By Todd Johnson
And just like that, the prospect list season comes to a close as MLB Pipeline released their top 30 Cubs prospects on Thursday afternoon. There were not a lot of surprises. Eloy captured the top spot followed by Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and Dylan Cease. Jose Albertos and DJ Wilson rounded out the top 10 followed by Eddy Martinez, Thomas Hatch, Victor Caratini, and Chesny Young at 11-14. I was really glad to see Chesny move up so much. He has an impressive hit tool despite the lack of power.
The only real surprise (sort of) came in the mid teens. Future South Bend lefty Jose Paulino came in high at number 15 followed by Duane Underwood at 16. I’m glad that Underwood got this high as I still think he has some value as a starter or reliever. If Duane can stay healthy, his ceiling is pretty high.
From 17 to 20, Aramis Ademan, Carlos Sepulveda, Isaac Paredes, and José Rosario filled in those spots. Ademan, who has not played in the states yet, is easily the number one shortstop prospect in the system at just 17 years old. For Isaac, I’m not surprised to see him this high and he might be the breakout hitter of the year this year in the Cubs system. The question of where he plays is up in the air.
New Cub Alec Mills came in at number 22 and Rob Zastryzny came in at number 23 while Preston Morrison rounded out the list at number 30. Gone for now are Jake Stinnett, Justin Steele, Carson Sands, Jen-Ho Tseng, and Corey Black.
In the accompanying article, Jim Callis gave the best hit tool to Ian Happ, Eloy, the best power tool, and DJ Wilson the best speed tool. On defense, Albert Almora and Eddy Martinez were the top rated according to defense and arm, respectively.
When it came to pitching, José Rosario graded out to have the best fastball followed by Dylan Cease and his curve and Thomas Hatch and his slider. Young José Albertos had the best changeup and Ryan Williams had the best control.
I don’t think there was anything major in this list that needs to be discussed at any length.
Over this winter I’ve compiled each prospect list awarding first place 10 points on down to the 10th place with one point. I don’t think there any surprises on that list either. Eloy took the top spot unanimously with 80 points. Ian Happ had 69 (nice!). Dylan Cease, Jeimer Candelario, Oscar de la Cruz, Albert Almora, Trevor Clifton, Mark Zagunis, and Jose Albertos rounded at the top 10.
In the middle of April, there will be new Cubs lists all over the Internet as Albert Almora will no longer be considered a prospect. Someone may surge their way into the top 10 by then. Thomas Hatch is one prospect who could do that. DJ Wilson is another.
I think the big thing to take away from these lists this winter is that the strength of the system is in the low minors. There are several teenagers on this list who are a long way from Chicago. And there are many more teenagers coming who will debut at Mesa this June.
Add in what are basically two first round picks this summer and the lists should be changing dramatically over the course of the year.