MLB Power Rankings: Cubs rising to the top of the NL


MLB Power Rankings: Cubs rising to the top of the NL

The Cubs are rising to the top of the National League, as they enter play Tuesday with the third-best record in the National League and a season-high eight games over .500. The only two teams above the Cubs are fellow division rivals St. Louis and Pittsburgh. But the Cubs face a true test this week with a four-game set against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field and a three-game series in St. Louis. Though, Kris Bryant and Co. are off to a good start, taking down Clayton Kershaw Monday night.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay tuned for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

I think the whole baseball world is curious to see what their punishment will be for the hacking scandal. This may ruin the Cardinals' reputation for a generation.

2   3

Lost in their All-Star voting chaos is they’ve consistently been the American League’s best team for nearly the entire season so far. 

3 9

Impressive job by this young team to respond very well after slipping a bit earlier this month. 

4   6

So many people have been talking about Gerrit Cole (1.78 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (2.05 ERA), but Francisco Liriano (3.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.7 K/9) is having a heck of a season.

5 2

Who would've thought Andre Ethier would be this season's savior?

6 7

No Maddon, no Friedman, no Zobrist, no problem, apparently. And Matt Moore is nearing a return from Tommy John. 

7 8

If the sky Monday night was any indication, Hell is freezing over and the Cubs are a legit contender.

8 11

They've won just four of their last 11...and that includes a three-game winning streak in there.

9 6

Alex Rodriguez isn’t just pulling baseball’s greatest troll job, he’s also a big reason (.282/.384/.524, 14 HR) why the Yankees are right in the thick of the AL East race.

10 5

Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Jose Bautista have been worth nearly 10 combined WAR. That’ll work. 

11   16

Lost in A-Rod’s 3,000th hit and Toronto’s home run barrage are these guys, who are playing as good of baseball as anyone in the month of June. 

12 13

Yeah, we all know Bryce Harper is amazing. But what about Yunel Escobar? He's hitting .331 with an .801 OPS.

13 10

Six games over .500 but only a +8 run differential. Hmmm. 

14 14

Not exactly a good sign to lose a series to the White Sox after handing them their eighth straight defeat on Friday. 

15 17

Jered Weaver’s fastball is approaching Mark Buehrle levels and he just hit the disabled list.

16 12

J.D. and Victor Martinez combined for four home runs on Sunday, though Victor hitting one was just as big an accomplishment as J.D. hitting three. 

17 15

Will they even be in contention by the time David Wright returns from his mysterious back injury?

18 18

Addison Reed sent down the minors? Yikess.

19 21

With Freddie Freeman's health is question, the Braves are done for.

20   22

This Pete Rose news is not good, but the silver lining is: Nobody's talking about how much the Reds suck right now.

21 19

This may be the most disappointing season in Padres history.

22 20 The only thing that would’ve made their 17-0 loss to the Cubs last week more fitting were if it came on Browns appreciation night. 
23 24

Mark Trumbo hit his first home run with Seattle over the weekend, which is good! Except he’s still hitting below the Mendoza Line. 

24 27

Plus-35 run differential aided by a 14-run win over San Diego last week. 

25 28

Can we agree to not call this Pablo Sandoval business Instagate? How about Insta-groan?

26 23

Of course, right when Carlos Gonzalez looks like the CarGo of old, he gets hurt.

27 26

Really curious to see how they handle Jose Fernandez when he returns during the midst of a lost season in South Beach.

28 25

Finally started to right the ship with a series win over Texas, but offense continues to slip and hasn’t shown many signs of pulling out of tailspin. 

29 29

Rotation is last in the majors with 5.08 ERA. Yes, even behind the Rockies and Red Sox.

30 30

Maybe they want to draft the first female player and then put her immediately in the big leagues? She can't be worse than half this roster and it would prove the Phils are, in fact, going younger.'s Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

USA TODAY's Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

Could 2018 be the year that the Cubs finally see a top pitching prospect debut with the team? 

Thursday, released its list of the Cubs' 2018 Top 30 Prospects, a group that includes six pitchers in the Top 10. The list ranks right-hander Adbert Alzolay as the Cubs' No 1. prospect, projecting him to debut with the team this season. 

Alzolay, 22, went 7-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 22 starts between Single-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee last season. He also struck out 108 batters in 114 1/3 innings, using a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out around 98 MPH (according to

Following Alzolay as the Cubs' No. 2 overall prospect is 19-year-old shortstop Aramis Ademan. Ademan hit .267 in just 68 games between Single-A Eugene and Single-A South Bend, though it should be noted that he has soared from No. 11 in's 2017 ranks to his current No. 2 ranking. He is not projected to make his MLB debut until 2020, however.

Following Alzolay and Ademan on the list are five consecutive pitchers ranked 3-7, respectively. Oscar De La Cruz, No. 3 on the list, slides down from his 2017 ranking in which listed him as the Cubs' top overall prospect. De La Cruz, 22, finished 2017 with a 3.34 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) between the Arizona League and Single-A Myrtle Beach.

