Baseball America released their Cubs Top 10 prospect rankings Monday, with a slight surprise.
Javier Baez heads up the list with Kris Bryant second. But C.J. Edwards, the right-hander acquired in the Matt Garza deal, has soared all the way up to third, breaking up the "Big 4" of Baez, Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
Edwards was taken in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but has absolutely dominated in his two professional seasons, with a 13-5 record, 1.72 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 240 strikeouts in 183.1 innings. Most impressively, he has allowed just one home run across 38 games (37 starts) and showed no signs of slowing down (1.96 ERA) upon his promotion to High-A Daytona, where he helped the D-Cubs win a Florida State League championship.
Almora and Soler rounded out the Top 5 on Baseball America's list. Both missed extended time in 2013 to injury, with Almora, the Cubs' 2012 first-round pick, playing in 61 games and Cuban native Soler appearing in just 55 contests.
Right-hander Pierce Johnson, infielder Arismendy Alcantara, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, first baseman Dan Vogelbach and righty Arodys Vizcaino finished sixth through 10th in BA's ranking.
Cubs fans had an opportunity to get a good look at four players on this list -- Almora, Johnson, Candelario, Vogelbach -- when they played for the Kane County Cougars, just 40 miles west of Wrigley Field.
Theo Epstein's front office has already made a major impact on this farm system, as they are responsible for half the players on BA's list -- Bryant, Edwards, Almora, Soler and Vizcaino.
The Cubs also signed the top two international prospects last summer, Domincian outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Venezuelan infielder Gleyber Torres, two advanced prospects who could impact the farm system in a few years.
Baseball America also included a list of the Cubs' Top 15 players 25 and under, ranking Baez and Bryant ahead of franchise cornerstones Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Only two other players (outfielder Junior Lake and righty Justin Grimm) on the list have appeared on the Cubs' major-league roster.
The Cubs' pre-2014 rankings have changed just slightly from the pre-2013 list at this time last year, which included Brett Jackson and Kyjuji Fujikawa. Jackson struggled and finished the season in Double-A after a demotion while Japenese import Fujikawa had Tommy John surgery over the summer after appearing in 12 MLB games for the Cubs.
5. Brett Jackson, OF
9. Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP