Kane County Cougars release their tentative roster: Here's who I'll be watching

The Cubs two Class A affiliates, the Kane County Cougars (Class A), Daytona Cubs (high Class A), and Iowa Cubs (AAA) have announced their rosters.  The Tennessee Smokies will release theirs tomorrow.  You can click on the links for the complete rosters. Albert Almora is not yet on the official roster but he’s expected to start the year in Kane County when he’s healthy.  Other than Almora, here are some of the players I’m excited to see at Kane County  this year.

Kane County Cougars


Top prospects

  • Pierce Johnson
  • Jose Arias
  • Tayler Scott
  • Lendy Castillo

Johnson may not be in Kane County long.  He is the Cubs top pitching prospect, working with a 92-94 fastball, a hammer curve, a cutter, and a change.  Jose Arias can also reach the mid 90s but isn’t as advanced, though he showed improved off-speed stuff this past fall.  Scott is the most projectable of the bunch.  He can pitch in the low 90s and throws a big curve, and still has room to grow.  Castillo is a bit of a surprise this low and you have to wonder if the Cubs would like to develop him as a starter.  His secondary pitches still need a lot of work for that to happen, however.


  • Brian Smith (L)
  • Nathan Dorris (L)
  • Justin Amlung

Brian Smith is a rare power lefty (92-93 mph, power slider) in the Cubs organization but command and lack of a 3rd pitch probably makes him a bullpen guy.  Nathan Dorris is another lefty who can pitch in the low 90s, has a big curve, some projection left, and the athleticism to repeat his delivery and develop good command.  Justin Amlung is a polished 4 pitch pitcher who throws in the low 90s and projects as a bottom of the rotation starter.

Position Players

Top Prospects

  • Jeimer Candelario (3B)
  • Marco Hernandez (SS)
  • Gioskar Amaya (2B)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B)
  • Trey Martin (OF)

Candelario is one of the best pure hitters in the system.  He has a good approach and quick hands from both sides of the plate.  He hits line drives now but my project for 20 HR power down the road. Defensively he has the soft hands and strong arm to stay at 3B, but it will depend on whether he can retain enough range as he fills out.  Marco Hernandez is a SS with solid tools across the board.  He also offers good athleticism and a rare lefty bat.  Amaya is another good bat who plays solid defense and has above average defense.  He is an instinctual player who adapts quickly.  Dan Vogelbach (featured below) is a tremendous power hitter who has better all-around hitting skills than you might think, including a strong feel for the strike zone.  Trey Martin is a long-limbed, athletic player who has a chance to develop power down the road.  He can play CF in the majors right now.  He eats up ground with long strides and has an above average arm.


  • Rock Shoulders (OF-1B)
  • Wilson Contreras (C)
  • Chadd Krist (C)

Rock Shoulders has a good approach and should combine with Dan Vogelbach to provide some great batting practice shows. At the plate he shows good discipline although he will strike out. He is a good enough athlete to play the OF.  Wilson Contreras and Chadd Krist give the Cougars an interesting catching tandem.  Krist is the more polished player and has a chance to reach the majors as a backup.  Contreras is more raw, but also more athletic with a higher ceiling.



Filed under: Kane County Preview


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  • This summer is going to be fun in Geneva!

  • In reply to historyrat:

    It is indeed. There are a lot of interesting players at Kane this year. Good prospects and some interesting sleepers. Are you going Saturday?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Kane Co looks like they will have a top notch O, particualry when Almora returns to health. I personally expect Vogelbomb to be the top offensive star, Id like to see how far his defense progresses and whether he is a viable option down the road.

  • I saw Scott last week. He looks like he is starting to make strides in the right direct.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Good to hear. Saw him pitch quite a bit at Boise last year and he showed flashes.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Saw him during a bullpen session. Looked much more repeatable.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Makes sense. Very athletic guy and those guys tend to repeat well. Just a matter of him getting experience. Do you know what his velo was?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I had to eye it I would say low 90s. Wasn't at an angle to even pull out the gun.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    That'd be about the same as last year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The key for him is gaining command and he was hitting his spots.

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    Wow. Both rosters are interesting almost all the way through the lineup.

    This is awesome.

    Is Reggie Golden projected to play AA?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm guessing Golden starts in AZ for ext. ST.

