Jimenez leads 5 Cubs on Top 100 prospect list

Happ, Almora, Cease, Candelario also place in new rankings

Jimenez leads 5 Cubs on Top 100 prospect list

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have five players ranked among the Top 100 in MLB.com's latest prospect rankings, paced by young outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who was No. 14.

The other Cubs prospects in the Top 100 include second baseman Ian Happ at No. 28, outfielder Albert Almora Jr. at No. 76, right-hander Dylan Cease at No. 77 and third baseman Jeimer Candelario at No. 96.

• MLB Pipeline's 2017 Top 100 Prospects list

The annual ranking of MLB's Top 100 prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2017 season are eligible for the list. Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.

In his third pro season, Jimenez, 20, played in a career-high 112 games at Class A South Bend in 2016, and he batted .329 with 14 home runs, 40 doubles, three triples and 81 RBIs. He shined in the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego. Jimenez entered in right field in the fourth inning and went 2-for-3 in the game, hitting a three-run homer, a double and finishing with four RBIs. He also made a highlight-reel catch in foul territory.

"The sky's the limit," Cubs director of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said of Jimenez. "He's someone who can fit in the middle of a Major League lineup."

Happ, 22, split time between Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, and he batted a combined .279 with 30 doubles, three triples, 15 homers and 73 RBIs. The Cubs' first-round Draft pick in 2015, he primarily played second base but also saw some action in the outfield. Being versatile enough to play different positions will benefit Happ as he progresses in the Cubs' system.

Top Prospects: Happ, CHC

Almora, 22, was Chicago's first-round pick in 2012, and he batted .303 in 80 games at Triple-A Iowa. He was promoted to the big league team on June 7, but optioned back to Iowa on July 22. On Sept. 6, Almora was up to stay. He batted .277 in 47 games with the Cubs, and this year, he's expected to platoon in center field with Jon Jay.

Top Prospects: Almora, CHC

Cease, 21, was the Cubs' sixth-round pick in 2014 out of Milton (Ga.) High School, and he made 12 starts at Class A short-season Eugene, striking out 66 over 44 2/3 innings.

"He's absolutely one of the more exciting prospects we have in our organization," McLeod said.

Top Prospects: Cease, CHC

Cease's fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, and he has a power curveball, as well, McLeod said. The right-hander is still developing a third pitch, but McLeod noted Cease has "a special arm" and he's unlike any pitcher Chicago has had in the organization since Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations.

Top Prospects: Candelario, CHC

Candelario, 23, began the 2016 season at Tennessee, but was promoted to Triple-A and responded well, batting .333 with nine home runs, 22 doubles and 54 RBIs in 76 games. He also got a brief taste of the big leagues, playing in five games in July.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.