Chicago Cubs Top Prospects 2024
Chicago Cubs top prospects from Chris Clegg including Pete Crow-Armstrong, Matt Shaw, Cade Horton, Owen Caissie, and more!
Welcome to our team prospect rankings. Over the next two months, I will be pumping out team top 30 prospect rankings and evaluations for dynasty baseball. These reports are generated from live looks, film study, and advanced data analysis to bring you in-depth fantasy scouting reports on every player you need to know, with today’s being the Chicago Cubs Top Prospects.
Not all 30 players in each writeup will be dynasty relevant, but many will, and if you play in a deep league, certainly most of the names will be worth knowing.
You can check out our previous Top Prospect Rankings:
The Chicago Cubs top prospects are loaded, especially in the top 10, but the system does have
Each player has a detailed write-up on each. The top 10 rankings and writeups are free for all, but the rest of the top prospects are for paid subs. Get an edge in your dynasty leagues and get in on some of these players first!
FFG = Future Fantasy Grade - essentially, what is the likely long-term outcome for the prospect? This is always going to be more conservative. Handing out ace tags is not something I like to do. So this is a realistic outcome.
90th Peak = If the player hits their best-case outcome, what does it look like?
Variance = How risky is this player’s profile, and how likely are they to hit their likely outcome? Low variance is good; high means more risky.
Chicago Cubs Top Prospects
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, 21, 6’1”/185
Crow-Armstrong is a defensive wizard who stepped into the Cubs centerfield role down the stretch in 2023 and showed that he might just be one of the best outfielders in all of baseball. PCA is a much more valuable asset in real life than in fantasy because he is arguably an 80-grade centerfielder with a strong arm. He covers a ton of ground in the outfield due to his high-end sprint speed.
At the plate, PCA enjoyed a strong season between Double-A and Triple-A, mashing 20 home runs and stealing 37 bases while slashing .283/.365/.511 in 500 plate appearances. He gets the most out of his swing, posting a high fly ball rate and getting to the pull side power. The exit velocities suggest average game power, but given the amount of lift and pull that he gets in his swing, Crow-Armstrong is capable of being a 20-home-run bat consistently.
There is also a pretty aggressive nature in PCA’s swing, as he swung at over 51 percent of pitches he saw last year, putting him in the upper tier of MiLB hitters in swing rate. The contact rates are also a bit concerning as he had a 75 percent zone contact rate and a 68 percent overall rate. While those are below average, Crow-Armstrong has kept the strikeout rates reasonable.
A significant aspect of PCA’s game is his speed, and not only does it show in the amount of ground he covers in center field but also on the base paths. In 2023, Crow-Armstrong was successful on 37 of 47 attempts in the minors and has a 74 percent stolen base rate in his Minor League career.
Crow-Armstrong has all the intangibles to take over as the Cub’s everyday centerfielder in 2024, where he will make an instant impact in the field and on the base paths. There is a chance he struggles initially with the bat, but the power and speed give him a solid base to be a fantasy contributor, even if the batting average is lower in his first full season.
FFG: Consistent 20 HR/20 SB/Gold Glove CF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.360 OBP/25 HR/40 SB
2. Matt Shaw, MI, 21, 5’11”/185
Shaw had a successful career at Maryland, leading to him being selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2023 draft, where he hit the ground running as a professional. After three games at the complex level, Shaw pushed to High-A and then Double-A to finish out the season, where he collectively hit .357/.400/.618 with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases across 38 games.
Despite not having the physical appearance of a top player on the field, Shaw plays much bigger than his listed 5’11”/185 frame and gets to a ton of power. He mashed 24 home runs at Maryland this year after posting a 22-homer season in 2022. His power is backed by a 90th percentile exit velocity of 107 mph, and saw his numbers get as high as 113 mph. He is an efficient base stealer as well, and while there is not true standout tool, Shaw flashes 55 grades across the board with arguably a plus hit tool.
In 2023 at Maryland, Shaw made contact on 83 percent of pitches and 88.5 percent of pitches in the zone while chasing just 20 percent of the time. As a professional, Shaw was more aggressive but also made more contact, swinging at 49 percent of pitches and making contact 85 percent of the time overall.
The Cubs seem to be fast-tracking Shaw to the Majors, and he could be an instant impact with his bat due to the high floor with his hit tool.
FFG: Top-10 2B
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.350 OBP/20+ HR/20 SB
3. Cade Horton, RHP, 22, 6’1”/210
When the Cubs selected Cade Horton seventh overall in 2022, many questioned the pick despite Horton’s standout performance in the College World Series just weeks before the draft. Horton was a standout two-sport star and slated to join the Oklahoma football team as a quarterback as well as a scholarship baseball player
Horton began his collegiate career as a two-way player who also played third base and shortstop but Tommy John surgery early in his career caused him to miss most of his collegiate career until 2022, when he returned. He saw bumpy results as a pitcher but dominated during the College World Series, seeing his draft stock soar.
