Pete Crow-Armstrong – Picture by Todd Johnson

NSB Midseason Prospect List Release Schedule

Tuesday — Greg Huss
Today — Todd Johnson
Thursday — Jimmy Nelligan
Friday — Greg Zumach
Monday — NSB’s Official Rankings

Today’s’ Date – July 6, 2022

Previous Update – November 1, 2021

Normally, my prospect lists have always had 21 players. I always picked that number because it was different and because I felt that once you got to 22 there wasn’t that much difference between that player and number 30. 

This list is a bit of a different story. I got to 25 and had trouble stopping. And once I did stop, I bet I reshuffled the rankings at least 29 times between June 27 and last night. I don’t know why I do that so much when I’m just going to end up redoing them in a few more months and that fall list will have some new draft picks along with some prospects the Cubs traded for at the upcoming deadline. And then there’s second half breakouts….yada, yada, yada.

Today’s list, though, is important because it’s been eight months since I last did a list. So, this new list needed to reflect the performance of the first half and any gains players made in their tool set. I really like the 25 I picked and the honorable mentions as well. And I’m excited to see everybody else’s list at North Side Bound over the next few days and what our combined list is going to look like on Monday next week. This is going to be a lot of fun to see play out!

Honorable Mentions

Cam Sanders, Darius Hill, Yovanny Cruz, Pedro Ramirez, Pablo Aliendo, Miguel Amaya, Brailyn Marquez, Christian Franklin, Parker Chavers, Kenyi Perez, Adan Sanchez, Jefferson Rojas 

Just Missed by a Smidge

Zac Leigh, Luis Devers, Tyler Schlaffer, Porter Hodge, and Luis Verdugo

The I Am Going to Give It Another Month or Two Section

Jake Slaughter

My Top 25

25. Jeremiah Estrada – He’s back, he’s healthy. He’s “HOT” every night. I am excited to see him at Tennessee the rest of the second half after just dominating High-A in the first.

24. Yohendrick Pinango – He’s done some growing up this year as he’s begun to turn on some pitches and generate more power. He’s still learning how to hit for average and power at the same time.

23. Jordan Nwogu – The athleticism is off the charts. He was on a binge from mid-May to mid-June with a 900+ OPS in that span before a muscle tweak put him down for a while. What I like best about him is that he is just fine with adapting to something if it will make him better.

22. Ryan Jensen – At first, the new delivery was having great results. It could take a while to play out. I don’t know if it is going to be enough to keep him in the rotation the closer he gets to Chicago. If he becomes a reliever, that changes everything.

21. Drew Gray – I don’t think we’re going to see what he can do for quite a while. I would not be surprised to see him on a short leash next year as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Massive potential. If I would not be excoriated for it, he should be (just in terms of his potential) a lot closer to the top ten than I have him.

20. Daniel Palencia – The dude can throw it 100. He’s improved his secondaries drastically over the last month. The last two times I saw him in person, I wondered if it was the same pitcher because his command had improved so much. Watching his pregame workouts, the dude is a legend. No wonder he can throw 100 with his long toss game.

19. Reginald Preciado – After a rough start, Preciado had a good May where he hit around .300 and looked to be figuring some things out. An injury in early June looks like it ended his season.

18. Cole Roederer – I might be the only one to have Cole on their list. The Cubs are taking it slow with him coming back from TJS and the results are fantastic. He hit .333 in June at Tennessee and that was probably one of the most under reported stories across the system. The power will come back. Not a question of if, but when.

17. Chase Strumpf – It took him a couple of months to figure some things out this year, but the power potential and ability to hit for average along with some situational hitting really started to show up in mid May and he took off in June.

16. Kohl Franklin – Once the Cubs started to stretch him out a little bit more, he started to do better. There has to be some mental relief to know that you’re going to pitch more than two innings. In knowing that he’s going to pitch four or five frames, he’s going to be much more relaxed and not trying to blow everything in his allotted time. He could be my biggest mover for the fall list. 

