Prospect list season typically gets started in December, but like everything else in 2020, the timing has changed a little bit this year. We already got a look at Prospects Live’s list a couple weeks ago and now Baseball Prospectus has a fresh top 10 as well ($).
While the earlier of the two placed outfielder Brennen Davis at No. 1, BP named lefty flamethrower Brailyn Marquez at the top of their list. I can see why. He’s 6-foot-4, 21-year-old southpaw who throws 100+ mph. That’s trifecta makes up the Unicorn Theory of prospects, a term first coined by Jason Parks.
Last year’s BP list had Nico Hoerner on top, followed Miguel Amaya, Marquez, Davis, Adbert Alzolay, Kohl Franklin, Pedro Martinez, Ryan Jensen, Christopher Morel, and Riley Thompson. That group represented a transformation in the Cubs system and reflected a new energy from the youth movement at the lower levels. That’s still there this year as seven of those players return.
Hoerner lost his prospect status due to MLB experience and Martinez was traded to the Rays as part of the return for José Martinez. Thompson is the only player from among the remaining eligible prospects who fell off. That means three new entries and an obvious reshuffling of the order.
Because it’s a subscription article, we won’t put down that exact order right now. We can share, however, that the first-timers on the list are Burl Carraway, Ed Howard, and Yohendrick Pinango. While Howard and Carraway are somewhat known commodities as the Cubs’ top two draft picks in 2020, Pinango is a young outfielder who played in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.
He blistered the pitcher there for a .358 average with a .423 OBP and a 147 wRC+ of 147 while striking out just 7% of the time. Pinango was in spring training in March, then was back in Mesa for instructs and should be at low-A to start 2021 at just 18 years old.
Though they didn’t make the top 10, BP also mentions Jordan Nwogu, Rafael Morel, and Luke Little as other guys to watch. The one glaring omission here is that there’s no Chase Strumpf, which is quite baffling. A second-round pick in 2018, Strumpf is probably going to be a top eight prospect on most of the other lists. Primarily a second baseman, he’s displayed a growing penchant for power and should make some noise next season.
The debate as to whether Marquez or Davis should be at the top of any Cubs list is going to continue all winter. Most of us here Cubs Insider would probably go with Davis because he’s an everyday guy and is just beginning to tap into his potential. BP’s point is that lefties that throw 100 don’t grow on trees, but the Cubs actually have three of them in their system who will be 22 or younger in ’21: Marquez, Carraway, and Little.
One big positive to take away from this list is that, like Prospects Live, BP is extremely high on Howard. The Cubs may have gotten the steal of the draft with the homegrown Chicago shortstop whose makeup and work ethic are off the charts.
As for the rest of the prospect lists, Baseball America will be publishing theirs here in the next couple of weeks and MLB Pipeline will probably hold off until January. Pipeline may even wait until late February to publish as they like to wait out the trade market. As for the other lists at ESPN, FanGraphs, and The Athletic, we will be ready for them when the time comes.