Forgive me for being a little late to party on this breakdown, but things have been somewhat busy on the homefront. That doesn’t figure to change anytime soon, so I’m having to dial back on time spent toiling away in the content mines. For now, though, I had to bust out the ol’ pickaxe to talk about the latest update to MLB Pipeline’s top prospect rankings.
The Cubs have a new top 30, headlined once again by Pete Crow-Armstrong. Righty starter Cade Horton has risen to No. 2 and outfielder Owen Caissie created a ton of helium to float all the way to the No. 3 spot. Ben Brown (5), Jackson Ferris (8), and Jordan Wicks (10) give the Cubs four pitchers in the top 10, all of whom have come into the organization over the last year or so.
Wicks and Brown, both 23, are the only prospects in the top 12 older than 21. Matt Shaw, who can legally purchase alcohol, has rocketed up to the sixth spot and looks ready for Double-A just a month after being drafted 13th overall this summer. Overall, this group is deeper and more talented than we’ve seen in a long time.
Some of that is having a lot of very balanced players who are able to leverage more than one particular physical skill, though three Cubs prospects were recently lauded for having the best tools in the minors. Crow-Armstrong’s 80-grade glove still tops his peers, Caissie has the best power, and Brown has the best curveball. Those three are all in Pipeline’s overall top 100, along with Horton and Kevin Alcántara, who is sitting at 76 after being dinged for a slow start to the season.
This is obviously very promising, though not only because of what it could mean in terms of these players eventually suiting up in Chicago. Having three outfielders in the top four, especially when they’re all listed with 2024 ETAs, means someone is probably going to be dealt before long. And you don’t move a top-100 prospect to acquire a middle reliever, so Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are surely doing their due diligence on controllable impact players.
The expectation is that the Cubs will be very active again in free agency, perhaps even to the point of exceeding the competitive balance tax threshold, but there are other ways to build a championship roster. Besides, there are only so many roster spots available and it’s often necessary to deal from a strength in order to improve a weakness. For now, however, it’s perfectly fine to envision all of these prospects staying around and becoming Cubs.