Full Scouting Report for Every New Cubs Prospect Acquired at MLB Trade Deadline
An 11-game losing streak in late June and early July sealed the Chicago Cubs fate as sellers at the trade deadline, and with the organization at a crossroads, the stage was set for a deadline fire sale.
When the dust settled on Friday afternoon, the following players had been traded during the month of July:
- SS Javier Baez
- 3B/OF Kris Bryant
- RP Andrew Chafin
- RP Craig Kimbrel
- OF Jake Marisnick
- OF Joc Pederson
- 1B Anthony Rizzo
- RP Ryan Tepera
- SP Trevor Williams
All of those veteran pieces brought back 12 young players, headlined by Chicago White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal and New York Mets 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.
Ahead we've provided a full rundown of all the players the Cubs added, along with an updated top 20 prospect list and some final thoughts on their deadline wheeling and dealing.
These players are not technically prospects anymore, but they are potential long-term pieces for the Cubs as they begin rebuilding.
2B Nick Madrigal (via CWS—Craig Kimbrel)
The most high-profile addition of the deadline came from the crosstown Chicago White Sox when they shipped young second baseman Nick Madrigal out in the Craig Kimbrel deal.
Selected No. 4 overall in the 2018 draft, Madrigal raced through the minors to debut in 2020, and he hit .317/.358/.406 with a 112 OPS+ in his first 83 MLB games before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.
The 24-year-old is never going to hit for much power, but he graded out as the fourth-best contact hitter in baseball in B/R's skill rankings series back in February, and he's a strong defender at second base. With club control through the 2026 season, he's a long-term building block.
RP Codi Heuer (via CWS—Craig Kimbrel)
A sixth-round pick in 2018 out of Wichita State, right-hander Codi Heuer made his MLB debut in 2020 and posted a 1.52 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 21 appearances out of the White Sox bullpen.
The 25-year-old has been more hittable this year with a 5.12 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, but his 3.67 FIP paints a more promising picture of future success.
With a heavy sinker that averages 96.5 mph and a good slider/changeup pairing to keep hitters off balance, he has the stuff to develop into a high-leverage role. He'll be controllable through the 2025 season.
The Lesser Prospects
These five prospects all have some intriguing upside, but they didn't quite crack the top five prospects who were acquired by the Cubs at the deadline.
1B Bryce Ball (via ATL—Joc Pederson)
Ball made a splash in 2019 when he hit .329/.395/.628 with 18 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBI in 62 games in his pro debut after he was selected in the 24th round of that year's draft. The 23-year-old is hitting just .197 with a 27.7 percent strikeout rate at High-A this year, but his power tool is intriguing.
OF Greg Deichmann (via OAK—Andrew Chafin)
Deichmann slugged 19 home runs during his junior season at LSU before going in the second round of the 2017 draft. The 26-year-old has struggled at times to make enough consistent contact to get to his plus raw power, but he appears to have turned a corner this year at Triple-A with a .299/.430/.449 line in 265 plate appearances.
RHP Anderson Espinoza (via SD—Jake Marisnick)
Once upon a time, Espinoza was one of baseball elite pitching prospects, peaking at No. 19 on the Baseball America Top 100 list in 2016, the same year he was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the San Diego Padres at the deadline in exchange for Drew Pomeranz.
Five years and myriad injury issues later, he has a 5.02 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 28.2 innings at High-A. Still just 23 years old, he has tallied 37 strikeouts for an 11.6 K/9 rate, and he's worth a buy-low flier in exchange for a reserve outfielder.
LHP Bailey Horn (via CWS—Ryan Tepera)
Horn posted a 2.08 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 17.1 innings at Auburn during the shortened 2020 season before going in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. With an athletic 6'2", 210-pound frame and solid three-pitch mix, he has a chance to stick as a starter, with a solid floor as a lefty reliever.
RHP Daniel Palencia (via OAK—Andrew Chafin)
FanGraphs ranked Palencia as the No. 12 prospect in the Oakland system at the start of the year, pointing to a fastball that sits in the upper 90s and touches 99 mph and a good curveball as reasons for excitement. Despite the fact that he's 21 years old, he just signed out of Venezuela in February 2020, so he still has a ways to go in his development.
No. 5 Prospect Addition: RHP Caleb Kilian
Acquired: Kris Bryant deal with San Francisco Giants
Right-hander Caleb Kilian has been a pop-up prospect in the San Francisco Giants system this season, so it's no surprise he was on the Cubs radar as a secondary prospect piece.
The 24-year-old has a 2.13 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and a brilliant 96-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 84.2 innings this season, and he has handled an early promotion to Double-A without issue.
His velocity has ticked up this year, with his fastball topping out at 98 mph, and that good heater highlights a polished four-pitch mix that includes a curveball, cutter and changeup that all have the potential to be average or better offerings.
"He repeats his athletic delivery and throws all four of his pitches for strikes," wrote MLB.com, pegging him as a potential No. 4 starter if he continues to develop as hoped.
He could be ready for the big leagues by next season, and in a Cubs system lacking in pitching talent, he's a prospect on the rise.
