In the first entry of this series I gave an overview of the entire system along with a scouting report on my top prospect, Jose Albertos. I moved on to the next tier of prospects earlier this month, covering five potential middle of the rotation starters and three teenage position players with the raw tools necessary to thrive in the big leagues if they can refine their games in the coming years.
As you can see in the rankings summary below the number of players in this tier swells dramatically. In order to keep the information to a manageable level for both me as the writer and you as the reader I have chosen to break this group into two installments. I will highlight the position players today, then cover the pitching prospects next week.
Once we reach the Tier 4 group comprised of players with limited ceilings I will scale back the detail within the reports and cover all of the players in one posting. In early February I will also provide a rundown on the recent IFA signings and draft picks to keep an eye on in the lower levels, as well as some fringe prospects that could surprise.
You have surely seen the Cubs fall to the bottom third of organizational rankings in national publications this offseason. Numerous Top 100 lists have come out without including a single Cubs prospect. I agree with these rankings by and large, although I could certainly make compelling arguments for the inclusion of Albertos and Adbert Alzolay on a Top 100, but these type of lists and rankings due not properly shine a light on the strength of the Cubs system: its depth.
Today we begin examining both the low-ceiling/high-floor players along with the contingent of athletic boom/bust prospects present throughout the organization. We've discussed the idea of the Cubs addressing the development of pitching through sheer volume many times, but this philosophy extends to position players as well. The Cubs collect as many middle of the diamond athletes as they can. Some will stick there, while others will outgrow those positions and move to the corners. This focus provides a greater safety net because if you draft a corner guy who outgrows his position or takes a step back physically he can't fall back on any other position.
Collect enough maybes, especially the hard working, good character types the Cubs value, and sooner or later a few of those players will percolate to the Major League roster and contribute. We are already seeing contributions from this group, as Victor Caratini made his MLB debut in 2017, and is penciled in as the backup to Willson Contreras heading into spring training. Mark Zagunis and David Bote are both members of the 40 man roster and will be just a phone call away in Iowa. These three are offense-first players, but below them in the system comes a number of prospects, especially outfielders, with the physical tools to not only impact the game on offense, but defense as well.
For those clamoring for more speed in the Cubs lineup, here is a taste of what D.J. Wilson and Kevonte Mitchell could bring in the future. I'm clocking both guys just over 11 seconds home-to-third. This is extremely impressive for a player of Mitchell's size, especially coming from the right handed batters box, and reminiscent of Kris Bryant running the bases. For reference, the top 2016 time in MLB was Billy Hamilton registering a 10.45, while the league average was 12.01.
And just for fun, here is Zack Short going home-to-home in about 15.5 seconds: