Greg Zumach (Ivy Futures)’s

Cubs Prospect Rankings

Ranking Overview

Top Prospect lists are meant to be critiqued, saved, and shared. Enjoy!

Ranking methodology: I make every attempt to balance out my review of the player with statistics and biodynamic data when available. Proximity to the majors adds value, but has to be balanced out by floor/ceiling projections. That leads to players who could even be major league rosterable as early as next season not always making the list. Players at core positions like SS, CF, and C get bumped up for value they add to an organization. I try to avoid comps. They’re inherently skewed, but I’ll include a handful in the projections when appropriate. I am not Harold Reynolds. The next Mike Trout is not ranked #5 in the Cubs system and there’s very few plus-plus grades in an organization.

Future Performance Grade (FPG)

Similar to Fangraph’s Future Value, FPG distills a player’s profile and projection into a number that corresponds to the 20-80 scouting scale.

2022 Chicago Cubs Prospect Ranking

Updated November 1st, 2021

1. Brennen Davis, OF

TLDR: The Chicago Cubs 2018 2nd rounder has improved by leaps and bounds. He now resides as a consensus top 20 prospect in all of baseball and forced his way to AAA at the age of 21.
Hit: There are some that question whether Davis will be able to maintain an average hit tool at the next level. He has put up approximately a 30% K% this season which represents an area for improvement, but especially considering the age and the progress that Brennen has already made, I believe he has the ability to create a .260+ average with an 80% contact rate.

Power: Davis has the ability to hit for above-average power at the major league level. While most of his in-game power in 2019 was to his pull-side, Davis showed he was able to stay back and drive the ball to the opposite field in 2021.

Defense: At least for the early part of his career, Davis has the ability to be an average or better defender in centerfield. He may have to move to right field at some point, but profiles as above-average there. He glides to the ball and is rarely out of position. The arm definitely plays in both center and right field.

Speed: Steals just aren’t a part of Brennen Davis’s game, but he has plenty of speed in covering the gaps in the field or going first to third.
Future Projection: 60 – Value

2. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF

Snapshot: He only played 6 games in affiliated ball before hurting his non-throwing shoulder, but reports suggest that PCA (as he is nicknamed) had made successful adjustments to professional baseball. The defense is elite and the hit tool is plus. PCA will get compared to Albert Almora, but they are different players and Crow-Armstrong displays a stronger strike zone awareness and patience at the plate. According to Cubs officials, PCA was definitely on their radar in the 2020 draft before they selected Ed Howard. Where he differs from Albert Almora is in his patience. You don’t want to make too much of a six game sample, but Crow-Armstrong had about half the walks (7 BB) in 6 games as Almora had in 61 games (17 BBs) at the same age and level. The point is that they are different players.
Hit: Crow-Armstrong showed off some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the 2020 draft, but his contact skills also pair well with a patient approach.

 Power: PCA has pull-side power and is more than capable of driving the ball. It remains to be seen how much home run power is there right now (that’s a 2022 question), but he’s more than just a slasher. Ultimately I wouldn’t bet on the centerfielder developing even average home run power.

Defense: It’s elite centerfield defense. Scouts I’ve talked to suggest he can play plus defense in CF right now. He has both the range and the instincts at the position.

Speed: PCA has above-average speed that helps him thrive in the outfield. He is a strong candidate for 20 plus steals annually in the future.
Future Projection:  55- Value
He may never project for anything more than below-average power, but Pete Crow-Armstrong has all the tools needed to be an all-star centerfielder and table-setter for the next great Cubs team.

3. Kevin Made, SS

Snapshot: This is an aggressive ranking, but we don’t talk about Kevin Made enough. What he did as an 18-year-old in Low-A ball facing older and more advance competition was remarkable. Made came into the year overshadowed by recent draft picks (2020 first round, Ed Howard) and players in impactful trades (Yu Darvish deal, Reginald Preciado), but he outperformed both of them. If you buy into him sticking at SS, Made is a dynamic prospect. He looks to be on the cusp of
Hit: Certainly a player who is hit over power at this stage in his development. From 7/27 through the end of the season, Made hit .317 and showed an aptitude to put the bat on the ball.

