Breaking down the 2014 Cubs Minor League Rosters

As we get prepped for the daily minor league recaps, it's good to get a look at what we'll be watching this year.  Every team announced it's Opening Day roster with the exception of Iowa, but we can pretty much deduce who is going to be there.

The Tennessee (AA) and Kane County (A) teams are stacked with pitching while Daytona and their strong coaching staff inherits the promising young bats that played in the Midwest League last year.

Here's a rundown (click on the team name for links to the full roster).  I pretty much have info on all these guys, so fire away if I didn't mention a player here that you want to know more about.

AAA Iowa

The stars:

  • Javier Baez: He may not be long but if he can figure out how more experienced pitchers are approaching him, he may just put up some monster HR numbers in the hitter friendly PCL.  The bat speed allows him to crush mistakes and with experience, will allow him to wait on breaking pitches better.
  • Arismendy Alcantara: Whether you think of him as a future OBP type table-setter or more of an extra-base machine with speed, Alcantara is an exciting player to watch.  Quick-twitched with strong wrists, he has some deceptive power to go with his speed and an improving approach at the plate.

More Prospects to Watch

  • Christian Villanueva: The best defensive 3B in the system, he's next in line if Mike Olt struggles again.  He could hit for average power and does enough little things across the board to make him a potentially solid everyday big league starter.
  • Kyle Hendricks:  He may be more of a bottom of the rotation type but he's a good bet to get there.  Good command with a knowledge of how to locate and change speeds, Hendricks is the cerebral fan's type pitcher.  Pitching in the hitter friendly PCL will be good practice to make sure he becomes even more precise with his command.
  • Neil Ramirez:  He may have had the best spring of any Cubs pitcher.  Nobody has ever really questioned his stuff as much as his ability to stay healthy, repeat his delivery, and pitch with enough command to be a starter.  If he can't, he can make a heck of a power reliever, but I hope the Cubs give him another shot at starting.
  • Matt Szczur:  Good speed, a solid approach, and a penchant for the spectacular on defense bring a young Reed Johnson to mind.  The key for Szczur will be the bat.


  • Dallas Beeler: He isn't going to miss bats or wow you with his stuff, but when he's on, he'll make you repeatedly pound the ball into the dirt -- and that has some value at the MLB level.
  • Jae-Hoon Ha: A great defender with excellent instincts for the game, Ha won't do enough of anything to make him a starter, but could do just enough of everything to make him an extra outfielder.
  • Brett Jackson: A sleeper?  Maybe not, but I think he still has a shot as an extra outfielder -- but he has to make at least some consistent contact.

Other names of note: Chris Rusin is basically the 6th starter, Josh Vitters needs to hit more to compensate for his lack of utility on defense, mediocre approach, or any other secondary skills, Logan Watkins is a utility type but needs to hit better than he did last season, Marcus Hatley throws hard but also gets hit harder than he should; Carlos Pimentel doesnt stand out in any one area but may have enough to be a middle reliever; Marcelo Carreno was the payment for Jeff Baker. He's more a pitchability type whose stuff was bottom of the rotation before his injury, so he's a bigger question mark now; Trey McNutt was once ranked closely with Chris Archer but command issues and injuries have stalled his development.

AA Tennessee

The Stars:

  • Kris Bryant:  He'll man 3B for now but a move to the OF is likely.  Wherever he plays, it's the bat that makes him a potential star.  A good approach and power to match top prospect Javier Baez makes him one of the top hitting prospects in the game -- and he's a good enough athlete to hold his own on defense.
  • Jorge Soler:  The emergence of Bryant and Baez has overshadowed Soler but the Cuban OF'er can almost match them moonshot for moonshot.  It's easy to forget he looked like the Cubs top prospect for the first two months last year before injury shortened his season.
  • CJ Edwards: An exploding fastball and a nearly unhittable curve are considered TOR stuff by some, but some question his stamina.  This will be a good test for him.
  • Pierce Johnson*: Not on the roster yet and presumably will start off in extended spring training after a minor leg injury this spring.  Stuff isn't as explosive as Edwards, but size may make him better suited to eat innings as a legit #3 starter.

