Changes at Top as MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Cubs Prospects List Released

Late Monday night, MLB Pipeline released its new top 100 prospects list and a top 30 list for each organization. The Cubs only placed one player, Jeimer Candelario, in the century club. That’s not much of a surprise, as Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the two writers of the list, are often slow to add new prospects without a good deal of proof and to take certain prospects off despite flagging results.

When it comes to the Cubs top 30, the list contains 19 pitchers and 11 position players, a shift I wrote about two weeks ago after the Jose Quintana trade.

Top 10: Jeimer Candelario, Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Albertos, Adbert Alzolay, Alex Lange, Brendon Little, Victor Caratini, Thomas Hatch, Mark Zagunis, and Isaac Paredes

I don’t think any of these names are out of place in the top 10. However, I do think you can make an argument, and very easily, that Albertos or Alzolay should be ahead of de la Cruz, who has been plagued by injury the past two summers. It could be seen as presumptuous to put recent draft picks Lange and Little up so high in the rankings without them having played a game of pro baseball. Then again, both pitchers were highly regarded and were selected in the first round. I do agree with putting Lange above Little.

11-20: Trevor Clifton, Justin Steele, Aramis Ademan, DJ Wilson, Jen-Ho Tseng, Dillon Maples, Eddy Martinez, Duane Underwood, Chesny Young, Carlos Sepulveda

When I first saw where Callis and Mayo placed Clifton, I wondered if this was because of his performance this year or because they don’t think he has the skills or tools required in a top prospect. I still have faith in the righty starter and would put him around No. 5, so I thought dropping him was out of character for this list. I was glad to see Sepulveda in the top 20, considering he has been injured almost all year. Maples has gone from high A to AAA in half a season and streaked to No. 16 based on his strong performance out of the pen.  

21-30. Jeremy Estrada, Alec Mills, Keegan Thompson, Charcer Burks, Cory Abbott, Rob Zastryzny, Pierce Johnson, Wladimir Galindo, Erling Moreno, Bryan Hudson

I was glad to see a lot of the players in this range, including Galindo and Moreno despite their injury riddled seasons. In addition, Callis and Mayo were actually aggressive in placing Estrada at No. 21 and one of my favorite picks, Keegan Thompson, at No. 23. I also got some good information about Noah Syndergaard-wannabee Cory Abbott, the Cubs’ second round pick this year.

Omissions – Miguel Amaya, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, Jake Hannemann, and Jake Stinnett

I really like Amaya as a prospect. While it will take some work for the bat to come around, his defensive tools are the best the Cubs have in the minors. Then again, he’s only 18 and already at short-season Eugene. I love Mekkes and Rucker, both of whom are at Myrtle Beach and moving fast this year. Mekkes is a strikeout machine and Rucker is in line to be the Cubs’ MiLB Pitcher of the Month for July. As for the two Jakes, Hannemann has never really taken off and Stinnett has missed most of the year. Stinnett just started throwing in Mesa as a reliever and has been outstanding. I think being a bullpen role might suit him, but at 25, time is running out.

Overall, one really can’t quibble too much about who is on the list, though I do think one could easily make the argument for Alzolay or Albertos to be the top prospect. Candelario has had his day in the sun and is now just awaiting an opportunity to play everyday in the majors somewhere. Based on service time, Victor Caratini will not be on the list much longer.

With the trade deadline now less than a week away, we are sure to see this list change, maybe several times, depending on who the Cubs trade to acquire a catcher, starting pitcher, and/or another bullpen arm.

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