Power: There is not home run power right now. But Made is also 18 and proved he is capable of barreling the ball.

Defense: At present, Made showcased above average defense at shortstop. He combined both the routine and the exemplary plays at the position. When he played more at 2B or 3B earlier in the year in deference to Howard, he looked the part of a strong defender at each position. Made is able to move laterally well to both sides with, perhaps, a bit more success going to his glove side (up the middle).

Speed: Made isn’t a stolen base threat, but his speed showed up with his defense and it looks more than capable of letting him stick at the position.
Future Projection:  55-Value
Made was overlooked entering the summer, but his work on the field demanded more playing time. He has all the tools to be an all-star shortstop.

4. Cristian Hernandez, SS

Snapshot: The upside is insane and probably higher than anyone if the Chicago Cubs system. He has the tools to be not just an elite prospect, but one of the best players in the game. However Hernandez is 17 and has not made his stateside debut. And it’s important to temper expectations, but it’s also okay to dream on an incredibly exciting prospect. I have limited direct views of Hernandez so I sought out scouts for insights.

 Hit: There is limited information, but scouts project Hernandez to be an above average hitter

 Power: Hernandez has shown the ability to drive the ball with ease relative to his peers. He projects as a future plus power hitter.

Defense: (Unable to grade)

Speed:  (Unable to grade)
Future Projection:  50-Value
Hernandez has other world potential, but even the most aggressive timeline won’t see him impact Wrigley Field until late 2024.

5. DJ Herz, LHP

Snapshot: Davidjohn (also goes by DJ) Herz came into the organization in the 8th round of the 2019 draft. The Cubs have placed an increased emphasis on higher upside selections in the draft. This strategy came with risks as the Cubs selected a bevy of players who would be described as raw and/or had a prior injury. Herz represented the former as clips available leading up the draft showcased projectability and a three-pitch mix that was far more about “flashing” above-average pitches than repeating it on the mound. The Cubs identified Herz as an ideal pitcher to bring into the player development system with the upside as an impact pitcher who features a bulldog mentality on and off the mound.

Fastball: Herz executes his fastball well. At the top of the zone, his four-seam fastball offers solid ride. He is able to elevate the heater as well as paint the outside corner when he is at his best. The fastball is sitting in the low-to-mid 90s at present, but Herz noted he believes there is more velocity to come. I have this as an above-average pitch right now, but it has significantly more upside in the future. When commanded well, Herz flashes plus with this fastball, especially as he’s successfully played lower fastballs of his changeup.

Primary offspeed: Herz has spent considerable time working to hone this pitch during the shutdown. His changeup is whiff inducing and able to both land in the strikezone and fall off the table generating feeble swings. The shape of this pitch became more locked in as the season progressed, but at it’s best there is good depth and fade (into righties). It now is a true plus pitch in my mind.

Secondary offspeed: DJ flashed a solid or better spike curveball that he learned from Cubs RHP prospect Chris Clarke, but it was a more successful pitch during instructional league and spring camp. According to Cubs sources, the organization plans to work with Herz this fall and winter to get him back to a grip they felt would be successful.

TLDR: High-upside lefthander is starting to incorporate three pitches with plus potential. He has frontline starter upside.

Future Projection:  50-Value

6. James Triantos, SS/3B

Snapshot: I’ve been a believer ever since I heard predraft reports about Cubs scouts and officials being enamored with him as a player. Triantos boasted the highest contact rate of any high school in the showcase circuit and he swung and missed four times his entire senior year. But he’s more than a slap hitter with a max exit velocity right in line with first-round caliber players. Triantos. I gave Triantos a “Nick Yorke” comp prior to the draft and Triantos is right in line with that at the present.

 Hit: Triantos has an exceptional hit tool with his high contact rate. He is able to put the bat on the ball and could be a consistent .300+ hitter in the big leagues. Triantos has the potential to have a plus-plus hit tool and win batting titles.

