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MLB Pipeline releases Cubs' Top 30 Prospects list

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USA TODAY

MLB Pipeline releases Cubs' Top 30 Prospects list

Each year, MLB Pipeline rolls out its top prospect lists, featuring an overall Top 100 and a Top 30 by team. The Cubs' Top 30 list was released Thursday; 18 of the players were drafted, while 12 were international signings.

The group features 17 pitchers and 13 position players ranging in age from 17 to 25 and in height from 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-7. Most of these players aren’t household names (at least yet), so let’s take the time to learn some things about them.  

1. Miguel Amaya, catcher

Amaya, ranked as the Cubs’ top prospect by MLB Pipeline, has also made the cut on a few overall top 100 prospect lists:

No. 94 on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects.

No. 91 on Keith Law’s (ESPN) list of top 100 prospects

No. 89 on John Sickels’ (The Athletic) list of top 100 prospects

No. 73 on Fangraphs' list of Top 100 prospects

Amaya just missed the cut on the Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus' lists. He’s MLB Pipeline’s seventh ranked catching prospect and he’s the youngest receiver of the catching top 10 (he turns 20 on March 9).

2. Nico Hoerner, shortstop

The Stanford product is No. 100 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects. Since Pipeline went from a Top 50 to a Top 100 list in 2012, here are the preseason No.100 ranked prospects by year:

2012 - Addison Reed: right-handed pitcher, White Sox

2013 - Gary Brown: outfielder, Giants

2014 - Pierce Johnson: right-handed pitcher, Cubs

2015 - Steven Moya: outfielder, Tigers

2016 - Matt Olson: first baseman, Athletics

2017 - Matt Chapman: third baseman/shortstop, Athletics

2018 - Riley Pint: right-handed pitcher, Rockies

2019 - Nico Hoerner: shortstop, Cubs

3. Brailyn Marquez, left-handed pitcher

As Marquez is the Cubs’ top ranked pitching prospect, here are the preseason Cubs’ top ranked pitching prospects (via MLB Pipeline) since 2011:

2011 - Chris Carpenter, right-handed pitcher

2012 - Arodys Vizcaino, right-handed pitcher

2013 - Arodys Vizcaino, right-handed pitcher

2014 - Carl Edwards Jr., right-handed pitcher

2015 - Carl Edwards Jr., right-handed pitcher

2016 - Dylan Cease, right-handed pitcher

2017 - Oscar De La Cruz, right-handed pitcher

2018 - Adbert Alzolay, right-handed pitcher

2019 - Brailyn Marquez, left-handed pitcher

All righties until you get to Marquez.

4. Adbert Alzolay, right-handed pitcher

Alzolay's signing bonus out of Venezuela was only $10,000, less than the $2 million given to another prospect with the same initials – Aramis Ademan – whose name appears a few spots below. By the way, the only pitcher in Cubs history with initials AA is Antonio Alfonseca. Alzolay will likely be the second (and possibly the first to start a game). Our Tony Andracki has you covered on Alzolay here:

5. Cole Roederer, outfielder

Roederer is one of three Cubs drafted in the second round of the 2018 Draft: Brennen Davis (62nd overall), Roederer (77th overall) and Paul Richan (78th overall). Roederer and Richan, selected with back-to-back draft picks, attended the same high school (Hart High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.). In 36 games in the Arizona League in 2018, Roederer had four doubles, four triples and five home runs.

6. Aramis Ademan, shortstop

MLB career home run leaders with first name Aramis: 

386 - Aramis Ramírez
4 - Aramis García

7. Brennen Davis, outfielder

Named Premier Region Defensive Player of the Year playing basketball for Basha High School in Chandler, Ariz. in 2017. Rated a 65-grade runner on the 20-80 scouting scale (according to MLB Pipeline).

8. Justin Steele, left-handed pitcher

Impressive 53 K/13 BB ratio in 2018 in his return to the mound after Tommy John surgery. Was drafted three spots before Rhys Hoskins in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft.

9. Cory Abbott, right-handed pitcher

On March 25, 2017, Abbott tossed the first perfect game in Loyola Marymount history, with 13 strikeouts and 106 pitches vs BYU.

