Hey Chicago, whaddya say?
Mervis is gonna mash today!
1. 1B Matt Mervis | 24 | AAA | 2023
The 6’4” 225 lb Mervis hit 36 home runs in 137 games across three levels and keeps on hitting them in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s got five homers in 13 games. He has struck out and walked thrice a piece, continuing the case of the disappearing strikeouts after K-ing in just 14.6 percent of his Triple-A plate appearances. Should open 2022 in the major league lineup.
2. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong | 21 | A+ | 2024
The surprise prize of the Javy Baez trade, Crow-Armstrong features a quick but simple stroke in a 6’0” 184 lb frame. PCA is a double-plus defender who just posted 16 home runs and 32 stolen bases in 101 games across two levels where he was younger than the league average. He chipped in 20 doubles and 10 triples, slashing .312/.376/.520 on the season. The power has been a nice bonus, considering the profile isn’t dependent upon it.
3. OF Brennen Davis | 23 | AAA | 2023
Tough stretch for Brennen Davis, who this week was shut down with another back injury sustained during Arizona Fall League play. Reports suggest it’s not related to the injury that cost Davis the 2022 season, but that doesn’t easily pass the laymen smell test. Bad backs are kinetic chain issues incarnate. On the field, Davis remains a double-plus athlete with easy power and speed, even if I get Corey Patterson-style, could’ve-been-a-contender vibes from the waterfront we’ve traveled so far.
4. OF Kevin Alcantara | 20 | A | 2024
Alcantara is a rare athlete, within shouting distance of the other too-tall unicorns dominating their levels. He was steadily productive in Low-A throughout the season but went out on a high note, slashing .333/.398/.487 with three home runs and three stolen bases over his final month (20 games). He graduated the level with an exclamation mark and could force his way to Double-A before he turns 21 on July 12.
5. OF Alexander Canario | 22 | AAA | 2024
Canario might be higher on this list if not for a broken ankle with a side of shoulder injury suffered in the Dominican Winter League last week. The timing is a little demoralizing because Canario broke out in 2022, slugging 37 home runs in 125 games across three levels. Like Mervis, he improved his plate skills every step of the way, reducing his strikeout rate from 35 percent in High-A to 25 percent in Triple-A and bumping his walk rate from 10 percent to 15.5 percent in the process. The outfield in Chicago is a bit crowded, but the organization should prioritize finding at bats for a healthy Canario whenever he makes it back.
6. SS Cristian Hernandez | 19 | CPX | 2026
Hernandez might end up the best number six prospect on these lists by this time next season, but he didn’t hit all that well this season, striking out 30.3 percent of the time and slugging .357 in 44 games in the complex league, where he was almost two years (1.7) younger than the average player. It’s more noise than signal at this point, as the 6’2” 175 lb Hernandez has one of the prettiest right-handed swings you’ll see and can absolutely launch the ball when he connects. I’ve always been comparatively low here, though, for what it’s worth. Don’t have him on any teams. Wouldn’t trade for him, probably, but that’s because the hype on him got loud early, and I tend to prioritize near-term rotisserie points.
7. RHP Hayden Wesneski | 25 | MLB | 2022
Wesneski pitched well this season, especially during his 33 major league innings, producing a sparkling 2.18 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He’d probably have to pitch his way out of the opening day rotation at this point, if that’s even possible. Wesneski presents a unique look with plus extension on his release. It’s a bit reliever-y at a glance, but Wesneski repeats the delivery well and tunnels his divergent array of fastballs (sinker, four-seam, cutter) to keep hitters off balance. He throws the slider more than any pitch (31.9 percent), and it’s devastating, especially mixed in with his heaters and the occasional changeup.
8. 3B James Triantos | 20 | A | 2025
If I could put emojis here, I’d be tempted to just post a big ole tree and leaf it at that. I’m not sure what to say about Triantos. He demonstrated great plate skills in a league where he was younger than the average player, but he didn’t exactly look like a fantasy piece, slugging .386 with seven home runs in 113 games at Low-A. He chipped in 20 steals, but he’s not especially fast and seems unlikely to contribute in that area at the highest level. On the flip side, he’s got plenty of time, and his elite hand-eye skills will always contain upside beyond the numbers.
9. SS Pedro Ramirez | 19 | A | 2026
Ramirez brings a well-rounded, contact-oriented game and plus speed. In the pre dead-ball era, I’d be rushing him the list because he fits a prototype that often pops for fantasy. He’s just 5’9” and 165 lbs though, and I’m more worried about small guys than ever at the moment. Sure, we’ve got a group of them crushing at the highest level (Betts, Ramirez, Altuve, etc.), but it feels overly aggressive to expect someone to grow into that kind of outlier in an era where the ball just isn’t carrying like it used to. Ramirez is also a fairly shift-proof switch-hitter: another trait that might become less valuable in the new paradigm of a shift-governed 2023. Lotta variables here, but the bottom line is I like the player. He’ll turn 19 on April 1 and will likely spend most of the season in Low-A.
10. OF Yonathan Perlaza | 24 | AA | 2023
Perlaza has to be added to the 40-man roster or let go this winter, and I’m guessing he’ll be added. No reason to expose him to the Rule 5 draft when he could conceivably help the club in 2023 if they give him the chance. At 5’11” 170 lbs, he’s a switch hitter who does damage from both sides of the plate. From August onward (39 games), Perlaza slashed .276/.383/.559 with nine home runs and eight stolen bases without getting caught. You don’t have to be MC Escher to understand that adds up to a monster fantasy season.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.