Monday, May 25, 2015

My Five Favorite Chicago Cubs Prospects

The Cubs just wrapped up a 3-3 road trip, which looked a lot better than the previous trip that saw the team go 2-5. Entering a homestand against two great teams in the Nationals and Royals, so far it seems the Cubs are here to stay this year and should finally at least be in contention for the postseason again.

Since it looks like the Cubs may actually be buyers at the trade deadline this year, we can expect the Cole Hamels rumors to be in full swing within the next few weeks. I am fully in support of a move to acquire Hamels this year, knowing that the organization will have to give up prospects to do so.

Later this week, I'll discuss what I think would be a fair trade for Hamels. First, however, I thought I should note where I rank the prospects and which ones I'm most anticipating to arrive in Chicago.

This is not a prospect ranking list based on skill sets (you can find tons of those on other sites) or even value within the organization, as I know some prospects will bring back more trade value than others. This list is simply my favorite Cubs prospects as of May 2015.

One last note is that Javy Baez is technically no longer a prospect, so I'm leaving him off. However, since he's finally heating up, I think the Cubs will need to find a spot for him in Chicago or possibly even trade him this summer.

Below are my current five favorite Cubs prospects:

1. Kyle Schwarber - Schwarber has to top just about any Cubs prospect list at this point. His minor league numbers compared to Kris Bryant's through this point in their careers only gives weight to the expectation that Schwarber could very well be the "next" Bryant, going from draft to the middle of the Cubs lineup in no time. While next April would put him exactly a year behind Bryant, recent reports have alluded that the Cubs may entertain promoting Schwarber this season if that option could help the team. To me, Schwarber has to be the only prospect who is an untouchable. If he remains at catcher, he's only that much more valuable.

2. Billy McKinney - I've already talked about McKinney's great walk-to-strike out ratio, and I think he's clearly the best true outfield prospect in the organization right now. That being said, I think any team sending anything of value to the Cubs will have to be getting a package featuring McKinney in return.

3. Gleyber Torres - Just what we need, right? Another awesome shortstop. I don't know how it will all work out, getting all of these guys in the same lineup, and I assume that ultimately it won't. But I'm really excited about Torres, and if Starlin Castro remains with the Cubs (which I hope he does!), this will become an issue to monitor at some point.

4. Duane Underwood - You love to see pitchers improving each season in the minors, and that's exactly what Underwood is doing. In his first year at high-A, Underwood is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA so far. He finished last season with a 2.50 ERA through 22 games at A-Kane County. I'm hoping to see him get to AA-Tennessee this year (and that I can see him pitch there).

5. Dan Vogelbach - Vogelbach may have the most trade value (after Schwarber), and he is having a great season at Tennessee. With 32 walks and 38 strike outs, he seems to be a perfect fit for the Cubs organization. Unfortunately, with Anthony Rizzo blocking him in Chicago, Vogelbach's days as a Cubs prospect may be numbered. I don't know if I'm convinced that his skills will translate into Major League success, but that's bound to be another team's problem anyway.

Honorable Mention:

- I think Carson Sands will be a top of the rotation starter.

- I am fully rooting for Albert Almora and Jacob Hanemann, but even if both come through as Major League players, it's plausible that only one plays in Chicago.

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