Every off-season, I do a series of posts on the depth of the Cubs’ farm system. I do it at Cubs Central and at Cubs Insider and I always write two different types of posts. For example, at Cubs Central this year I am breaking down each position by examining each affiliate. Over at Cubs insider, I will be doing some categories and analysis. Normally I write the bulk of these position posts in a few days. When I finished the first two on second base for the other two websites, I initially hesitated about doing one for North Side Bound. I wondered aloud on several walks if I was to do one, how would I do it differently from the other two sites?
I decided to do it the way I used to do to them six or seven years ago. I am just going to rank the top players at each position in terms of talent, production, and potential. Some positions will have more players ranked than others.
The Cubs have a lot of high profile shortstops that will be playing up and down the system from Double-A on down. Some of those shortstops might make it to the majors, and some might not … at shortstop. Still, they could slide over to another position. While the Cubs do technically have plenty of second baseman, this position could take on greater interest depending upon who sees a lot of time there this year. Today’s rankings are going to reflect who North Side Bound thinks will get the most reps at second.
1. James Triantos
I could see Triantos playing some third base as well this year at Myrtle Beach along with shortstop. At some point, he’s going to slide over somewhere. For 2022, his potent bat would really play up and increase his value and improve the depth in the system. The issue is just how much time he’s going to see. He played 8 games there in 2021 and only 7 at shortstop. Then again, he did not play at 3B and wound up being the DH 10 times. The youngster has wicked bat speed and barrels up a lot of baseballs. In 25 games last summer, he posted a 143 wRC+ and cranked out 6 HRs and drove in 19. That’ll do.
2. The Ed Howard Juxtaposition
Both Ed Howard and Kevin Made should be at South Bend to start 2022. Only one can play shortstop and the other one’s going to play someplace else. For Ed Howard, that is second base. Made played off at 3B when he was not at shortstop last year. It’s still uncertain how shortstop is going to roll but both of them are considered to be top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system on several lists, including two of the four here at North Side Bound. Both prospects are more than capable in the field of manning shortstop, it really comes down to the bat and how much each one progresses. Things seemed to go better in August for Howard and they also did for Made. Let’s hope this is going to be a healthy competition that really strengthens the middle of the diamond. If both do well at the plate, it becomes a great problem to have!
3. Pedro Ramirez
Cristian Hernandez is set to come stateside and play shortstop in Mesa next summer. That leaves the door wide-open for Pedro Ramirez to move over to second base as he comes north with Hernandez. Ramirez was scintillating last summer putting up a 155 wRC+, the highest of any Cubs prospect in the Dominican Summer League. However, Ramirez’s long-term future is probably at second base. It’ll be interesting to see how Ramirez adapts to playing stateside after his success in the DSL. That success doesn’t necessarily translate to doing well in Arizona. Still, Ramirez is a switch hitter who was praised for his quick bat and running speed which probably will help him greatly make the big leap this year.
These three rankings represent the best at the position right now. That could all change by the end of 2022 depending upon what the Cubs do in the draft and where they’re going to play some of their top 2022 international free agents like Alexis Hernandez. If the Cubs take high school prep star Termarr Johnson at number seven this summer, the young prep second baseman would easily become the top second baseman in the system and probably supplant Brennen Davis as the top prospect when Davis graduates or loses his prospect status at some point in 2022.
You never know what’s going happen in just a year’s time, let alone three months. Last year’s consensus top 2B Chase Strumpf played exclusively at 3B at Double-A in 2021.
I’m excited to see how the players listed above do and just exactly who ends up playing there the most.