Horton dominates hitters with a mid-90s fastball that can get up to 99 mph, but usually sits in the 94-97 range, getting a ton of swings and misses at the top of the zone. His slider sits in the mid-80s with nice depth and sweeping action, generating over 10 inches of horizontal movement. Horton also mixes in a more vertical curveball that can miss bats.
The newest development in Horton’s arsenal is his changeup, which he worked hard on developing this season and even changed the grip to be more of a split-finger changeup. It dropped the RPMs significantly, and while it is still a work in progress, Horton could add a fourth above-average or better pitch to the arsenal while already possessing arguably a plus or better slider and fastball.
There is legitimate ace upside with Horton, considering the arsenal and the fact he was able to throw a ton of strikes, posting a strike rate north of 66 percent. Pair that with his athleticism on the mound, and you have one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 170 IP/3.20 ERA/210 K
4. Owen Caissie, OF, 21, 6’4”/220
If you are looking for a future middle-of-the-order power hitter, Owen Caissie is your guy. You could argue that his power is some of the best in not only the minors but all of baseball, as he posted an average exit velocity north of 94 mph and a 90th percentile exit velocity above 110 mph. Both of these figures would rank among the best hitters in the Majors.
While the power is enormous, the contact skills remain a question, though that number also improved after the tacky ball left the Southern League(AA). Through the end of May, Caissie was running a 38 percent strikeout rate with a 65 percent contact rate. After the All-Star break, when the tacky left, Caissie struck out just 28 percent of the time but managed a 68 percent contact rate. While the numbers are still concerning, seeing the improvements was good.
Caissie began his career with San Diego, being selected 45th overall before being traded to the Cubs in the Yu Darvish trade. He has continually improved and seen his stock rise as a professional largely due to his hard work ethic and the fact he has performed well despite being young at each level.. There is a strong chance we will see him in Chicago in 2024, hitting beautiful home runs.
FFG: Power Hitting Corner OF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .260/.340 OBP/35 HR/5 SB
5. James Triantos, INF/OF, 20, 6’1”/195
While the Cubs possess a ton of high-upside power bats like Owen Caissie and Kevin Alcantara, James Triantos is a quiet, high-floor hitter who does nothing but put balls in play. Triantos was selected in the second round of the 2021 draft and has kept his head down, focusing on each pitch that comes his way and has seen natural growth as a hitter.
He broke out in a major way in 2023, posting a .287/.364/.391 slash line with four home runs and 16 stolen bases before heading out to the Arizona Fall League and posting a .417/.495/.679 slash with three home runs in 22 games.
Triantos has always been known for his elite contact skills, and that remained this season as he posted an 83 percent contact rate while posting a fairly aggressive swing rate at 49 percent rate. He struck out just 10.7 percent of the time while walking at a 10 percent clip.
The power also made a big jump this season that the home run total may not show, as Triantos’ average exit velocity jumped from 82.6 mph in 2022 to 87.6 in 2023. His 90th percentile exit velocity also jumped from 99 mph in 2022 to 102.5 mph in 2023.
His versatility in the field could see him move to Chicago faster than anticipated, as Triantos has seen time at every position on the dirt except first base and also has gotten reps in both center and left field. After getting live looks at him and talking to him in Arizona, I am more of a believer that Triantos can be a future impactful bat in Chicago.
FFG: Nico Hoerner type with Less Speed
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .300/.3760 OBP/15 HR/20 SB
6. Kevin Alcantara, OF, 21, 6’6”, 188
When you first see Kevin Alcantara, he looks like he would be an NFL wide receiver or a slasher shooting guard that just oozes with athleticism. From a baseball standpoint, the body still has plenty of projection that could see him easily tap into more of what is already impressive power.
With anyone the size of Alcantara, you will always run into long levers and a big zone, increasing the chances for swing and miss. But Alcantara saw improvement month over month, and posted a 73 percent contact rate in September while slashing .373/.458/.644.
Breaking balls have been a problem for Alcantara, and he shows inconsistencies with his swing at times, but when he connects, he does damage. The 90th percentile exit velocity of 107 mph is just scraping the surface of the potential power that Alcantara could get to when fully mature, but it is still an impressive number.
The profile is fun to dream on as Alcantara is a strong athlete with an incredible frame. There are risks, but the upside is enormous.
