Cubs farm system depth, pitching ‘volume’ show in new rankings

·4 min read

Cubs' farm system strides show in new rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It’s no secret the Cubs have bolstered their farm system, heavily increasing its depth via trades and the draft over the last 20 months.

And if you’re looking to see the extent of that depth and volume, look no further than the latest Cubs farm system ranking from one industry evaluator.

MLB Pipeline released its updated top 30 Cubs prospect list, which highlights the young talent the Cubs have accumulated dating back to the December 2020 Yu Darvish trade.

Of the top 15 prospects listed, the Cubs drafted, signed or acquired 13 in that span — some of course during last summer’s trade deadline selloff as they began their second rebuild since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over the front office a decade ago.

Outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara and pitchers Cade Horton and Jordan Wicks make up the top 5. Crow-Armstrong (31), Davis (51) and Alcantara (91) are the three Cubs in Pipeline’s overall top 100 prospects list.

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Shortstop Cristian Hernandez, pitchers Ben Brown and Jackson Ferris, and outfielders Alexander Canario and Owen Caissie round out the top 10.

Canario, who came over with Caleb Kilian in the Kris Bryant trade last summer, has hit 29 home runs between High-A and Double-A this season. The Cubs named him their minor league player of the month for July.

“I think the depth, that’s probably the thing we're most proud of right now,” Hoyer said. “Right now, I don't think we have anyone sort of in that top 25 grouping.

“But I think the depth really does stand out.”

Including on the pitching side, where the Cubs have added a ton of promising names to the system lately.

Of their top seven pitching prospects, according to Pipeline, only DJ Herz (No. 13) was in the organization before 2021.

4. Horton (2022 first-round pick)

5. Wicks (2021 first-round pick)

7. Ben Brown (acquired from Phillies for David Robertson)

8. Jackson Ferris (2022 second-round pick)

12. Hayden Wesneski (acquired from Yankees for Scott Effross)

14. Caleb Kilian (acquired from Giants for Kris Bryant)

RELATED: The smartest trade Cubs made at 2022 deadline

Even behind those guys, among others, are pitchers Porter Hodge (No. 22), Luis Devers (No. 26) and Luke Little (No. 27), all of whom have impressed between low-A and High-A this season.

“I think that's the goal — it has been the goal — is to really add as much pitching as we possibly can,” Hoyer said. “Obviously, we think we have really good player development with pitching now. But also, through volume sometimes is how you need to develop pitching.

“I feel like when you look at every level, from having guys up here like Keegan [Thompson] and [Justin] Steele, and then you look at every level, we have two or three guys that I think are really good prospects from a pitching standpoint.

“We need to keep doing that over and over and over. I look back on when we built up the first time and we had position players lined up like that in a lot of ways, but we never get to the point of having pitchers lined up at every level."

Other familiar names in the top 30 include Miguel Amaya (No. 16), Ed Howard (20) and Matt Mervis (21).

Amaya recently made his season debut in Double-A Tennessee following offseason Tommy John surgery. Howard is out for the season following a hip injury.

Mervis, an undrafted free agent signing following the five-round 2020 draft, recently reached Triple-A after starting the season in High-A. He’s hitting a combined .303/.364/.585 with 24 homers and 94 RBIs.

Along with Horton and Ferris, 2022 draft picks Nazier Mulé (23) and Christopher Paciolla (24) are included in Pipeline’s top 30.

MORE: Cubs sign 19 of 20 picks from 2022 draft

Prospect lists are subjective and not a tell-all, but the depth is there. What's next is developing it as the Cubs look to construct their "next great Cubs team."

“I think through that depth, our hope is certainly that we’ll churn out a lot of big leaguers that will impact here,” Hoyer said. “And I feel really good that our eggs aren't just in a couple baskets.

“We’re not a one- or two- or three-player farm system. I think we're really deep, and I think that stands out.”

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