It’s an exciting time to be a Chicago Cubs fan as for the first time in awhile, the Cubs seem to be contenders for awhile.
After a busy past couple of off-seasons to lure over
and even a
, GM Theo Epstein has developed a strong roster for the Cubs major league and minor league rosters. The Chicago Tribune, USA Today and Sports Illustrated along with other sports media outlets have expressed the potential success of the Cubs this year with stars like 1B Anthony Rizzo, newcomer ace LHP Jon Lester and young phenoms OF Jorge Soler and 3B Krix Bryant leading the way, but the future is even brighter than the present.
The Cubs have some impressive young players that will probably make their major league debuts within the next couple of seasons, and one can agree that it’s because of these players that the Chicago Cubs will finally win their first World Series since 1908:
3B Kris Bryant: #1 Cubs Prospect, Top 100 Prospects (#2)
After an incredible 2014 Minor League campaign, Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant will make an impact for the 2015 Chicago Cubs at the Major League level all season long. (photo from: MiLB.com)
At this time, almost all baseball fans know who Kris Bryant is. He had a monster spring training and a monster season last year in the minor leagues. Last year, Bryant led the minor leagues in home runs (43), extra base hits (78), total bases (325), slugging percentage (.661) and OPS (1.098) while reaching the Triple-A level in his first pro season according to
Drafted as the #2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Bryant will be manning third base for awhile if all goes well in Chicago. He’s the early season favorite to win the NL Rookie Of The Year and he debuted in the majors batting fourth in the lineup. He’ll probably be batting in the middle of the lineup for the Cubs for a long time and he’s expected to be a 30 HR hitter for years to come.
With Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant manning the corners of the infield and the number three and four hole, they easily will become the best 1B and 3B pair in the major leagues once Bryant fully develops.
On April 17, 2015 the Cubs called up 3B Kris Bryant to the Major League level according to
SS Addison Russell: #2 Cubs Prospect, Top 100 Prospects (#5)
Prospect SS Addison Russell recently was called up to the Major Leagues. He will join 3B Kris Bryant as the farm system starts to take over the Cubs Major League roster. (photo from: Bleacher Report)
Russell is a young all around shortstop who will contend for playing time at shortstop against SS Starlin Castro and SS Javier Baez. According to MiLB.com, Russell has been compared to Hall of Famer Barry Larkn and former AL-MVP Miguel Tejada because of his all around ability as a shortstop. Scouts also believe that Russell is a better defender than both Castro and Baez so he seems to have the defensive advantage.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 2012 draft as the #11 overall pick, Russell was one of two first round picks a part of the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland Athletics on July 5, 2014 according to
. The deal gave the Cubs, who already had the best position player farm system, another piece to develop to make a run at a future World Series title.
His mature ability at the plate has been a big part of his early success as he knows how to hit and take some pitches for a walk. In his first three pro seasons, Russell has batted .300 with an OBP of .379 and a SLG of .522 in the Athletics and Cubs farm system. This is a hitter that can be seen batting anywhere in the lineup because he does have some power and he can hit for average. He has average speed so I can see the Cubs batting him second or in the bottom portion of the lineup. However, once Russell meets his full potential, he’ll overcome Castro and Baez as the everyday starter at shortstop because of his fielding ability.
On April 20, 2015 the Chicago Cubs promoted SS Addison Russel to the Major Leagues according to CBS Sports.
RHP C.J. Edwards: Cubs #3 Prospect. Top 100 Prospects (#46)
Cubs pitching prospect C.J. Edwards is regarded as the team’s top pitching prospect, but he missed all of 2014 due to a right shoulder strain. (photo from Cubs.MLB.com)
There’s a pitcher in the Cubs farm system that seems oddly familiar to the description of a famous retired New York Yankee.
C.J. Edwards is his name and he is currently ranked third in the Cubs farm system according to
. He was discovered by a scout for the Texas Rangers named Chris Kemp. The Cubs would draft Edwards in the 48th round of the 2011 draft, and eventually trade him to Chicago as a part of the July 23, 2013 trade that sent Matt Garza to the Rangers according to
He is described as a pitcher who throws a low 90’s heater that can top out at 97 mph. However, his fastball has a natural cutting ability. An example of his dominance in his 237 innings and three pro seasons is that hitters have only hit 2 home runs off of his fastball. He also has “an extremely skinny frame that may not be suited to taking the ball every fifth day.” Perhaps he can be reliever?
Let’s reevaluate: a skinny pitcher who will likely be reliever, and he has a cutting fastball that tops out at 97 mph. Sounds similar to future Hall of Famer New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera!
Unlike Rivera, Edwards throws a curveball and does not have excellent control. He will likely develop into a a very good pitcher, but let’s be honest, he’s unlikely to end up as good as Rivera.
For now, the Cubs seem pretty content with Hector Rondon as the team’s closer. In 2014 he had a WHIP nearly at 1.00, an ERA nearly at 2.00 and he saved almost 30 games after taking over the closer role in the middle of the season. We may see C.J. Edwards become a set-up man for Rondon in the near future. In order for this to happen, he first needs to bounce back in 2015 after missing most of 2014 due to a right shoulder strain.
C/OF Kyle Schwarber: Cubs #4 Prospect, Top 100 Prospects (#48)
Cubs C/OF prospect Kyle Schwarber proved to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate last year at the Single-A level, and should see some Major League at bats by 2016. (photo from: USA Today)
According to MiLB.com Scouts considered him the best all around hitter in the 2014 draft because of his strength and bat speed from the left side of the plate and his impressive plate discipline.
He was drafted as the #4 overall pick in the 2014 draft and batted .344 with an OBP of .428 and a SLG of .634 at the Single-A level for Chicago last year. He is known for making hard contact consistently and he is believed to have the tools to be a .280 30 home run hitter according to scouts.
Schwarber will mix in well in the middle of the lineup with Rizzo and Bryant. With Rizzo’s ability, Bryant’s potential and Schwarber’s potential, Chicago has a scary 3, 4, 5 hitter combination in the making.
He’s expected to make his major league debut in 2016 so we probably will not see this second year pro in 2015 make an impact for the Cubs, but someday he’ll be a solid hitter in the MLB.
Other Top Prospects
OF Albert Almora: A solid fielder and impressive line drive hitter with an aggressive approach at the plate.
SS Gleyber Torres: A young 18 year old Venezuelan with a swift, short stroke and a great arm that will help him play anywhere in the infield
RHP Duane Underwood: A young front line starter in the making known for his ability to make batters swing and miss against his 92-95 mph heater and secondary breaking pitches.
OF Billy McKinney: The other first round pick acquired by the Cubs in the Samardzija trade who has a sweet left handed swing batting .283 in hist first two seasons in the pros.
Although SS Javier Baez and OF Jorge Soler are not considered prospects anymore, they are still under the age of 25 like 1B Anthony Rizzo who is actually 25. Combining those players with the stars of tomorrow in the Cubs farm system should have Cubs fan feeling eager for the future if all the prospects develop into the stars they are predicted to become.