Power: Most assessments around draft time question whether he’d have average power in his development path, but those views have largely been quieted, especially after a loud showing in the complex league with six home runs in 25 games (30 home runs/150 games pace). I wouldn’t put too much into the complex league stats, but between this showing an a showcase circuit max exit velocity of ~102 mph (right in line with first-round talents), Triantos has showed enough for me to project at least average power down the line.

Defense: Triantos likely isn’t a shortstop and I would guess that his lateral mobility necessitates a move to second or third base. However, he has more than enough arm to survive at either position. He could be an above-average defender.

Speed:  Triantos looks to have approximately average speed. It won’t limit his defense, but he’s not a burner.
Future Projection:  45-Value
Traintos has done everything one could hope in his time in professional ball. He looks like an absolute steal in the second round.

7. Jordan Wicks, LHP

Snapshot: Cubs officials didn’t expect to see Jordan Wicks still on the board at pick 21, but they quickly snagged him with their first-round selection. He’s a lefthander who pounds the strike zone. Many evaluators had Wicks as the top college lefty in the class. He looks the part of a quick mover in the minors.

Fastball: Wicks normally operates with a sinker that operates as high as  2400 RPM. His sinker sits in the low 90s with a 91-94 (top 95) mph range. The sinker has solid movement and complements the dynamite changeup.

Secondary fastball: His four-seam fastball could continue to use development whether that be metrically or in specific zones. I’ve seen it have decent ride up, but also seen it placed all over the strike zone and it’s not a strong enough pitch to beat advanced hitters in hittable zones.

Primary offspeed: It’s the changeup and it’s special as a plus-plus changeup. There’s solid separation in velocity between the two pitches (~8-10 mph difference) and he “kills spin” by throwing the changeup at less than 1600 rpm.

Secondary offspeed: He throws a slider that according to Cubs officials graded out as above-average. I found his feel for spin with a breaking ball lag behind his other pitches. It has aspin rate close to 2400 rpm. This pitch is a work in progress. The Cubs are encouraged.

TLDR:  Wicks wasn’t expected to be there on the board, but the Cubs were ecstatic to land a player that internally they viewed as a top 10 player in the draft class. He is an advanced arm.

8. Caleb Kilian, RHP

Snapshot: Caleb Kilian fits the model of a command+ pitcher, but don’t let that discount his stuff. Mechanically, Kilian excels with smooth, repeatable delivery, which aids his command+ profile. Kilian has a long arm stroke, which is a mechanical feature that some teams have moved away from in recent years. The Cubs are not one of those clubs. He throws five pitches and is an advanced arm.

Fastball: Kilian throws three fastballs with a four-seam, two-seam, and cut fastball (cutter) all being used often in at-bats. The four-seam operates 94-96 mph and has solid ride up in the zone. It is helped by his excellent command.

Secondary Fastballs: Both his cutter and two-seam are solid pitches that can generate whiffs (cutter) or weak contact (two-seam). His cutter replaced a former slider that wasn’t a very successful pitch.

Primary offspeed: One inconsistent note that I’ve read about Kilian is the reports on his curveball. Some evaluators note that he doesn’t have much of a breaking ball and others feel it above-average. Count me amongst the latter category. This is an above-average curveball that generates weak contact and whiffs (especially when he buries it).

Secondary offspeed: In my opinion, where Kilian needs the most work is his changeup. It lacked significant fade or depth and served as more of a change of pace. I value this pitch as below-average at present.

TLDR: Kilian’s ceiling is being slept on in my opinion and he is an advanced arm that should see Wrigley Field next season.

Future Projection:  45-Value

9. Owen Caissie, OF

Snapshot: Caissie signed with the Padres as a below-slot second-round selection in the 2020 draft before being traded to the Cubs in the Darvish trade. Since then, Caissie absolutely mashed the complex league to a tune of .349/.478/.596 before forcing the Cubs’ hand in promoting him to Myrtle Beach. His production for the Pelicans doesn’t dazzle in the same way, but he still produced league average production (101 wRC+) in Low-A as a 19-year-old.

