of his fastball — it can cut, sink, or ride — which, in Miller’s best starts, he has pinpoint control of. Both of his secondaries are viable big league offerings when they’re located, but Miller gets in trouble, especially with his changeup, when he misses within the strike zone. He sat 89-95 as a starter last year and I think he’ll live in the top end of that range out of the bullpen.

Drafted: 6th Round, 2017 from Palm Desert HS (CA) (CHC)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/50 55/60 30/45 91-93 / 95

Estrada has only thrown 16 pro innings due to injury and he likely won’t throw again until later in 2021 because he had Tommy John late last summer. At peak, he’s been up to 96 and works consistently with a plus changeup. Lots of scouts considered him a likely reliever even before the TJ, but now it’s almost a foregone conclusion.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Arizona (OAK)
Age 23.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/55 50/50 40/45 40/40 45/50 40/40

At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Rivas would look out of place in a team photo of big league first basemen, full of big-bodied mashers and explosive rotational athletes. He lacks prototypical first base pop but there’s a non-zero chance he makes enough contact to sufficiently balance the offensive scales to profile as a platoon 1B/LF or low-end regular.

Drafted: 11th Round, 2016 from BYU (CHC)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 50/50 45/50 45/50 92-95 / 97

We at FanGraphs have been on Rucker for a little while because his deceptive delivery (he hides the ball well) helps enable an otherwise fringy fastball to play. He pitched his way into the Double-A rotation in 2018 but went back to the bullpen last year and his velocity jumped. Rucker’s now 92-95, touching 97, and his curveball and changeup are both average, while the curve flashes above.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 23.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
65/65 55/55 35/35 94-97 / 99

Rodriguez was up to 99 last year and was added to the Cubs 40-man during the offseason. He strained his biceps in early March, but assuming he comes back from that, he has a middle relief velo/breaking ball combo.

35. Dakota Mekkes, RHP
Drafted: 10th Round, 2016 from Michigan State (CHC)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 55/55 35/35 91-93 / 96

Mekkes has an impact fastball, he’ll show you an above-average slider and changeup, and his mound presence can be felt from the scouting section. But his control likely limits him to up/down relief rather than a foundational middle relief role.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 18.8 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 40/45 20/45 50/45 45/55 50/50

I’m staying on Garcia despite his lost 2019, during which he barely played due to injury and looked out of sync when he did. His 2018 season, when he took some of the toughest at-bats in the AZL as a 17-year-old, was not dissimilar from that of players like Tucupita Marcano and Brayan Rocchio, who have both progressed well. Garcia is likely landlocked at second base and it’s tough to see him playing a multi-positional bench role if he can’t play every day, which means he needs to hit a ton to profile.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2017 from P.J. Education HS (PR) (CHC)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/65 30/50 50/40 30/45 50/50

Velazquez has big power, and there’s ceiling here if he can hit, though he’ll need to be more selective if he’s going to and I’m skeptical despite his 2019 numbers. He’ll also have to develop on defense.

Drafted: 9th Round, 2019 from Homewood Flossmoor HS (IL) (CHC)
Age 19.0 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 45/55 20/40 91-93 / 95

Schlaffer has a lanky, projectable frame and great arm speed, though his delivery is pretty violent. His velo was up into the mid-90s late in the spring of 2019, just weeks before the draft, which might have been more meaningful because he’s pretty young for the class. He was 93-95 when I saw him last summer, but he only threw one inning.

39. Josh Burgmann, RHP
Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Washington (CHC)
Age 22.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 45/50 50/55 40/45 35/50 91-93 / 97

Burgmann sits in the low-90s but has been up to 97. He has a diverse, four-pitch mix and a vertical arm slot. After two years in the bullpen, he had a strong junior year in Washington’s rotation. He has No. 5/6 starter stuff but has fewer developmental reps than is typical of a college arm.

40. Yunior Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (CHC)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/60 45/50 40/45 30/35 92-96 / 98

Perez is a big-bodied, arm strength relief type whose fastball ticked up from the 90-95 area into the 92-97 range last year. It has considerable life and ride. Perez also has a curveball and changeup, both of which are more 45s or 50s on the scouting scale. He projects as a fastball-heavy reliever, but like Mekkes and Rodriguez ahead of him on this list, he’s at risk of falling short from a strike-throwing perspective.