More Prospects to Watch:

  • Ivan Pineyro: Relies more on command, pitchability, and poise than sheer stuff, so he's more of a bottom of the rotation type, but he's had a lot of success early in his career at the lower levels.  Like Hendricks last year, it will be interesting to see how his stuff plays against upper level hitters.
  • Corey Black: Similar to Edward in that he's small of stature but has an explosive arm, Black has stamina questions when it comes to sticking as a starter.  But the stuff is plenty good enough to miss MLB bats and if he doesn't start, he could find a niche in the back of the bullpen.
  • Armando Rivero:  Can touch 97 mph and has a much improved slider.  Rivero has the stuff to be a power reliever if he can continue to throw strikes.


  • Dustin Geiger:  Solid but not great power, a vastly improved approach, and a knack for situational hitting give Geiger a shot.  As a 1B, however, there's a big burden for him to hit and hit with power.
  • Stephen Bruno: One of those guys who can seemingly roll out of bed and line a single right back through the box, Bruno is recovering from TJ surgery.  He's athletic and versatile to be a utility player if needed.
  • Matt Loosen: A 90-94 mph FB and a very good curve.  Can be dominant when he's commanding his stuff but he's been inconsistent.
  • Wes Darvill:  Athletic with solid speed and versatility, Darvill has a good approach and gained some strength last year.  A late bloomer, he profiles more as a utility guy.
  • John Andreoli - OBP machine with good speed.  Swing not conducive to power and is better defensively in the corners, so that limits his upside.
  • Rubi Silva:  great athlete with speed, pop, and a cannon for an arm.  A poor approach may undermine it all.

Others: Zeke DeVoss, intelligent player with a good approach and the athleticism to make spectacular plays but hit tool is a big question, Tony Zych, good fastball, deceptive delivery but doesn't miss enough bats; Hunter Cervenka - Good FB with movement + slider make him a LOOGY possibility, Charles Cutler -- good hitter with solid approach, could be a Steve Clevenger type; Rafael Lopez is a solid athlete for a catcher with a decent approach and some pop; Lendy Castillo is throwing hard again and has flashed a good slider on occasion.

A+ Daytona

The Stars:

  • Albert Almora is the best hitter in the organization.  Approach is improving with experience.  Defense is Gold Glove quality as he makes up for a lack of elite speed with tremendous reads and routes.  Has some pull power.
  • Arodys Vizcaino has a 98 mph FB and a hammer curve to go with perhaps the best pure arm in the system, but he's only here so he can pitch in warm weather.  He'll move up through the system all year, possibly all the way to Chicago by midseason.
  • Dan Vogelbach has done a great job of trimming down in an effort to improve his mobility on defense.  There's not a lot of question about his bat.  Vogelbach has an advanced approach, clean hitting mechanics, and the strength to hit 30 or more HRs in a season.
  • Jeimer Candelario may have the best plate discipline in the system.  More of a line drive hitter with the potential for 15 HRs, it'll be his defense that will be the key as his bat profiles best at 3B. He improved in that area last year.

More Prospects to Watch:

  • Rob Zastryzny: A solid FB, a good change, and a feel for pitching make him a bottom of the rotation type prospect but if he can regain the mid 90s fastball he showed in regionals last year, perhaps he can be more than that.
  • Gioskar Amaya:  A good hitter with a solid approach, decent speed, and above average defense at 2B, Amaya's ceiling is that of a solid big league regular.
  • Willson Contreras: An athletic catcher with a strong arm and a fiery personality, Contreras has some pop at the plate but an inconsistent approach.  Lot of work to do but the physical tools are there.
  • Marco Hernandez:  True SS skills and solid tools across the board, but needs to mature as a player. I like the idea of him and Contreras working with this staff.  It's a big development year for both players.