 Hit: Owen displayed a strong bat-to-ball skillset in the complex league. He has a mature approach at the plate with allows him to attack pitches that he feels he can handle. He has the profile of a player who will strikeout, however. It’s probably more of an above-average hit tool than plus.

Power: Caissie has immense power and it’s a driving force behind his projections. He flashes plus-plus potential in-game. He may have the most power in the entire system.

Defense: This is a significant work in progress for Caissie. He struggled on reads in the outfield. While many fans have mentioned moving him to first base, I would recommend giving him more time before a position switch.

Speed:  It’s below-average speed and it may slow down as he ages.

TLDR: It’s the bat that is the draw for Owen Caissie. He shows an advanced approach that required the Cubs to promote him so he could be challenged by advanced pitching. He held his own at a higher level.

Future Projection:  45-Value

10. Kevin Alcantara, OF

Snapshot: Trading for Kevin Alcantara was an amazing feat by the Cubs front office. Long-regarded as one of the premier prospects in the Yankees’ system, it was clear that Alcantara was in the midst of a breakout. The Cubs seized the opportunity and brought in one of the highest ceiling players in the entire organization.

Hit: His hit tool is closer to average at present, especially as he faced struggling complex-level pitching. A huge test will be how he responds in Myrtle Beach in 2022, but the tools are there for above-average hit grade if it all comes together.

Power: Alcantara features average power at present, but with his frame and future projection, he could be a plus

Defense: According to scouts and officials, Alcantara possesses the skills necessary to stay in centerfield featuring a plus arm.

Speed:  Alcantara glides to the ball in the outfield. His long frame gives him a solid baserunning foundation, but steals may not be a huge part of his game.

TLDR: Alcantara has high-level upside. He is a long way from Wrigley and there is a high degree of risk in his profile, but Alcantara has the potential to be an All-star regular. His ranking of 45 corresponds to the high ceiling and high risk.

Future Projection:  45-Value

11. Ed Howard, SS

Snapshot: The statline won’t look pretty, but it was a season full of adjustments. Howard finished strong and provided optimism that he can reach his ceiling of an all-star with gold glove defense at SS.

 Hit: The 19-year-old SS came out of the draft with reports of solid bat-to-ball skills. He was definitely overmatched, especially considering he was facing pitchers 3-6 years more advanced right out of the gate. He projects for average or better hit down the line.

 Power: Howard can put a charge into the ball, but it comes and goes in-game (not unusual for a 19-year-old in A ball). Long term, Howard projects to have average power.

Defense: Howard earned the name “silk” for a reason. Everything he does at SS is smooth, but he is more than capable of the highlight level play at the position. Howard boasts solid range to both his left and right. His arm is solid for the position. This is a plus defensive SS

Speed:  Howard has plenty of speed needed for the position.

TLDR: It was a rough beginning of the season for Howard, but if you jump off the bandwagon now you’ll likely miss out on him coming back strong in 2022. He has the ceiling of an All-star SS and the work ethic to reach that mark.

Future Projection:  45-Value

12. Reginald Preciado, SS/3B

Snapshot: Of any player in my rankings, I got the most feedback from baseball sources that I ranked Preciado too low. I’ll hold true to my rankings, but know that I am likely a bit too soft on him. People around the game would rank him in the Top 10 in the Cubs system. He has immense potential as a switch-hitting shortstop. He’s hit well in proball so far and looks ready to take 3B/SS reps at Myrtle Beach in 2022.

 Hit: Preciado showcases a solid hit tool, but I think it settles in as average when he’s finished developing. His calling card is his defensive position, switch-hitting, and power. An average hit tool allows Preciado to be an impact player in the major leagues.

 Power: He has the ability to develop above-average to plus power as he develops. Video of Preciado barreling the ball. He has a quick-to-the-bat swing from the left side that generates power. Don’t be fooled by only seeing three home runs in the complex league. He has the potential for impact power.

Defense: Unable to assess at this time.

