Alexander Canario – Pic by Todd Johnson
In a little over a year, the Cubs corps of outfield prospects has gone from pretty thin to extremely stacked with several trades made in that time span. There are 12 top 30 Cubs prospects on MLB Pipeline play in the grass for the Cubs and five of them are in Baseball America’s top 10 list. That’s some pretty serious depth. When you look at North Side Bound’s top prospect list, seven of those guys are in our top 20 and two more just missed.
In trying to rank the Cubs top outfield prospects, picking number one is extremely simple as everybody and their mother knows it’s Brennen Davis. After that, things get a little complicated. Do we roll with prospects with plenty of youth and potential but have not played above rookie ball? Do we go with guys who have some experience in AA and the Arizona Fall League? Or do we just draw names from a hat?
Today’s rankings are going to be a little bit different. When we began this ranking series a couple months ago, we started out with three top prospects at each position. A lot of the reason for that was those positions were not that deep. As we moved up through the system we added an occasional guy or two as we got closer and closer to the top. For the outfield, we are rolling with 14. That’s deep!
2. Kevin Alcântara – I am pretty excited about this kid as he will tone down a large toe tap and he has some explosive power as his bat seems to stay in the strike zone for quite a while. That’s going to allow him to spray the ball all over the field.
3. I just love Pete Crow-Armstrong and the wonderful potential he contains inside his body. He’s already an outstanding defender and could play MLB caliber centerfield right now. In just an extremely small sample size, he tore it up at Low-A ball. He’s probably going to start 2022 in Myrtle Beach and he might get an aggressive promotion quickly depending upon how well he hits.
4. Owen Caissie flashed a lot of power last year in Arizona and even displayed some at Myrtle Beach, which is not really conducive to power. I’m excited to see him return to the Pelicans to begin 2022. He is my guy for 2022.
5. Nelson Velazquez really took off in 2021. The fact that he could be ready at some point in 2022 is pretty cool, especially since he’s beginning to fulfill his power potential. Part of me thinks he might start the year at Tennessee for a little bit before moving up to Iowa. I don’t see him being In Tennessee very long especially since he had 29 home runs total in 2021.
6. Out of all the prospects listed here today, Alexander Canario is the most raw. He’s a huge physical specimen to begin with, but he also has an outstanding arm, can play all three outfield spots, and he never stops talking about the game. His biggest issue right now is the sometimes tries to do too much and he just needs to be a little bit more patient and lay off some pitches. I could see him having a year just like Velazquez did in 2021. When everything clicks, he should just take off. Considering how hard he hits the ball now, that’s going to be really exciting when it happens.
7. Chris Morel will be at Triple-A Iowa in 2022. How much patience he develops at the plate is going to make or break his career. There is no doubt he is an unbelievable athletic talent that needs to be more judicious at the plate. When he can do that, he will just kill balls in the zone.
8. Don’t sleep on Cole Roederer. His natural swing path is just too good and we could’ve seen big things from him last year had he been healthy. He’s going to have a uphill climb back from TJS but he has that beautiful swing to carry him.
9. Yohendrick Pinango impressed me quite a bit when I saw him in person late last year at South Bend. He’s put on a little weight since he signed and he has a beautiful stroke at the plate. He is still using the opposite field quite a bit but he’s also beginning to pull the ball more than he did at the start of 2021. He’s going to be in Tennessee by mid year and he will only be 20-years-old when he arrives. I find that amazing!
10. While Jordan Nwogu did not technically break out last summer in the second half, he came pretty close. What I enjoyed most about his performance was that it included massive improvements in the field along with at the plate. I am excited to see him play for South Bend at the end of April.
11. Where Christian Franklin begins 2022 is going to be interesting. There are those who think he could be in South Bend with his experience while others think he needs some seasoning at Low Class A. More than likely, his spring training is going to decide this assignment. Franklin has an advanced hit tool and his college experience might denote a need for a challenging assignment.
12. Darius Hill is a spark plug of a player who is never going to be on anybody’s top prospect list. However, he could be a professional for many years with his energy and hustle as well as his ability to just plain hit. He was outstanding last summer at Tennessee before he broke his hand.
13. Yonathan Perlaza broke out last summer and that news was somewhat overshadowed by the acquisition of many players ahead of him on this list. I’m a little pumped to see how he does in Tennessee and if his new power stroke will play there and move him up the system.
14. Parker Chavers is probably the biggest dark horse and sleeper outfield prospect in the system. He didn’t really play that much after signing last year but he is loaded with tools and a skill set that just needs to be in a healthy body. I am hoping that he will be in Myrtle Beach to start the year and that he will have an opportunity to play every day in some capacity, especially at the plate where he has an effortless swing.
Others to watch for this year – Ezequiel Pagan (just plain hits), Anderson Suriel (very good 2021 in DSL), Raino Coran (reeks of power), Jose O. Lopez (tough year in 21), Brayan Altuve (arrives stateside), Ismael Mena (can he mature after a rough 21), Jacob Wetzel (great eye but needs a spot), and Frank Hernandez (good year in 21 in the DSL).