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Re-Ranked: Analyzing the Cubs' New Top 30 Prospects

After MLB.com updated their top 30 prospects for each team, the Cubs have a lot of movement and new faces down on the farm.
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Just over a week ago, MLB.com released their re-ranked top 100 prospects and top 30 prospects for each team. As a part of the re-rank, the Chicago Cubs now have a top 15 prospect in all of baseball. Outfielder Brennen Davis is now the No. 14 prospect in the league.

Although this piece was not released the next day, the re-ranking of the Cubs' farm system is fascinating, especially after the infamous trade deadline that occurred just a few weeks ago. In addition to Davis' ascent, left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez fell to No. 94 in the top 100.

The Cubs prospect rankings experienced a lot of movement during the MLB.com re-ranking. Without doing a deep analysis into all of the team's farm systems, it's fair to assume that the Cubs' system has experienced the most change since the beginning of the season. With that said, let's examine the new rankings and a few notable players on the list.

Cubs Top 30 Prospects

The re-ranked top 30 for the Cubs is as follows:

  1. OF Brennen Davis (No. 14 in MLB)
  2. LHP Brailyn Marquez (No. 94 in MLB)
  3. SS Cristian Hernandez
  4. C Miguel Amaya
  5. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong
  6. LHP Jordan Wicks
  7. SS Ed Howard
  8. SS/3B Reginald Preciado
  9. OF Owen Caissie
  10. RHP Kohl Franklin
  11. SS James Triantos
  12. OF Alexander Canario
  13. LHP DJ Herz
  14. RHP Caleb Kilian
  15. RHP Ryan Jensen
  16. OF Kevin Alcantara
  17. SS/3B Kevin Made
  18. OF Yohendrick Pinango
  19. RHP Alexander Vizcaino
  20. OF/INF Christopher Morel
  21. OF Christian Franklin
  22. OF Greg Deichmann
  23. 3B/2B Chase Strumpf
  24. OF Cole Roederer
  25. RHP Chris Clarke
  26. OF Jordan Nwogu
  27. RHP Manuel Rodriguez
  28. C Pablo Aliendo
  29. RHP Riley Thompson
  30. OF Nelson Velazquez

The New Arrivals

The Cubs have three of their 2021 draft picks in their top 30 per MLB.com. First-round pick LHP Jordan Wicks, second-round pick SS James Triantos, and fourth-round pick OF Christian Franklin are all on the list.

Wicks debuts on the Cubs' top 30 as the No. 6-ranked prospect. The 21-year-old has a 2023 estimated arrival date, but depending on how quickly he adapts to the pros, he could see some level of action with the Cubs in 2022. Wicks is currently throwing with the Cubs, but has yet to pitch in a game for a Cubs minor league affiliate.

Triantos debuts at No. 11 on the list. The high school infielder was drafted as a third baseman, but is listed as a shortstop on the Cubs' top 30. Its reasonable to believe that he may play either of the two positions in the minors. The 18-year-old is doing very well in rookie ball, and generating quite a bit of noise amongst those who follow the minors closely on Twitter. Fans won't see Triantos in the majors anytime soon, but there is quite a bit of hype surrounding the second-round selection.

Franklin was the Cubs' fourth-round pick out of the University of Arkansas. The 21-year-old debuts at No. 21 on the Cubs' top 30 list. Franklin figures to be a very good defensive outfielder with a solid bat to accompany those traits. Franklin spent four games at rookie ball before his promotion to Low-A Myrtle Beach. If he works on cutting down strikeouts over the next few seasons, he could find himself in the outfield at Wrigley Field on a daily basis down the road.

The Biggest Mover Up the List

There's one name that made a massive jump on the Cubs' top 30 list. DJ Herz, a lefty, made a massive jump up the board. After starting the season in the back half of the list, and as low as No. 30, Herz has moved his way up to No. 13 in the Cubs' system. His jump is directly correlated with his performance in Low-A Myrtle Beach this season.