Speed:  Preciado is wiry, but his long frame suggests his ability to fill out. Ultimately this may affect his ability to stay at shortstop.

TLDR: The switch-hitting, shortstop/third baseman, has all the potential to be an impact player in the major leagues, but has a long development path. He dealt with a minor injury towards the end of the complex league, but it is not expected to affect him in 2022.

Future Projection:  45-Value

13. Anderson Espinoza, RHP

Snapshot: Anderson Espinoza was an elite prospect in 2016-2017, but two Tommy John surgeries later and the Padres were willing to move him in a deal for Jake Marisnick. Behind the scenes, Cubs officials are ecstatic over a pitcher that they view has frontline potential. Injuries will always be a risk, but the stuff is legitimate.

Fastball: Espinoza throws a 95-98 MPH fastball that eats up hitters. It’s lively and beats hitters in multiple locations in and out of the zone.

Primary offspeed: Espinoza throws a “gyro-slider” which has very little to no spin efficiency. Also known as a bullet slider, this pitch serves as a “split-neutral” offering (it’s effective against lefties and righties).

Secondary offspeeds: Espinoza throws both a curveball and changeup that are solid or better offerings.

TLDR: Espinoza continues to carry health risks, but the Cubs got an absolute steal of a deal for a pitcher who shows off frontline potential.

Future Projection: 45 -Value

14. Ryan Jensen, RHP

Snapshot: Ryan Jensen was a surprise selection in the 2019 first round. Jensen begins from the windup with a step back with his left leg before gathering himself. He’s fairly balanced through the hand break before exploding towards the hitter. He holds the ball off to an angle behind his body. It’s difficult for a righty to pick up, but left handed batters get a long look at it. Despite coming from a 6’0″ frame, the motion is a lot of arms and legs and there’s some effort there. I’m not concerned with the frame.

Fastball: This is currently Jensen’s best pitch. It still sits mid 90s, but features late life moving in to righties. The Cubs have had success incorporating 2-seam fastballs into pitching repertoires, especially when they can play off plus sliders. The natural sink from this pitch is pretty impressive. I have this as a plus pitch right now. Jensen is the rare pitcher that could succeed on one pitch (his 2-seam/1-seam sinker)

Secondary Fastball: His secondary fastball is an upper 90s (96-100) four-seam fastball. Even according to Ryan, it’s not a very successful pitch. Despite the premium velocity, it appears flat and hittable.

Primary offspeed: Jensen’s slider has come a long way since his college days. It now sits mid to upper 80s with good movement. When it’s on it fools hitters, but he still needs more reps with the pitch.

Secondary offspeeds: Jensen throws both a spike-curve and changeup. The changeup in particular can really play off the 2-seam/sinker. It’s flashed excellent depth and generates whiffs.

TLDR: Jensen was talked about as a quick-moving reliever prospect around the time of the draft, but the Cubs worked with him to refine five pitches and improve his control/command. He finished the season strong.

Future Projection:  45-Value

15. Miguel Amaya, C

Snapshot: Miguel Amaya began 2021 with high expectations. It wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility for him to have made his Wrigley debut last summer, but an injury to his elbow (after forearm strain) shut him down for the season. 2021 was a lost season, but he is close enough to the big leagues that a healthy and productive start to 2022 puts him right back on the timeline to contribute this upcoming season.

Hit: Amaya may only feature an average hit-tool, but that’s plenty with his overall profile. His strong patient approach at the plate supplements the hit skills.

Power: Amaya began to flash above-average power in winter ball and I believe he has that potential.

Defense/Arm: Pitchers love throwing to Amaya and prior to his elbow injury he had a plus arm. It remains to be seen how his arm responds post-injury and rehab, but his mentality behind the plate should remain the same.

Speed:  Speed isn’t a part of Amaya’s game.

TLDR: 2021 was a season that set Amaya back due to injuries. He has the potential to be an above-average C, but will need to prove he is all the way back next season.

