The Cubs’ offseason haul of manager Joe Maddon, ace Jon Lester and other pieces have given Chicago fans plenty of reason to be excited.
Here’s another: The Cubs have the top-ranked farm system in baseball, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.
This isn’t really surprising news. The Cubs have had the best farm system in baseball for awhile, particularly because of the strength of the bats they’ve drafted.
[The Cubs] have someone coming at just about every position other than catcher and first base, and most of them fare well both in traditional evaluation and in analysis of their performance to date. The Cubs’ draft strategy under the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime has been to grab a polished hitter in the first round and load up on arms later. That, along with the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel that netted two more top hitting prospects, has produced a system that’s full of hitting prospects but still a bit light on the pitching side. The first wave of bats reached the majors in the middle of 2014, with more coming this year, but there won’t be enough at-bats for Javier Baez and Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara and Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber and Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo … and that’s not even everyone who might end up pushing for playing time. The Cubs are in prime position to flip a young hitter for a pitcher or even to swing a bigger deal, especially if they want to try to set themselves up to win the NL Central in 2016. There are young starting pitching prospects here to like, led by 20-year-old Duane Underwood, but they’re all a few years away.
Behind the Cubs were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Red Sox, rounding out the top five.
The White Sox ranked 12th, which is the best evaluation they’ve had in nearly a decade of Law’s rankings.
They’ve added four players within the top-120 range of prospects in the past 24 months, via the draft and one trade, and they didn’t give up any of those premium guys to add Jeff Samardzija this offseason. Although the system still isn’t deep in average prospects, it is in the best shape it has been since I started ranking organizations seven years ago.
Read Law’s full farm system rankings here.