Chicago Cubs Top 30 Prospect Rankings for 2021 Part 4


by - Staff Writer -
Thompson is rated No. 15 on the list (Photo via Smokies)
Thompson is rated No. 15 on the list (Photo via Smokies)

Part four of the top prospect series is not only the midway point but the Yu Darvish portion of the list. Two of the prospects the Cubs received in that deal land in this area and are on the cusp of cracking the top 10. This part of the list is pretty clear-cut and dry, and surprisingly, most of the players on this list won't be ready for quite some time.

15. Keegan Thompson (RHP)

Sticking with the pitching theme, which is what most of the last installment highlighted is the 2017 third-round pick, Keegan Thompson. While this may not be a name some are familiar with, fans did see what he can bring to the table this spring, appearing in three Cactus League games and even making a start on Monday.

Unlike most of the pitchers in the system, Thompson will be with Iowa this season and has a shot to make the big-league roster at some point this season. Coming off an injury-riddled 2019 that saw him go 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA, Thompson has made 29 career minor league starts going 10-10 and posting a 3.46 ERA. However, his command has been exceptional, walking just 39 as opposed to 151 punchouts, and he has held hitters to just a 227 average.

Mostly a guy who sits in the 90-92 range with his heater, Thompson received a plasma injection in his elbow in 2019 and then reported to the Alternate site in 2020. There he was seen averaging 93 and touching 95. To go with an improved fastball with added sink, Thompson adds an 85 MPH slider, 83 MPH change his 78 MPH curve, which has continued to be his out pitch. That four-pitch mix alone has him set up to be a starter, even if it is a middle or back of the rotation arm.

14. Yohendrick Pinango (CF)

Perhaps the fastest rising prospect in the Cubs system is Yohendrick Pinango. A 2018 international Free agent, the left-handed-hitting center fielder, has done nothing but impress in his professional career and has all the makings of being a legitimate leadoff hitter for this team. Signed for just 400,000 out of Venezuela, Pinango not only impressed in his Dominican Rookie League rookie season but put on a show all summer long.

Not only did he lead the league in hits with 86, but his 358-batting average was good for fourth in the entire league. Add in 20 doubles and 27 steals, and you can see why he has leadoff hitter written all over him. While the power numbers were not there, hitting zero homers, he did drive in 36 runs and walked more than he struck out with 27 walks and 20 strikeouts. That plate discipline alone is impressive for such a young kid.

Not only is he one of the more advanced hitters in the system at his age, but he has one of the prettiest and smoothest left-handed swings out there. He controls the strike zone well and doesn't try to do too much, which leads to tons of hits. His speed makes him a threat to steal bases, and his high on-base percentage is exactly what you look for in a leadoff hitter.

13. Cole Roederer (CF)

A top 10 prospect in 2020, 2018 second-round pick Cole Roederer has fallen slightly, checking in at 13. Some of that may be from his performance in his first season as a pro, but a lot has to do with the quality of talent coming through the system right now. After posting a 275 average in the Arizona Rookie league in 2018, Roederer was part of the South Bend championship team in 2019, playing in 108 games.

Although his average was just 224, Roederer did lead the team in homers with nine and RBIs with 60, proving he can be clutch when needed. He also continued to show above-average speed, swiping 16 bases in 23 tries. A player who is drawing Andrew Bentinendi comparisons, look for him to be someone who can fit in the 280s while giving you 20 plus homers a season.

The more experience he gets, the better he will become, as his high baseball IQ is something the scouts love. Although he played for South Bend last season, look for him to start with Myrtle Beach this season, but by season's end, be back with South Bend or even Tennessee.

12. Owen Caissie (OF)

The lone outfielder acquired in the Darvish trade was Canadian-born Owen Caissie. Drafted in the second round of the 2020 MLB draft, Caissie has yet to make his pro debut but should this June as part of the Arizona Cubs. Although teams didn't have a lot of time to scout him last season, he did impress facing minor league last spring as part of the Canadian National Team.

At 6-4, Caissie is not only big but someone who will get bigger and is built to hit for natural power. Even though he has a natural swing from the left side, it sometimes gets long and uphill, leading to some concerns about making consistent contact. Once he can shore that up consistently, the Cubs are looking at having a Joc Pederson or Kyle Schwarber type hitter built for power on the North Side.

11. Reginald Preciado (SS)

The pride and joy of the Darvish trade was that of 2019 International free agent Preciado. The 17-year-old shortstop not only has the athleticism to move to other positions, but his overall potential as a player has him ranked just outside the top 10 without playing a single game. Preciado is still very young and needs time to develop, but he should be making his debut with the Dominican League Cubs this summer.

Not only is he a switch hitter, but many feel he can develop into a power hitter from both sides even though the left side is more natural. At 6-4, his swing is surprisingly compact, and his above-average bat speed is a significant plus. He is built similar to Corey Seager of LA, and if the numbers are similar, the Cubs are getting a gem.

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