This week was quite the gut-punch as fans watch the Cubs dump the core and blow up most of what was left from the 2016 World Series championship. The return for three franchise icons and a few others who’d endeared themselves quickly on the North Side was 12 new players, 10 of whom are of the minor -league variety.
No matter how you feel about the trades themselves or what the Cubs have lost, these guys are now part of the organization. Second baseman Nick Madrigal, who is out for the season following surgery to repair a torn hamstring, came over from the White Sox and will be probably be a staple at second base for the next few years. Pitcher Codi Heuer should slide right into the bullpen as a long man.
But since this team is looking to rebuild for the long haul, you’re probably a little more interested in those 10 prospects. You can see several of them populating the upper reaches of FanGraphs’ top prospect board and MLB.com’s top 30 list, while Baseball America will be coming out with an updated list early next week.
It’ll be a while before Cubs Insider published a more comprehensive ranking, but here is how we see the new additions stacking up against one another.
10. Bailey Horn – LHP
The 2020 fifth-round draft pick out of Auburn is probably more of a reliever than a starter. His fastball can touch upper 90s at times, but usually sits in the mid 90s.
9. Daniel Palencia – RHP
This kid is pretty much the definition of a lottery ticket and he will be with Myrtle Beach for the rest of this year. It’s unclear at this point how the Cubs will use him, but my guess would be that he would start so that he can work on an arsenal that includes a fastball the tops out around 100 miles an hour. He is still fairly young at 21 and is still learning to control his pitches.
8. Bryce Ball – 1B
I’ve been watching him play in person all week in Davenport and he looks like he’s more relaxed at the plate. Nerves may have been a factor as he started out 1-for-20 with what seemed to be 900 walks (17.4% walk rate). He has a great plate approach and has the potential for big-time power, though I would not be surprised if the Cubs try to shorten his stroke a little bit because of his size.
7. Greg Deichmann – OF
Out of all the prospects the Cubs acquired at the deadline, Deichmann is probably the closest in terms of helping out at the big league level. He was hitting well in the Triple-A West League with an on-base percentage well over .400 for the year. He has been known to have power outbursts from time to time, but he really seems to struggle against left-handed pitching. Some see his ceiling as a platoon player at the major league level.
Greg Deichmann’s first hit as a Cub pic.twitter.com/QK0XRE75Ge
— RISPy Business (@Melissybk) July 30, 2021
6. Anderson Espinoza – RHP
Like Palencia, Espinoza has a pretty big arm. He’s already had Tommy John twice, but he’s coming off of July at High-A in which he had an ERA of 1.86 in limited innings. He’s made 12 starts on the year but only has thrown 28.2 innings. His 37 strikeouts during that time make it a little easier to overlook the elbow surgeries.
5. Alexander Canario – OF
Canario is blessed with incredible bat speed and he is another guy the Cubs seem to be coveting because he has some loud tools. He just hasn’t put them all together yet as he continues to fill out physically. He was a top 10 prospect in a Giants system that was pretty deep and we should get a look at him in Myrtle Beach this weekend.
Fantastic to see Alexander Canario is still hitting nukes after labrum surgery.
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) April 19, 2021
4. Alexander Vizcaino – RHP
As with two previous players, Vizcaino has an upper 90s fastball and is stationed in the lower part of the system. He was a top 10 Yankees prospect who just needs to learn how to control and command his gifts, so we’ll see whether and how he’s able to do that in South Bend over the remainder of the season.
3. Caleb Kilian – RHP
The 24-year-old out of Texas Tech is probably the one player most fans are underestimating right now because he was ranked 30th in the Giants’ system coming into this year. However, he’s just destroyed High-A and Double-A in 11 starts with a combined 2.35 ERA that comes from commanding four pitches for strikes.
Kilian has walked only 11 batters in 100.2 innings as a pro and he added a lot of muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame over the winter. He might be a guy we could possibly see in Chicago at some point next year.
RHP Caleb Kilian is really adjusting to Double-A fast. He was really commanding full assortment of 4S, 2S, sinker, cutter, up/down, in/out and then occasional curve. Second really dominant outing in a row for the 8th rounder from Texas Tech pic.twitter.com/lFSnnjQvnq
— Roger Munter (@rog61) June 23, 2021
2. Kevin Alcantara – OF
The 6-foot-6 19-year-old who signed for $1 million in 2018 will be joining the Cubs’ rookie league squad in Mesa. He only weighed 188 pounds when he signed, but he’s a little bit bigger now and has the potential to become an impressive hitter as he continues to get bigger and improve his discipline to take full advantage of his incredible bat speed.
Cubs acquire Yankees No. 12 prospect, 19 year-old Kevin Alcantara
He’s RAKED in 8 rookie-ball games this season:
.360 AVG, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, .968 OPS
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) July 29, 2021
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong – OF – Mets
I was hoping he would fall to the Cubs in the 2020 draft and he did, but the Cubs took Ed Howard instead. Armstrong is an excellent defender in center field and, while he may not be a power producer at the major league level, almost everyone thinks he’s going to be able to hit. In a small sample size this year, Crow-Armstrong just demolished Low-A pitching by hitting .417 before he needed to have surgery to fix a torn labrum and articular cartilage in his non-throwing shoulder.
Before his season was halted, Pete Crow-Armstrong hit .514 with just one strikeout in 42 at-bats.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 31, 2020
This collection of prospects has strengthened the Cubs system quite a bit and includes as many as four top-10 ranked players between the two lists mentioned earlier. We won’t really see the full impact of these deals until next summer at the earliest because of health and the lack of time remaining in the season, but some of them will be getting a lot of playing time over the next several weeks.
Once 2022 rolls around, it’s possible we’ll see Deichmann and Kilian in Chicago. The rest of them look to be 2-3 years out.