Cubs Insider’s 2023 Top 79 Cubs Prospects List (79-61)

The basketball season ended a little sooner for me than I would have liked, but that’s the nature of the beast as a coach. As the old saying goes, “every ending is a new beginning” and I am excited for a new season of covering Cubs prospects. To begin that coverage, I am going to drop my 2023 prospect ranks in four segments, each containing about 20 prospects.

Let’s start with a couple notes on the list. First is the depth. I didn’t have a set number of players that I wanted to rank going into the process, I just started listing players that were interesting to me and ended up with 79 names. To me, this illustrates the extreme depth of the system. I’m not trying to pretend most of these guys will reach their ceiling and become big league players, though I do think all of them have a non-zero chance to reach that level.

Another caveat about this set of prospects from 79-61 is that they are all pretty interchangeable. Most of these guys are relievers, have bench role ceilings, or are a long way from the majors. It comes down to preference and I could hear an argument for placing them in any order. Please feel free to comment on where you think I went wrong, I love the discourse.

Now, on to the list.

Ed. note: Some of the headshots below don’t render for me, but they’ve worked for other folks. Maybe a browser or connection issue, just wanted to give a heads-up.

#79. Dalton Stambaugh, RP

Age: 26   Bats: R   Throws: L
Height: 6-0     Weight: 195
Free Agent: 2021
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A

Bounced back and forth between High-A and Double-A last season. He won’t overpower anyone with afastball that sits in the low 90s, but he mixes in a curveball that flashes plus and a changeup that has some upside. He relies on command and hitting his spots to get outs. After being exposed in his first stint at Double-A, he showed enough pitchability over a few stretches throughout the season to warrant keeping an eye on him going forward.

#78. Gregori Montano, RP

Age: 23   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 5’11     Weight: 175
International Signing: 2019
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

When I first saw Montano pitch for Myrtle Beach last year, I was blown away. He has some of the most electric stuff out of the pen in the system, pairing a high-90s fastball with a wipeout slider. The only problem? Most outings, he has no clue where the ball is going to end up. Control and consistency are keeping him tied down. If he can improve on these aspects, he could move up the system pretty quickly as a 23-year-old.

#77. Scott Kobos, RP

Age: 25   Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6-2     Weight: 200
UDFA: 2020
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A; Triple-A

After a breakout season in 2021, Kobos hit the IL on four separate occasions in 2022 and never gained any momentum. His repertoire consists of a mid-90s fastball, an average to plus slider, and a changeup that shows flashes of being an above-average pitch. He started his college career as an outfielder and has only logged 109 innings in five years as a pitcher. That is not a lot of experience given his age, so this year will be huge to continue his development as a pitcher.

#76. Fabián Pertuz, SS

Age: 22   Bats: Throws: R
Height: 6-0     Weight: 156
International Signing: 2017
Expected 2023 Level: High-A; Double-A

I don’t know if he will be able to stick at short, but he should be able to slide to either second or third. Has shown some gap power at the plate and takes good professional at-bats. His ceiling is probably a bench role. I’m excited to see him play with fellow Cubs prospect Danis Correa for team Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. This should be a good opportunity to continue his development against some of the best competition in the world.

#75. Levi Jordan, 2B

Age: 27   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 5-8     Weight: 170
Drafted: 2018 (29th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: Triple-A

I have soft spot for players like Jordan, an undersized infielder who is a grinder. He had a great start at Double-A Tennessee, where he hit .353 before being promoted to Iowa. Has a short, compact swing which allows him to make solid contact with surprising pop. Ultimately, he could get a cup of coffee in the majors at some point as an up-and-down guy in the event of an injury.

#74. Luis Vázquez, SS

Age: 23   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-1     Weight: 165
International Signing: 2017
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A

Vázquez can really pick it and I have no doubt he could play a major league shortstop because of his great hands and above-average range. My main concern is that he will never hit enough to go along with his great defense. He is a free swinger who doesn’t walk or strikeout too much. I saw more hard contact in 2022, but there is still much to be desired in that category. In the end, his hit tool will determine if he can be a guy at the end of the bench at the big league level.

#73. Andy Weber, SS

Age: 25   Bats: L   Throws: R
Height: 6-1     Weight: 190
Drafted: 2018 (5th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: Triple-A

Weber had a breakout season for the Tennessee Smokies in 2022. That success led to a invitation to big league spring training as a non-roster invitee. Has some versatility in the infield, playing mainly second while flexing to short and third. He has good bat-to-ball skills and a solid plate approach, though I would like to see him sell out for more power to create additional value value for himself.

#72. Yeison Santana, 2B

Age: 22   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 5-11     Weight: 170
Trade: 2020 (Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini)
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

Santana showed an advanced approach at the plate in South Bend, where he posted a 13% walk rate and a 17.6% K rate despite being a full year younger than league average. He doesn’t show any power and hits the ball on the ground way too often (57%) at this point in his career. He has plus speed and is a good defender up the middle. As of now, his potential lies as a utility infielder unless he can start to develop more hard contact.

#71. Michael Arias, SP

Age: 21   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-0     Weight: 155
Minor League FA: 2021
Expected 2023 Level: Low-A

Originally signed as a SS by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018, Arias found his way to the Cubs as a minor league free agent in 2021. The Cubs quickly switched him over to the mound, where he features a fastball that touches 99 mph. He is still working on his secondaries and has only pitched 40 professional innings, but the talent and athleticism are something to keep an eye on.

