Youth Movement: Cubs land seven on MLB's Top 100 Prospects
Isaiah Downing - USA Today Sports

Youth Movement: Cubs land seven on MLB's Top 100 Prospects

by - Senior Writer -

At this point of the Cubs free agency, all the talk continues to be centered around Cody Bellinger. It seems as if things are close, but for whatever reason, neither the Cubs, Scott Boras, or Bellinger himself have reached an agreement on a new contract as he remains a free agency heading into spring.

Speaking of spring, pitchers and catchers are set to report in less than a week, with the first spring games to begin shortly after. That means Cubs baseball will officially be back and will once again consume the fans for roughly the next eight or nine months. While the spring rosters will look completely different than the regular season rosters, one thing that fans love about spring is being able to watch some of the top prospects get some run with the MLB players.

While most of these prospects will eventually find their way back to the minors, there is a chance the Cubs have a few prospects making the opening day club, and the Cubs are not short on prospects right now. In fact, MLB just put out their recent top-100 prospect list, and it's the Cubs who lead the back with seven players inside the top 100. That alone has landed them as the No. 2 farm system in baseball, only behind the Baltimore Orioles, as the future looks bright for this organization.

Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 16): As expected, the Cubs top-100 prospects start and stop with Pete Crow-Armstrong as he remains the best prospect in the system. Widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best defensive OF in Minor League Baseball, PCA made his MLB debut last season, but was limited to less than 15 games and didn't record a hit.

Last season, between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa, Crow-Armstrong hit .283/.365/.511 with 20 homers, 26 doubles, seven triples, 82 RBIs, 98 runs scored, and 37 stolen bases. He will get plenty of time to showcase his skills this spring, as the Bellinger questions could determine whether he makes the team out of spring.

Cade Horton (No. 26): One of baseball's fastest-rising pitching prospects is right-hander Cade Horton, who checks in at No. 26 in the top 100. He is also the No. 2 prospect among right-handed pitchers, as all eyes will be on him this season. Horton, 22, flew up three Minors levels last season, ending with a 2.65 ERA and 117 strikeouts against 27 walks in 88 1/3 innings. The righty had a 1.22 ERA in eight Double-A starts (including a pair of postseason outings).

Anytime you put up those types of numbers in your first professional season, you will earn the attention of scouts everywhere, which has been the case. Expected to start the year in AA or AAA, but should Horton put up three great months to start the season, he will force his way onto the team this season.

Owen Caissie (No. 47): Depending on who you ask, Owen Caissie may be the best prospect in the system as he checks in at No. 47 overall. However, no one will deny that Caissie is the most polished hitter right now and has the potential to be one of the best hitters to ever come out of the Cubs system.

Widely viewed as one of the top power prospects in the game, Caissie hit .289/.399/.519 with 22 homers, 31 doubles, 76 walks, and 84 RBIs in 120 games at Double-A in 2023. Given the Cubs current situation in the OF with most of their players locked up for several years, the fastest route for Caissie to get to Wrigley could be as a DH, which may not be bad.

Michael Busch (No.51): If there is going to be a prospect to make this team out of camp, Michael Busch will most likely be the one as he checks in at No. 51. Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Jackson Ferris deal, Busch is expected to be the Cubs opening day 1B which would be huge for this team.

Last year in the Dodgers’ system, Busch hit .323/.431/.618 with 27 homers, 26 doubles, 90 RBIs, and 88 strikeouts against 65 walks in 469 plate appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma. This guy has been knocking on the door for the past year, but will finally have his opportunity to showcase himself.

Matt Shaw (No. 54): Another one of the fastest-rising prospects in the game is Matt Shaw, who has reached the top 60 after just two months of professional ball. This guy could be fast-tracked to Wrigley, especially when you look at how he hit the ball last season. The 2023 first-round pick soared through the system as he reached AA by season's end.

Shaw hit .357 with 21 extra-base hits, 27 runs, 28 RBIs, and 15 steals in 38 games and will now have the daunting task of building off that performance. Primarily a second baseman, one thing to note about Shaw is that he has been taking most of his offseason reps at 3B, as the Cubs are clearly doing what they need to do to get him to the Northside.

Kevin Alcantara (No. 65): Given his injuries last season, some have forgotten about Kevin Alcantara, but this guy is still a top-five prospect within the organization. From a toolsy side of things, Alcantara might have the most polarizing tools in the entire system, and if he can put it all together, he will be special.

The 21-year-old Alcántara played 95 of his 102 games with High-A South Bend last year, ending his season with a .284/.345/.466 slash line overall. The 6-foot-6 outfielder has five-tool potential, but he could wind up moving to an outfield corner, given Crow-Armstrong’s presence in center. He is on the 40-man roster, but don't expect him to reach the majors until possibly 2026.

James Triantos (No. 73): One of the players who came out of nowhere to reach the top 100 list is INF James Triantos, who lands at 73. The 2021 second-round pick out of high school, Triantos is still coming into his own as a player, but after an impressive Arizona Fall League showing, he is starting to generate much more chatter.

Triantos showed off some of the best bat-to-ball skills of the Minors last year, posting a Cubs system-leading 10.7% strikeout rate. The 21-year-old infielder hit .287/.364/.391 in 83 games between High-A and Double-A. He then became Arizona Fall League’s Offensive Player of the Year after hitting .417 (1.174 OPS) in 22 games. The question is now whether or not he will remain at second base or if he is a trade chip down the road.

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