An emerging Chicago Cubs farm system continues to gain national notoriety. Brailyn Marquez, Brennen Davis have been consensus Top 100 prospects in the majority of publications (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic), but they are also joined with Miguel Amaya on MLB Pipeline’s ranking. Landing squarely in the middle of farm systems with three Top 100 prospects may not seem like an accomplishment, but it’s a strong statement for a system that recently was ranked near the bottom tier of organizations.
MLB Pipeline #60
Ivy Futures Rank #4: Marquez carries significant reliever risk, but lefty arms who throw over 100 mph routinely and have a chance to be a starter aren’t easy to find. Fans saw the development necessary for Brailyn to succeed during his brief callup in 2020. He needs to ensure his mechanics (especially keeping his upper and lower halves in sync) are in line to produce his best results. He is prone to getting mechanically out of whack leaving pitches drifting to his arm-side (away from righties). While that all sounds like a negative, it also offers Marquez and the Cubs staff a clear development target. Brailyn’s also working to improve his 2-seam fastball and his “spike-slider”. Marquez will likely start at AA per Chicago Cubs VP of Player Development, Matt Dorey meaning he’s only a phone call away. He will have a strong chance to log big league innings in 2021, whether in the rotation or relief.
MLB Pipeline #61
Ivy Futures Rank #1: We’re entering the stage of his development where Brennen Davis ranked at #61 feels low. He has absolute all-start potential and should be able to succeed at CF in the big leagues before moving to RF. His adjustment to full-season ball was impressive, but his success at the South Bend Alternate Site in 2020 was met with praise throughout the Cubs organization. Davis is no longer the raw, toolsy prospect he was coming out of high school as a multi-sport athlete in 2018. He now represents a top prospect who is putting it all together and should impact Wrigley Field soon.
MLB Pipeline #89
Ivy Futures Rank #3: Miguel Amaya is still a defense-first catching prospect, but that shouldn’t sell him short. The bat is improving, capped off by an outstanding .261/.553(!)/.609 slash line in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues this winter. Amaya is lauded for his work with the pitching staff and he’s more than willing to show off a plus arm. He spent all of the 2020 summer at the South Bend Alternate Site working with more experienced pitchers, including many big leaguers. This valuable opportunity should give him a leg up in his final development time before making the major leagues.
You may have noticed that Ivy Futures #2 prospect, Adbert Alzolay, is not represented on MLB’s Top 100 prospects. That’s unsurprising for two reasons. First, Adbert is 1 inning away from losing his rookie eligibility so some publications don’t include him at all (MLB Pipeline does, for the record). The second reason is with his age and experience in the big leagues, Alzolay is often listed after the top prospects (usually #4-5) because he doesn’t “feel” like a prospect. People are sleeping on the changes he’s made to his repertoire. The addition of his slider and 2-seamer provide legitimate upside as a MLB ready mid-rotation starter or better. Alzolay won’t be on next years list, but his ranking is irrespective of his value to the organization.
Next year the Chicago Cubs have a very strong chance to feature more than the three players in 2021. Prime breakout candidates like Ed Howard, Reginald Preciado, Kohl Franklin, Ryan Jensen, and even Cristian Hernandez and Cole Roederer have an outside shot of making the list in 2022. This doesn’t take into account the Cubs 21st overall draft pick. For reference 2020’s #22nd overall draft pick, Cade Cavalli, ranked #99 on MLB Pipeline’s ranking
The “win-now” trades supplemented the big league team and were the right mentality in a contention window, but these trades did contribute to the need for a transition period for the organization. The Cubs are starting to see the impact of the organizational philosophy changes first started in 2018, which were then implemented in full force the year after. In 2021, Cubs fans should start to hear about real growth in the farm system. The real question will be “how long until we see the success effect at Wrigley Field?”.