Kohl Franklin – Picture by Todd Johnson

For some strange reason, I took a look at my top 21 list this past weekend. At the earliest, I could see redoing the list after the draft. However, I will probably just wait a couple weeks after the draft and do it in early August once the trade deadline passes. For now, though, it’s not too early to start thinking about who is moving up and who is moving down my . Just keep in mind, that there’s at least three months of baseball between now and the trade deadline.

My Current Top 21 List

21. Cole Roederer
20. Anderson Espinoza
19. Chase Strumpf
18. Kohl Franklin
17. Miguel Amaya
16. Caleb Kilian
15. Owen Caissie
14. Jordan Wicks
13. DJ Herz
12. Ryan Jensen
11. Brailyn Marquez
10. Nelson Velazquez
9. Ed Howard
8. Alexander Canario
7. James Triantos
6. Chris Morel
5. Kevin Alcantara
4. Reggie Preciado
3. Pete Crow-Armstrong
2. Cristian Hernandez
1. Brennen Davis

Biggest Risers

The main reason I don’t like to redo my prospect lists very often is that they would fluctuate a lot on performance. While performance is important, so are the toolbox skills for each player, which actually might be more important in the lower levels. Anyway, there were several guys who helped themselves in the first month in the 2022 season, none more than Pete Crow-Armstrong (PCA).

How could PCA, my third ranked prospect, help himself and be the biggest riser? All one has to do is to look at that gaudy batting average, his on-base percentage, and the gigantic OPS he put up in Myrtle Beach. If I was to redo my entire list today, I would have to give serious thought to putting Pete Crow-Armstrong as my number one prospect of the system. Yes, you read that right. Then again, I didn’t say he would be number one, just that I would give it a thought. I am hoping that by the time I get to Appleton, Wisconsin on the 21st and 22nd of May, PCA will be suited up in a South Bend Cubs uniform. Right now, I’d say it’s about 50-50, but if he continues on his current trajectory, there is no doubt he will be at South Bend pretty quick.

The second player who really helped himself on my list this month his DJ Herz. I really like what he’s doing this year and the pitch clock kind of feeds into his way of working. He’s really locked in mentally right now and I’m excited to see what he can do when stretched out to 5 or 6 innings by the end of May. I could see him easily in my top 10 come August.

Right Where There Should Be

Chris Morel has rewarded my faith in him at 6 as he put up an excellent month in April hitting .301 and playing all over the field. I’m excited to see what he does in May for an encore. I have a feeling he can do better which is a scary thought.

I like the fact that Alexander Canario is really starting to put together some good at-bats and has not stopped cranking homers the last two-plus weeks. He finally figured out how to hit in the cooler weather of the Midwest in early spring. Once it warms up, I feel for pitchers around the league. He’s hit 5 HRs in the last 7 games.

Ed Howard – Pic by Todd Johnson

One of the highlights of my trip trips to Davenport last week was getting to see Ed Howard on a daily basis. He is mature beyond his years, he takes instruction very well, and he’s out there working hard to get better. Last week saw Howard have his best week of the season as he hit over .300 with an OBP over .400. I watched him in batting practice work on going up the middle and away to right and that’s going to pay off big time over the next month. Don’t be surprised to see him on the May All-Star team once the everything starts clicking.

The Jury Is Still Out

Owen Caissie and Reggie Preciado both had a rough month at their respective affiliates. You have to give them time. I am extremely patient for both of them to figure things out, even if it takes all year. I don’t care. I’m not worried about the talent of either. They’ll start to figure some things out here over the next three months before I do my list again. No worries.

Kohl Franklin is going to be an interesting test case this summer. Right now he’s only throwing two innings per start and I’m sure the Cubs will bump that up to three here shortly once he can get through a couple of innings clean. I would suspect that he is going to have the gloves taken off in the second half and the Cubs will really stretch him out. Then we will get to see just exactly what he can do at this level which is still a big jump in competition for him.

Who Could Come onto the List?

When it comes to players already in the system who could push their way onto the list, most of them are going to be in the lower parts of the system. Moises Ballesteros is definitely one guy who might I squeeze on to my list right now if I had the opportunity. Pitcher Michael Arias is another and we might see something from Porter Hodge or Luis Devers as the next three months plays on in Myrtle Beach. However, the big name for me is none other than Pedro Ramirez. He is drawing rave reviews for his play in EXST right now.

The Cubs pick rather high in this summer’s MLB Draft and those first two picks should easily make any Cubs prospect list and most likely the top 10. In addition, the Cubs could also probably make one or two trades but not on the level of last year. Still, they should be able to get one or two top 10 system prospects.

I am at the point where I am ready to expand my list beyond 21 which it has been at since 2014. It is very hard to put a cap on it currently. Adding more elite prospects this summer is only going to make doing the next list harder with just 21 names. Plus, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played. I would say it’s August before we see new lists from everyone here at North Side Bound.

I am now jazzed to see how May influences my list.