15. Matt Mervis – This dude just raked in April, May, and June. I am hopeful he’ll be in Iowa the rest of the year.

It’s at this point in the prospect list that I began to realize just how stacked it is. Any of the next ten guys could be ranked anywhere from 5 to 14 and probably will be over the coming days.

14. Jordan Wicks – I’ve never met a pitcher more pragmatic that Jordan Wicks. He is willing to try anything at the expense of ERA. So, when you look at his spring/first half stats, they are not something to behold, but he’s trying to learn some new pitches/grips that will help him in the future. It’s not really about now for him, it’s about him trying to be the best pitcher he can be for the future. Keep that in mind when you look at his numbers. His last start looked like he settled on going with a certain curve grip as it was outstanding!

13. Kevin Made – Made is new to my list and he’s really improved as a hitter this year. The walk rate is up, the power is way up, and the arm is definitely still there. The average will hopefully get there.

12.  Moises Ballesteros – I love this kid’s swing as he generates such easy power that I would not be surprised to see him in Myrtle Beach at the beginning or middle of August.

11. Nelson Velazquez – He’s gotten a little taste of Chicago, I wonder how much Chicago gets a taste of him in the coming months.  I am pretty sure he won’t be on the lists we will do in the fall as he should get to 135 ABs in Chicago.

10. Ed Howard IV – I’m hoping for a quick and full recovery next spring and that he’ll be able to continue pursuing his dream. In the short time I saw him in person in April and May, I was really impressed with his skillset and maturity.

9. James Triantos – I would not be surprised to see him stay another month in Myrtle Beach. The power that we saw last summer did not return until the last week, but he had been hitting balls in the gaps in driving it to all parts of the field. Then again, Myrtle Beach is not a HR park. When he gets to South Bend, the power should be much better. The defense needs some work at third, but this is his first year at the position. In time, he will be fine.

8. DJ Herz – He’s my second biggest mover from last winter and there is no doubt that he’s earned a promotion to Tennessee. All he needs to work on is just being more efficient in the zone to go deeper into games. I have a feeling that this winter he will add a fourth pitch.

7. Caleb Kilian – Hopefully the poor showing in Chicago does not defeat his spirit as he truly has excellent stuff. He just needs some more seasoning and experience. Getting that experience will show him what he needs to tighten up. It’s all good!

6. Alexander Canario – In terms of pure power, nobody has more than this guy. I’m just waiting for him to make the adjustment at some point in Tennessee where he begins to hit for average. His tool set goes way past the red zone on all the dials. In other words, his ceiling is very high if he puts it all together. That’s why I have him here. Think Christopher Morel 2021 and you will get what I mean.

5. Owen Caissie – He’ll be 20 this week and I think he’s going to have a much better second-half, even though he did win the May Hitter of the Month and June went very well, too. He just gets the science of hitting!

From here on in, the top four are in a class by themselves. After yesterday, they are all on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 Prospects.

4. Kevin Alcantara – His potential is truly tremendous. The fact that he’s hitting home runs with ease in a pitcher’s park should be your first clue. Consistency is going to be a thing for him. We’ve seen him dominate in bunches. Have some patience with him as the tools are immense. You could literally take Alcantara and the next two guys and put them in any order and I would not argue.

3. Cristian Hernandez – The swing is just pure poetry. How much he can lay off pitches in the future will determine a lot. Can’t wait until he is full season ball. He is doing fine in the ACL hitting .306 as of July 3 with 2 jacks. Since being moved to the leadoff spot two weeks ago, he’s been hitting .380!

2. Pete Crow-Armstrong – It was fun seeing him healthy last week in Beloit and back on track for a great season. He struggled a little bit moving up a level and then he was injured. He currently is on a tear to start the second half and remember that he is an elite defender right now – like Gold Glover caliber defender in the majors, not just the minors. I could see him jumping to number one on my fall list with a good second half…easily; especially if he ends the year in Tennessee.

1. Brennen Davis – No big surprise here, even though he’s injured. However, it might surprise you to hear that I thought about putting him in the number two slot for a week in early June. I expect to see him playing late in the year and then again in the Arizona Fall League. He’s got some time to make up. If the back is doing well, winter ball is an option. Then again, you don’t want him to get hurt there, either!