#70. Sheldon Reed, RP

Age: 25   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-3     Weight: 185
UDFA: 2020
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A

Reed parlayed a good year between Myrtle Beach and South Bend into a trip to the Arizona Fall League. He has a short arm action that makes his mid-90s fastball really jump on hitters. He also mixes in a biting slider to keep hitters off balance. This year at Double-A will be a good test to see if he is a legit bullpen prospect or a player who dominated younger players in Single-A.

#69. Ezequiel Pagán, CF

Age: 22   Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6-1     Weight: 163
Drafted: 2018 (13th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

One of my favorite players to watch, he plays like his hair is on fire and is very aggressive on the base paths. I was a little surprised he didn’t get a call-up to South Bend during the season, but it was understandable given the Cubs’ outfield depth. He has quick hands, a good approach, and is able to make solid contact. He doesn’t have much power, but can run into one every once in a while and his above-average speed helps him be more than an adequate defender.

#68. Felix Stevens, 1B

Age: 23   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-4     Weight: 235
International Signing: 2019
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

Stevens is a very large human with one plus tool: The ability to punish a baseball. The 23-year-old has some of the most raw power in the entire organization. He will never be a great contact hitter and is probably destined to be a DH-only type, but his prodigious pop makes him worth keeping an eye on as a prospect.

#67. Haydn McGeary, C

Age: 23   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-5     Weight: 235
Drafted: 2022 (15th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

McGeary had one of the best college careers of any player in D2, routinely putting up video game numbers. (I would highly recommend clicking the link above to his BaseballReference page) His size makes me think he won’t stick at catcher and so far, he has played most of his pro games at first base. He has a very mature approach at the plate and can absolutely destroy mistakes. He hits hard line drives and doesn’t need to sacrifice contact to reach his power, which really gives me Kyle Schwarber vibes from the right side. I still want to see what he can do against more advanced competition before I get too hyped for his future.

#66. Parker Chavers, CF

Age: 24   Bats: L   Throws: R
Height: 5-11     Weight: 185
Drafted: 2021 (7th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

Chavers has dealt with injuries his entire pro career and has appeared in only 45 games since being drafted in 2021. The hope is that 2023 will be a healthy season and he can show off his talent. Overall, he is an above-average defender at all three outfield spots with the ability to make good contact while generating sneaky pop. The biggest thing I want to see from him is a full season.

#65. Riley Martin, RP

Age: 24   Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6-1     Weight: 215
Drafted: 2021 (6th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A

Martin was dominant throughout the 2022 season, which earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League. In total, he struck out 120 batters in 82.2 IP between Myrtle Beach and South Bend. He mixes in a mid-90s fastball with a slider that has hard bite, disappearing down and in to right-handed hitters. He also will throw a curveball that has the potential to be a plus pitch. I am eager to see how he fares against more advanced hitters in Double-A after completely dominating the lower minors.

#64. Max Bain, SP

Age: 25   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-5     Weight: 240
UDFA: 2020
Expected 2023 Level: Double-A

I would have him higher on my list if I felt like he would stay as a starter. Ultimately, I think he is a bullpen arm with some upside to be a late-inning reliever. The results haven’t been there so far in his career, but he has shown enough flashes to be a guy to keep an eye on. Some of those flashes are a fastball that reaches 98 mph along with a plus curveball. He still has some command issues and is looking to become more consistent in his second stint in Double-A

#63. Ismael Mena, CF

Age: 20   Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6-3     Weight: 185
Trade: 2020 (Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini)
Expected 2023 Level: Low-A

He is still a prospect whose potential you can dream on, boasting great physical tools with the ability to add muscle to his frame. Mena has plus-plus speed, which helps him grade as a well-above-average defender in center field. The potential is there to be an above-average hitter with 20 homer power, but we are still a long way from seeing that turn into a reality. This is another player who could see his stock soar with a good year in Myrtle Beach, and he’s someone I am excited to get eyes on in 2023.

#62. Rafael Morel, SS

Age: 21   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-0     Weight: 170
International Signing: 2018
Expected 2023 Level: Low-A

An athletic shortstop who I was surprised we didn’t see in Myrtle Beach this past season, Morel is a well-rounded player with no one tool that stands out. He has a chance to hit for a good average with some power, but still has a ways to go in that regard. He could end up being a decent utility guy a la his brother Chris without the loud tools.

#61. Tyler Schlaffer, SP

Age: 21   Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6-1     Weight: 180
Drafted: 2019 (9th Rd)
Expected 2023 Level: High-A

Schlaffer had a breakout season of sorts in Myrtle Beach after adding velocity to his fastball to sit in the 93-95 range. He also throws an average changeup and a curveball that flashes as a plus pitch, then he added a slider prior to the 2022 season that has shown great success and projects as a plus pitch. He had surgery on his right arm in August and I’m not sure on the timetable for his return, although he started a throwing program in January. The hope is that we see him on the mound in South Bend at some point this season.

There truly are a lot of intriguing prospects in this range who are a few improvements away from breaking out. Be on the lookout for my Nos. 60-41 prospects in the coming days.

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