  • Tayler Scott:  He's well-liked in the organization because of his athleticism, mental makeup, and potential to play up what could be average stuff as he fills out.  Curve is his best pitch.  Profiles more as a 5th starter.
  • Michael Jensen:  Injuries have stalled him but a low 90s FB, a big 12 to 6 type curve, and an intelligent pitching approach make him a sleeper candidate according to one scout I spoke with.
  • Zach Cates:  Velocity kept rising and he was hitting 96 by the end of the season.  Struggles with his breaking pitch but does have a decent change.

Others: Rock Shoulders has a great approach and great power but there's a lot of swing and miss and he's limited defensively, Bijan Rademacher is an intelligent hitter with a good arm in the OF, but lack of power or ability to play CF make him something of a tweener for now, Tim Saunders is a versatile, athletic player with utility potential; Starling Peralta was an up and comer two years ago but his command deserted him last year; Jose Rosario has a 92-94 mph FB but inconsistent secondaries and questions about his stamina; Austin Reed can hit the mid 90s and has an average breaking ball and change but gets hit way harder than he should; Stephen Perakslis has a good arm and a short reliever's mentality; Felix Pena works in the low 90s and occasionally shows good command; Yao-Lin Wang is a versatile pitcher with a very good change-up and a knack for missing bats

Kane County (A)

The (Rising) Stars

  • Paul Blackburn:  May be the best pitching prospect in the system after Edwards and Johnson.  He doesn't have that one "wow" pitch but he does everything well.  He hit the mid 90s early in the year, has the potential for average or better secondaries, and the athleticism and delivery to develop good command.
  • Jen-Ho Tseng: He burst on the scene this spring and the Cubs were impressed enough to have skip both short season leagues.  He's 19 but he's advanced for his age.  Showed a 90-94 mph FB this spring to go with a couple of different curve balls, and a solid change.  Should have the poise to handle this jump.

More Prospects To Watch:

  • Tyler Skulina: Great size and good stuff to go with it.  Pitches with good plane.  Just needs to be aggressive and pound the lower part of the zone to be successful.
  • Scott Frazier: Yet another rising young arm to watch.  Frazier has tremendous size and can run his fastball up to 96 mph.  He has to keep throwing strikes.  Most likely profiles as an intimidating power reliever, but Cubs may try and start him for now.
  • Daury Torrez:  He's put up great numbers at the lower levels but visa issues have slowed his ascent.  Low 90s fastball, good slider, change and the ability to command all 3 pitches give him a starter's profile.
  • Juan Paniagua: Some of the easiest heat in the system.  He's also had visa issues but he's here early this year and needs to get off to a good start.  Has shown a good slider and his easy, repeatable delivery should help him throw strikes.
  • Jacob Hanneman: Athletic, fast player with decent size and some power potential.  Approach at plate and on defense need lots of work but good instincts could help him close the gap quickly.
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr.: Athletic player with excellent OBP skills and the quick hands to hit for average power.
  • Yasiel Balaguert: Makes hard contact with very good bat speed. Can turn around just about any fastball but struggles with breaking stuff. Needs to keep weight in check. Potential power hitting LF'er.
  • Trey Martin: Smooth CF'er with average power potential, though a long swing and an aggressive approach don't bode well for high OBP numbers at this point.
  • Carlos Penalver: Is a slick fielding SS with OBP skills and good speed.  Won't hit for much power but given the rest of his skill set, that's not a huge concern.


  • Daniel Lockhart has great bat to ball skills, excellent instincts, and enough athleticism to move around the infield.  Projects as a solid hitting utility type but could be a starting 2B if hit tool holds up.
  • Will Remillard fits the Cubs mold of catchers who have some power at the plate and the arm to control the running game behind it.  Remillard, Contreras, and Malave are my picks for the most talented catching prospects in the system, but all have a ways to go before we can call them legit prospects. Would like to see at least one of them establish themselves this season.

