The Chicago Cubs continue to re-build their farm system after using it to bring a Championship to the Windy City in 2015. Brailyn Marquez still needs another year of development but has the big arm from the left side that could make him a nice mid-rotation piece. Brennen Davis is the top positional player and brings a ton of tools and just needs time to develop. The most interesting player is not even yet in their organization and that is Cristian Hernandez. Projected to sign on January 15th, Hernandez is one of the top players coming out of Latin America in the 2020-21 signing period. As with Davis, there are five-tool possibilities with elite bat speed and great instincts for the game.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Brailyn Marquez
- Biggest Mover: Chris Morel
- Emerging Prospect: Cristian Hernandez
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- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP or a Closer
- Tools Summary: Premium velocity from the left side
Brailyn Marquez got a late call-up to end the 2020 season appearing in the last game of the season. He faced seven batters, walking three and giving up five earned runs. While the results were not there, he was pumping 98 MPH with his four-seamer. While there is a lot more work to be done, it’s an 80-grade fastball that will touch the upper 90’s with a high spin rate (2,400+ RPM). Throw-in a plus slider and the floor is a lock-down closer with the ceiling being a Top 40 starting pitcher.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 OF
- Tools Summary: Five tool player. Needs time to develop
Brennen Davis was a sexy pickup in many Dynasty Leagues in 2019 due to his intriguing speed and power combination. He’s likely three years away from contributing at the Major League level, he is in consideration of inclusion in the Top 100.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 C
- Tools Summary: Strong hit tool with above-average power
While he’s only hit .224 through 332 professional games, I continue to be high on Miguel Amaya. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to control the strike zone. In 2019, he posted a 17% strikeout rate with a 13% walk rate. He also hit 11 home runs, but given his bat speed, once he adds more loft, I think he will push 20 home runs. If you add it all up, the ceiling is a .260/.340/.440 hitter with 18 to 22 home runs. That offensive profile should make him at least a Top 10 catcher, if not Top 5 in a fantasy league.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Power and speed potential with a chance to hit for average
Ed Howard was the Cubs’ first-round draft pick in 2020. At 6-foot-2, he has great bat speed with a whipping stroke and is currently an above-average to plus runner. As a high school player from Illinois, he did not play in his senior year, but his tools combined with his strong hands give him a chance to be a Top 15 shortstop in the game.
- Highest Level: Int’l Player projected to sign ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 SS
- Tools Summary: Potential five-tool talent
Cristian Hernandez could be the top 16-year-old to be signed out of the International market in early 2021. Our sources indicate he will sign with the Cubs. He has excellent bat speed that with his physicality should translate into plus in-game power, is at least an above-average runner with a balance hitting approach. While his actions are fine for shortstop, long-term, he could be moved to third or the outfield.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS/2B
- Tools Summary: Plus runner with an idea at the plate
Martinez is an intriguing prospect with plus speed and the ability to make solid contact and control the strike zone. His swing is more contact-oriented, but he has enough bat speed and natural strength to eventually hit for average power. However, it will likely be more doubles than over-the-fence power. He is a switch hitter with a bit more power from the left side. If it all comes together, he could develop into a top-of-the-order hitter with 30 plus stolen bases and a handful of home runs.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: Very good athlete with plus bat speed and good speed. Very aggressive approach.
Signed in 2016 from the Dominican, Christopher Morel projects to have plus power to go along with the ability to steal bases. As he fills out, the speed will likely take a step backward, but early in his career, he could be a 20-20 or 20-15 performer. His hit-tool still needs a lot of work as he’s very aggressive at the plate and will expand the strike zone.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2019 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
- Tools Summary: Fastball/slider pitcher. Lacks a good change-up.
Adbert Alzolay added 21.1 more innings to his big-league resume in 2020. He posted a 2.25 ERA striking out over 12 per nine but also walked 5.5 per nine. He continues to be a fastball/slider pitcher with both pitches being plus. In fact, with his 2,800 spin rate on his slider, if he can throw it for strikes, it’s has a chance to be a wipe-out pitch. However, with below-average control and lacking a third pitch, I think he moves to the bullpen full-time in 2021.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 75 OF
- Tools Summary: Good runner but needs to cut down on strikeouts
After a poor season in 2019, Cole Roederer really needed some additional at-bats in 2020 to further his development. He will get that in the Fall Instructional league, but I do worry that the setback might solidify his role as a fourth outfielder. He’s a good runner but is not a burner and I would put his base-stealing ceiling at 15 to 20 per year. He has good bat speed but is far from a power hitter. That said, once he matures, the power could develop.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: Arm strength and athleticism. Very young
Richard Gallardo was one of the big J2 signs during the 2018 signing period and brings a nice combination of arm strength and athleticism. He has a fastball that touches the mid-90s but as he matures, the hope is that he will increase velocity. His secondary pitches are very raw but he does show an ability to spin a curveball. What the Cubs like the most is his athleticism and the ability to already repeat his delivery. If it all comes together, the upside could be a mid-rotation starter.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Interesting arsenal and with some physical maturation, could develop into a mid-rotation arm
At 6-foot-4 and a thin 190-pound frame, Kohl Franklin is one of the more interesting arms in the Cubs organization. His fastball will touch the mid-90s with decent secondary pitches. He does not always throw strikes but there’s enough here to get excited that he could develop into a number four starter or perhaps more.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
- Tools Summary: Solid approach and hit-tool. Lacks secondary tools
As a three-year starter at UCLA, Chase Strumpf demonstrated an advance hit-tool that resulted in a .301 average and a .414 on-base percentage over his college career. The Cubs liked what they saw and took him in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. He is likely limited to second base defensively and therefore his bat will need to carry him. While I think he’ll hit, he’s not a plus runner and doesn’t project to hit for more than average power. If he hits enough, he could have success similar to what Jeff McNeil has had this year. But McNeil was a late bloomer and perhaps Strumpf could be as well.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: High-leverage arm
- Tools Summary: Fastball-curveball arsenal that should move through the system quickly
Burl Carraway was drafted in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft and given his athleticism and fastball-curveball arsenal should be able to make his way to the Major Leagues in a year or two of development. He lacks height, so home runs could become a problem but assuming he can throw strikes, he could help the Cubs as soon as 2021.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 C with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Natural power with the ability to hit, but he’s 16-years-old
The Cubs spent over $5 million dollars in 2019 to sign three top international players with Ronnier Quintero being the one they coveted the most. He compares favorably to Diego Cartaya, the top International catcher signed in 2018 by the Dodgers who got off to a strong start to his professional career. Evaluators love the swing, athleticism, and the natural power in his swing.
For fantasy players, he’s at least five years away but if it all comes together, he could become a Top 15 catcher in fantasy.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 75 SP or Closer
- Tools Summary: Premium velocity. Needs to work on secondary pitches
At 6-feet and 180 pounds, Ryan Jensen is not the prototypical starter that teams are drafting, but he has a big upper-90s fastball that at worse, he can develop into a high-leverage arm in the bullpen. He also throws a slider and change-up that grade out as average pitches. The delivery needs work as he has a long arm action (think Jon Duplantier). If it all comes together, the ceiling is a back-of-rotation starter or perhaps a high-leverage bullpen arm.