Can the Cubs Create a Self-Sustaining Farm System?

Can the Cubs Create a Self-Sustaining Farm System?
Can they do it again? Photo by Jerry Lai of USA TODAY Sports

We’ve all heard about the vast amount of talent in the Cubs’ farm system, but as the top prospects continue to develop and reach the majors, what happens to the rest of the system?  Ideally, it restocks itself.  Let’s take a look at the most recent champions, the Boston Red Sox, as an example. (Note that many of the players were acquired and developed during the Theo regime.)

The stars of that 2013 team include David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Outside of Ortiz, all of them were drafted and flourished under the keen eyes of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod.  With new coaches and a new plan in place, the Cubs are hoping to replicate that Red Sox organization.  Not only did Lester, Pedroia, and Ellsbury hold key roles in their World Series run, the Red Sox also had contributions from star minor-leaguers such as Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.  As both players begin to take starting roles and have their prospect status taken away, one would guess that Boston’s system would take a huge hit.

However, thanks to a great core set in place the Red Sox will be fortunate enough to have another batch of young prospects aid them in their quest for another World Series title.  Some names include Allen Webster, Henry Owens, and Matt Barnes.  After that, they’ll still have top 100 prospects such as Mookie Betts, Garin Cecchini, and Blake Swihart in the upper levels of the organization.  Even if current stars block some of these players from reaching the majors, they could still help the team through a trade.

For instance, with Stephen Drew and an up-and-coming star in Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox didn’t have a huge need for Jose Iglesias at shortstop.  Instead of having him ride the bench, they decided to trade Iglesias to fill a hole in the starting rotation, acquiring Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a 3-team deal.  Even if each prospect can’t contribute directly to the major league club, they may still be able to have a positive impact on the team.

A prime example of this situation for the Cubs is Dan Vogelbach.  Even though he slimmed down over the winter, scouts still question whether or not he can stick at first base.  With Anthony Rizzo having recently signed a 7-year contract, it’s doubtful that Vogelbach will appear for the Cubs.  If he continues to bash in the higher minors though, a trade to an AL team would be imminent.

With many of the same executives in place, the Cubs hope to be in a similar situation as the Red Sox in less than 5 years.  With another top draft pick, most likely a college arm, on the way, the Cubs are looking to improve on their recently successful track record of developing their first round picks. With the initial wave of prospects making their splash in the major leagues within the next three years, the Cubs believe that some of their recent IFA signings will burst onto the scene.  Still, the most important aspect of replenishing a system is a successful draft, and having executives in place who have excelled in this role can only lead to good results in the future for the Cubs farm system.

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Tags: Cubs, Prospects, Red Sox, System

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