Cubs Organizational Breakdown, Pt. 10: Outfielders Rule System Now

Over the past year, the Cubs’ outfield position group has really taken off. Part of that has been the development of Brennen Davis, but we’ve also seen improvements from Yohendrick Pinango and Yonathan Perlaza along with prospect du jour Nelson Velázquez. The biggest jump in this group over last year has been the result of the Cubs going out and getting several outfielders in trades the past year.

They have gone beyond just bulking up the position and now have an abundance of players to use in Chicago and beyond. In fact, 12 of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Cubs prospects are outfielders.

Check out last year‘s outfield breakdown

The organization boasts several prospects whose trajectories put them as regulars at Wrigley in short order. At the same time, there are many others who have yet to prove anything and have only just begun to harness their skills. The outfield corps has a long way to go to become a powerhouse group, something the Cubs really haven’t seen before. If all goes well this summer, however, their promise could pay off for years to come.

Let’s get started with who is going to be at each affiliate.

Davis is going to be the main attraction the entire time he’s in Des Moines next summer. I’m using the term “summer” loosely depending on what kind of start he gets off to and how things are going in Chicago. He could easily find his way to the big club pretty quickly if the cards fall right.

Davis should be joined in Iowa by Velázquez, Christopher Morel, Zach Davis, and Donnie Dewees in what should be a somewhat crowded outfield, especially if Greg Deichmann doesn’t make the active roster. It’s pretty nice to have these kinds of problems.

Depending on how crowded Iowa’s outfield gets, we could see Velázquez at least start 2022 in Tennessee. More than likely we’re going to see one of the breakouts of last year, outfielder Darius Hill, rejoin the Smokies after breaking his hand in August. Perlaza should also be here, along with DJ Artis and Bradlee Beasley. Seeing Velázquez, Perlaza, and Hill in one lineup could be pretty exciting.

Each affiliate is pretty well stacked when it comes to outfielders. For a guy to stand out next year, that prospect is really going to have to dominate the level to set themselves apart.

South Bend
High-A is going to be quite the proving ground this season. Alexander Canario and Yohendrick Pinango are going to be joined by Jordan Nwogu, possibly Christian Franklin, and Cole Roederer, who is returning from Tommy John surgery. I would expect Roederer to play more DH in the first couple months of the year rather than his natural position of center field as he works his way back.

Canario is the wildcard here. He has amazing skills and loves the game, but can run into trouble when he tries to do too much. Then again, he has an amazing arm and the ability to drive the ball out of the park in any direction. Nwogu grew by leaps and bounds last year at Myrtle Beach in the second half and he might the guy who shoots up prospect lists faster than anyone.

Myrtle Beach
It’ll be more of the same in South Carolina, which is looking at having Pete Crow-Armstrong, Owen Caissie, Felix Stevens, Parker Chavers, and Kevin Alcantara. That, my friends, is one hell of an outfield mix. The thing about each of these prospects is that they are nowhere near their ceilings. Caissie, Alcantara, and Crow-Armstrong are extremely talented and their current floors are pretty high too. All three have been ranked in most top 10 prospect lists this winter and could be ranked in the top 100 overall if all goes well this spring. 

Chavers has five-tool potential but has been beset by injuries. Stevens is a physical specimen and could move to first to create more room for the others. One thing Low-A is going to provide each of them is a lot of professional at-bats, which is really what all of them need.

I would not be surprised to see the Cubs trade from this depth if they are in contention since every affiliate has guys who can rake and there simply isn’t enough room for all of them even if not everyone pans out. The potential is tremendous, but that’s still what it is for these young players right now.

When that potential is going to flourish is still in question. Success at lower levels of the minors really doesn’t mean anything until it’s replicated at Double-A or higher. And that’s pretty much where the Cubs are sitting right now. They have a lot of talent in the bottom half of the system that needs to find its way.

Here are the other nine breakdowns. Thanks for reading this winter!

Second Base
Third Base
First Base/DH
Left-Handed Relievers
Right Handed Starters
Right-Handed Relievers
Left Handed Starters

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