Chicago Cubs 2019 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Nico Hoerner - Photo credit Vince Schmidt @AZ108365 on Instagram, @AZ108365 on Twitter

At mid-season 2019, the Cubs’ minor league system is not in much better shape than it was a year ago at this time. The system remains bottom heavy, with very little support for the major league squad at the upper levels.

A plan to close the talent gap didn’t really materialize. The aggressive promotion of 2018 draft picks hasn’t had the desired effect. On top of that, the major league players the Cubs left behind at Triple-A have under-performed.

For now, Cubs fans will have to sit tight and see which of their young prospects truly breaks out. Until then, the Cubs will continue to scrape for players to supplement their major league roster.

Note: Some of the Cubs recent draft picks are missing from this list. It just a personal preference, but I do not like to rate players that have not played a professional game.


Prospects1500 Tiers:

Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster


Tier 1:
1. Nico Hoerner, SS

Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: Double-A (Tennessee)

Nico Hoerner by Rebecca Snyder

It’s hard to believe that the Cubs’ top prospect has played under 50 games in his professional career. After returning from a hand injury, Hoerner has only batted at a .235 clip. That reduced his season line to .270/.341/.459/.801 with 9 doubles, 3 triples 2 home runs, and 13 RBI. Hoerner has also shown a willingness to try other things, looking good in appearances at second base and centerfield.

2. Brennen Davis, OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Low-A (South Bend)

Brennen Davis by Rikk Carlson

The Cubs made a smart decision in holding Davis back in extended spring training to work on his swing. Joining South Bend on the Memorial Day weekend, Davis has become a one-man wrecking crew. Davis has hit .296/.370/.484/.854 with 9 doubles, 3 triples 5 home run, 23 RBI, and 3 stolen bases in 45 games. On top of that, Davis has yet to commit an error.

3. Brailyn Marquez, LHP
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Single-A (South Bend)

Brailyn Marquez by Rikk Carlson

Here’s the good numbers for ace pitching prospect Marquez: 73 strikeouts and only 39 walks in 60.1 innings. The bad? How about a 4.48 ERA and 1.624 WHIP. As you can see the talent is there, Marquez just has to find a to harness it.


Tier 2:
4. Adbert Alzolay, RHP

Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A (Iowa)/Major Leagues
Coming back from a Lat injury, Alzolay got a taste of the majors with 3 appearances in 11 days before returning to Triple-A Iowa. But beyond a short stint at Myrtle Beach, Alzolay has bee with the I-Cubs. Working his four pitch arsenal, Alzolay has rung up 54 strikeouts in 40 innings while posting a 1.200 WHIP. But Alzolay has also been hit at times, giving up 33 knock and a 4.50 ERA.

5. Cole Roederer, OF
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Low-A (South Bend)

Cole Roederer by Rikk Carlson

As good as the decision was to hold back Brennen Davis, the decision to have Roederer open the season with South Bend may have been not so good. Roerder has struggled both at the plate and in the field. Hitting .219/.294/.344/.638 with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, 39 RBI and 9 steals in 67 games. The potential is there, it just needs more consistency.

6. Christopher Morel, 3B
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Low-A (South Bend)

 

Christopher Morel by Rikk Carlson

A year’s worth of maturity has made a great difference for Morel. After a season in which he hit a total of .216, Morel has made adjustments. Morel has already matched his 2018 totals in walks, and batted .284/.320/.467/.787 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 6 home runs, and 31 RBI as a result. Morel still needs to clean up his defense, but has also made improvements in that area.


Tier 3:
7. Tyson Miller, RHP

Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A (Iowa)

Tyson Miller by Stephanie Lynn

In 15 games with Tennessee, Miller put up some pretty good number with a 2.56 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in 88 innings. But Miller struck out only 8o and had his ERA climb each month. Nevertheless, the Cubs promoted Miller to Iowa, and he has struggled. In two starts, Miller has a 9.95 ERA and 1.895 WHIP. The upside is still a big league middle reliever. But Miller making the back of the rotation  may be a long shot.

8. Miguel Amaya, C
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: High-A (Myrtle Beach)

Miguel Amaya by Stephanie Lynn

Much like his teammate Aramis Ademan, Amaya has had a hard time adjusting to the competition Myrtle Beach faces. While still a top-notch defender, Amaya has had a hard time at the plate. Hitting .230/.342/.374/.716 with 13 doubles, 7 home runs, and 38 RBI in 68 games, Amaya is heading for a career high in strikeouts.

9. Kohl Franklin, RHP
Age: 19
2019 Highest Level: Short Season-A (Eugene)
Adjusting to pro ball was hard for Franklin. The high school pitcher drafted in the sixth round in 2018 was batted around in the rookie league last year. Now Franklin has shown why he was selected so high. Franklin has made improvements with his fastball velocity, his slider, and change up to go 1-1 with a 1.25 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 21.2 innings for Eugene.