FFG: Power/Speed combo with low BA
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.350 OBP/25-30 HR/10 SB
7. Moises Ballesteros, C, 19, 5’10”/215
Ballesteros is one of the more difficult players to evaluate in this system due to the questions of where he plays long-term, and how his body ages. Besides those questions, Ballesteros has shown he can hit, slashing .285/.375/.449 with 14 home runs across 494 plate appearances, making it to Double-A to end the season.
Considering the short and stocky body, Ballesteros makes a ton of contact, posting an overall contact rate north of 79 percent, showing good plate discipline, not chasing often, and walking nearly 13 percent of the time in 2023.
While posting good contact numbers, Ballesteros posted good exit velocities and projects to have above-average power. You likely won’t get any stolen bases out of Ballesteros despite stealing seven this year, as he grades out at a 20-grade runner.
Ballesteros projects a future hitter who can put up decent batting averages and home run totals, but the question remains of what position he will be contributing from. A first base or designated hitter role seems likely.
FFG: High Average CI
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.360 OBP/20 HR/2 SB
8. Jefferson Rojas, SS, 18, 5’11”/190
Rojas seems to be a blossoming star in the Cubs system after spending just one game at the complex level before spending the entire season at Single-A Myrtle Beach. Rojas signed for $1 million in January 2022 and immediately hit the ground running as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .303/.391/.407 with one home run and 15 stolen bases in 45 games.
Considering Rojas skipped the complex level almost entirely, he still posted the fourth-highest OPS(.790) and wRC+(126) among 18-year-olds in full-season ball. Maybe the seven home runs and .268/.345/.404 slash doesn’t jump off the page, but it is essential to remember that Myrtle Beach, Chicago’s Single-A park, is one of the worst parks for hitters in the minors.
The swing is simple and direct to the ball without sacrificing power. Rojas showcased the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields in my live looks this year and handled all pitch types well. He has grown into more power, largely due to just getting bigger. When he signed, Rojas was listed at 5’8”, but is now listed at 5’10”/150 lb, people connected to Rojas tell me he is actually 5’11”/190 lb now, making him a much more physically imposing player than someone 5’8”/150.
Rojas played a fine shortstop in my looks and has a strong enough arm to stick at the position, especially considering the strong athlete that he is. Rojas has strong contact skills, positing a 77 percent contact rate, and has above-average power projection. If he continues to grow and add more power, his stock will soar. Now is the time to invest in Jefferson Rojas.
FFG: MI Option with some Power and Speed
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.345 OBP/20 HR/20 SB
9. Jackson Ferris, LHP, 19, 6’4”/195
Ferris was selected in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft, which could end up being a steal for the Cubs, who were able to pay over slot, first-round caliber money.
In his first full season as a professional, the Cubs babied Ferris, not allowing him to pitch more than three innings until July. Ferris completed five innings twice down the stretch, but both starts were exceptional.
From an arsenal standpoint, Ferris features a tough arm slot to pick up from his 6’4” frame, and his 93-95 mph fastball plays up due to the deception in the delivery. Ferris’s hammer curve sits in the mid-70s, changing hitters' eye level significantly.
Ferris added a new slider this year, which sits in the low-80s with sweeping action, making it a distinct pitch from the curve while also having a decent changeup that he should throw more often.
There are four potential pitches here that could all be average. The question remains: can Ferris throw enough strikes? Last season, it was a sub-60 percent strike rate, leading to a 14 percent walk rate. The stuff is there, but Ferris’s command will need to improve his command to be a viable starting pitcher.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 150 IP/3.50 ERA/170 K
10. Jordan Wicks, LHP, 24, 6’3”/220
If I had to guess, very few expected Jordan Wicks to come up and perform how he did down the stretch after being called up by the Cubs. Wicks is a command-first, changeup heavy arm with a low-90s fastball, but his command allows his entire six-pitch arsenal to play up.
Wick will not blow anyone away with his arsenal but does induce a high number of ground balls with weak contact. His changeup is his most used pitch, sitting in the low-80s, and it is arguably his best pitch, generating whiffs at a 30 percent clip in the majors with a ton of vertical depth and nearly 12 inches of fade on average.
Wicks throws three fastball variations in a four-seam, sinker, and cutter, all with different movement profiles while sitting between 89 and 92 mph. The curveball has incredible downward action, getting near 60 inches of vertical drop on average, while his slider has nice depth and over 10 inches of sweeping action.
Wicks’s pitchability and deep arsenal give him a high floor to be a long-term starting pitcher. He is already Major League ready and should be in the rotation from Opening Day 2024, especially given the performance we saw from him down the stretch in 2023 as a starter in Chicago.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 170 IP/3.20 ERA/210 K
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