It is time for my top 20 prospects under the age of 20. The keyword there is under. I don’t know why I just don’t say 19 and under, but it does sound a little cooler to match the two twenties together. The only rule is that the prospect was 19 at the end of the 2021 season..
In trying to sort this all out, it was evident from the get-go that I was going to have trouble limiting it to just 20 players. The Cubs system has really taken on a lot of youngsters the past two years. You’ll be surprised today to see how many guys are still just 18-years-old and I consider them to be the future of the organization. Almost half of these kids will be on the list again next year nd that really goes to show you the quality of talent at such a young age.
1. It didn’t take much to convince myself to pick Cristian Hernandez for the top spot. A year from now, everyone in the United States will have a much better appreciation of just exactly what Hernandez can do in a Cubs’ uniform. And, more than likely, he is going to be stateside as early as spring training and he’s not going to leave until probably October. Where he plays in between is still up in the air.
2. Pete Crow-Armstrong is a bit of an enigma. He has yet to play as a Cub but has drawn rave reviews for his defense. His bat, in a very small sample size, shows a lot of promise.
3. Reggie Preciado is a switch-hitting young infielder who is still growing physically. At just 18, he’s going to be on this list for another year and he’ll be at Myrtle Beach next summer, probably playing third base more than shortstop. At 6-foot-4, he’s going to be an incredible talent to watch develop the next couple of years. If he is ready to go this spring, it won’t take long to see what he’s got.
4. Kevin Alcantara was acquired by the Cubs in the Anthony Rizzo trade. He is also just 18 and he dominated the Arizona Complex League at the plate. We’re going to get to see him in Myrtle Beach as well next spring. I really just love the explosiveness of his bat. He could be a guy we see explode and overtake Preciado and Hernandez depending on his hitting profile.
5. James Triantos took the Arizona Complex League by storm last summer because he displayed the ability to hit for power and average right out of high school. He’s probably going to slide over to second base and he will be at Myrtle Beach along with Preciado and Alcântara. This will be his only year on the list.
6. My guy Owen Caissie slides right in here and I am excited to see his power and potential begin to blossom next summer in Myrtle Beach and hopefully South Bend after the Fourth of July. I’m pretty pumped to see him grow and improve throughout the course of this winter and next summer. When it’s all said and done, his ceiling is almost unlimited with what he can do with a bat in his hands.
7. Ed Howard survived his first full year of playing professional baseball at Myrtle Beach. After struggling with injuries and at the plate for about half a year, he had a pretty decent August and September and all signs are pointing up for 2021. It’s still unclear where he is going to begin 2022. Some people think he’s destined for Myrtle Beach while others, like myself, think it depends upon how he does in spring training. Look for a much better year from him in 2022.
8. Kevin Made looks like he’s going to be in South Bend at just 19 years old which is an amazing feat in and of itself. He’s pretty much going to have the shortstop job to himself if he continues to hit like he did last year at Myrtle Beach. He does need to be a little bit more selective, but that’s something the Cubs can work on next year.
9. The fact that Yohendrick Pinango is number eight is really a testament to the depth of teenagers the Cubs have. He has a great hit tool and the Cubs will probably be working to turn that powerful ability to put the bat on the ball into more home runs as he gets older. It’s unclear what lower arm injury he currently has and how long he’s going to be out in 2022, if at all.
10. Drew Gray might be the biggest riser on this list throughout the course of 2022. He only appeared in two games this year and dominated both in Arizona. I am little pumped to see what he can do at Myrtle Beach next summer and he could be better than what we saw last year from DJ Herz, if you can imagine that.
In No Order
The next 10 prospects don’t really have numbers. They’re still pretty young and not quite as established as some of them have not even debuted stateside yet.
Richard Gallardo could have a breakout year next year. If he comes to camp in good shape and fulfills his throwing program this off-season, we could be looking at a the Richard Gallardo everyone was hoping to see last summer.
Carlos Garcia – I thought Garcia was 19-years-old, but it turns out the young Cuban lefty is just 18 and he had a sensational season in the Dominican. I wonder if he’s going to be good enough to find his way to Myrtle Beach at some point next summer. He is said to have a mid 90s fastball and a killer curve.
Dominic Hambley did not pitch after the Cubs took him in the 18th around last summer. The former Oregon State commit is known for his hard work and improving arsenal. He’ll be fun to watch this summer in Mesa.
Erian Rodriguez was taken by the Cubs in the 2021 draft in the 13th around and signed much to my surprise. He did not pitch at all after signing and, like Hambley, he will be in Mesa next summer and his development should be exciting as he can throw in the mid 90s.
For Joel Machado, I just wish the 2018 international free agent could stay healthy enough to put together a nice season. He only got in two games last year after missing all of 2019. Still, he’s just 19-years-old.
I’ve been watching Anderson Suriel work out on Instagram the past month and this kid is attacking the weight room after he hit a little over .300 in the Dominican last summer. An outstanding defender, he may be the next Pinango.
Ronnier Quintero is probably the guy I would put at 11 in this list if I had to. His debut season did not go well but that had more to do with a a personal issue than it was baseball related Now that he’s focused and back on track, Quintero has been killing it in the weight room this fall and I am excited to see what he can do next summer as long as he comes into camp ready to go.
Pedro Ramirez might play shortstop in 2022 in Mesa or he might play second base. His future is that he is going to play where Cristian Hernandez does not. After hitting .359 in the DSL, the young switch-hitting shortstop will slide over to second this summer or, if Hernandez goes to Myrtle Beach, Ramirez could stay at short and dazzle us all with his speed and defense, some thing he is known for.
I am pretty sure that Moises Ballesteros is the happiest prospect in the Cubs’ system. His Instagram is just filled with him smiling all the time whether it’s hitting, catching, or working out. He had a good debut season with an OBP of near .400 in the DSL and a WRC +128. His sweet left-handed swing just looks so relaxed and it seems effortless as he can drive the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing him in Arizona this summer.
Alexis Hernandez is the 16-year-old brother of one Christian Hernandez who is number one on this list. But Alexis is a good ballplayer in his own right and may be a little bit more athletic than Cristian according to Baseball America. Alexis could stick a short or he could move to centerfield as he has the physical talents to do so. How he hits, that’s gonna be another story for where he debuts.
Panamanian Adan Sanchez is also set to sign as an international free agent on January 15. He can play a mixture of catcher, third base, and more than likely first. He’s already a pretty good sized kid so I’m wondering if he’s going to start his career in Mesa this summer as an advanced international free agent or if the Cubs keep him down in Boca Chica to learn skills he will need when he comes to the United States to play baseball.
As you can see, the depth is pretty tremendous when it comes to players under 20. I’m excited to see a lot of these guys debut in the United States but I’m equally excited to see you just as many start playing on mlb.tv every night in April. For me, Myrtle Beach is going to be nightly viewing as these kids could be something special that we have not seen since Daytona in 2013 and Tennessee in 2014. Those two teams were filled with guys who would make it to Chicago and star in the World Series in 2016.
Lead Photo of Yohendrick Pinango by Todd Johnson