10. Keegan Thompson, right-handed pitcher

Thompson is one of two right-handed pitchers named Thompson on this list (keep reading). And both have had Tommy John Surgery.

11. Zack Short, shortstop

Short finished second in the Southern League with 82 walks in 2018, behind another Zack (Collins, who had 101). Of the four people in MLB history with the last name Short, their average height is 6-foot.  Zack is 5-foot-10.

12. Alex Lange, right-handed pitcher

Lange finished his career at LSU with 406 strikeouts, three behind all-time leader Scott Schultz. Pitched in the College World Series twice.

13. Brendon Little, left-handed pitcher 

Little struck out 133 in 85 innings (14.0 K/9IP) in 2017 for the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. He is the Cubs’ highest-drafted pitcher under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer (27th overall in 2017).

14. Richard Gallardo, right-handed pitcher

A Venezuelan-born right-hander, Gallardo is the youngest player on this list (born Sept. 6, 2001).

15. Nelson Velazquez, outfielder

According to MLB Pipeline, “Velazquez has the most raw power in Chicago’s system.” The Puerto Rico native finished season with Eugene (Low-A) on a nine-game hitting streak, hitting .395/.452/.816 with four home runs and seven RBIs (two HR in his season finale) over that span.

16. Yovanny Cruz, right-handed pitcher

The 6-foot-1 righty finished 2018 with a 0.75 ERA with 33 strikeouts and six walks in 24 innings over his last five starts – four in the Arizona League and one at Eugene. That low-A debut – where he had five scoreless innings with four hits, no walks and five strikeouts was on Aug. 26, three days after his 19th birthday.

17. Thomas Hatch, right-handed pitcher

Hatch was the 2016 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year for Oklahoma State. He tossed three consecutive shutouts that year (April 22 vs TCU, April 30 at Texas, May 6 vs Prairie View A&M).

18. Paul Richan, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

The last three players the Cubs drafted out of the University of San Diego are Richan (second round 2018), right-handed pitcher Sean Barry (21st round 2017) and Kris Bryant (second overall 2013). Had 31 strikeouts and just five walks in his first taste of pro ball with Eugene this past season. Richan attended Hart High School in Santa Clarita, Calif, same as Mike Montgomery and No. 5 prospect Cole Roederer (Trevor Bauer and James Shields, too).

19. Tyson Miller, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

The 6-foot-5 righty (he’s one of 14 right-handed pitchers in this Top 30 list) is the highest ever draft pick out of California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif. The Cubs drafted Miller in the fourth round in 2016. He led the Carolina League with 126 strikeouts for Myrtle Beach in 2018.

20. Trent Giambrone, second base/shortstop

The oldest player on this list – he turned 25 on Dec. 20. Had a nine-RBI game (with three home runs, a double and hit-by-pitch) for Double-A Tennessee on July 5, 2018 at Jackson.

21. Reivaj Garcia, second base

If Garcia formed a double play combo with Javier Báez, that would be interesting since Reivaj is Javier backwards. It won’t be anytime soon; according to MLB Pipeline, Garcia was the youngest position player to appear in the minors in 2018. The day he was born (Aug. 12, 2001), the Cubs held Barry Bonds homerless (he had 50 at the time) as he was on his way to a record 73 that season. ​​​​​​​

22. Oscar De La Cruz, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

De La Cruz fell from No. 1 in the Pipeline Cubs Top 30 in 2017 to No. 10 in 2018 to No. 22 in 2019. Injuries and command issues contributed to his slide down the list.

23. Jose Albertos, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

Albertos was No. 2 in the Cubs 2017 Top 30. What happened? A 14.84 ERA with 65 walks and 36 hits allowed in 30 1/3 innings across two levels in 2018. However, he has struck out over a batter an inning at every level so far and he turns 21 in November, so there’s time to work things out.

24. Dakota Mekkes, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

The 6-foot-7 righty has a 1.16 ERA in 147 career minor league innings, allowing only 87 hits while striking out 190. The 67 walks (4.1 per nine innings) to go along with that is the biggest concern.

