Cubs baseball is just around the corner and spring training will be an opportunity for many players to showcase themselves after a long offseason.
The team made several additions to the rotation and bullpen, and aside from Nate Schierholtz, not many moves in the offense department. They are relying on internal options, which is a practical move given the team finished 61-101 last season.
There is a lot to be excited about with this Cubs team. While it may seem the Cubs are years off from competing, there are positive developments in the system and the team has shown a willingness to give younger players a shot.
The following list will focus on the non-roster invitees list featured on the Cubs homepage. While many players on the 40-man roster will be in a similar position, we will save them for a prospect post or something of that nature.
Baez is far and away the most talented Cubs prospect in the system right now. While there are prospects closer to the majors than he is, the Cubs seem to be putting him on a fast track to the big leagues.
One major question people will continue to ask is whether shortstop logjam will become an issue, which Theo Epstein is not worried about. One report even suspects that the Cubs will ultimately move him when he is ready.
The scouting report from manager Dale Sveum is that Baez has Gary Sheffield bat speed. A gifted shortstop, Baez was also strong enough and tough enough as a high school kid to play catcher sometimes. One talent evaluator believes Baez can be moved wherever the Cubs need him once hes ready.
Baez will likely begin the season with the Smokies, but it's possible he returns to High-A Daytona where he finished last season with a .188 in 80 at-bats.
Definitely someone to be excited about and he will certainly get plenty of looks this spring.
The right-handed hitting outfielder is being given a shot to make an impact with the Cubs and it will be interesting to see how he looks in a few weeks.
The 6'3'' power hitter hit .232 with eight home runs in 75 games last season for Double-A Jacksonville, a year after hitting .216 with 13 home runs in 126 games at the same level. What should have been a turnaround year proved to be more of the same.
However, Chavez hit .315 with 32 home runs in 136 games in 2010 in High-A. His high strikeout rate and low walk totals suggest he is not very patient at the plate though.
The Cubs will probably stick him in Triple-A and see if he can break out of his funk in a big way.
Cubs pitcher Barret Loux was a late add-on to the Cubs-Rangers deal struck at last year's trade deadline. The teams agreed to revisit the deal at the end of the season, and the Cubs sent a player they acquired at the deadline back to them in exchange for Loux.
He was the sixth overall pick back in 2010, and was Double-A Texas League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 after going 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 25 starts.
He's 23 years old and will likely begin the year at Triple-A Iowa.
If he can continue to pitch well, the Cubs will waste no time giving this former first-round pick an opportunity.
Nick Struck won 14 games for the Smokies last season, earning top honors in the Cubs organization. He was relatively unknown at the start of last season, but his strong play earned him a spot at big league camp.
Struck, 23, will likely begin the season in Triple-A and will get a shot to pitch in the majors if all goes well.
24-year-old Dayan Diaz (today is his birthday) is coming off two stellar seasons in the Astros organization, but was granted free agency this offseason due to service time. He's been in the league since 2006, but an injury stunted his progress, which helps explain how he became a free agent.
Diaz had an elbow injury that took his entire 2009 season and some of 2010, but he quickly rebounded and was closing games by the end of last season.
He finished 2012 in High-A with a 1.85 ERA in 41 games with 19 saves and 64 strikeouts to 30 walks.
He isn't likely to crack the roster out of spring training, but he throws gas and will definitely be on the Cubs radar if he isn't already.
He will likely begin the year in Triple-A, but is someone who could emerge later in the season if he can pitch well at higher levels of minor league play.