With the Pelicans, Herz is 2-4 with a 3.58 ERA. Although those numbers aren't eye-popping, some of his other stats are. In 60.1 innings of work, he's walked 36 batters. That said, he's stuck out 100 batters in just over 60 innings of work. The wipeout stuff is there and the 20-year-old is putting it to good use with the Pelicans this season.

The Biggest Movers Down the List

Just as players move up the list, inevitably players will fall down the list a bit. Four players in particular who have moved quite a bit on the list are 3B/2B Chase Strumpf, OF Cole Roederer, RHP Alexander Vizcaino, and OF/INF Christopher Morel.

Now, let's be clear with these four players. Their falls aren't necessarily a result of poor play. Rather, the fall can be attributed to a major re-stock of talent within the Cubs' system. Early in the season, Strumpf, Morel, and Roederer were all either in or just outside of the Cubs' top 10. However, with massive performances in 2021, and new bodies being added to the fold since the Yu Darvish trade, these top prospects have moved down the list.

Chase Strumpf

Despite falling down the list to No. 23, Strumpf is still showing a lot of promise within the Cubs' system. In 16 games at High-A South Bend to begin the season, Strumpf slashed .309/.418/.382 with 15 runs scored, 17 hits, and seven RBIs. That performance quickly earned him a promotion to Double-A Tennessee, where he's slashing .211/.335/.380 in 62 games. Despite the low average, Strumpf has hit for some power tallying seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

Cole Roederer

A friend of the Cubs On Tap podcast, as well as a former top 10 prospect, Roederer has not seen the field much in 2021. However, an elbow that required Tommy John Surgery has sidelined Roederer and limited him to just 20 games in 2021. In those 20 games, the 21-year-old slashed .229/.345/.300 with 16 hits, five doubles, and eight RBIs. Originally thought to have a 2023 arrival time, it'll be interesting to see if the lack of two minor league season in 2020 and 2021 means two more minor league seasons for the Newhall, CA native.

Alexander Vizcaino

Not entirely fair here to blame Vizcaino's drop on much, but he was slated as a top 10 Cubs prospect after the trade and before the re-ranking. Vizcaino has spent time at both rookie ball and High-A ball this season. Since being traded to the Cubs, the 24-year-old is 0-1 over four starts in five appearances with a 4.66 ERA. In addition, Vizcaino only has 9.2 innings of work, but has struck out 17 batters to just six walks. He has a 2022 arrival date, but that doesn't necessarily mean an Opening Day 2022 arrival time. Cubs fans may see the 6-foot-2 right-hander at some point in the second half of 2022.

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Christopher Morel

Morel has shown off his power at Double-A Tennessee in 2021, but has not hit for a very high average. In 87 games with the Smokies, Morel is slashing .208/.287/.416 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs. Although the power is there, the lack of a high average may be concerning to the Cubs' front office brass. Morel also has a 2022 arrival date, but another season of minor league seasoning (perhaps split between Double-A and Triple-A) would do him a lot of good. It's also worth noting that Morel was previously listed as just a third baseman, but is now defined as both an infielder and outfielder.

Small Drops but High Upside

Two top five prospects for the Cubs fell a spot in the top 30 rankings. Both Brailyn Marquez and Miguel Amaya fell from No. 1 and No. 3 to No. 2 and No. 4, respectively. However, their falls are more correlated with the lack of playing time in 2021 than anything else.

Although both players were able to work with the Cubs at their alternate site in South Bend last season, both players have missed significant time in 2021 with injuries. Amaya played 23 games with Double-A Tennessee before he ended up on the IL. He has not played since early June but slashed .215/.406/.304 with one home run and 13 RBIs. Ideally, Amaya sees a little more playing time this season, as this latest injury has likely pushed his timeline back at least half a season.

As for Marquez, the big left-hander has yet to pitch in 2021. Due to the lack of a minor league season in 2020, Marquez hasn't pitched in a minor league game since 2019. He made one appearance with the Cubs in 2020, but he needs more than that to unlock his real potential. Based on command issues in the past, Marquez seems to be destined for the bullpen, but that's only if he can stay healthy and remain on the field.

