Is This Heaven? (Kris Bryant and more coming to Iowa)

Is This Heaven? (Kris Bryant and more coming to Iowa)

 

Kris Bryant and friends are coming to Iowa tomorrow. The Iowa Cubs are going to become one of the most exciting minor league Cubs roster of recent memory with three current top 100 prospects. There are also several former top 100 prospects on the roster, and there is Manny Ramirez soon to be arriving as well. This is of little consolation to many fans where the major league roster is on pace to finish in the top 10 draft picks yet again. However, it should be an exciting time as a wave of minor league talent is on the verge of arriving together.

The roster for the Iowa Cubs is going to go through quite a shakeup. Kris Bryant has already been confirmed by manager Pevey that he will be playing 3B. Scuffling former top 100 prospect Christian Villanueva is likely heading down to Tennessee. The Cubs will also need to move two pitchers off of the roster to make room for new bullpen arms Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino. I have no insights on who will be sent down or out of the organization. There are some older arms such as Marcos Mateo, Yoanner Negrin, and or Jonathan Sanchez seem the most likely candidates. Though Alberto Cabrera has struggled and has clearly fallen out of favor in the organization. Either way the Cubs are likely going to lose a player with some (could read limited) upside and more than likely a player or two end in the Cubs organization.

Vizcaino is the highest ceiling of the two arms, but the Cubs have been very careful with Vizcaino’s usage. He has only pitched on one days rest twice throughout the entire season. Vizcaino’s pattern of usage has been to find an inning every third day for the entire season. It appears likely that pattern will continue in Iowa. Given that usage it remains unlikely that Vizcaino will appear in Chicago prior to the expansion of rosters in September. However, his presence on the 40 man roster means that out of the three arriving in Iowa tomorrow he is most likely to make it up in 2014 to me. Rivero was Tennessee’s closer, but it is unlikely that he will dethrone Blake Parker of that role right away. Rivero hasn’t been on the same schedule as Vizcaino and has no where near the checkered health pattern. He might be ready to make it to the majors, but given the roster crunch for 40 man roster spots it wouldn’t be surprising if he was held back this year. Rivero ought to be with the big league camp next spring with a shot at making the team right out of Spring Training.

The excitement of these roster moves though does bring into sharp contrast the two most recent front offices of the Cubs. The outfield is made up of players drafted by the Cubs and almost entirely developed by the Jim Hendry regime. Matt Szczur, Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson have all struggled this year, and none have lived up to their previous top 100 billings. They represent pretty accurately the failings of the previous regime to identify and develop talent. There is an issue when the organization went over twenty years between developing all-star position players (Mark Grace to Starlin Castro for those keeping track at home). The infield represents players that have largely been developed by the Theo Epstein regime. Now some will be quick to point out that Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez were acquired by the previous front office is true, but those two players had a combined 99 games in full season minor league ball under Jim Hendry’s regime. Rafael Lopez and Kris Bryant were also both selected by this front office as well. The promise of those players compared to the outfield should give Cubs fans tremendous amounts of hope.

Now hope is not a promise. Heaven might never move from Iowa to Chicago, but the hope of sustained success is closer today than any point since the days of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

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