Kevin Alcantara – Picture by Todd Johnson

This week was uneven in terms of news. The big news came when Baseball America dropped its latest top 10 prospect list to begin the prospect list season. On Tuesday, the Cubs announced they added Bailey Horn, Porter Hodge, and Michael Arias to the 40-man roster. And then there were a couple of quiet days before all hell broke loose Friday afternoon when the big league club non-tendered Ethan Roberts, Brandon Hughes, and Cody Heuer. All three suffered injuries last year and possibly could come back to the Cubs on a minor league deal as they get healthy. That’s what I’m telling myself. I doubt Heuer pitches at all in 2024.

In terms of news from around the system, there was not really a lot going on. With the Arizona Fall League ended, there was one article that came out that highlighted some Cubs performances in the AFL.

MLB Pipeline ranked the top 25 prospects in the AFL and the Cubs had two in the top 10 with James Triantos at number seven and Kevin Alcantara head number eight. That was very cool to see how the Cubs get two in the top 10. Here is what they said about the two prospects.

7. James Triantos, 2B/OF, Mesa (Cubs No. 9)
Triantos has always displayed advanced bat-to-ball skills, and that didn’t stop in the AFL, where he slashed .417/.495/.679 to rank second in hitting, slugging and OPS (1.174) and third in on-base percentage. He showed more power, plate discipline and aggressiveness on the bases than he had previously, though his defensive home remains a question and may be left field.

8. Kevin Alcántara, OF, Mesa (Cubs No. 4/MLB No. 71)
With the upside of solid or better tools across the board and a chance to stick in center field, Alcántara has one of the highest ceilings on this list. He still needs to develop more plate discipline and hone his instincts, but he’s also just 21.

MLB Pipeline also published an article about some sleeper guys that were added to the 40-man roster. For the Cubs, Pipeline selected Bailey Horn as a guy to watch with his upper 90s fastball and the ability to miss bats in.

There was one other interesting tidbit that happened this week and it was over at Baseball America. In addition to their best tools and 2027 starting lineup, they also published a chat that they had Tuesday afternoon after their top 10 Cubs list was released. Here are a couple of key questions that I picked out that I thought were interesting just based on the response from Kyle Glazer of Baseball America.

Cristian Hernandez has fallen off the prospect map. Are there things that he reasonably might fix, or just less talent than anticipated?

Kyle Glaser – “Both? He’s just nowhere near the hitter he was projected to be. His bat speed, swing length and approach are all way worse than expected. At the same time, getting stronger and adjusting his approach and swing path are all improvements he can make. It’s really just going to be on him to make those fixes.”

Did the James Triantos fall league change your mind on him at all? What’s the latest there?

Kyle Glaser – “Triantos just missed the Top 10 and would have been a Top 10 prospect in a less strong system. His AFL was very, very impressive and he can absolutely hit, that’s never been the question. I will say in general – this is not specific to just Triantos – it’s important to remember the caliber of pitching in the AFL is atrocious, so it’s important not to read too much into big offensive performances out there. That said, Triantos is a good hitter and a solid prospect.”

How does the Cubs organization view Brennen Davis?

Kyle Glaser – “At this point they aren’t counting on much from Brennen Davis. He’s just had so many injuries that have taken a toll on his body and, sadly, sapped a lot of his ability. They view anything they’ll get from Davis purely as a bonus at this point.”

NSB Recap

I am starting to get back in the swing of things in terms of writing. It might not be every day yet, but this week I also put out an article about the top storylines for the 2024 international free agent signing period which is slated to begin on January 15. Most of those storylines revolve around in Fernando Cruz, but they’re other interesting topics that we should also look for in 2024.

Coming Up at NSB

On Monday, I’ve got a peek at how I think Baseball America’s draft grades are going to come out as I predict the winners in about 12 different categories from best hitter to best fastball and more. That will drop tomorrow at 5:30 AM central. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll have a three-part series on comeback players. Tuesday will be the comeback player of the year and then on Wednesday I will discuss other players who bounced back this season and whose performances are worth mentioning. Then, on Friday, I’ll have some storylines for 2024 about who might be next season’s comeback players of the year. 

Finally, I started getting to work on my regular offseason series yesterday as I outlined the first of the position breakdown series posts. That initial post will drop on the 27th and that’s going to look at the left handed relievers first. I’m not decided what this year‘s off-season series is going to be but I will begin with some mailbag questions next week. I will need to get some more of those questions to make it through February. So you can add them to the comments down below or you can reach out to the North Side Bound account on Twitter.

Jam of the Week

I have been listening to a lot of 80s music like the Smithereens, Elvis Costello, and Squeeze lately. Let’s go with the song that broke The Smithereens and that is “Behind the Wall of Sleep.” Get your Rickenbackers out now!