Other Names to Watch

There are a number of players to keep an eye on in the Cubs' system. A few names are players fans may see in 2022, while others are still at least two to three years away. That said, there are plenty of players to be excited about for the future.

A Plethora of Arms

In 2022, Cubs fans may see right-handed pitchers Ryan Jensen and Caleb Kilian, as well as left-handed pitcher Jordan Wicks. Wicks debuts on the Cubs' top 30 at No. 6 in the system. Jensen has fallen in the rankings to No. 15, however not because of performance. As for Kilian, he comes in at No. 14 for the Cubs.

Of the three, Kilian is the most likely to be on the roster at some point in 2022. However, there is a chance that Wicks and Jensen receive opportunities out of the bullpen, similarly to Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson this season. Nonetheless, all three will be players to keep an eye on for the remainder for 2021, as well as 2022.

A Pair of Former Padres

Outfielder Owen Caissie and third baseman/shortstop Reginald Preciado are both top 10 prospects in the Cubs' re-ranking. Acquired in the Yu Darvish trade, both players are making noise this season within the farm system.

Caissie was so good in rookie ball that he has been moved up to Low-A Myrtle Beach. In three games with the Pelicans, Caissie already has two doubles, three RBIs, four walks, and five runs scored. If he continues to dominate the way he has, he may find himself in Double-A by the end of the 2022 season. At only 19 years of age, Caissie appears to have a bright future if his play continues to trend in a positive direction.

Preciado is still in rookie ball. In 32 games this season, the infielder is slashing .333/.386/.492 with three triples, nine doubles, two home runs, and 22 RBIs. To say the Panama native is having a strong rookie campaign would be quite the understatement.

It's uncertain if Preciado will receive the promotion that Caissie did this season, but expect Preciado to be with the Pelicans to begin the 2022 season. If he continues his tear just as Caissie has, he could find himself in South Bend before the book closes on the 2022 season. Nonetheless, both youngsters may very well be with the Cubs by 2024.

Canario's Thighs Could Crush Coconuts

The title is an inside joke from On Tap Sports Net's Cubs On Tap podcast, Alexander Canario is mashing baseballs with the High-A South Bend Cubs. After being acquired in the Kris Bryant trade, Canario has done nothing but crush baseballs in South Bend. In 22 games, the outfielder has six home runs, 17 RBIs, five doubles, and 12 runs scored. In addition, he's slashing .267/.313/.522 in those 22 games.

Canario is ranked No. 12 in the system, and should be someone fans keep an eye on. The 21-year-old has a 2023 estimated arrival time, but if he keeps hitting the way he has in South Bend next season, the calls for a promotion late next year might be in the cards.

Eyes on Velazquez

Outfielder Nelson Velazquez has elevated his position in the farm system thanks to a huge 2021 campaign. The 2017 fifth-round pick had an underwhelming 2018 season before a solid 2019 season with the South Bend Cubs. After starting 69 games in South Bend this season, Velazquez earned a promotion to Double-A Tennessee. Ironically, Velazquez has been better at Double-A than he was in High-A ball.

In the aforementioned 69 games with South Bend, the 22-year-old slashed .261/.321/.456 with 12 home runs, 46 RBIs, and 37 runs scored. However, in 20 games since his promotion, Velazquez is slashing .333/.410/.725 with six home runs, 20 RBIs, seven doubles, and 14 runs scored. It appears the promotion has not phased the young outfielder, as his bat has been smoking hot with the Smokies (yes, that was on purpose).

There are few names on the Cubs' top 30 that fans may see in 2021 or even 2022. However, the future is bright for a farm system that entered 2021 ranked No. 22 in baseball. Now, the Cubs should be considered a top 10 farm system with a lot of talent that should make Cubs fans excited for the future. Many of these names may make a huge impact at Wrigley Field, whether directly on the field or via trades to improve the big club.

Despite the MLB product being lackluster at best, the Cubs farm system is worth watching for the next few seasons alone with the amount of talent the Cubs have accumulated.