Starting spots for Cubs' Top 30 prospects

April 4th, 2019

With the 2019 Minor League Baseball season getting underway, here's a look at where the Cubs' Top 30 prospects are starting the year. We also identify the prospect who just missed the Top 30 list, a player who didn't make the big league Opening Day roster but should make an impact this year, a prospect who is ready to break out in 2019 and the team's best defensive prospect.

  1. Miguel Amaya (MLB No. 92), C -- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A Adv)
  2. Nico Hoerner (MLB No. 98), SS -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  3. Brailyn Marquez, LHP -- South Bend Cubs (A)
  4. Adbert Alzolay, RHP -- Iowa Cubs (AAA) -- IL
  5. Cole Roederer, OF -- South Bend Cubs (A)
  6. Aramis Ademan, SS -- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A Adv)
  7. Brennen Davis, OF -- Extended spring training
  8. Justin Steele, LHP -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  9. Cory Abbott, RHP -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  10. Keegan Thompson, RHP -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  11. Zack Short, SS -- Iowa Cubs (AAA)
  12. Alex Lange, RHP -- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A Adv)
  13. Brendon Little, LHP -- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A Adv) -- IL
  14. Richard Gallardo, RHP -- Extended spring training
  15. Nelson Velazquez, OF -- South Bend Cubs (A)
  16. Yovanny Cruz, RHP -- Extended spring training
  17. Thomas Hatch, RHP -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  18. Paul Richan, RHP -- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A Adv)
  19. Tyson Miller, RHP -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  20. Trent Giambrone, 2B/SS -- Iowa Cubs (AAA)
  21. Reivaj Garcia, 2B -- Extended spring training
  22. Oscar De La Cruz, RHP -- Suspended
  23. Jose Albertos, RHP -- Extended spring training
  24. Dakota Mekkes, RHP -- Iowa Cubs (AAA)
  25. Duane Underwood, RHP -- Iowa Cubs (AAA)
  26. Christopher Morel, 3B/SS -- Extended spring training
  27. Riley Thompson, RHP -- South Bend Cubs (A)
  28. Luis Verdugo, SS/3B -- Extended spring training
  29. Jhonny Pereda, C -- Tennessee Smokies (AA)
  30. Andy Weber, SS/2B -- South Bend Cubs (A)
    Complete list »

Just missed Top 30: Bailey Clark
The Cubs still aren't exactly sure what they have in Clark, a 2016 fifth-rounder from Duke who battled elbow fatigue last season while logging a 1.89 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 57 innings between three clubs from Rookie ball to Class A Advanced. When he's healthy and dialed in, he can sit in the mid-90s and reach 98 mph with his fastball and back it up with a mid-80s slider.

On the shelf
Right-hander Albert Alzolay, the Cubs' most advanced pitching prospect, tweaked his side at the beginning of Spring Training and is building up his arm strength in extended spring training before reporting to Iowa. Left-hander Brendon Little, their top pick (27th overall) in the 2017 Draft, is on the injured list at Myrtle Beach with a minor lat strain.

Impact prospect: Dakota Mekkes
As a redshirt sophomore at Michigan State in 2016, Mekkes led NCAA Division I in hit rate (4.1 per nine innings) and strikeout rate (15.2). He has put up similarly crazy numbers in three years as a pro: 1.16 ERA, 5.3 hits and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He succeeds largely on the basis of a low-90s fastball that plays way above its velocity because of his extension and deception, just the kind of different look that would fit nicely in the middle innings for the bullpen-needy Cubs.

Breakout prospect: Cole Roederer
The Cubs may have gotten steals with the position players they selected with their first three choices in the 2018 Draft: shortstop Nico Hoerner (first round) and outfielders Brennen Davis (second) and Roederer (supplemental second). Likened to Andrew Benintendi, Roederer had a quick left-handed swing and advanced bat-to-ball skills.

Best defensive prospect: Miguel Amaya
Amaya's defensive ability and makeup led the Cubs to sign him for $1.25 million out of Panama in 2015, and he continues to impress even though he has been pushed aggressively in the Minors. His aptitude to frame and block pitches is advanced for a teenager, and his arm strength has improved to at least solid and plays up because of his quick transfer and accuracy.