Theo Epstein seemingly destroyed any farm system the Cubs once had at the expense of a World Series. Was it worth it? 100 percent! Flags fly forever, and ending a 108-year World Series drought was well worth it for Cubs fans. Chicago finds itself in an interesting situation now. Most of the players from the World Series team have contracts expiring soon. The Cubs have started to tear down the MLB roster but have kept the team together for the most part. This farm system is on the rise and could be one of the top systems in baseball if the team chooses to trade more MLB pieces for prospects. Let’s dive in! Here are your Chicago Cubs’ top prospects for Fantasy Baseball.
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Chicago Cubs Top Prospects for Fantasy Baseball
1. Brennen Davis, OF
There is no denying who the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect is coming into the 2021 season. That is outfield prospect, Brennen Davis! Not only is he their top prospect, but he could be the future face of the franchise. Davis was a stud, two-sport athlete in high school, and the Cubs selected him in the second round of the 2018 draft. Davis has already added over 30 pounds of muscle to his athletic, 6’4 frame since being drafted. Despite that, he still has a lean frame and did not lose any speed.
Davis produces elite bat speed at the plate, which turns into high exit velocities. It is easy to see plus power in Davis’s profile. He also has plus speed that should sustain for several years to come. Additionally, Davis has an above-average hit tool that should allow him to post good batting averages. Davis projects as a hitter who could post a .270 or better average with 25-plus home runs and 10-15 stolen bases a season.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Brennen Davis. He got plenty of reps at the team’s alternate training site last season against very good pitching. He will likely start in double-A in 2021 but could make the jump to triple-A before the season’s end. Davis has elite upside and, for this reason, finds himself as the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect.
#Cubs fans have a lot to be excited about with Brennen Davis. He’s added a ton of muscle to his 6’4 frame. The ball jumps off his bat thanks to his high bat speed. Plus power/plus runner with a very good hit tool. Davis has the makings of a #FantasyBaseball stud.
🎥 via his insta pic.twitter.com/nt24tBXYtG
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) February 18, 2021
2. Cristian Hernandez, SS
Some may find it questionable to have a 17-year-old who has just signed with a professional organization number two in the system. But that is the type of Fantasy impact that Cristian Hernandez can have. The Cubs signed Hernandez for three million dollars in January 2021 as one of the class’s best international prospects.
Hernandez is very developed for his age, standing at 6’2, 175 pounds. There is a lot of power in his bat as Hernandez gets great loft on the ball with excellent bat speed. Most scouts believe that he can grow into plus power. Despite being a bigger-bodied shortstop, Hernandez still runs well and has the speed to steal 10 bases in a season. Among the big three in the international signing class (Hernandez, Wilman Diaz, Carlos Colmenarez), Hernandez could emerge and stand out above the rest. The tools at the plate are there, which is why Hernandez lands second on the Chicago Cubs’ top prospects list.
Cristian Hernandez is one of the top prospects in the 2020-21 international class.
He's been dubbed 'Baby A-Rod' by some evaluators.
Hernandez is expected to sign with the Cubs for around $3.5 million.
His story: https://t.co/ccNp1UOekN pic.twitter.com/kt4asABqpr
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) January 15, 2021
3. Ed Howard, SS
Ed Howard was one of the top shortstops in the 2020 MLB Draft and selected by his hometown team, the Chicago Cubs. Howard will likely be a fan favorite, thanks to his hard work ethic and being a hometown hero. Howards best skills come in the field, where he is a natural shortstop with a plus glove and arm.
For Fantasy Baseball purposes, Howard does not have a standout tool at the plate. He does everything well but does not have any loud tools. He has a strong chance to be above-average in power, speed, and hit tool. In high school, Howard did post bat speed that ranked 98th percentile among his class, and his max exit velocities ranked 94th percentile. Given those numbers, plus the potential to fill out his 6’2, 180-pound frame, Howard could continue to add power. Howard will likely be a player who does many things well and can be the face of the Cubs franchise before long. His high baseball IQ should allow him to move through the system quickly, with the potential to be the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect one day.
