How Does the Cubs Farm System Look in a Post-Eloy Jimenez World? (Hint: It’s Still Pretty Good)

You wouldn’t think that trading two of your top prospects would gut your farm system. But when the Cubs made the move for Jose Quintana, they ripped a pretty good gash in it. Eloy Jimenez was the top-ranked position player and Dylan Cease was the top-ranked pitcher. Combined, they were the only two prospects the Cubs had in Baseball America’s Top 100. Jeimer Candelario is the only remaining Cub on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. That’s a drastic change from 2013-14, when they had as many as six prospects in the list.

That said, the Cubs farm system will be fine in the long run.

This organization can be rebuilt quickly. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod did it once, they can do it again. Next year brings the regular draft, plus what is likely to be one or two comp picks, and their international free agency restrictions will be lifted. You can be assured the Cubs will attack talent acquisition on several fronts. In fact, the system has already begun a quiet rebuild with the 2015 international free agent class, many of them still in their late teens, hitting American shores.

Some of these players are just blossoming in the states. Names like Jose Albertos, Miguel Amaya, Isaac Paredes, Johnathan Sierra, Aramis Ademan, and Brailyn Marquez could become household names in the next two years as they mature. John Arguello of 2080 Baseball wrote an excellent piece on the depth of the Cubs’ haul that year, and I think that group will be the foundation of the system over the next three years.

When it comes to now, though, who exactly moves up the prospect lists to fill the void left by the Jimenez and Cease? listed Jeimer Candelario as the new top prospect, but I don’t believe he really is. Sure, he’s a good player with value, but I think there others who project much higher.

Here are the top five names who could assume the mantle of the Cubs’ Top Prospect in the next two summers.

Aramis Ademan – Shortstop
Age – 18
2017 Affiliate – Eugene
Top skills – defense, deft hands
ETA – 2021
He skipped rookie ball and is playing in short-season Eugene in 2017. Defensively, he is leaps and bounds above every shortstop in the system. The bat is slowly coming around and has more pop than first thought. In July, he’s hitting over .300 and improving rapidly on offense.

Tom Hatch – Pitcher
Age: 21
2017 Affiliate – Myrtle Beach
Top skills – four-pitch repertoire, command/control, ridiculous arm-side run on his FB
ETA – 2019
He had a rough adjustment period in April through mid-May. After that, he’s been throwing darts, including a 13-K affair. He could be amazing in the second half. Don’t look at his ERA before June.

Adbert Alzolay – Pitcher
Age: 22
2017 Affiliate – Myrtle Beach
Top skills – 96/97 mph fastball that he can maintain deep into game
ETA – 2018
He’s really come on in 2017 by quickening his pace. He still needs work on his change, but his FB is c’est magnifique and his curve is improving with a nice 2-7 arc. In his AA Tennessee debut, he announced his presence with authority by striking out 10. I could see him as a back-end starter, but he would be dynamite as a reliever topping out near 100.

Jose Albertos – Pitcher
Age: 18
2017 Affiliate – Eugene
Top Skills – 97 mph fastball, command
ETA – 2020
The 18-year-old out of Mexico is extremely advanced for his age. He Throws between 95-97, has elite command of his fastball, and employs a plus changeup. The curve, when developed, will give him three plus pitches.The ball just flies out of his hand and he is just deadly with the fastball. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him pitch (last Sunday).

While this list is pitching-heavy, expect that to be the trend. The Cubs have already seen the benefits of their initial bat-first strategy and now have a lot of good arms who should be arriving in Chicago in 2018 and 2019. It’s not about the hitters anymore.

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