  • Does this mean Baez and Soler start at Double A, or am I missing something?

  • In reply to Milbzane:

    They're starting at Daytona, which is the Cubs advanced Class A affiliate. Check out that link at the top of the article.

  • I am guessing Underwood will start at AZ too. I didn't see him in the pen but I saw him playing catch and the ball just explodes out of his hand and has some good side arm action to it.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I'm sure he starts in AZ then probably heads to Boise.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Would you agree that they're probably going to take their time with Underwood and Blackburn (not to mention any high-upside HS arms in the upcoming class)?

    One of the things I admire most about Tampa's program is their patience. Matt Moore is a great example. Drafted the same year as Price and just last year made it up, but ranked up with Trout and Harper as top prospect.

    I wouldn't mind at all if Underwood and Blackburn don't make it up until 2017 or 2018 if they can reach their ceilings.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    It looks that way. At least at the outset. It probably has to do with developing them and limiting their workload while they are still young.

    They'll probably let these guys gain experience and reach certain benchmarks before they're promoted.

  • Looks like the Alberto Cabrera shift back into the rotation will start at AA this year.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    That works for me. He did well at AA last year. Hopefully he gets his confidence back.

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    So, (unless I missed something) AA is looking like: Villaneuva, Torreyes, Alcantara, Bour, Szczur, McNutt, Zych, Cabrera, and Ha. Should be a fun team to watch.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That looks about right.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I take it back -- TCR has Torreyes demoted to extended spring training.

    That ain't good.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think that's a straight out demotion. He's there for a reason, though I don't know what that would be right now.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Unless the absence of AGonz to the big league team made room for him, it also looks like Junior Lake goes to AA. I see spaces occupied at short, third and outfield, assuming JChavez ends up there. Seems a waste to put his arm at second base. So is Junior Lake going to play all over the field now? He had a great spring, I'd hate to mess with his head too much.

    Moscosco to AA also? And Whitenack, hopefully.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Lake is not going to AA. He is one of their best prospects and he did well at AA last year and in the winter league. He will probably get a combination of 3B, SS and the OF at AAA when healthy. When a trade or injury happens he will likely be in Chicago.

  • I'm going to be in Daytona to watch the Cubs on April 9. I'm excited to see the hopeful future Cubs!

  • In reply to bwitty:

    Very cool. You get an early peek at Soler and Baez. I'll talk about Daytona and the other teams tomorrow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I'm pretty excited about that myself. I may venture down there this weekend, but there is a free concert/festival at the Beach and it's hard to leave all that Beer & Bikinis....

    A little disappointed that the Smokies don't travel to Jax until later this summer. I try to spend the hot months on the Lake up there. lol

  • Thanks for this, it will be helpful when I see them play.

    I've got tickets to all three games when the Cougars come to Fort Wayne! Really looking forward to it.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Awesome. Let us know what you think.

  • Should take all the time needed to develop a top prospect
    before he is moved up. Must have success at each level.

  • I know you like Krist John, is he starting material? He seems like a defensive catcher first, is he a good enough hitter to push Castillo ?

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    No. He's a backup at this point. Nowhere near Castillo's offensive/defensive potential. Contreras maybe.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think he can be a solid backup. I'm not convinced he'll hit enough to be more than that. The catch and throw skills are advanced, however. I think Contreras has the best shot of being a starter, but he may also have the furthest to go.

  • Im surprised Austin Kirk is going to start at Daytona. I thought he did pretty decent when he moved up to AA at the end of 2012.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    He really struggled with his command there but it may be more of a factor of the Cubs increasing their pitching depth at the upper levels.

  • I'm going to try to catch Kane County when they are in Beloit on 4/17. Hopefully Johnson will be pitching!

  • In reply to CGunz:

    Caught a game at Beloit last year. Had a great time. Only bummer was that Miguel Sano got ejected early.

  • Great preview, John. Will take in my first ever Kane County game in early May. Can't wait to see the new guys in action.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    You and me both! I'm going to brave the cold for the opener on Thursday.

  • At any of they levels do they have to great/good prospects
    sharing the same position. If so, how they they get enough

  • Does this mean Almora will go to Daytona, or is he just not listed because he is hurt? I would expect extended spring training until he is 100% then assignment to Kane. Is this correct?

  • O/T, but why would any player leave Boras for Jay Z?.....

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