Future Projection:  45-Value

16. Brailyn Marquez, LHP

Snapshot: Marquez entered 2020 and 2021 with unbelievable hype, but a COVID canceled 2020, and injuries that occurred in 2021, have Marquez in a holding pattern. The Cubs have made a concerted effort to work with Marquez to keep his upper and lower body in sync. It’s definitely control over command right now. If he wants to stay in the starting rotation it’ll be critical to establish even just below-average command and average control. He missed all of 2021 due to COVID and then injury that occurred during the ramp-up. The following report is based on 2019 and 2020 viewings.

Fastball: Marquez routinely pitches close to 100 mph (touches 102), but sits mid 90s late in starts. He looks like he’s just playing catch and it eats up hitters. While it doesn’t present with high spin rates (2384 rpm average in brief 2020 appearance), the velocity is unbelievably impressive. The command needs to make significant improvements for this pitch to reach its potential. Upper 90s from the left side down the middle of the plate will play at A+, but he’ll need more in the majors. He tends to miss arm-side when his mechanics aren’t in sync.

Secondary Fastball: The Cubs worked to get Marquez to incorporate a 2-seam fastball. I have yet to see it play in games.

Primary offspeed: Marquez designed this pitch along with former Cubs pitching guru, Brendan Segara. It tunnels fairly well with his fastball when his mechanics are flowing. I had this pitch from 82-85 mph and it’s the most successful when he’s burying it. Occasionally he’s let it slurve over the middle of the plate

Secondary offspeed: The pitch was consistently in the 88-91 range and not very effective due to his command issues. When he’s on, the changeup plays off the fastball. I won’t put too much stock into his one 2020 outing. I have this as an average pitch based on his 2019 outings and I really think the pitch fits well in his repertoire when he throws it down and away to righties.

TLDR: It’s been two years since Marquez has logged starter innings, but he still has an electric arm. 2022 may be more important for Marquez more than any other arm in the system.

17. Yohendrick Pinango, OF

Snapshot: Yohendrick Pinango received rave reviews from Cubs officials last winter and he received an aggressive assignment as an 18-year-old in Myrtle Beach before he was promoted again to Hi-A South Bend. Pinango can really hit and is more of a bat-first type of prospect.

 Hit: Pinango displayed well above-average bat to ball skills in 2021. He was already regarded as having some of the best contact skills in the organization and he put that on display against advanced competition. Pinango likes to slash the ball the other way, but he can put a charge into it as well. He didn’t have a K% over 17% at either stop in 2021, which is remarkable.

Power: The power is inconsistent in-game right now, which is to be expected. He can put a charge into a pitch, but more consistency will likely come with age and experience.

Defense: Pinango didn’t look lost out there, but it’s likely a left fielder profile as he ages and matures.

Speed: He didn’t steal too often, but Pinango hasn’t lost much speed off his above-average grade prior to the season.

TLDR: Yohendrick Pinango was given an aggressive assignment at Myrtle Beach and later South Bend, but he held his own and looks to be one of the better pure hitters in the organization.

Future Projection:  40-Value

18. Nelson Velazquez, OF

Behind the scenes look at Nelson Velazquez and his breakout year (with prospect report) coming November 4th.

Future Projection:  40-Value

19. Alexander Canario, OF

Snapshot: No one brought in from the 2021 trade deadline generated as many must-watch moments as Alexander Canario. His plus or better power produced numerous highlights. He has a way to go to prove he can hit enough to continue to climb the ladder, but the Cubs hitting infrastructure has proven successful at helping hitters with a similar profile (Jordan Nwogu, Nelson Velazquez).

Hit: Canario holds his hands above his head and uses a very small leg kick that provides balance and weight transfer. He starts from an open stance. His head stays very stable through the point of contact. He appears to generate significant force through the zone. The hit tool lags significantly behind the power. It did make improvements as he entered the Cubs system, but he may only settle in with an average hit at best.

 Power: Canario has impact power. Make no mistake, this is his calling card for success at higher levels. He appears to generate immense force on barrels and can hit it out anywhere in the ballpark.

