There are some intriguing athletes sprinkled throughout the lowest levels of the minors but this system has fallen on hard times and lacks depth.
1. Miguel Amaya | C | A —> Amaya, 19, was a monster in the first half of the year before tiring during the latter portion of his first full season (.865 vs .634 OPS). An encouraging sign: He maintained his walk rate while trimming his strikeout rate in the second half despite the diminished offence. In his prime, he should get on base at an above-average rate and produce solid pop. He has work to do on his receiving and game calling but he’s shown potential with throwing out base runners.
2. Adbert Alzolay | RHP | AAA —> It was basically a lost year for Alzolay, who started just eight games before getting hurt. He’s an undersized righty but he can hit the mid-90s and shows flashes of a plus curveball. His makeup is universally lauded so expect him to squeeze out every ounce of potential with a ceiling of a No. 3-4 rage if he gains consistency with the secondary stuff. My biggest concern aside from injury is his fly-ball tendencies.
3. Justin Steele | LHP | AA —> Steele had Tommy John surgery late in 2017 but made a quick return and reached double-A at the end of the season. The lefty can hit the mid-90s and pairs his heat with a plus curveball. A reliable changeup and consistent command could help him reach the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.
4. Nico Hoerner | IF | A —> He’s not the most toolsy player but the Cubs invested a first-round pick on Hoerner in 2018. I like his swing and think he’ll hit for a solid average but his power output is modest. In the plus side, he’s shown a willingness to take a walk and has the speed to nab 15-20 bases. He should end up somewhere in the middle of the diamond, although he may never be better than average at shortstop.
5. Brailyn Marquez | LHP | A —> Marquez has a chance to be the top mover in the Cubs system in 2019 after showing extremely well in short-season ball this year. Just 19, he has a solid pitcher’s frame and can work in the 92-97 mph range. He also shows flashes of a plus curveball. His command remain a work in progress but he limited the walks this year and struck out 59 batters in 54.2 innings.
6. Brendon Little | LHP | A —> A former first-round pick, Little has lost velo in pro ball and now operates with a fastball in the low 90s. He has a potentially plus curveball and improving changeup. Unless he re-discovers his heat, Little looks like an innings-eating No. 4 starter who will develop above-average control due to a smooth delivery.
7. Alex Lange | RHP | A+ —> Pretty much a right-handed version of Little, Lange has a stronger framer with a tad more velocity. He should develop into an innings-eating starter with a potentially-plus curveball and an average changeup. It’s possible he could end up in the bullpen if his delivery causes him to struggle to throw consistent strikes — which might also help him discover some of his lost velo from college.
8. Erich Uelmen | RHP | A+ —> The development of Uelmen’s secondary stuff will go a long way in determining his future role. For now, he looks like a potential No. 4 starter. He has a good pitcher’s frame and shows athleticism on the mound. He also appears to have some deception in his delivery with a low arm slot, which also helps him keep the ball down and generates a lot of ground-ball outs.
9. Duane Underwood | RHP | AAA —> Given a million dollars to sign way back in 2012, Underwood has always had a good arm but he’s struggled with consistency, injuries and drive. For me, he’s miscast as a starter and might thrive as a high-leverage reliever where he might sit more consistently in the upper-90s. His above-average curveball would give him a chase-pitch.
10. Aramis Ademan | SS | A —> Ademan came into the year with a lot of hype but fell on his face as a teenager in A-ball. He has excellent makeup but he needs to get stronger and focus on consistently using the whole field. He should stick at shortstop long term.
Keegan Thompson | RHP | AA —> Thompson reached double-A in 2018 based on the strength of his secondary offerings. His fastball is merely average and he’s not the biggest guy. He might be best suited to middle relief but he’s a starter for now.
Cole Roederer | OF | Rookie —> The Cubs love to draft young athletic players out of the prep ranks and Roederer is the latest project. He looked excellent in his pro debut, even with some swing-and-miss to his game. He showed a willingness to take a walk, good instincts on the base paths and surprising pop. He needs work on hitting lefties, though.
Erling Moreno | RHP | A —> I continue to be one of the bigger believers in Moreno. He has shown an excellent fastball with ground-ball tendencies and has a strong frame. Unfortunately, he can’t stay healthy and has lost valuable development time, which has caused his secondary offerings to lag behind. He may be a reliever in the long run but there might be high-leverage potential with a consistent breaking ball.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.