Others: Jose Arias is a big kid with a big arm, but doesn't sell his offspeed stuff well.  At this point, I think his best shot is as an RP.  Nathan Dorris is a lefty with a decent FB and a big breaking curve;  James Pugliese has average stuff across the board and showed improved command. Best pitch may be his 2 seamer; Gerardo Concepcion is a finesse LHP who has yet to be healthy enough to show his stuff;  Cael Brockmeyer is a big catcher with a big bat, but questions about whether he can stay there; Ben Carhart changed positions to help fill a big organizational need -- and the doubles power bat should play at catcher.  Has taken well to the position.


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  • fb_avatar

    I'm really curious to see how Concepcion does this year. He was such a big signing a few years ago, but has been hurt and sick. Would be really nice to see if he can get back to that player the Cubs thought they were getting

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    I'm rooting for him but I think he's a fringe prospect at this point. I'd rate him behind Jokisch, Rusin, Zastrzyny at the very least as far as LHPs go.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I definitely agree. Just one of those feel good, come back stories you'd like to see. Curious to see how some of those arms in the lower levels like Frazier and Zastryzny progress this year too. While the big bats are moving up, it's nice that there are still some guys in the lower levels to pay attention too

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    I'd love to see him come back. He's been through a lot.

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    He's had a pretty good spring from I've read at AZ Phils. Let's hope the trend continues.

  • Great Summary John !

    Any word where Ben Wells plays this year ?

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Presumably AA but didn't see him on the roster. May be another ext. ST situation. He has struggled on and off with injury.

  • I'm headed to Des Moines to watch the Friday/Sat/Sun games. I'm pretty pumped. However, the forecast for Friday is showing a high of 40 - low of 27 and a 30% chance of snow. My guess is that if I'm able to tough it out, I might be one of the few.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I feel your pain. We went on a similarly cold day but we had intermittent rain. Still had fun, but have to go back for nicer weather next time -- and Javy Baez.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's all about Javy! But, I'm excited to watch a number of the other guys as well. Last year was the first in many years that I didn't make the trip to Iowa - I just couldn't get excited about the prospects there. This year I'm going the opening series.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I need to make a trip there as well.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Maybe 0ne of Baezs moonshots will heat up the air a bit.

  • You know I looked at the title and I was like poor John this seems like a daunting task..However you broke it down real nicely and easy to read.

    Looking forward for tayler scott to take the next step in his career. I like him alot but man his peripherals leave alot to be desired. Hopefully an off season plan from our pitching coordinator Johnson (forgot his first name) did something for him last year and this year.

    AAA outfielders are intriguing to me w bjax, vitters, ha and Caesar. .can see them all getting a call up late in the year yes? That depends on who we trade I suppose..

    And say If edwards is dominating right off the bat, how many months at AA do you think he spends there?

  • In reply to brentcarmona:

    Thanks. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it but I wanted to at least give a general idea of who we'll be following, though that can always change if someone unexpectedly breaks out.

    Scott is a guy who is still developing but agreed on those peripherals. He doesn't miss many bats.

    You're right about the AAA outfielders. It will depend on their own performance but also a great deal on what happens at MLB level.

    I can see Edwards moving up the way Hendricks did last year for a half dozen starts or so.

  • The eye opening assignment to me was Bruno to TN... even with his return from injury he's been pushed to AA. I've always thought his ability to hit was amazing and he could be in the discussion for second base as early as next spring.

  • I kind of forgot about the Cubs grabbing Cutler in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft. Suddenly I don't feel quite as nervous about taking Baker over Kottaras. Glad to see Carreno's healthy. Even if he's just the eventual replacement for Villanueva as a swingman, that would be a great return for a month of Jeff Baker.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Any MLB contribution we get from Carreno is a win, imo.

    Cutler is interesting, could be an offensive minded backup.

  • I agree with brentcarmona, this must have been a ton of work. Very well done. Thanks.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Thank Richard. It was a good exercise for me to prepare for the season and dig up some old notes.

  • Great summary as always John - it is only through your blog that I became a regular at Kane County last year...

    It is not always popular flying from Kuwait to seemingly just see the Cubs / Cougars, but I try to sell it as quality time together in the great outdoors with plenty of fresh food and beer on tap.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:


    And you know, I agree. It's a good time there. More affordable, better view, very family friendly if you have kids-- and I think it really helps if you can identify with the players. We always have a good time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John.

