Major League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You're either selling wins or you're selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team's farm system.
Of course, that doesn't mean every team has an equally good farm system -- some, as you'll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define "prospects" as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing that's likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There's also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it's fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future. You can check out our winter top 20 list by clicking here.
With that in mind, let's get to it by dissecting the Chicago Cubs.
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF (2023 seasonal age: 21)
Crow-Armstrong, the son of two actors and the 19th pick in the 2020 draft, was traded to the Cubs the following summer in exchange for Javier Báez. He's a potential Gold Glove center fielder and basestealing threat whose exact ceiling hinges on how his offensive game matures. Crow-Armstrong appeared to encounter his first hurdle last season in High-A, as his walk rate collapsed and his strikeout rate spiked to 24 percent. The encouraging news is that Crow-Armstrong has gotten progressively more prone to lifting the ball, suggesting he's apt to make the most of his average strength. Double-A will likely tell the tale on whether he's more than a bottom-third bat.
2. Brennan Davis, OF (2023 seasonal age: 23)
Coming into the spring, Davis looked like a good bet to make his big-league debut and perhaps solidify himself as a starting outfielder. Alas, he had a miserable 2022. Injury limited him to just 53 games, primarily at the Triple-A level, and he hit just .180/.299/.298 with more than twice as many strikeouts as walks when he was active. We're willing to give Davis a mulligan, but he'll need to get back on track in 2023, in terms of production and health. If he can, he should again have the opportunity to place himself in the Cubs' future plans.
3. Kevin Alcantara, OF (2023 seasonal age: 21)
Alcantra, acquired from the Yankees at the 2021 deadline for Anthony Rizzo, is a tall, projectable outfielder with an intriguing skill set. He's listed at 6-foot-6 and he should be able to add muscle to his frame as he matures, giving him top-end power potential. There are two catches to be found in Alcantara's game. The first is that adding weight will likely reduce his chances of sticking in center, necessitating a move to a corner-outfield spot. The second is that he already strikes out a lot, fanning in about a quarter of his trips to the plate in A-ball, limiting his absolute offensive upside. Still, there are some interesting right-tail outcomes here that make him worth a high ranking.