The Cubs made a huge and inevitable deal this holiday weekend, sending Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A's for shortstop Addison Russell and a few other young pieces. Many of my Cubs Insider colleagues have chimed in with their thoughts and analysis on the deal so far; take a look here, here, here, and here if you need to catch up.
(I have a friend who just shipped off to the Navy a few weeks ago, and he's a huge A's fan. For that reason – as well as a desire to see good ol' Shark succeed, even if it is not with the Cubs – I will be heavily cheering on Oakland this postseason. Go A's.)
The current MLB-level Cubs leave something to be desired. Thus, many Chicago fans enjoy thinking of the future and fawning over Cubs prospects in the minors, whether by catching the I-Cubs or the Smokies on MiLB.tv, watching highlight reels of Bryant/Baez bombs on repeat, projecting unlikely batting lineups for 2016, or obsessing over annual top prospect lists from various publications.
Speaking of that last point: a few days after the blockbuster went down, Baseball Prospectus released their midseason Top 50 Prospects list. Five Cubs farmhands made the cut: Kris Bryant (3), Javier Baez (5), newcomer Addison Russell (6), Arismendy Alcantara (18), and Albert Almora (37). The team's 2014 first round pick, Kyle Schwarber, would've ranked in the mid-forties range if the list included newly-drafted players.
That's high praise for the impact talent in the Cubs system, especially at the very top of the list. According to BP, the Cubs have 3 of the top 6 minor leaguers in all of baseball. No other team has more than one in the top 10; in fact, the first repeat is the Twins at 12 with Alex Meyer.
What's the precedence here? When's the last time an organization has had a concentration like this of elite, highly-ranked talent (at least in the opinion of this one reputable source)?
I skimmed back through the BP archives, and never before has an organization had 3 of the top 6 guys. The pre-season Top 100 lists go back to 2007, and only once has a team had two in the top 6: Evan Longoria (3) and David Price (6) of the Rays back in 2008. (I'd say those players turned out pretty well for Tampa Bay, no?)
What about the Top 10? I picked six as an arbitrary cutoff before, obviously because that's where the Cubs players are grouped and a lower number sounds even more impressive. But let's expand it. Here are teams who had multiple players in the BP Top 10 in any given year since 2007:
- 2007 Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey (4), Jay Bruce (9)
- 2007 Cincinnati Reds: Jay Bruce (1), Homer Bailey (9)
- 2008 Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria (3), David Price (6)
- 2009 San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner (3), Buster Posey (9)
- 2011 Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson (9), Matt Moore (10)
- 2012 Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy (6), Manny Machado (8)
A pretty impressive list, save for perhaps Jeremy Hellickson. Plus, the jury's still out on Bundy/Machado. But even amongst that collection of names, no organization has had three appear.
One final exercise: it took the Cubs just six spots down the list to have their top three prospects represented. Which organization was the quickest to have three players named by Baseball Prospectus each year?
- 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 3 in top 11: Delmon Young (3), Evan Longoria (10), Reid Brignac (11)
- 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, 3 in top 15: Evan Longoria (3), David Price (6), Wade Davis (15)
- 2009 Baltimore Orioles, 3 in top 19: Matt Wieters (1), Chris Tillman (16), Brian Matusz (19)
- 2010 Texas Rangers, 3 in top 17: Neftali Ferez (3), Martin Perez (15), Justin Smoak (17)
- 2011 Kansas City Royals, 3 in top 12: Mike Moustakas (7), John Lamb (11), Eric Hosmer (12) ... Wil Myers also makes an appearance at #13
- 2012 St. Louis Cardinals, 3 in top 31: Shelby Miller (12), Oscar Taveras (23), Carlos Martinez (31)
- 2013 Chicago Cubs, 3 in top 36: Albert Almora (18), Javier Baez (20), Jorge Soler (36)
Impressing the likes of Jason Parks does not necessarily lead to big league wins. I realize that. But it's fun to watch the Cubs clog up BP's top prospects list at an unprecedented rate and dream about the future.
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Filed under: Minor League News