The 2014 Cubs will contend for a title next season. The lineup is going to be exciting. The focus of the lineup remains a shortstop with questions regarding his offensive production, but the potential to produce well above average for the position remains. The Cubs also have a very good defensive third baseman with a bat that might not fit the position. The pitching staff does not have a true anchor, but has a depth of arms with upside to fill out the rotation and bullpen. The Cubs managed only 66 wins last season, but the 2014 Cubs should bring postseason baseball to Principal Park.
The Iowa Cubs are not shoe-ins to win the Pacific Coast League next year. Teams with the best prospects often don't win in the minors as teams with older, non-prospects often perform better. But it is an exciting time for the club which will see a top 10 prospect for the first time in 12 years. Javier Baez's rise through the minors will see him start the year in Iowa, and he is clearly the headliner for the Iowa team. Baez is likely to be joined by fellow Tennessee infield prospects Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva. That might be the most talented I-Cubs infield of the millennium featuring two top 100 prospects and a former top 100 prospect.
Now Iowa has seen multiple top 100 prospects on the same roster before. Just two years ago, Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo represented top 50 prospects on the same Iowa roster. That top 10 prospect is worth a lot more than a mere top 50 prospect though. Royals Review two years ago did a study on the success rate of top 10 position prospects and found that they were a success 62.7% of time and a superior player nearly 40% of the time. The Cubs are poised to send several top 10 prospects through Iowa in the next coming seasons as well.
The pitching staff of Iowa is not as exciting as the position prospects, but there is an abundance of depth that has not been seen in Iowa for a long time. The Cubs will likely send anyone with options down to start the season given the roster crunch I detailed here. If I am right that means the Iowa rotation should feature Kyle Hendricks, Justin Grimm, and Chris Rusin. Dallas Beeler might get a shot at AAA given his status on the 40 man roster, but is also likely to start in Tennessee given his short season last year. The bullpen in Iowa will also have Arodys Vizcaino and Hector Rondon. The amount of actual prospects in Iowa has not been seen in several years at least.
This prospect depth does not guarantee anything. The Royals stacked up the most top 100 prospects in a single list and still have not made the playoffs in a long time. However, the last time the Cubs stacked up two top ten prospects in the same list was 2002. The prospects on that list helped develop the core of the three most recent playoff teams. Iowa should see a string of top 10, at least top 30, prospects come through the next couple of years. The success rate of those prospects highly suggests that the fortunes of the big league team will be changing soon.