    I'm a big fan of "busy" players - those whose work ethic makes up for a lack of 5-tool talent...

    Last year at KC it was Willson Contreras and Dan Vogelbach who caught my eye in this way...

    Who are the similar players to look out for at KC this year...?

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I think you're really going to like Daniel Lockhart. Fundamentally sound, high energy type player. Dunston plays with a lot of energy and Penalver is a kid with a smart approach at the plate and on defense. Ben Carhart is the kind of guy you root for too, does what the organization needs. He's worked hard to become a competent catcher.

  • Can't wait for the recaps!!

  • Looking forward to it. It's a lot of work, but a labor of love.

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    Where are Dillon Maples and Duane Underwood? I figured those guys were ticketed for KC.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Both are in EXST right now. They'' go to KC eventually. The issue is there are already 8 SP on the KC roster. There will be piggybacking going on, but early in the year with all the days off, there just will not be enough innings for 10 SP. They can't all be on the roster at the same time. It will work itself out eventually when guys get hurt or struggle.

  • In reply to Zachary Myers:

    Ext ST. You can pretty much assume any pitcher who didn't make the list is being held back to either injury or because their may not be room and/or they may not be ready for them as far as the Cubs want them to play. In Underwood's case, we know he had some sort of injury this spring, though we don't know how serious. Not sure on Maples but he could be working on his change-up again and maybe the Cubs don't want to throw him out there quite yet -- but thats just speculation on my part. Guys like Tyler Skulina and Nathan Dorris shouldn't be in Kane long, so spots will open up at some point.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Some of the stuff I've read on Tseng had him at 96 in ST. If his stuff is as advertised, I can see him moving to Daytona by the AS break. Also, I'm hoping a full ST for Paniagua can translate to results which should have him moving quickly too (fingers crossed).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It's possible he can hit that. I have early reports where he hit 96, then had a velo drop, and now what I've heard is he's up to 90-94, but it wouldn't surprise me if he's touched 96 again.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He still does his best work at 91-93 and then that hook is what gets 'em. But after you and I talked when he started getting all the recognition a couple of weeks back someone said he touched 96 in that ST outing.

    Still the fact that this kid just came to us from an IFA class where most wont be playing full season ball for 2 years and to have him starting, possibly leading a low A rotation is HUGE!

  • Jokisch isn't listed on Tennessee roster this morning; I wonder if the brass is considering slotting him into the Iowa roster somehow, of if it was an oversight when folks were updating the AA roster. He was listed on the roster Sunday, IIRC.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Candelario on the Daytona roster. I really expected that he would start at Kane County and move up mid-season. He must have made great strides working on his deficiencies on the winter ball squad (he only played in 1 game, so he had plenty of time for instruction).

    2 Kane County series will be televised this month. I'm really looking forward to seeing many of the starting pitchers on their roster.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    I'm guessing they're going to try and squeeze him in at AAA somehow. I know they want him to start so he may have to go where there is room.

    I'm really looking forward to going to a lot of Kane County games this year as well. Pitching staff is loaded.

  • Looking forward to catching some Tennessee games this year since they are just over the mountain from me. Our local team the Asheville Tourist's (Rockies) open on Thursday. Since I started following you guys and have been getting caught up with following the minors it's going to be fun to keep track of minor leaguers from outside the Cubs organization.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    The Smokies have a nice little park down there. Nothing spectacular, but its clean, easy to get in and out of, and found it a pleasant experience.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I've been there a couple times and like it a lot. One of the nice things is I actually get to wear my Cubs fan gear and not get razzed like I do at the Asheville games.

  • In reply to carolinacub:


    One of the great things about this blog is that when you watch other minor league affiliates you already know of a good number of the opposing players if you've followed the great draft and lead up to the draft coverage on here...

    It was interesting last year at KC how even as a relative minor league newbie I knew of many of the opposition roster... Similarly when visting the CR Kernels and Beloit and Quad Cities...