4. Brailyn Marquez, LHP
The Chiacgo Cubs’ top pitching prospect, Brailyn Marquez, checks in at number four on the Cubs’ top prospects list. He made his major league debut on the final day of the 2020 season and was charged with five earned runs in 0.2 innings of work. It was not the ideal debut for Marquez, but that does not tell the whole story of who he is
Marquez is a left-handed 6’4 pitcher with a big fastball that sits in the upper 90s. He spent a significant amount of time at the team’s alternate training site refining his slider and changeup. Command and control have also been a major struggle for Marquez in the past, but reports say he really improved both during his time at the alternate training site. If he can improve his command, there is a high chance he can stick as a starter. But, if Marquez does find himself in the bullpen, watch out; his fastball/slider combo could really play up. 2021 will be a huge year of development for Marquez moving forward.
5. Reginald Preciado, SS
Cubs fans were highly upset about the trade package return for Yu Darvish, but hopefully, after seeing this list, you will be encouraged. The issue with the four prospects in the trade is that there was little known about each. All four are also young and have minimal pro experience.
With Preciado, it remains hard to give a great evaluation because he has yet to debut in stateside professional ball. He is a switch hitter who makes hard contact from both sides of the plate. Preciado’s 6’4 frame provides a lot of projection to add strength and grow into more power. His swing generates good loft on the ball, and he makes consistent hard contact. He is highly athletic and could stick at shortstop, despite some thinking he could outgrow the position. If he does move off, he could find a home at third base or a corner outfield spot. Much of his future value remains to be determined. Once we get to see him in-game action this year, we will know much more about him. But, the upside is there for Preciado to be a very talented player.
The #10 prospect in the #Cubs pipeline, Reginald Preciado 🔥🐻
(📸: @ReginaldPrecia4) pic.twitter.com/bCuB2wEvHy
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) February 3, 2021
6. Ismael Mena, OF
Ismael Mena was another huge part of the Yu Darvish package that came back to Chicago. The Padres paid up to get Mena during the 2019 international signing, handing him a 2.2 million dollar signing bonus. At 16 years old, Mena was already listed at 6’3, 185 pounds, but reports are that he has added muscle weight to his frame. He has plus speed, but there is a chance that tapers off with time as Mena adds to his frame.
Mena has already shown a solid ability to make contact, according to reports. It is important to remember that he has yet to debut in a stateside game, so this year will be huge for him. There are plenty of reasons to believe he can grow into more power and could be a top-of-the-lineup bat. Keep an eye on Ismael Mena in 2021, as he could be one who really vaults up the Chicago Cubs’ top prospects list thanks to his physical tools.
7. Jordan Nwogu, OF
The Cubs could potentially get a great return on investment by drafting Jordan Nwogu 88th overall in the 2020 draft. Nwogu had a highly successful collegiate career at Michigan, where he slashed .334/.430/.545. Over his 525 career plate appearances, Nwogu hit 20 home runs and stole 30 bases. He runs surprisingly well for his 6’3, 235-pound frame and clocks times of a plus runner.
Given his frame, there is reason to believe that Nwogu will continue to develop into a solid power hitter. Given the kind of athlete he is, there is an intriguing profile here for Fantasy Baseball. If the hit tool develops, watch out, Nwogu could be a huge riser up prospect rankings. If you are looking for a great late-round target in FYPD drafts, Nwogu is your guy.
8. Yeison Santana, SS
Yeison Santana was another piece of the Yu Darvish deal. I am telling you, Cubs fans, be patient. In time, you should be pleased with the return you got in the Yu Darvish trade. Originally signed by the Padres during the 2017 international signing period, Santana finds himself a new home in the windy city, a stacked Minor League system.
Santana is a strong contact hitter with developing power. In his stateside debut in rookie ball in 2019, Santana slashed .346/.429/.494 in 192 plate appearances. Additionally, he showed off his power-speed combo by hitting three home runs and stealing four bags. Santana is a patient hitter and walks at a high clip while also limiting strikeouts thanks to his contact skills. If he continues to add strength to his frame, Santana could have an intriguing blend of power, speed, and hit, which would lead him to continue to rise up the Chicago Cubs’ top prospects list.
