The Cubs keep calling up kids from the minor leagues, but the farm system still has plenty of talent.
Even with Willson Contreras, Albert Almora and Jeimer Candelario all earning promotions to Chicago over the last month, the Cubs still had three guys — Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Ian Happ — included in the Top 50 of both the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus rankings.
What's also amazing is the Cubs' best minor-league hitter wasn't even ranked.
Dan Vogelbach is absolutely lighting up Triple-A pitching, yet still finds his name nowhere among top prospect rankings.
The 23-year-old first baseman currently boasts a .973 OPS thanks to a .312 average, .426 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage. He has 15 homers, 60 RBI, 51 runs and 55 walks compared to only 65 strikeouts in 84 games.
Vogelbach's bat looks to be near big-league ready, but he's blocked by Anthony Rizzo in Chicago so the 2011 second-round pick figures to be a prime trade candidate as the Cubs creep toward the deadline.
No doubt teams looking to make a deal with the Cubs this month will be inquiring about the following trio, as well:
Gleyber Torres, SS
Torres is only 19 and has moved up from the No. 41 preseason prospect by both outlets. He collected four hits — including a homer — Thursday to bump his season line to .268/.350/.424 with Advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach.
Baseball Prospectus's rationale for his ranking makes Torres sound like a can't miss prospect:
Why He'll Succeed: There’s no real weakness to Torres’ game. Everything but the power flashes above-average to plus, and his instincts both at the plate and in the field are impressive for any age, much less a 19-year-old.
Why He Might Fail: If he doesn’t stick at shortstop, he doesn’t have the offensive skill set to be a first-division regular. That’s all I got.
Eloy Jimenez, OF
Jimenez is also 19 and was not included on the game's top prospect lists in the preseason. But he's turning heads now for Class-A South Bend, hitting .337 wiht a .909 OPS on the season, including 10 homers and a whopping 29 doubles in 79 games.
Here's BP's rationale:
Why He'll Succeed: One of the two or three best young hitters in the minors, Jimenez has the size, bat speed, and hitting ability to develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter. If his approach matures, 30-homer seasons with a .300 average and a good OBP aren’t out of the question.
Why He Might Fail: His aggressive approach could get exploited as his moves up the organizational ladder and down the defensive spectrum, making the bat less palatable, though still playable.
Ian Happ, 2B/OF
Happ, 21, was the Cubs' first pick (ninth overall) last summer and instantly found himself among the Top 100 prospects in the preseason, topping out at No. 67 on BP's list.
He's bounced around between second base and outfield, but has hit everywhere he's gone, including a .452 average and 1.180 OPS in 12 games since being promoted to Double-A Tennessee this season.
Here's BP's rationale for his ranking:
Why He’ll Succeed: When he finds a long-term defensive home he'll be a solid, well-rounded regular with quality makeup and clubhouse contributions. Does a little bit of everything offensively, hitting for average, some power, and putting up double-digit stolen base totals.
Why He Might Fail: His longer swing and high strikeout totals could get exposed against big-league competition, and the unusual tool set might never quite fit an everyday profile, in which case Happ would ultimately have more of a utility future.