John Sickels whittled his Cubs prospect list from 49 to 40. Here's the list, not sorted alphabetically or via actual ranking, but just by what position they play.
*Josh Vitters is now a left fielder.
**Brett Marshall was claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees.
Let's break this list down. The first thing that pops out to me is the distinct lack of middle infielders. Sure, Javy Baez is probably a Top 5 prospect in all of baseball (he's Top 5 at least on BP), but Sickels straight-up drops Alcantara into the 2B bucket. Amaya had a chance to really breakout last year and it didn't happen; he's still interesting but I'd imagine most systems have a guy or two like him in their minors. Watkins is apparently just going to be a bench guy in the majors. Torres is half a decade away. I appreciate how deep the talent pool is in Chicago, but there aren't that many prospects up the middle and that's a little weird. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs' FO focused on filling this "deficiency" in the coming years (though our 2B/SS are still good comparable to other systems).
Sickels has Vitters listed as a 3B but he's a LF now. While the infield might be sparse in the middle, centerfield as a position is LOADED for the Cubs. I'm not sure Jackson, Szczur, or Encarnacion profile as more than a 4th OF at the major league level, but Almora, Hannemann, and Dunston certainly do (Shawon Dunston Jr. is one of my 3 sleepers this year). Encarnacion is the player to watch here; he was an 18-year old when he signed 4 seasons ago and played his first 3 years in Foreign Rookie Leagues. He performed well enough at Boise (read: he destroyed the league) to be promoted to Kane County where he struggled mightily. He'll probably stay in Kane County as a 22-year old the bulk of next year, and it'll be critical that he beat it like a drum to move aggressively.
Without question, the Cubs' greatest weakness, organizationally, is left-handed pitching. Rosscup is probably a LOOGY in the majors (perhaps a 7th inning guy). Jokisch is charitably at the end of a rotation, and even only if he keep his K's up and his HR's down (a tough order for a leftie without a real fastball). Who knows what Zastryzny is going to give you? If the Cubs deal Samardzija this season, I'd prefer left-handed pitching in return for essentially this reason. Unfortunately, the teams that have good LHP are generally not the teams that would trade for Shark (Marlins, Padres). One fit might be James Paxton and the Seattle Mariners (especially since Price said he would not be amenable to an extension there).
The seed is strong.