De La Cruz is projected to make his MLB debut in 2019, while Jose Albertos (No. 4), Alex Lange (No. 5), Brendon Little (No. 6) and Thomas Hatch (No. 7) are projected to make their big league debuts in 2019 or 2020. All are right-handed (with the exception of Little) and starting pitchers.

Hatch (third round, 2016) and Lange (30th overall, 2017) and Little (27th overall, 2017) were all top draft picks by the Cubs in recent seasons.

Having numerous starting pitchers on the cusp of the big leagues represents a significant change of pace for the Cubs. 

Since Theo Epstein took over as team president in Oct. 2011, a plethora of top prospects have debuted and enjoyed success with the Cubs. Majority have been position players, though.

The likes of Albert Almora, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell all contributed to the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Similarly, Ian Happ enjoyed a fair amount of success after making his MLB debut last season, hitting 24 home runs in just 115 games.

Ultimately, Alzolay would be the Cubs' first true top pitching prospect to make it to the big leagues in the Theo Epstein era. While him making it to the big leagues in 2018 is no guarantee, one would think a need for pitching will arise for the Cubs at some point, whether it be due to injury or simply for September roster expansion.

The Cubs have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years in terms of their top prospects succeeding in the MLB. If the trend continues, Alzolay should be a force to reckon with on the North Side for years to come.

Even with an entire spring schedule to go, guessing the Cubs' 25-man roster is pretty easy


Even with an entire spring schedule to go, guessing the Cubs' 25-man roster is pretty easy

MESA, Ariz. — The frequent mission of spring training is to iron out a 25-man roster.

But at Cubs camp, that mission seems to already be completed.

With an entire Cactus League schedule still to play, the Cubs’ 25-man group that will leave Arizona for the season-opener in Miami seems pretty well set.

The starting rotation: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

The position-player group: Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Tommy La Stella, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.

The bullpen: Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Brian Duensing, Justin Wilson and Justin Grimm.

Boom. There’s your 25.

Joe Maddon, do you agree?

“You guys and ladies could probably write down what you’re seeing and be pretty accurate,” Maddon said Thursday. “I can’t deny that, it’s true. Oftentimes, when you’re a pretty good ball club, that is the case. When you’re not so good, you always get auditions during spring training.

“I think what the boys have done is they’ve built up a nice cache in case things were to happen. The depth is outstanding. So you could probably narrow it down, who you think’s going to be the 25, and I won’t argue that.”

It’s the latest example in a camp that to this point has been full of them that the Cubs are one of baseball’s best teams and that only a World Series championship will fulfill expectations. Had the front office stuck with a starting rotation of Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, Chatwood and Montgomery, then there would’ve been a spot open in the bullpen. But the statement-making signing of Darvish jolted the Cubs into “best rotation in the game” status, sent Montgomery back to the bullpen and further locked the roster into place.

Guys like Grimm and La Stella have been forced off the 25-man roster at points in recent seasons, though even their spots seem safe. Maddon even said that a huge spring from someone else wouldn’t mean as much at what guys have done at the major league level in recent memory.

“Spring training performance, for me, it’s not very defining,” Maddon said. “You’re going to be playing against a lot of guys that aren’t going to be here, more Triple-A guys, even some Double-A guys. Some guys come in better shape, they normally look better early. The vibe’s different. You play a couple innings, you don’t get many at-bats, the pitcher doesn’t see hitters three times and vice versa. So I don’t worry about that as much.

“It’s more about, guys that might be fighting for a moment, what do they look like, does it look right, does it look good, how do they fit in? Is there somebody there that you scouted? Because what matters a lot is last year and what you did last year and the last couple months of last year.

“So of course guys that have been here probably have a bit of an upper hand, but we’re very open-minded about stuff. And I think when you look at the guys, you’re right, it’s probably pretty close to being set. But stuff happens.”

Could the recently signed Shae Simmons give Grimm an unexpected challenge for the final relief spot? Maddon said guys who have been with the Cubs in the recent past have a leg up. Could Chris Gimenez turn his experience with Darvish into a win over Caratini for the backup catcher spot? Maddon threw cold water on the "personal catcher" narrative last week.

Of course, Maddon left the door open the possibility of an injury that could open up a roster spot and even shake up the depth chart. But barring the unforeseen, this 25-man group looks locked into place.

That gives the Cubs an edge, perhaps, in that they can specifically find ways to tune up those guys rather than focus on getting enough at-bats for players who are fighting for roster spots. But most of that edge came during the winter, and in winters and summers past, when the front office built this team into a championship contender.

There have been plenty of years when the fans coming to Mesa to watch the Cubs play in spring training saw the blossoming of a big league player thanks to a monster spring or a surprise tear during March. That’s going to be unlikely this spring, a reflection of just how far this team has come.

“It’s easy for me to reflect on this because when I started out with the Rays, wow,” Maddon said. “That was a casting call trying to figure it out. You had very few settled positions when you walked in the door. And then as we got better, it became what we’re talking about. As we moved further along, you were pretty much set by the time (you got to spring training) except for one or two spots.

“So I think the better teams are like that.”

The Cubs are most definitely one of those better teams.