Defense: I was surprised to see Canario log so many games at CF and look solid at the position. He moved well laterally but doesn’t project to be an impact player in centerfield. I view his likely future in RF.

Speed:  I’m more bullish than most on Canario’s ability to steal a few bags a year (10-15 steals/yr). He proved adept at doing so in the Giants system, but slowed down with the Cubs. His speed allows him to patrol CF with enough confidence to hold his own at the position.

TLDR:  Canario is excitement personified, but has a ways to go. He’ll need to prove he can handle AA pitching.

Future Projection:  40-Value

20. Jordan Nwogu, OF

Snapshot: Jordan Nwogu has legendary athleticism, but for much of the 2021 season he struggled to adapt to pitching. Nwogu took massive strides both on defense and at the plate showing off what an incredible work ethic combined with the Cubs player development system can do.

Hit: Early in the season, Nwogu was far too beatable. Unlike his fellow Myrtle Beach Pelicans, you couldn’t use age as an excuse. Nwogu was working through swing and approach changes. After 7/13, his K% dropped to 24.5% the rest of the year.

 Power: Nwogu shows off above-average power in-game and raw. Even in the 2020 draft, Nwogu had some of the strongest batted-ball data in the college ranks. He continued to hit with power even as he added contact.

Defense: Nwogu was a massive liability prior to this season on defense with some saying he had a LF (at-best) or DH profile. That was surprising with Nwogu’s athleticism and work ethic. Sure enough, not only was he able to prove more than capable in LF, but he showed off surprising defense in CF. One play in particular where he came in on a sinking line drive for the sliding catch in CF, I had logged as Christian Franklin without even thinking before going back and watching the replay. He’s not plus out in CF and may never be, but he’s proved he can be a solid or better OF.

Speed:  Nwogu is very fast using his two-way talents (football and baseball) to generate plus run times.

TLDR: Nwogu has a long way to go in his development, but he took huge steps to put himself squarely on the map in 2022. He is one of the most exciting players in the entire system but has a high variance.

Future Projection:  40-Value

21. Tyler Schlaffer, RHP

Snapshot: Tyler Schlaffer received incredible shout-outs from the Cubs strength and conditioning department for his work to build strength. He came into 2021 with a completely changed physique and it showed. He may not have received the same level of hype as rotation-mate DJ Herz (for good reason), but Schlaffer showed multiple impressive pitches and a starter’s build.  

Fastball: Schalffer has a lively fastball and increasing velocity. He typically operates in the 93-94 mph range, but has touched higher in the 95+ range.

Secondary Fastball: An emerging development is the incorporation of a low 90s cutter. In limited viewings it threw hitters off and was a successful pitch. I’m very encouraged by this pitch in 2022.

Primary offspeed: Schlaffer has a top five changeup in the entire system, which is incredible for his age. It operates routinely as an above-average offering with decent velocity separation, good movement, and generates whiffs.

Secondary offspeed: The young righthander will throw a breaking ball with solid break, but it comes and goes. It’s unclear at this time if it’s designed to be a curveball or slider, but it shows enough promise.

TLDR: Schlaffer shows mid 90s velocity, an impressive changeup, and multiple other intriguing pitches. Look for him to take a huge leap in 2022.

Future Projection:  40-Value

22. Christian Franklin, OF

Snapshot: Christian Franklin was a shocking selection in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, not because he was an overdraft, but because he was still on the board. It’s rare to find a plus defensive CF with above-average power available for approximately slot value that late in the draft. The Cubs pounced and added an impact player. He has a ways to go on changing his swing plane to address strikeout issues, but the ingredients are there for an average or better CF at the big league level.

Hit: Right now it’s below-average, but if you’re bullish on the swing changes the Cubs have been implementing with Franklin, then maybe he can get closer to average.

Power: Franklin shows off above-average power from his college days with impressive exit velocities and the ability to barrel up the baseball

Defense: This is a plus defensive centerfielder. He can handle going back on the ball and coming in. He has plenty of speed for the position and a solid arm from CF.

Speed:  Franklin churns up round when underway. He’s not a burner, but should have enough speed for CF long term.

