Welcome to the hardest part of the series and I say that because the Cubs have a lot of outfield depth. As of right now, it is the strength of their system and yet we saw the Cubs go out and acquire an outfielder for just a year until some of these guys are ready on opening day 2024.
Looking back at last year‘s list, it looks a little strange because we didn’t know that much about Pete Crow-Armstrong. He took the system by storm in April and May and once he got over an injury at South Bend, he took off in July and August and now is the number one prospect on most prospect lists.
2. Tie – Brennen Davis and Alexander Canario
The strange thing about this year‘s rankings is not the PCA is number one, it’s where do you rank Alexander Canario and Brennen Davis who both were injured in the postseason. Both should be at 2 and 3 and I will let you pick who goes where.
Canario was injured in the Dominican while Davis had some back issues in Arizona. Canario, for me, has produced much more at the plate in one year then Brennen Davis has in his career. And that’s not really a dig at Davis, it’s about how much more talented Canario is at this stage in their careers. Davis has struggled to stay healthy in 2022 but he was only a phone call away from going to Chicago at the beginning of the year whereas Canario was very close at the end of 2022.
The dream for me would be to see both get healthy in 2023. Davis will hopefully be healthy in spring training and I have my fingers crossed that Canario could probably be close to ready at the beginning of June. If not, then July.
4. The Jaguar
Coming in at number four is easily Kevin Alcantara and I don’t know if I’ve been excited to see him a hitter arrive in South Bend since Eloy Jimenez in 2016. I just love everything that Alcantara does and I am looking forward to seeing that swing pound some baseballs in the Midwest League which should fly more frequently over the fence than they did in the Carolina League.
5. Owen Caissie
At number five, my guy Owen Caissie is sitting right there. I’m really looking forward to seeing how much he grows physically this winter. It was fun to watch him all season at South Bend last year. He has a really good head on his shoulders and he’s quite aware of how opposing pitchers are trying to get him out. He will be at Tennessee to start 2023 and that will be a good thing because he and PCA talk baseball nonstop.
6. Jordan Nwogu
Coming in at number six is Jordan Nwogu who made huge leaps in his game in the second half of the season at South Bend. After dealing with a little hamstring issue in June, he took off as a hitter in the second half. Rather than being a reactive type of hitter, Jordan became a much more proactive hitter and he also improved his defense quite a bit this year. In the middle of the year, he started doing an arm strengthening program where he did a workout with the pitchers before the game and then he would go to batting practice and outfield work. So he’s not afraid of putting the work in to get better.
7. Darius Hill
When I wrote this list, I debated about whether to put Darius Hill on it. Part of me wanted him on here because he earned a spot as one of the top outfielders in the system. I’ve always loved his hustle and the way that he does anything to get on base.
8. Yonathan Perlaza
The Cubs did re-sign him so that they did not lose him in free agency. He was also eligible to be taken in the Rule Five Draft and my fingers were crossed that nobody wanted a power hitting switch-hitting outfielder.
There are several other names that I can go into but you and I both only have so much time. I would love to talk about Ezequiel Pagan, Yohendrick Pinango, and Cole Roederer as well as my break outs for 2023 in Christian Franklin and Parker Chavers. I also think we might start to see Jacob Wetzel put things together and who knows about rookies Andy Garriola and Ke’Shun Collier as they make their full season debuts, most likely at Myrtle Beach.
I didn’t really get into any players that are probably going to be in Mesa and the Dominican next season. That was by design as those kinds of players have been struggling in the past couple years to make the transition from the Dominican to Mesa or from Mesa to Myrtle Beach. Christian More and Raino Coran are two guys who might head east to Myrtle Beach.