25. Duane Underwood, Jr, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

The only player on this list with MLB experience. He made one start – his MLB debut on June 25, 2018. He became the first starting pitcher in Cubs history whose last name begins with the letter U. Also, he was born on the day Dan Plesac recorded his lone career save as a Cub (July 20, 1994). So there’s that…

26. Christopher Morel, third base/shortstop 

The 19-year old Dominican infielder is listed at 6-foot and 140 pounds. He’ll almost certainly add to that frame but what if he didn’t? Looking at weights listed at Baseball-Reference.com, the last Cub 140 pounds or less was the 5-foot-6 hurler Bobby Shantz in 1964. Also notable are Johnny Evers of poetic fame (5-foot-9, 125 pounds) and 19th century pitcher Larry Corcoran (5-foot-3 127 pounds), who tossed three no-hitters.

27. Riley Thompson, right-handed pitcher​​​​​​​

Thompson had Tommy John surgery the day before he was drafted by the Reds in the 37th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He was also drafted by the Yankees in the 25th round in 2017 and was finally drafted by the Cubs in the 11th round in 2018 out of the University of Louisville. He has hit 100 mph with his fastball.

28. Luis Verdugo, shortstop/second base

Signed for $1 million out of Mexico in 2017. The Cubs haven’t had a Mexican-born position player since Héctor Torres appeared in 31 games for the North Siders in 1971. Verdugo is one of three Mexican-born prospects on this list (with Garcia and Albertos).

29. Jhonny Pereda, catcher

In 2003, Jhonny Peralta became the first Jhonny in MLB history. Who knew he would eventually be followed by Jhonny Nuñez of the White Sox in 2009 and even Jhonatan Solano of the Nationals in 2012? Anyway, Pereda was the Cubs minor league player of the month in May, hitting .287/.386/.460 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 23 games for Myrtle Beach over that span.

30. Andy Weber, shortstop/second base

Played collegiate ball at Virginia. His Virginia bio page mentions that in 2016, he had three hits against James Madison (March 22) and that he scored two runs and drove in two against George Washington (April 6). Why he had such a grudge against former US presidents is beyond me.

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Cardinals have 13 positive COVID-19 cases, weekend Cubs series tentatively on

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USA TODAY

Cardinals have 13 positive COVID-19 cases, weekend Cubs series tentatively on

The Cardinals' four-game series against the Tigers this Tuesday-Thursday has been postponed in wake of St. Louis' COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement Monday, MLB said 13 members of the Cardinals, seven players and six staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last week. The club first learned of two positive tests on Thursday, ahead of their weekend series against the Brewers, which later was postponed.

The Cardinals have been quarantined at their Milwaukee hotel room and will continue to be tested daily. MLB said the tentative plan is for St. Louis to resume its schedule Friday against the Cubs. The situation obviously is fluid.

“I would imagine that we’re probably not playing those games this weekend. But I can’t fully speak to that,” Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said on Sunday. "That’s just my opinion. Maybe there’s a way where we flip the schedule around where we’re playing somebody else. I think guys right now just want to keep playing.

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“It sucks that we’re dealing with this, but it’s the nature of the beast right now. The league I’m sure will alter the plans going forward. If we’re in St. Louis on Friday, we’re in St. Louis on Friday. We’ll figure it out, and we’ll try to beat the Cardinals and move on to the next day. But right now, as of today, I don’t see that happening.”

The Cubs play four games against the Royals this week, including two in Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Kris Bryant returns to Cubs lineup vs. Royals after clearing health protocols

Kris Bryant returns to Cubs lineup vs. Royals after clearing health protocols

Kris Bryant returned to the Cubs lineup Monday, after missing two games for an upset stomach and the health protocols that came with it.

Bryant is penciled in to play left field and lead off in the Cubs’ series opener against the Royals at Wrigley Filed on Monday. David Bote, who filled in for Bryant over the weekend, remains at third base.

On Saturday, the Cubs scratched Bryant minutes before first pitch, due to an upset stomach. Gastrointestinal issues can be a symptom of COVID-19 in some cases, so Bryant left the ballpark early and took a rapid response COVID-19 test.

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“He just really needs to be commended for going in and getting checked out,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “With all we’ve got going on, we’re trying to take the right precautions to keep everybody safe.”

Both that initial rapid test and the regularly scheduled diagnostic test that Bryant took with the team on Friday came back negative, according to the Cubs. Bryant was scheduled to take a second rapid test on Monday before MLB would clear him to return.

 

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