The Chicago Cubs farm system has been one of the best over the last few years. They saw prospects like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and more come up and excel at the major league level. Those players were key pieces in the Cubs 2016 World Series run. Now with the farm system looking a little different, there’s a new top prospect No. 1 on the list. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez is now the new top prospect in the Cubs system, according to the new Baseball America rankings released on Thursday. The 20-year-old hit .329 with 81 RBI, 40 doubles, 14 home runs and a .901 OPS for the Cubs Class-A South Bend team. He was signed by the organization out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, ranking as one of the best international prospects. Here’s what BA wrote on Jimenez:
Jimenez was signed for his bat and his body—one club official admiringly called him “a physical animal”—and has started to deliver. His body evokes comparisons with former Cub Jorge Soler and Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but he’s more than a power-first hitter. Some scouts rate Jimenez’s pure hitting ability on par with his power, or put 60 grades on his hitting and 70 on his power (on the 20-80 scouting scale). While his walk rate is modest, Jimenez improved his strike-zone judgment in 2016 by seeing more pitches per at-bat, identifying spin more and applying the Cubs’ selective-aggressive mantra. When he turned it loose, he barreled balls and made plenty of hard contact. He added a knee tuck and a bit of a hand pump to his swing, getting less rotational and on time more often, and it aided his ability to drive the ball to right-center field.
The outfielder made the jump to the top of the list thanks to a solid second half in 2016. At last year’s midseason list, he was behind Gleybar Torres and Ian Happ. The Cubs shipped Torres to the New York Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Happ is now second on the Cubs list. The 22-year-old infielder played the majority of the 2016 season at Double-A Tennessee. Outfielder Albert Almora is third on the list, although he’s expected to compete for the starting center field job in 2017. With the exit of Dexter Fowler, Almora will likely be the guy to takeover as the everyday starting center fielder. To see the entire list please check out Baseball America.