Most Disappointing Chicago Cubs Players in Spring Training So Far
The Chicago Cubs' future is bright, but spring training has produced mixed results in 2014. They have seen performances they didn't expect on opposite ends of the spectrum. Some players have been better than expected, while others have flopped and lowered expectations.
Realistically, the Cubs will hope to be competing for a playoff spot in 2015, and some flashes they've seen from certain players this season have given them no reason to second-guess that timetable. However, a few performances by other players must have them worried about how quickly they hope to be competing.
In the end, it's only spring training, and the results should be taken with a grain of salt, but results can be indicative of underlying issues with players. Additionally, spring training is everyone's first chance to see players play who they wouldn't normally see. Naturally, people will race to judgment on guys who aren't performing well right away. This list of disappointing players isn't aimed at saying they will all fail in the big leagues. It is only to say that they have to pick up their performance if they want to make an impact anytime soon.
No. 5: C George Kottaras
Certainly when the Cubs acquired Kottaras this offseason, they weren't expecting anything special from the veteran backstop. He's set to be Welington Castillo's backup and may very well prove his worth in that role. However, this spring training has not been kind to him to this point.
This spring, Kottaras is a lackluster 1-for-10 while striking out six times. For someone who is going to be playing a bench role this year and possibly pinch hitting in some situations, striking out in more than half your at-bats isn't going to cut it. Obviously, this is a small sample size, but as a backup, Kottaras is going to have a small sample size most of the year. It's his job to make the most of that.
No. 4: OF Brett Jackson
Once the prized jewel of the Cubs' farm system, Jackson's stock keeps on falling. In nine at-bats this spring, he has recorded just one hit and hasn't looked particularly good either. For a potential leadoff man, Jackson strikes out far too much, fanning in five of his nine at-bats. However, Jackson has drawn four walks, which is a good sign for the forgotten-about outfielder.
Again, the small sample size for Jackson can be deceiving, but he's more than likely to open the season at Triple-A Iowa. If he can't improve his performance quickly there, his days in the Cubs' farm system could be numbered.
No. 3: IF Logan Watkins
Watkins got his first taste of the big leagues last season as a utility infielder, and he struggled at the dish. While he's valuable in the field, Watkins' inability to put the bat on the ball has plagued him this spring as well. He has recorded just two base hits in his 13 at-bats, and that's without presenting any power upside.
Initially, Watkins had an outside shot at making the 25-man Opening Day roster out of camp, but that shot is effectively over as other infielders such as Mike Olt and Emilio Bonifacio are making names for themselves. Depending on the injury situation, Watkins could be up at some point as a utility man again this summer, but the Cubs know not to expect much at the plate from him.
No. 2: OF Junior Lake
Lake's lack of production this spring has been a little concerning, given that he's ticketed to play the outfield almost every day for the Cubs this season. After bursting onto the scene in surprising fashion a year ago, Lake was looking to carry momentum into spring and eventually the regular season. While there's still hope for the latter part to come true, this spring has been unkind to the young outfielder.
This spring, the former infield prospect is just 3-for-18 and has struck out a startling eight times while drawing just one walk. Getting on base consistently is going to be a problem for Lake if he can't develop a better eye at the plate, even if he starts putting the bat on the ball at a more consistent clip. Obviously, the Cubs hope this spring performance is a sign of rust and not things to come.
No. 1: Outfielder Ryan Sweeney
Slated to split time with Justin Ruggiano in the Cubs' outfield, Ryan Sweeney has been less than impressive this spring. It has been disappointing to watch the veteran go 1-for-18 so far this spring as he showed flashes last season that encouraged the Cubs enough to sign him to a two-year deal this offseason.
As a veteran, Sweeney's performance isn't as serious as some of the younger guys as the Cubs know what they should be getting from him. However, if he carries his cold streak into the season, it could be Ruggiano who's getting the bulk of time in the outfield instead of Sweeney.