Cubs That Just Missed: Names to Know Outside the Top 50

Parker Chavers, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, August 2022. Photo credit Stephanie Lynn, @SRL590 on Twitter.

Putting together the 2023 Cubs Top 50 prospects was a team effort this year, and as a result there was some debate among team members about who should be included in the last two tiers. Our Tier 5 was 14 names deep, and we likely could have pushed that upwards of 20. It’s a fun problem! The Cubs system has a number of intriguing prospects that could easily vault into Tiers 4 or 5 by the time our next rankings are produced this summer. Toolsy outfielders like Parker Chavers or Ezequiel Pagan; projectable infielder Luis Verdugo; high-K relief prospects like Danis Correa or Sheldon Reed.

Let’s take a quick look at 5 other exciting players I’m hopeful can make that leap.

Adan Sanchez, C/3B, 17 – Last Level: Rookie (DSL)

Sanchez was a member of the Cubs’ 2022 international class, signing for $1.5 million out of Panama. That was the highest bonus of the Cubs’ class.

He participated in the Dominican Summer League last year after just turning 17, typically hitting 3rd or 4th for the Cubs Red squad. Across 47 games and 164 plate appearances, Sanchez posted a .328/.451/.389 line. Among qualified hitters 17 or younger, those AVG and OBP numbers were top 10 in the league.

He showed excellent strike zone awareness but was limited in terms of extra base production, as 37 of his 43 hits were singles, and he didn’t manage to connect on a single HR. He’s so young, and he’s a good athlete with a history of hard contact in international competition, so there’s certainly no reason for concern at this point. If he develops as expected, and we start seeing him hit for more damage next year on the complex, he’ll likely jump into the top 50.

B.J. Murray, 1B/3B, 23 – Last Level: High-A

Murray is a stout, switch-hitting corner infielder that the Cubs nabbed in the 15th round of the 2021 draft out of Florida Atlantic. The Bahamian native will be participating with Great Britain in this year’s World Baseball Classic, so make sure to catch those games!

Murray’s first full season was very productive, splitting the year between both A-ball levels, and compiling a .286/.410/.429 line with 8 HRs and 19 doubles. He showed a keen eye at the plate, carrying a 16% walk rate at both levels. That was the highest BB% among all Cubs minor leaguers with at least 200 PAs.

He does a good job putting the bat on the ball, with just a 10% swinging strike rate, so between the plate discipline and contact skills, there is a lot to be excited about. He pulls the ball at a high rate (52%), but he only managed a 32.5% flyball rate. That will be something to watch early this season. If Murray is lifting the ball more frequently, there’s a good chance he’ll improve on that fairly pedestrian .429 SLG%, and if that happens, he’s in the top 50.

Here’s a BP session from his time in the Arizona Fall League last year:

Michael Arias, RHP, 21 – Last Level: Single-A

Arias is a converted SS who the Cubs moved to the mound after he signed with the organization in 2021. He threw just 17 innings last year between the complex and low A Myrtle Beach, and the surface stats are not pretty. Seriously, avert thine eyes from his BB rates.

He’s on this list because it’s electric stuff and premium velo. He has the kind of arm where an improvement to even just 35 control would make him a legitimate prospect. He should start the year in the Myrtle Beach rotation, and we’ll be monitoring for those command/control gains.

Jake Reindl, RHP, 26 – Last Level: High-A

Reindl is a reliever all the way, and he was old for the levels he played last year, but he has one of the best breaking balls in the system in a devastating slider that pairs well with his fastball out of a near-sidearm slot.

The man has 80-grade flow, and you gotta love the intensity.

Injuries limited him to only 16 innings last year, but he was dominant in those innings, striking out 27 batters and walking 9. It’s obviously a small sample size, but his 39.1% strikeout rate was second best across all Cubs affiliates behind only Jeremiah Estrada.

If he can stay healthy and continue to show this kind of swing-and-miss stuff, Reindl could move quickly through the system and be in consideration for a spot in the Cubs bullpen in short order, which would put him in Tier 3-4 territory.

Christian Franklin, OF, 23 – Last Level: Single-A

We haven’t seen Franklin in game action since 2021 due to a torn patellar tendon. In a brief debut at Myrtle Beach, Franklin showed a bit more swing-and-miss than you’d like from someone who faced high level pitching in the SEC. That was part of his profile, though, as he struck out 28.5% of the time his final season at Arkansas.

Assuming a return to full health, there is still an intriguing skillset to dream on, as Franklin showed a dynamic blend of power, speed, and defensive ability in CF. We just need to see him on the field, and when we do, the strikeouts will bear monitoring.

Daniel is a longtime baseball fanatic, born and raised in North Carolina on a sports diet of Tar Heels basketball and Braves baseball. He has lived in the Austin area since 2006 and now resides just a few miles from the Dell Diamond where the Texas Rangers AAA affiliate Round Rock Express play their home games. He has been playing fantasy baseball for more than 20 years, and over the past 5 years has developed a potentially unhealthy relationship with dynasty baseball. His deepest league is a mostly offline 20 team contracts league with 130-man rosters, and he enters 2023 looking to defend his first league title.

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