At some point I'm going to have to re-rank my Cubs top prospects. Anthony Rizzo is obviously going to be high on the list while Ronald Torreyes, Dave Sappelt, and Zach Cates would probably crack the top 20 somewhere. The offseason isn't done so I'm holding off on that list for now but, until then, Jim Callis of Baseball America gives us a sneak peek at how much the Cubs farm system has risen overall in the past year.
After a trade for Matt Garza last season, the Cubs really gutted their system and had fallen to the lower half of baseball's organizational rankings. But according to Callis, the Cubs are on the rise again. In their preliminary rankings for the 2012 Prospect Handbook, the Cubs ranked 14th, presumably due to a strong 2011 draft, but Callis believes with the Cubs latest moves, it will move them up another spot or two.
Additionally, Callis ranks three Cubs in his top 50 prospects overall: Brett Jackson at 28, Javier Baez at 31, and Anthony Rizzo at 42.
It's a remarkable turnaround for a farm system that was headed in the wrong direction at this time last season after trading 4 prospects for Matt Garza. It's a testament to the hard work put in by Tim Wilken with the much needed financcial support of owner Tom Ricketts. The additional moves by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have moved the Cubs even further up the ladder -- and they're probably not done yet. The Cubs still have a few more moves left in them. A Garza trade would potentially bring in a couple of top 10 prospects, maybe as many as 3.
It isn't inconceivable that if Epstein is able to pull off a Garza trade to their liking, the Cubs will have one of the top 10 farm systems in baseball, a lofty status the Cubs haven't held since the early days of Andy McPhail and Jim Hendry.
Potential trades of Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, and Geovanny Soto could bring in even more prospects. Four of the first 76 picks should also add to the organizational strength and depth by this time next year, although some of it will go toward offsetting the probable graduation of players like Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.
All told, it wouldn't at all be surprising if the Cubs had a top 10 system by April. It'll be up to the Cubs front office to keep it that way for the long haul.