TLDR: Franklin needs to iron out swing changes to curb the strikeouts, but he looks like an incredible selection in the 2021 draft.

Future Projection:  40-Value

23. Chris Morel, IF/OF

Snapshot: Morel is an electrifying player who entered 2021 with high expectations. He may not have met those lofty standards, but he had a successful year showcasing the ability to play all over the diamond and make adjustments during the season.

Hit: This is Morel’s weakest area. He still struggles with strikeouts and advanced pitching can beat him. He may never reach even below-average hit, but the strength of his overall profile will give him plenty of chances to do so.

 Power: Morel absolutely can barrel the baseball. He has above-average power.

Defense: Where to begin? Morel was moved off of SS prior to this season, but had the chance to flex back to the position occasionally throughout the season. He looked largely successful there. The Cubs played him a lot in the outfield. He logged time at all three OF positions and looked comfortable later in the year. Hs athleticism allowed him to overcome some initial ball-judgement. Long-term he can settle in to a utility role with above-average or even plus defense in the OF and 3B with occasional time at SS, 2B, and even 1B.

Speed:  Morel has plenty of speed to be successful in the IF and in CF. Cubs hitters don’t run often, but Morel was still able to get 15+ steals this season. He is an instinctual player as well.

TLDR: Morel needs to cut down on the strikeouts a bit, but his plus defense at multiple positions and above-average power gives him a strong chance to be a successful major league player.

Future Projection:  40-Value

24. Max Bain, RHP

The complete interview with Max Bain and prospect report coming November 10th.

Future Projection:  40-Value 

25. Kohl Franklin, RHP

Snapshot: Kohl Franklin was primed for a breakout season in 2020 and 2021 with a slot in a full-season rotation lined up. As a 6’4″, lean projectable righthander with three pitches he can land in the strike zone, Franklin has mid-rotation upside. He dealt with a soft-tissue injury that sidelined him the entire 2021 season. The report below is based on his 2019 season. He comes set in a balanced position and like most Cubs farmhands, Franklin has a long arm path. Kohl hides the ball well, but doesn’t incorporate a lot of deception in his pitching motion. Kyle Hendricks would be impressed with how quickly Franklin works. For a 19 year old facing recent college draftees, I was impressed with his control. He consistently works around the plate and he’ll give up some walks, but he doesn’t get mechanically out of sync as compared to his peer group.

Fastball: It has some zip. In 2019, Franklin’s fastball would be consistent low 90s with good movement. His fastball has some natural run to his “arm side” (meaning it’ll tail into right handed hitters). When Franklin is going well he’ll throw the pitch on the outside to righties and let it creep back onto the plate. That will appear like nibbling, especially in the low minors (see the control/command above), and Kohl can be guilty of it, but it’s a good use of the fastball. The most encouraging aspect of the fastball is the climbing velocity. What started out as high 80s when drafted, now tops off at mid 90s.

Primary offspeed: Franklin was drafted with a promising feel for a changeup. While it is still developing, his changeup is coming along. It’s a low 80s offering, with good fading action. It plays off Franklin’s natural movement on his fastball. Unlike the breaking ball, he doesn’t telegraph the pitch so it plays up with a 10 mph separation from the fastball. This is an above-average pitch with plus potential.

Secondary offspeed: Franklin can really snap a few curveballs. He’s always had a feel for spin as he was one of many pitchers the Cubs drafted from 2017-2018 who relied on a curveball as their offspeed specialty. When he got to pro ball though he’s become an adopter of the Cubs “spike curve” that they’ve incorporated into pitching repertoires throughout the organization. Especially as Kohl experiences velo gains with his fastball, the hammer curve can play off fastballs higher up in the zone. My only concern is the views from 2019 still show him “telegraphing” the pitch. The arm slot appears to be more over the top. He already throws from a high 3/4 delivery.

TLDR: Franklin still has impressive potential and is young, but he missed full seasons due to 2020 (COVID) and 2021 (injury). A healthy season would do wonders for his projection.

Future Projection:  40-Value