    All thanks to this great blog.

  • I really hope Scott Frazier performs this year. I wish he could start, at 6'7 220ish he has the body to be a work horse, but that doesn't seem to be in the plans. I think he could really be a dominant in the bullpen though.

    Hopefully I'll be able to give in person notes on all of the KC games at Beloit and Appleton.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Hes a guy I'm looking forward to seeing as well this year. He can be nasty -- had a chance to be a 1st round pick at the beginning of last year.

  • A guy who is flying under the radar is Michael Jensen. I had a chance to see him pitch at the A level a couple years ago, and I was really impressed with his mound presence and overall stuff. From what I undeerstand, he suffered an injury and missed the entire 2013 season. Hoping he can recover and continue a promising career.

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    Smart pitcher too --- except for one thing. He was charting pitches in front of me one day and got up to get a drink of water and a couple of pitches later Jorge Soler launched a 450 foot HR into the night sky.

    I gave him a hard time about it when he got back, "Really, that was the time you chose to get a drink of water? When Soler was up to bat?" He had a good sense of humor about it.

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    Is Bijan Rademacher going to Tennessee?

    I know he's not exactly a top prospect, but he's one of my favorite B prospects.

    If he can imprive he maybe an extra OF down the road, but even if not he's at least the type that can be a very strong supplementary piece in a trade. Good approach, good OBP.
    Hopefully he can cut down on that rough platoon split vs. lefties.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    He'll repeat Daytona, maybe since he hasn't had a full season there but I expect he'd move up midseason if he performs.

  • Iowa is Javier Baez and a bunch of role players, IMO. Maybe Alcantara will prove me wrong, but I see him as an eventual super-sub utility (think Bonafacio) type. Hopefully Ramirez can stick as a SP, otherwise there's nothing there to get excited about. I'm sure I'll hear how wonderful Hendricks will be... Whatever, we're not so desperate to get excited about a finesse back-end ceiling are we?

    I think top to bottom, the TEN roster is one of the most talented in all the minors. They've got premium pitching & position player prospects with lots of power. It'll be interesting t osee how quickly Bryant & Soler can force a call up. Soler is on the 40 man so if he's back to his early 2013 form, he gets a cup o' joe in Sept.

    Daytona will be interesting. Looks like they'll have offense and lots of it for the 1st half and then as some of the talented SP prospects from KC move up, will be a pitching dominated roster for the 2nd half. Please just keep Almora healthy for a whole season!....

    KC is loaded with pitching. If the role players/power relievers in AAA, the rotations in TEN & Daytona are our first 'waves", then this roster is a Tsunami in waiting... They have some intriguing position prospects too. They'll be fun to watch. I expected to see Hanneman get bumped to Daytona.

    I think TEN is the early favorite to win the SL this year and Daytona has a legit shot at a re-peat of the FSL. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see BA name of them the MiLB team of the year in 2014.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    "Hopefully Ramirez can stick as a SP, otherwise there's nothing there to get excited about."

    I don't know. An above average (or better) power arm out of the bullpen is worth getting excited about for me. Especially with the value of a quality pen increasing in today's game.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I think that's something where the sum total is greater than the parts. I get excited about having a BP like the Pirates had last year, but not the individual pieces (except the closer) as they seem highly volatile year to year and the whole point about having so many power relievers in the system is just to reload...

    For me, the exciting parts are impact AS caliber players ala the big 4 prospects and impact SP prospects ala CJE, etc... the only relievers I get excited about are guys that profile as a closer if they aren't a SP ala Vizcaino.

    Having said that, I hope Ramirez can stick as a SP. If not, he's just another good arm in the BP ala Strop, Grimm, Rondon, etc...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Fair enough, HD.

    I get excited about any piece that can help the team win. As you said, it takes parts to maintain an effective bullpen, and it appears he's got a good shot at being a part. And, as is increasingly clear, if you want to win a championship, you're going to need an effective bullpen.