10. Zack Short, SS
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Triple-A (Iowa)

Zack Short by Stephanie Lynn

Similar to Nico Hoerner, Short suffered a hand injury early which hampered his development. Batting .368 out of the gate, Short came back in July and put up a .304/.431/.457/.888 line with 4 doubles, a home run, and 5 RBI in 14 games. Short has been getting looks at second base along with playing shortstop.

11. Chase Strumpf, 2B
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Short Season-A (Eugene)
The 2019 second round pick, Strumpf, has already been making an impact. In 10 games, Strumpf is showing he has talent beyond the Northwest League. Strumpf is hitting .375/.429/.675/1.104 with 6 doubles, 2 home runs, and 10 RBI. Strumpf lacks athleticism and arm strength, so he most likely will be limited to second and first base defensively.

12. Riley Thompson, RHP
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Single-A (South Bend)

Riley Thompson by Rikk Carlson

Another South Bend Cub with upper nineties heat, Thompson has fared well as a starter. At 15 starts and 72.2 innings, Thompson may be hitting the mid-season wall so many young players experience. Thompson is still 5-5 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.211 WHIP, and 67 strikeouts for the season.

13. Fernando Kelli, OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Short Season-A (Eugene)
Speedy Kelli has made adjustments to his offensive game and has channeled his vast ability into production. Known primarily for his base stealing, Kelli is batting .308/.348/.471/.819 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, a home run, 13 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 27 games. Kelli has cut down on his mistakes but still needs to improve his plate discipline.

14. Ethan Hearn, C
Age: 18
2019 Highest Level: Rookie League (AZL Cubs 1)
One of the top prep catchers in the 2019 draft, the Cubs made all efforts to sign Hearn. The sixth round pick has hit .333 in his first 3 games, but needs to polish up his defensive skills. A left-handed hitter with pop, Hearn will be brought along slowly.

15. Ryan Jensen, RHP
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Short Season-A (Eugene)
After tossing 100 innings of college ball with Fresno State, the Cubs will be very selective in how the play Jensen the rest of the way in 2019. With an upper 90’s fastball, Jensen projects as a back-end reliever. Jensen has had only one appearance, but don’t expect too many more for this season.




Tier 4:
16. Alex Lange, RHP

Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A (Tennessee)
After a real tough start with Myrtle Beach, Lange composed himself and earned a trip to Double-A. Using his sinker to have opponents beat the ball into the ground, Lange is 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.357 WHIP, and 16 strikeouts in 28 inning since his promotion.

17. Justin Steele, LHP
Age: 24
2019 Highest Level: Double-A (Tennessee)
After making a strong comeback in 2018, Steele has spent a majority of his time in 2019 on the injured list. His number reflect that, as Steele is 0-6 with a 5.59 ERA, 1.681 WHIP. However, Steele does have 42 strikeouts in 38.2 innings.

18. Paul Richan, RHP
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A (Myrtle Beach)
Things have been looking up for the strike-throwing Richan. Despite lousy support from his team, Richan has held batters to a .181 average in July. For the season, Richan is 94- with a 3.94 ERA, 1.202 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 82.1 innings.

19. Andy Weber, SS
Age: 21
2019 Highest Level: Low-A (South Bend)

Andy Weber by Rikk Carlson

The 2018 fifth round pick has struggled at times on defense, but Weber has shown enough to continue to stick at shortstop. Offensively, Weber has improved across the board in the second half of the season. For the year, Weber is hitting .265/.318/.388/.706 with 21 doubles, 5 triples, 3 home runs, 42 RBI, and 4 stolen bases.

20. Jimmy Herron, OF
Age: 22
2019 Highest Level: High-A (Myrtle Beach)
It was a difficult adjustment for Herron in 2019. After only 33 games at Low-A last year, Herron had a hard time in Advanced-A until turning things around in July. Batting .302 for the month, Herron has upped his number to .231/.329/.355/.683 with 17 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, 30 RBI, and 19 stolen bases.

21. Aramis Ademan, SS
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: High-A (Myrtle Beach)
Once considered one of the Cubs’ top prospects, Ademan has allowed others to pass him as he continues to struggle at the plate. Ademan has dropped to a .233/.344/.361/.705 line with 7 doubles, 5 triples, 5 home runs, and 28 RBI.

22. Jhonny Pereda, C
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Double-A (Tennessee)
The defensively minded Pereda has made significant improvements at the plate after a rough start. With two months of hitting over .300, Pereda has boosted his batting line to .276/.375/.343/.718 with 10 doubles, 2 home runs, and 29 RBI for the season.

23. Nelson Velazquez, OF
Age: 20
2019 Highest Level: Low-A (South Bend)

Nelson Velazquez by Rikk Carlson

Out with an injury since early May, Velazquez had more selective at the plate to start the year. Velazquez was hitting .293/.333/.401/.735 with 11 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 11 RBI before he went down.