No. 4 Prospect Addition: RHP Alexander Vizcaino
Acquired: Anthony Rizzo deal with New York Yankees
Who doesn't love a big fastball?
Alexander Vizcaino signed for just $14,000 as a 19-year-old in 2016, and he spent the bulk of his first three professional seasons in rookie ball.
It took an uptick in fastball velocity and a vastly improved changeup for him to make the leap up prospect lists.
"Both Vizcaino's fastball and changeup earn double-plus grades when at their best. After previously working with a low-90s heater, he sat at 94-98 mph and reached triple digits in 2019. His low-90s changeup has splitter action and can be even more devastating than his fastball," wrote MLB.com.
The 24-year-old posted a 4.38 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 115 innings between Single-A and High-A in 2019, earning a spot in the Futures Game in the process.
He has missed time this season with a shoulder issue, and he needs to make significant strides with his slider as a viable third pitch to stick as a starter, but he has closer potential if he does ultimately wind up in the bullpen.
No. 3 Prospect Addition: OF Kevin Alcantara
Acquired: Anthony Rizzo deal with New York Yankees
With a physically projectable 6'6", 188-pound frame, it's easy to dream on the offensive upside Kevin Alcantara possesses.
Signed for $1 million in 2018, he made his debut stateside at the age of 16 the following year and hit .255/.305/.360 with 12 extra-base hits in 41 games as one of the youngest players in pro ball.
Now 19 years old, as of earlier this month, he is off to a much louder start this year with a .360/.448/.520 line in his first 29 plate appearances in the Florida Complex League.
"Alcantara now approaches 200 pounds and could have plus tools across the board once he fills out and gains more experience. His bat speed, projectable strength and leverage give him well above-average power from the right side of the plate and produce some of the highest exit velocities in the system," wrote MLB.com.
He's the ultimate lottery ticket as a raw, unpolished player with potentially limitless upside if everything clicks, but a long way to go in his development.
No. 2 Prospect Addition: OF Alexander Canario
Acquired: Kris Bryant deal with San Francisco Giants
Signed for $60,000 in 2016, Alexander Canario made some noise in the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut, and he broke out in earnest two years later.
Playing the entire 2019 season at the age of 19, he hit .318/.377/.623 with 20 doubles, 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 59 games, though those impressive surface-level numbers did mask a 30.2 percent strikeout rate.
He has struggled a bit making the leap to full-season ball this year with a .235/.325/.433 line, but he has also quietly raised his walk rate (7.5 to 12.0 percent) and trimmed his strikeout rate (30.2 to 28.8 percent) as he continues to develop as a hitter.
"He still has to cut down on his swing-and-miss issues, but there are plenty of tools there to fit a corner outfield profile," wrote Josh Norris of Baseball America.
He could be a leaguewide top 100 prospect at this time next year if he continues to make the necessary adjustments against improved competition.
No. 1 Prospect Addition: OF Pete Crow-Armstrong
Acquired: Javier Baez deal with New York Mets
The New York Mets selected Pete Crow-Armstrong with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2020 draft. He was the fourth prep outfielder chosen in a deep high school draft class after Robert Hassell (SD), Zac Veen (COL) and Austin Hendrick (CIN).
Unfortunately, his pro debut this year lasted just six games before he suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, but he was hitting .417/.563/.500 with two doubles and seven walks in 32 plate appearances.
The 19-year-old has a hit-over-power offensive profile, and he may never hit more than 10-15 home runs in a season, but he has excellent bat-to-ball skills and was one of the best pure hitters in his draft class. There is also no question he will be a center fielder at the next level.
"While he has offensive upside as a catalyst atop a batting order, Crow-Armstrong may be more impressive as a center fielder. He might have been the top outfield defender in the 2020 draft and has Gold Glove potential," wrote MLB.com.
This is the center fielder of the future on the North Side.
Updated Chicago Cubs Top 20 Prospect List and Final Thoughts
Top 20 Prospects
1. OF Brennen Davis
2. LHP Brailyn Marquez
3. SS Ed Howard
4. SS Cristian Hernandez
5. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong
6. C Miguel Amaya
7. LHP Jordan Wicks
8. SS Reginald Preciado
9. OF Alexander Canario
10. OF Kevin Alcantara
11. RHP Ryan Jensen
12. RHP Alexander Vizcaino
13. 2B Chase Strumpf
14. OF Owen Caissie
15. OF Christian Franklin
16. 3B Christopher Morel
17. RHP Caleb Kilian
18. 3B James Triantos
19. OF Greg Deichmann
20. RHP Kohl Franklin
It's never easy for a fanbase to see a roster blown up in a fire sale, but the Cubs did well to walk away with a terrific haul of young talent that includes three newcomers to their organization top-10 list and three others who could be in the majors by next season.
That's without mentioning Nick Madrigal, an extremely talented young player who will join Nico Hoerner and Adbert Alzolay as long-term building blocks here at the onset of the rebuild.
We won't know for sure if the Cubs won or lost each of their deadline deals until years from now, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic that they have taken a big step toward restocking the cupboard.