    But perhaps you subscribe more to this philosophy. ;-)

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Ha! Not exactly subscribed to that philosophy, no... Let's just say if Ramirez remains a SP, I am excited and if he is relegated to a BP spot, then my excitement wanes...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Well, we can definitely agree on that! Is there reason to believe that he has a chance to remain a starter? AZPhil has him listed as a reliever for the I-Cubs.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    BA has Tennessee as the faves in the SL this year. the have Daytona ranked behind the Twins team at HighA.

  • I was hoping Almora would be bumped up to AA to start the year. But everything else looks really exciting.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    I held out a bit of hope too, but I'd be surprised if he isn't there by midseason -- if he's healthy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    How is his bruised knee?

  • In reply to John57:

    Seems to be okay. Looked to be a minor thing -- but for anyone who has bruised a knee, it can really, really hurt at first, but it usually fades fairly quickly.

  • John, don't know if you saw this, but AZ Phil posted that Frandy De La Rosa was also hurt in Encarnacion's car crash, has neck injury. Must be fairly serious to still be keeping him from playing this long after crash...

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I did know that but I imagine DeLaRosa would be either at the facility in the DR facility or Ext. ST even if he was healthy. I don't know the extent of his injuries.

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    I'm so glad I'm not the only Cubs fan who thinks Zastryzny is a bottom of the rotation guy based on his current set of tools.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I tend to lean towards the "Theo/Jed/Jason know way more about this stuff than the rest of us do". What seemed like a reach at the time (I remember Mayo stuttering when asked about him on live TV and ultimately saying "I don't know - seems like a finesse type lefty". But it turns out some Scouts had him projected as a 1st round talent.

    Epstoyer & Co have followed him since he was a HS standout in TX. He seems to have the uncanny ability to consistently locate his FB at varying speeds from 87-95mph. That in and of itself is a rare talent. He mostly works that in the 90-92 range and as his secondaries improve, I can see him being projected as much more than a back of the rotation SP. I think that's his floor, but he could, if the stars aligned, peak at a #2.

    A LH SP with better secondaries and described my many as having pitch-ability to go with a low 90's FB and able to reach back and hit 95 could easily exceed anything Travis Wood already is.

    This year will tell us a lot about what he is going forward. But right now, we know he was a dominant HS pitcher in TX. He was the Ace for Mizzou, in a very tough SEC conf., and he was dominant in the SEC Tourney. Epstoyer and Co don't have a track record of picking guys with #5 ceilings in the top of the 2nd round.... A bit of a dark horse prospect, but he's an interesting one to watch and see how good the new Cubs regime will be at talent identification and development. I think placing him in Daytona is a bit aggressive, but again, I think "Theo/Jed/Jason, etc know more about this than we do".

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think what you have with Zastryzny is a likely bottom of the rotation guy but with a small chance he can be more. He's shown glimpses of a mid 90s fastball and a solid breaking pitch, but they haven't shown up often since he's signed. He's relied heavily on the change while the other two pitches have been average. If he doesn't get that FB, SL back, he still has a chance but he'll be in that Rusin/Jokisch range. If he does find it, he can be better -- and I think that alone is worth the gamble considering what's available. For what it's worth, the Cards were all over him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not saying you're wrong. But I think he has more of a chance than just a "small chance" to hit his ceiling. I think the FO feels that way too. They don't target limited upside guys that high,. This is a FO with a pretty good track record of evaluating and developing talent. They selected him when there were a lot of "consensus better picks" on the board. I also don't think that the mid-90's heater is evading him, but rather he chooses to pitch in the 90-92 range where he has excellent command and can reach back for that 95 if he needs to.

