The Cubs famously ended their 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016 and seemed primed for multiple titles with a nucleus of young position players. But they haven't won't a playoff game since bowing out of the 2017 National League Championship Series and most of that core is gone now.
Since the end of the 2020 season, Chicago has remade its big league roster and its farm system with a series of trades. It has dealt Yu Darvish, Joc Pederson, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Craig Kimbrel, Jake Marisnick and Kris Bryant and acquired 14 prospects in those moves, including seven members of MLB Pipeline's new Cubs Top 30.
Seven of their eight best prospects have joined the organization in the last 16 months: 2021 international signee Cristian Hernandez, their first two 2021 Draft picks in James Triantos and Jordan Wicks and trade pickups Caleb Kilian, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcantara and Owen Caissie. Wicks, the best left-hander in the 2021 class, and Kilian, who led the Minors in K/BB ratio before dominating in the Arizona Fall League, are especially critical to an organization that has been unable to create homegrown pitching.
Since president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer arrived to take over the franchise's baseball operations in October 2011, the most successful in-house arm signed and developed by the franchise is Adbert Alzolay, who has totaled seven wins and 159 1/3 innings in Chicago. It doesn't help that the Cubs' two best pitching prospects entering 2021, Brailyn Marquez and Kohl Franklin, missed the entire season with injuries that aren't considered long-term issues.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.
Jump: DJ Herz, LHP (2021: 29 | 2022: 9) -- An over-slot $500,000 eighth-rounder out of a North Carolina high school in 2019, he has gained fastball velocity and developed a wicked changeup.
Fall: Cole Roederer, OF (2021: 13 | 2022: NR) -- Tommy John surgery derailed his 2021 season after just 20 games and he got passed by several outfielders acquired in trades.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- James Triantos
Power: 60 -- Brennen Davis
Run: 60 -- Christopher Morel (Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, Christopher Morel, Jordan Nwogu)
Arm: 65 -- Christopher Morel
Defense: 70 -- Ed Howard (Pete Crow-Armstrong)
Fastball: 80 -- Brailyn Marquez
Curveball: 60 -- Ethan Roberts
Slider: 60 -- Ben Leeper (Cayne Ueckert)
Changeup: 65 -- Jordan Wicks (DJ Herz)
Control: 65 -- Caleb Kilian
How they were built
Draft: 14 | International: 7 | NDFA: 1 | Trade: 8
Breakdown by ETA
2022: 8 | 2023: 8 | 2024: 12 | 2025: 2
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 2 | 3B: 1 | SS: 3 | OF: 10 | RHP: 7 | LHP: 4