It’s been almost a year and a half since any Cubs prospects played in a minor league game, rendering a typical Stock Watch post — here are versions from February, April, and July of last year — moot. Instead, this one is going to focus more on who is generating buzz from evaluators based on the recent prospect rankings published by various outlets.
Baseball America expanded their top 10 Cubs list to 30 names ($) and Marquee Sports Network got in the game with a top 20 list compiled by associate producer and Driveline video editor Lance Brozdowski. Both lists feature some of the prospects traded from San Diego, as well as several other young players who have yet to suit up as part of the Cubs organization.
Kohl Franklin has really gotten a lot of juice lately, including from farm director Matt Dorey, and he’s all the way up to No. 6. Chris Morel remains somewhat under the radar even among Cubs fans, but that may not last long as he is slotted in at No. 8. Shortstop Reggie Preciado rounds out the top 10 after coming over from the Padres
Reggie Preciado enters 2021 as a top-10 prospect in the Cubs system.
See where all of Chicago’s new additions rank in their updated Top 30 👇https://t.co/u1KmyL9z6T
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) February 4, 2021
Riley Thompson kicks off the next 10 after gaining a little notoriety by pitching five innings of no-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in the 2019 Midwest League title game. Sitting near the on deck circle that night, I saw a guy pumping straight gas while buckling knees with a killer curve.
Riley Thompson and his curve
This guy had no chance pic.twitter.com/zO8RrImPuq
— Todd ⚾️🐻 (@CubsCentral08) July 7, 2019
Also of note in the second 10 is the inclusion of outfielder Ismael Mena. While Preciado has gotten most of the publicity since the big trade, Mena is not far behind. The 6-foot-3 lefty has the speed and a projectable body to possibly be a power hitter while remaining in center.
Outfielder Yohendrick Pinango, who has yet to play stateside, came in at No. 25. I was really looking forward to seeing him in the Arizona Rookie League last summer after he posted a 145 wRC+ as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.
I didn’t have very high expectations for Brozdowski’s list at first, but it’s actually my favorite so far this winter. There are a few surprises along the way and a couple of rankings that will tilt your head. But most of the profiles are well thought out and very analytical. Ranking Amaya at No. 2 goes against the grain of what we’ve seen elsewhere, but the young catcher has been generating hype this winter with his play and leadership skills.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) January 8, 2021
Franklin was again listed sixth and touted as possibly being “the top pitching prospect in the system by the end of 2021.” Preciado at No. 7 was an interesting choice that leans heavily on his high ceiling. Morel repeated at No. 8, which is great to see as a longtime fan of his twitchy, toolsy skillset. The top 10 rounds out with Cole Roederer and Chase Strumpf, both of whom could really make some noise this season.
International free agent Cristian Hernandez is at 12 and Ismael Mena appears again, this time at number 14. Even though outfielder Jordan Nwogu did not make the top 20, Brozdowski explained in the accompanying Cubs Weekly podcast that he was extremely impressed with Nwogu’s athleticism and his production at Michigan. The swing needs to be smoothed out, but the Cubs are working on that already.
With spring training set to begin very soon, the Cubs will finally get to see how their new hitting and pitching infrastructures pays off on a broad scale. While some of these prospects were at the alternate site in South Bend or at fall instructs in Mesa, none of them have been consistently operating under the organization’s guidance for quite a while.
As we’ve noted here before, these lists and the ones ranking prospects from across MLB could look a whole lot difference once the games start back up.