24. Fabian Pertuz, SS/3B
Age: 18
2018 Highest Level: Rookie League (AZL Cubs 1)
Stepping up to the rookie league this year, Pertuz is demonstrating that his 2018 was no fluke. Against older competition, Pertuz has hit .351/.398/.446/.844 with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run, and 12 RBI in 19 games.

25. Zac Taylor, OF
Age: 23
2019 Highest Level: Short Season-A (Eugene)

The surprise of the 2019 draft, Taylor may need a higher level of competition to be fully evaluated. In 20 games, Taylor has a whopping .384/.449/.663/1.112 line with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, 19 RBI, and 9 stolen bases.




Tier 5:
26. Benjamin Rodriguez, RHP (19, Rk) 1-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 13 K, 18.2 IP

27. Richard Gallardo, RHP (17, Rk) 0-1, 6.39 ERA, 1.816 WHIP, 8 K, 12.2 IP

28. Brendon Little, LHP (22, A) 0-1, 2.66 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, 22 K, 20.1 IP

29. Cory Abbott, RHP (23, AA) 5-6, 3.87 ERA, 1.290 WHIP, 104 K, 100 IP

30. Jose Albertos, RHP (20, A) 1-0, 5.02 ERA, 1.745 WHIP, 14 K, 14.1 IP

31. Jared Young, 1B/OF (24, AA) .245/.308/.332/.640, 4 HR, 39 RBI, 4 SB

32. Yohendrick Pinango, OF (17, DSL) .336/.420/.463/.883, 19 RBI, 15 SB

33. Reivaj Garcia, 2B (17, A-) .162/.205/.162/.367, 2 RBI, 1 SB (recently demoted to Rk)

34. Dakota Mekkes, RHP (24, AAA) 3-0, 4 SV, 3.71 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 39 K, 34 IP

35. Trent Giambrone, UT (25, AAA) .240/.312/.476/.788, 19 HR, 49 RBI, 13 SB

36. Rafael Morel, SS (17, DSL) .294/.370/.508/.878, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 11 SB

37. Flemin Bautista, 2B/3B (19, DSL) .311/.422/.566/.988, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 8 SB

38. Chris Clarke, RHP (20, A-) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, 3 K, 3 IP

39. Josh Burgmann, RHP (21, A-) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.333 WHIP, 3 K, 3 IP

40. Keegan Thompson, RHP (24, AA) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.200 WHIP, 8 K, 5 IP (injured)

41.  Luis Rodriguez, LHP (19, Rk) 2-1, 4.19 ERA, 1.449 WHIP, 12 K, 19.1 IP

42. Ezequiel Pagan, OF (19, Rk) .318/.416/.376/.792, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 11 SB

43. Jeremiah Estrada, RHP (20, A-) 0-1, 5.91 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 15 K, 10.2 IP

44. Nelson Maldonado, OF (22, A-) .367/.418/.567/.985, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 8 SB

45. Pedro Martinez, SS (18, Rk) .333/.400/.506/.906, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB

46. Darius Hill, OF (21, A-) .291/.328/.418/.746, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB

47. Yonathan Perlaza, 2B/3B (20, A) .295/.345/.429/.773, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 5 SB (recently promoted, 2 games at Low-A)

48. Duncan Robinson, RHP (25, AAA) 1-1, 4.76 ERA, 1.456 WHIP, 11 K, 22.2 IP (injured: TJS)

49. Grayson Byrd, 3B/1B/OF (23, A-) .292/.338/.417/.754, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB

50. Nestor Heredia, 3B/SS (18, DSL) .301/.363/.462/.825, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8 SB




About Tom Usiak 13 Articles
Born and raised on Chicago's Northwest side, Tom is entering his ninth year covering the Cubs minor league system, writing for prestigious sites such as Chicago Cubs Online, Locked On Cubs, and Cubs Den. Over that period, Tom has published interviews with top prospects such as Aramis Ademan, Miguel Amaya, Willson Contreras, Jeimer Candelario, Dylan Cease, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez, and Gleyber Torres. Known as "Tom U" across the internet, Tom also has a close working relationship with the front offices of all four of the Cubs' full season minor league teams. A frequent guest of the South Bend Cubs on WSBT radio, Tom has also written monthly articles for the South Bend Cubs' stadium program.

1 Comment

  1. What do you think about:
    Luis Verdugo (SS/AZL)
    Luke Reynolds (3B/A)
    Jeff Passantino (RHRP/HiA-AA)
    Grant Fennell (OF/HiA)
    Bryce Windham (2B/AZL)

    Like where they would potentially rank, do they have futures in the bigs etc.?

    Thanks

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  1. Pitching in the Spotlight for the Cubs | Prospects1500
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