PCA Takes Top Spot in MLB Pipeline’s Rankings, Mash Mervis Enters at 21

MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis revealed last week on Marquee Sports Network that Pete Crow-Armstrong would be the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect when the rankings were updated, and we now have a look at that reality. The 20-year-old future Gold Glove center fielder has indeed surpassed Brennen Davis, who has missed most of the season due to a nerve issue in his back. PCA ranks 31st overall, with Davis at 51 and Kevin Alcántara at 91.

Alcántara has opened a lot of eyes with his production and may be in line for even bigger things when he escapes the power-sapping confines of Myrtle Beach. He just turned 20 in July and has plenty of room to grow into his 6-foot-6, 190-pound frame, so that ranking may be even more heavily based on potential than the others.

Speaking of which, top 2022 draft pick Cade Horton vaulted ahead of all the Cubs’ other pitching prospects to take the No. 4 spot. Pipeline called him “the best pitching prospect in college baseball this year,” raving about his athleticism and ability to excel if he can dial in his changeup. With a fastball that touches 98 and a slider that received a 65 grade, Horton could be a fast riser.

Ben Brown, who the Cubs received in the David Robertson trade, enters the list at No. 7; second-round pick Jackson Ferris is No. 8; Hayden Wesneski fell to No. 12 after being higher in the immediate wake of his acquisition in the Scott Effross deal. Caleb Kilian is all the way down to No. 14, which tells you a lot about the work the Cubs have done to stock up their pitching.

Four of the organization’s top 10 prospects and seven of the top 14 are pitchers, then you have seven more pitchers in the bottom nine spots of the top 30. This is a really exciting list, especially if you set the rankings aside and just look at the collection of talent the Cubs have managed to put together.

One of those talented players I’ve talked about for a while now is first baseman Matt Mervis, who appears at No. 21. He’s older than most of the other players in the top 30 and scouts believe he may be limited both positionally and in his ability to hit big league breaking balls, but it’s impossible to argue with his numbers this year.

I actually think he can be a better hitter than what some reports say, but it may not matter too much if he can really lean into the power. The Cubs have clearly made a move to a more contact-heavy approach and now they need to balance that with more thump, particularly from the left side. Mervis can be that guy.

Just below Mervis on the list is righty Porter Hodge, who was recently promoted to South Bend after striking out 90 batters in 69 innings for Myrtle Beach. That’s kind of a theme, as 10 of the Cubs’ top 30 prospects are now in South Bend. Only Wesneski, Kilian, and Mervis are at Triple-A and seven more are at Double-A. That leaves 10 at the lowest levels of the system, though the configurations will change significantly through the end of the season and into next spring.

It wouldn’t be right to leave off without mentioning Alexander Canario, the No. 9 Cubs prospect who is crushing everything in site for Tennessee these days. He’s about to become the first Cubs prospect since Kris Bryant in 2014 to post a 30-homer season and he’s doing it with new swing mechanics that surely came from a hitting development infrastructure that hasn’t gotten as much hype as the pitching side.

These rankings are always subjective and subject to change, so I’m not encouraging you to put too much stock into every single choice here. I would, however, encourage you to take a look at what’s happening in the minors as a way to inform your opinion and understanding of what may soon be happening in Chicago.

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