41. Jose Albertos, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Mexico (CHC)
Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/60 55/60 20/30 91-94 / 97

Albertos still throws hard and works with plus secondary stuff befitting a mid-rotation starter, but he has walked more hitters than he has thrown innings for the last couple of years, and needs to show dramatic strike-throwing improvement soon to stay on the radar.

Other Prospects of Note

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

Younger High-Variance Types
Yonathan Perlaza, INF
Danis Correa, RHP
Francisco Fermin, RHP
Davidjohn Herz, LHP
Josue Huma, INF
Flemin Bautista, INF

Except for Perlaza, all of these players are under 21. Perlaza is a gamer with some feel for contact but no power. He might hit enough to be a valuable utility man. I’ve seen Correa up to 97 but he didn’t pitch last year and has been hurt a lot. Fermin sits 88-91 but he has a prototypical frame and his curveball has good shape. He’s a 45 athlete. Herz is a slinging lefty who looked relief-only last summer. Huma and Bautista are low-level performers without a lot of physical projection.

Older Depth Players
Justin Steele, LHP
CD Pelham, LHP
Robel Garcia, 2B
Craig Brooks, RHP
Brendon Little, LHP

Steele was in the main section of this list at the onset because he’s a lefty with a good breaking ball, but his combination of injuries and the reports coming out of this spring made me want to slide him down here. Pelham was an upper-90s/slider relief prospect at peak but had an erratic and injury-marred 2019 and also got hit around in February. Garcia has power and plays an okay second base but I have a 30 on his bat. Brooks’ fastball — 92-96 with plus spin — garnered an 18% swinging strike rate last year. Little was 90-93 rehabbing in the AZL last year.

Recent College Draftees
Chris Clarke, RHP
Adam Laskey, LHP
Brad Deppermann, RHP
John Pomeroy, RHP
Ethan Roberts, RHP

Clarke has a plus curveball and was up to 95 last summer. Laskey is a four-pitch lefty with average stuff who was hurt all of 2019. Deppermann was up to 97 after last year’s draft. He’s 23 and 2020 was going to be a big developmental year for him. Pomeroy has been throwing hard since college, up to 98, but has 30 control. Roberts sits 91 but has elite fastball and curveball spin.

Bench Ceilings
D.J. Artis, OF
Andy Weber, 2B
Edmond Americaan, CF
Delvin Zinn, SS

Artis could be a contact-oriented fourth outfielder. Weber is a viable defensive middle infielder with a 45 bat and power. Americaan is 23 and behind the developmental curve, but he has plus speed and is really physical. Zinn is an above-average athlete with a bunch of 40 and 50 tools; his development has been slowed by the presence of other infielders in the system.

System Overview

The Cubs’ recent track record of drafting and developing pitching is bad and the org has made a concerted effort to build new facilities and bring in new personnel to address that fact. Brailyn Marquez’s delivery was sequenced better last year, the earliest and loudest sign that things might be improving on the dev side. Hoerner and Davis made significant and impactful swing changes after signing, evidence the hitting side of the dev group is also driving positive change.

After a run of monochromatic drafts full of college pitching, Chicago has used mid-round picks on projectable high schoolers, and both Roederer (who I was probably low on before his draft) and Davis’ stocks are up since they were acquired.

We haven’t seen what the pro department’s tendencies are because the club has been in buy mode for a while now, but we might soon learn a lot if the team seeks to rebuild.

We hoped you liked reading Top 41 Prospects: Chicago Cubs by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

This isn’t a great system by any means, but I think it’s a little better than it looks at first glance. The top 3 look fantastic, and the emphasis on feel to hit means that a lot of the guys have a better likelihood of panning out than the tooled up guys who can’t make contact. And I think both Gallardo and Thomas look really nice.

The only negative note I’d say is that based on the looks I’ve had of Alzolay he’s a definite reliever, although potentially a good one.