    Like I said, this season will determine where we project him. Right now, a bottom of the rotation LH-SP seems to be his floor, not his ceiling.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Lester was a 2nd round pick. He seems like a min imum of a #2 starter.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He is, but Lester was not drafted by this FO. That was the pre Lucchino/Epstein regime.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I look at him as a guy who, when drafted, had a floor of a #4 starter as a pitchability left-hander with a ceiling of a #2 guy if he could maintain 95 mph velocity on the fastball. I think he hits the floor -- which is why it's nice to have a decent floor -- but certainly doesn't appear like he will hit the rather lofty ceiling.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    So having inconsistent FB velocity is now a "rare talent"? That's a charitable interpretation of his top velo being MIA most of the time.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    No, according to Scouts, he does that intentionally. It's not inconsistent velocity.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I could buy that if the 92-95 mph heat showed up in all his outings and he was changing speeds off of that, but it almost never shows up. The FB does not vary between 86-95 within a game.

    Z is basically a guy who throws 88-91 for the most part, who had a couple of games in college in which he was sitting at 91-93. He touched 95 one time. If him varying the speed of his FB is intentional, then he's intentionally not using his best FB at all in about 2/3rds of his games...

    He does locate his FB well (which is obviously hugely important for a pitcher), and he does have a good changeup.

    I'm puzzled by the pick because typically, when picking that high, teams will take a guy who either has a plus FB or a plus breaking ball--or, preferably, both. Zastryzny has neither--except on the couple of occasions when his FB was up in the 91-93 range. It's kind of unheard for teams to take a guy at the top of round two who doesn't have any real/consistent plus pitch.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Well I'm going off of what Scouts have said. I've never actually seen him pitch in person. Though I will @ Daytona. I do find it ironic that we as a group curse the likes of Shark for trying to blow away batters and just want him to learn how to pitch, and take something off it to gain location. Then we have a pitchability guy who locates his FB with precision and we damn him for not throwing mid 90's heat every time out.

    Maybe I have a little too much trust in Theo/Jed/Jason. But the fact remains they know more about this than we do. People act like he just popped up on the radar and Jason McLeod is on record as saying he scouted him in HS, where he was dominant.

    This year will tell us what we have in him. He has a chance to be more than Back of the Rotation SP.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't think it's about faith in Theo/Jed/Jason. Most everyone posting on this board has that. For me it's about acknowledging that sometimes players don't develop as expected/hoped and the greatest front office in the world can't change that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    So are you saying that after a few months and 23 innings a pro, you're conceding that he'll never be more than a back of the rotation SP? Even though the this FO, whom you have every confidence in, thinks more highly of him and felt he was ready to leap frog up to Advanced A ball...

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm saying his issue is the fastball. It isn't where they were hoping. He still is still an advanced pitcher with an excellent "pitchability" which makes him the obvious choice for Daytona with a completely stacked Kane County lineup, but the missing MPH will render him a back of the rotation starter. He could be a truly excellent back of the rotation starter but, without that fastball, that's where he'll be.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    "He does locate his FB well (which is obviously hugely important for a pitcher), and he does have a good changeup."

    Find the article in the archives here where John interviewed Derek Johnson and you'll see according to your description, he fits what the Cubs are targeting to a Tee...

  • Power relievers at the upper levels:

    Vizcaino (only in HIgh-A temporarily)
    Black (Starter for now...)

    Two others of note who could move quickly:


    If two of those six can become consistent major league contributors, the Cubs pen will be well supplied from within. Especially when you consider that other power arm starters (Edwards, Skulina, Maples, etc.) could be moved to relief roles if things don't work out.

  • And I've been so spoiled of late that when I looked over the KC line-up I was like, where are all the position players studs?! Come on, Theo & Co., you're dropping the ball!! I mean, sure, you've FINALLY got some pitchers, but WTF, where's the next Almora in Kane County?!

    Remember what this organization looked like just two short years ago? I look at how my expectations have changed as far as the type of talent the Cubs should have at EVERY level and I'm reminded of their new slogan, "When it happens..."

  • In reply to Quedub:

    KC will be a fun defensive team to watch. Penalver is supposed to be really slick at SS and the OF will certainly be fun to watch. 3 legit CFers in Martin, Dunston and Hanneman. They'll cover a ton of ground out there. Although Balaguert will probably get time out there too which will drop the range significantly.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Perhaps they'll allow Balaguert to catch with his bat like Olt did on the backfields this spring...

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