9. Miguel Amaya, C
Miguel Amaya is a glove-first catcher whose bat could lead to him being a solid Fantasy Baseball asset. You will find him much higher on a real-life prospects list because he excels behind the plate and has a great arm.
When you look at Amaya’s stats at the plate, you won’t come away impressed. His career Minor League slash is .243/.334/.375. The good news is that if you are in an OBP league, Amaya has more value. His power has slowly developed, and there is potential for Amaya to be a 15 home run type bat in the Majors. Amaya would be much higher on the Chicago Cubs’ Top Prospects list if it were for real life, thanks to his glove.
10. Adbert Alzolay, RHP
Despite not making the Opening Day roster for the Cubs in 2020, Alzolay enjoyed a solid season posting a 2.95 ERA and a 33.3 percent strikeout rate over 21.1 innings pitched. Alzolay really spent time developing his slider last season, which was by far his best pitch. He also features a four-seam, a sinker, and a changeup that give him a well-rounded arsenal.
Alzolay used his slider nearly 40 percent of the time last year, and he produced a 37.7 percent whiff rate against it. 22 of his 29 strikeouts came on the slider. Alzolay’s changeup was also excellent as he produced a 58.3 percent whiff rate against it, despite only using it eight percent of the time. With the addition of Jake Arrieta, Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams, Alzolay might be on the outside looking in. But, if injuries occur or Alzolay shows out in Spring Training, he could easily sneak back into the rotation for 2021.
11. Cole Roederer, OF
Cole Roederer was well revered coming into the 2018 MLB Draft. The high schooler fell largely thanks to a shoulder injury and a strong college commitment to UCLA. The Cubs ponied up the cash to get him to sign, but Roederer has struggled in professional game action to this point.
From a raw tools standpoint, Roederer has the making of an excellent hitter for Fantasy Baseball. He has a quick swing that leads to high-end exit velocities, but strikeouts have hindered him to his point in his professional career. Roederer flashes a ton of raw power but will need to make more consistent contact to tap into that fully. Roederer also has above-average sprint speed and has shown the ability to steal bases. 2021 will be a major season of development for him.
12. Owen Caissie, OF
The fourth prospect that came over to Chicago in the Yu Darvish trade is 2020 draftee Owen Caissie. The Padres selected Caissie, a high schooler out of Canada, 45th overall. Caissie profiles as a power-hitting corner outfielder. There is no denying Caissie has solid power from the left side of the plate. The questions come from his ability to hit and tap into that power. Some scouts express concerns with his bat path and his raw power turning into game power. There is also solid speed in Caissie’s profile.
13. Richard Gallardo, RHP
Richard Gallardo was the top pitcher in the 2018 international signing class. The Cubs felt Gallardo was advanced enough to come stateside in 2019, and they even promoted him to low-A at just 17 years old. He showed his poise on the mound and looked polished despite being over four years younger than the average competition. Gallardo has smooth mechanics and repeats his delivery well. His fastball reaches the mid-90s, and there is room for him to add strength to his 6’1 frame. His curveball is advanced for his age, and Gallardo commands it well. His changeup is still developing but will be crucial to his development as a starting pitcher. Gallardo has a high floor for a young arm but also a fairly high ceiling. If things click for him in 2021, Gallardo will find himself much higher on the Chicago Cubs’ top prospects ranks next year.
#Cubs Prospect Thread: RHP Richard Gallardo
The top IFA SP according to multiple services, the Cubs landed Gallardo out of Venezuela for $1M bonus on July 2nd. He's the highest rated arm the regime has landed since taking over and the highest overall since Torres/Jimenez in 2013 pic.twitter.com/MK3HXFplJu
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) February 24, 2019
14. Christopher Morel, 3B
Christopher Morel signed with the Cubs in 2015 but did not debut professionally until 2017 after an arm injury at his home. Morel played his first full season of stateside professional ball in 2019, but his season was ended early by a knee injury. Morel has big power despite only weighing 140 pounds. He produces some of the highest exit velocities of any hitter in the organization. He is a free-swinging and loves chasing pitches. If he wants to tap into his power fully, Morel will need to make more consistent contact. Morel also is a great athlete with the ability to steal bases. But, to fully reach his potential, Morel needs to improve his approach at the plate.
