Cubs' Prospects with the Most to Prove in Spring Training

Mitch PetanickCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2013

Cubs' Prospects with the Most to Prove in Spring Training

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    The Cubs have made a number of moves this offseason in an attempt to improve their on the field product for 2013. In addition to the free agents added this winter, there are some young prospects that will be looking to prove they should be a part of the Cub’s future plans as well.

    Spring Training will be a very important time for some of these prospects. The Cubs are not rock-solid in a couple of spots on the field, most notably at third base and in the outfield, so some prospects may see this as an opportunity to break into the show. For some other prospects, it may be the last chance to show the Cubs’ brass that they belong within the organization.

    For prospects, Spring Training can be an exciting time in their careers if it leads to greener pastures. For others, it can bring careers to a screeching halt. Either way, Spring Training often represents a new beginning where a lot of questions get answered.

    All prospects have something to prove during Spring Training. It’s just the nature of the situation where a young player is trying to prove he belongs. But here are a few Cubs prospects that have the most to prove when Spring Training kicks off this February.

    Please Note: Although Kyuji Fujikawa is technically considered a prospect, since he has had no major league experience, he is not on this list.

Arodys Vizcaino, Pitcher

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    You may be asking why the man listed as the Cubs' top pitching prospect on MLB.com has a lot to prove this offseason.

    The video in this slide actually gives the answer to that question: his durability.

    According to the video, Arodys Vizcaino has had his share of injuries in his short professional career thus far. His latest injury caused him to miss the entire 2012 season with Tommy John surgery.

    This will be a very important spring training for Vizcaino, as the Cubs will be hoping he regains his form from before his recent surgery. He was the top pitching prospect in the Braves organization before the Cubs acquired him in a trade. If he does regain his form, he could be with the team in some capacity right when spring training breaks.

Brett Jackson, Outfield

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    The word on the street is that Brett Jackson spent the winter giving his swing a complete overhaul. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reported that Cubs hitting coaches in Arizona have said that Jackson has made “huge, huge strides.”

    That's great news, considering the biggest knock on Jackson was his tendency to strikeout when up at the plate. He had 120 at-bats with the Cubs in 2012 and struck out 59 times. That means in half of his at-bats he was making non-productive outs. It's easy to see why he decided to go back to the drawing board and work out the kinks with his swing.

    Spring training for Jackson will be about showcasing his new swing. If it's as sweet as the hitting coaches say it is, he may be patrolling the outfield in Wrigley again very soon. 

Trey McNutt, Pitcher

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    Is he a starter?

    Is he a reliever?

    Trey McNutt  will be headed into 2013 not only looking to break camp with the big league team, but find his own identity as a pitcher.

    He had been groomed as a starter, but after some ups and downs, found himself pitching out of the bullpen in 2012. However, that may not be such a bad thing if his goal is to make it to the big leagues this year.

    The Cubs rotation seems overcrowded this season after Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer went on a shopping spree for starting pitching this winter. McNutt's best chance of sticking with the big league club may actually be in a bullpen role. Maybe that's another reason why the Cubs decided to move McNutt to the bullpen in 2012.

    Could it have been a form of a tryout?

Josh Vitters, Third Base

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    If you play third base in the Cubs organization, you have to be excited about being headed into spring training this year.

    The third base competition is wide open for 2013.

    The team recently re-signed Ian Stewart, but his contract isn't guaranteed unless he makes the team out of spring training.

    With the Cubs' top prospect and heir-apparent at third base, Javier Baez, projected to make his major league debut as early as 2014, this could be Josh Vitters' last chance to land an everyday third base job with the Cubs.   

Junior Lake

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    You may have noticed that in the title of this slide, there is no position listed next to Junior Lake's name.

    That's because he hasn't settled into a position yet.

    Lake, a natural shortstop, has the arm strength to play anywhere on the field. The Cubs have decided to try to take advantage of his athleticism and have him play outfield during winter ball this year. It's yet to be seen where he will eventually stick, but it looks like his best bet may be in the outfield.

    He's been doing great during winter ball, so hopefully that success carries over to the spring.