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Chicago Cubs Top 20 prospects for 2017: Mid-season review

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We’re well past mid-season now so I’m working as fast as I can on these’s the Cubs.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

We continue our mid-season organization reviews with a look at the Chicago Cubs Top 20 Prospects from the beginning of 2017. The index for other team reviews can be found here.




This list was originally published November 26th 2016 and revised on February 9th, 2017.

1) Eloy Jimenez, OF, Grade A-: Age 20, traded to the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline in Jose Quintana deal; excellent season in High-A with .299/.375/.551 combined for the two systems; meeting or exceeding all expectations.

2) Dylan Cease, RHP, Grade B+: Age 21, sixth round pick in 2014 although would have been first-rounder if not for Tommy John surgery; fully recovered now; traded to the White Sox along with Jimenez, 3.07 ERA in 70 innings in Low-A, 99/36 K/BB, blistering stuff with command questions.

3) Trevor Clifton, RHP, Grade B+/B: Age 21, 12th round pick in 2013 from high school in Tennessee; 4.75 ERA in 95 innings in Double-A, 79/42 K/BB, 98 hits; decline in K-rate compared to 2016 in High-A concerning, along with large deterioration in all statistics since the beginning of June.

4) Ian Happ, 2B-OF, Grade B+/B: Age 22, first round pick in 2015; hitting .244/.318/.487 with 14 homers, 24 walks, 80 strikeouts in 238 at-bats in the majors; some contact issues but overall ability obvious; I should have ranked him ahead of Clifton.

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Albert Almora Jr
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

5) Albert Almora, Jr, OF, Grade B: Age 23; hitting .275/.327/.391 in 207 major league at-bats; hitting very much as expected, handling center field; no real surprises here.

6) Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, Grade B: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2012; 3.42 ERA with 42/11 K/BB in 47 innings in High-A; went on disabled list in June with a sore arm; I still like him if healthy.

7) Mark Zagunis, OF, Grade B-: Age 24, third round pick from Virginia Tech in 2014; hitting .265/.402/.450 with 65 walks, 12 homers in 313 at-bats in Triple-A; strong plate discipline with occasional power is the profile here, no changes.

8) Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Grade B-: Age 23, traded to the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline in Justin Wilson and Alex Avila deal; hitting .260/.350/.497 in Triple-A, nothing left to prove in the minors, promoted to majors by the Tigers yesterday. I like him a lot and he should be a very productive regular once he gets settled in.

MLB: Chicago Cubs- Workouts
Duane Underwood
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

9) Duane Underwood, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, 4.42 ERA in 108 innings in Double-A, 81/41 K/BB; remains frustrating but promising; when he’s right he’s dominant with plus fastball and solid secondaries but consistency from start-to-start remains problematic; has been better lately with 7-1 record and 3.40 ERA in last 10 starts.

10) Victor Caratini, C-1B, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, hitting .346/.386/.556 with 10 homers, 21 walks, 44 strikeouts in 266 at-bats in Triple-A; .192 in 26 major league at-bats; ripping up the Pacific Coast League, should find a spot as a role player.

11) Jose Albertos, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 18, signed out of Mexico in 2015; still just getting his career going but solid results so far, 3.24 ERA in 17 innings in Northwest League with 18/8 K/BB, might be a breakthrough guy for 2018.

12) Thomas Hatch, RHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, Chicago’s top pick in 2016 draft (third round) from Oklahoma State; can hit 94-96, has 4.14 ERA in 100 innings in High-A with 102/42 K/BB; like Albertos, Hatch should be watched for breakthrough in ‘18.

13) Wladimir Galindo, 3B, Grade C+: Age 20, signed out of Venezuela in 2013, injured much of the year with various shoulder and leg miseries but has hit well when healthy, .290/.350/.452 in Low-A over 162 at-bats; another guy on the ‘18 watch list.

14) Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Grade C+: Age 25, second round pick in 2013, has fought injuries this year, currently holds 6.67 ERA in 27 innings in Triple-A with 21/12 K/BB; lefties with pulses live forever.

15) Alec Mills, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 22nd round pick in 2012 from University of Tennessee-Martin by the Royals, acquired in February for Donnie Dewees, has missed almost the entire season with injuries, throwing just 14 innings over three starts in Triple-A.

16) Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Grade C+: Age 23, fifth round pick in 2015 from Arizona State; finesse guy coming out of college; I thought his velocity would pick up but this has not happened and he’s having problems getting the ball past High-A hitters; 5.49 ERA in 80 innings, 102 hits, 43 walks, 19 strikeouts; throws strikes but not enough stuff right now.

17) Erling Moreno, RHP, Grade C+: Age 20, signed out of Colombia for $650,000 in 2013; 3.92 ERA in 39 innings in Low-A, 36/21 K/BB, 3.60 GO/AO; sinker/curve combination remains intriguing but has been on the DL twice.

18) Zach Hedges, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, 26th round pick in 2014 from Azusa Pacific, decent in Double-A (3.77 ERA in 100 innings, 60/21 K/BB) but was hammered in brief promotion to Triple-A (11.94, 5/10 K/BB, 36 hits in 17 innings) probably better-off in bullpen long-term, another sinker type.

19) Jose Paulino, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; slow developer until 2016 ; 4.85 ERA in 95 innings in Low-A, 71/38 K/BB, 93 hits, can hit 94-96 but secondary pitches, command remain erratic.

20) D.J. Wilson, OF, Grade C+: Age 20, fourth round pick in 2015 from high school in Ohio, hitting .242/.322/.447 in 219 at-bats in Low-A, starting to show more power this year to go with above-average speed.


Bryan Hudson, LHP: 3.92 ERA in 96 innings in Low-A, 61/38 K/BB, 3.00 GO/AO, another ‘18 breakthrough chance.
Chad Hockin, RHP: 4.57 ERA in Low-A, 49/14 K/BB in 45 innings.
Preston Morrison, RHP: 5.47 ERA in 102 innings in Double-A, 68/34 K/BB, 109 hits; big difference between A-ball dominance and AA this year.

Isaac Paredes, INF: Traded to the Tigers; hitting .272/.353/.416 on the season in Low-A at age 18, stock up considerably.
Jose Rosario, RHP: Another injured arm.
Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: Hitting .196/.272/.214 in 112 at-bats in High-A before going on DL.

Jake Stinnett, RHP: Just recently activated off DL; 1.80 ERA in 10 innings between rehab work and Double-A, 13/3 K/BB.
Ryan Williams, RHP: Injured.
Chesny Young, INF: Hitting .271/.321/.320 in 345 at-bats in Triple-A.

With the trades and the rash of injuries, a current list would look much different than this review of the pre-season list. Let’s discuss in the comments.