Five Cubs farmhands were named to MLB.com's top-100 prospect list, including 2016 Iowa Cubs Albert Almora Jr. and Jeimer Candelario, the publication announced Saturday.
OF Eloy Jimenez leads the pack at No. 14. The Dominican Republic native was the top international prospect in 2013 and signed with the Cubs for $2.8 million. In 2016, the then-19 year old hit .329 with 40 doubles, 14 homers and 81 RBI for Low-A South Bend, winning the Midwest League MVP award for his efforts. Jimenez is recognized by MLB.com for his bat speed and power, as well as his baseball intelligence. Look for him to continue to move up the ladder with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach this season.
INF Ian Happ takes the 28th spot on the list. Happ was taken by the Cubs as the 9th-overall draft pick in 2015 and quickly ascended through the system, finishing 2016 with Double-A Tennessee. Splitting the season between the Smokies and Advanced-A Myrtle Beach, Happ hit .279 with 15 homers and 73 RBI. A switch hitter, Happ has demonstrated power with both swings - as showcased by homers from each side of the plate in the AFL Championship game. Though his offensive ability is apparent, his defense has been slower to develop. The 22-year-old has logged most of his minor league career at second base, but some evaluators believe he will likely end up in left field. Happ could be the next prospect to debut for Iowa in 2017.
Coming in at No. 75 is 2016 Iowa Cub Almora Jr. Almora Jr. blasted .303 with 43 RBI in his first Triple-A season, warranting two call-ups to Chicago. The 22-year-old appeared in 47 games for the big league club, hitting .277 with three homers. He also got his shot on all three playoff rosters and as a pinch runner, scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. Almora Jr. is expected to share center field duties with Jon Jay in Chicago this season.
RHP Dylan Cease comes in at No. 77 on MLB.com's top-100 list. A 2014 draft pick, Cease missed his first professional season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but came back in 2015 with a fastball that sits at 94-98 mph. The 21-year-old has a potentially devastating curve that just needs more consistency and could round out his pitching arsenal with a changeup if he can refine it. Cease threw to a 2-0 record with a 2.22 ERA in 12 starts for Short-Season Eugene in 2016.
INF Candelario completes the Cubs company at No. 96. Candelario was called up to Triple-A Iowa in June of 2016 and flourished, hitting .333 with 54 RBI in 76 games. He earned his cup of coffee with Chicago, debuting in July and appearing in three total games (1-for-11). The switch-hitter is effective from both sides of the plate and has shown power potential with 39 doubles and 13 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season. The 23-year-old is positioned at third, but is also able to take first base. Candelario is expected to begin the 2017 campaign with Iowa.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.