15. Chase Strumpf, 2B
The Cubs’ 2019 second-round pick, Chase Strumpf, was a former UCLA stand-out. Many saw Strumpf as the best second-base prospect in the 2019 draft. The right-handed hitter has a simple swing and makes consistent contact. He loves hitting line drives to the gaps. He brings a hit over power approach, but Strumpf has the strength to be a 20 home run hitter. At UCLA, Strumpf hit 28 home runs in 176 career games. In addition to an above-average hit tool, Strumpf has great plate discipline and takes walks regularly. His skillset could play up in an OBP format.
The Cubs drafted Chase Strumpf while he was on deck. He followed up with this pic.twitter.com/odCGLnTAG0
— Teddy Cahill (@tedcahill) June 4, 2019
16. Cory Abbott, RHP
Cory Abbott is a little older than most prospects at 25 years old, but that does not mean there is no talent there. In 275 career MILB innings, Abbott owns a 2.84 ERA and a 28 percent strikeout rate. Abbott brings an intriguing four-pitch mix in his fastball, slider, changeup, and curve. Both Abbott’s breaking pitches are probably his best pitches. His fastball reaches 95, and his changeup has nice fading action. Abbott repeats his delivery well and throws strikes consistently. It would not be surprising to see Abbott make his debut in 2021 and be a solid starting pitcher. He will not be flashy, but Abbott has the arsenal to be a successful back-end starting pitcher.
17. Ronnier Quintero, C
Ronnier Quintero was one of the top international catching prospects in the 2019 signing class. His arm is probably the best asset of his game, but Quintero also has a solid ceiling as a hitter. He produces high bat speed and displays good raw power from the left side of the plate. He also shows the ability to hit to the opposite field on command. If he continues to develop his bat, Quintero could be an average hitter with slightly above-average power.
18. Rafael Morel, SS
Rafael Morel is Christopher’s younger brother, and both are two of the better athletes in the system. Rafael is a tad bit shorter but more filled out than Christopher. Rafael is the better runner of the two, exhibiting plus speed and the ability to steal bases at a high clip. In his first taste of professional ball in 2019, Morel stole 23 bases and hit four home runs in 60 games. With there being some intriguing raw power, Morel could be a legit power/speed threat. With a great glove and arm, Morel could move to centerfield or stick at shortstop. Do not be surprised if Rafael More is a huge riser up the Chicago Cubs’ top prospect rankings over the next year.
19. Burl Carraway, LHP
If you are looking for the Cubs’ closer of the future, look no further than Burl Carraway, the team’s 2020 second-rounder. Carraway’s fastball is deadly and reaches 98 mph. Carraway devastates hitters with it and then drops a nasty curveball that sits in the upper 70s. Carraway is a reliever, and there is no denying that. But give his stuff and his two pitches; he could be an excellent closer for the team. He is well advanced and could reach the Majors at some point in 2021 if the team needs bullpen reinforcements.
Love this look at Burl Carraway’s curveball from @d1baseball. Nasty. pic.twitter.com/is01pZC7oL
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) June 11, 2020
20. Ryan Jensen, RHP
A dominant junior season at Fresno State led the Cubs to select Ryan Jensen in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Jensen had one of the best fastballs in the 2019 draft class and mixed his two and four-seam very well. His two-seam tops at 98 mph but gets a nice run, while his two-seamer gets sink action. The development of Jensen’s secondaries will take him a long way as a professional. His slider has shown the capabilities of being an above-average pitch, but Jensen will need to use his changeup more. Jensen has also struggled with walks for much of his career outside of his junior season at Fresno State. Jensen could take the next step and really boom as a starter, or if he struggled with command, he could find himself in the bullpen.
Media Credits: Bryan Smith, Teddy Cahill, Michael Ernst, Baseball America, Cubs Zone
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