5 Prospects the Cubs Should Give a Shot in the Second Half
It's no secret that the Chicago Cubs possess more exciting players in the minor leagues than they do in the major leagues. As sad as it is, most of the core of the team's future hasn't played a major league game yet.
While the Cubs have gotten mixed results from their top prospects, there are a select few who deserve a shot at the big leagues this season.
If nothing else, calling up a couple of top prospects who are expected to be ready by Opening Day next season will let them take their lumps when it doesn't really matter. That isn't to say that they won't take their lumps in 2015, but it could really ease the transition process.
For these five prospects, promotions are in order by September at the latest.
RHP Arodys Vizcaino
Even though he's struggled in limited time across three levels of the minor leagues, Arodys Vizcaino has the stuff to be the team's closer in the future. Despite his lackluster 4.97 ERA this year, the Cubs need to see what they have in him. Since being a back-end bullpen guy—especially a closer—is so psychological, it's essential that the Cubs figure out whether or not he has the right mentality to be a closer in the future.
With a fastball that averages 96 mph, Vizcaino is capable of blowing batters away. Clearly, he hasn't been able to rely solely on his fastball, so he needs to improve his secondary pitches.
As a 20-year-old, he pitched for the Atlanta Braves at the major league level, so he's been there before. By the time this season is over, Vizcaino should have gotten a chance to pitch in Chicago as well.
2B Arismendy Alcantara
Technically, Arismendy Alcantara has already gotten a chance. However, he got a chance to play in just two games while Darwin Barney was away from the team. In his second game, all he did was go 4-for-5 with a double, three RBI and two runs. In the 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Alcantara accounted for five of the team's six runs.
After paying his dues in the minor leagues, it's time for the Cubs' most underrated prospect to get a shot at the big league level.
It's clear that Alcantara is a better hitter than Barney already, and he doesn't provide a huge drop-off in the field, either. Additionally, he can play the outfield, which makes him more flexible. Having a player like that who can step into multiple positions is invaluable for a young team.
Even though he won't lead the Cubs anywhere this season, getting Alcantara experience before he's potentially the 2015 Opening Day second baseman would be a wise idea.
RHP Kyle Hendricks
Like Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks has actually already made his major league debut, but it's unknown whether he will keep a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. After the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, the Cubs are essentially having open tryouts amongst their top Triple-A pitchers in order to fill the two spots left.
As the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago, Hendricks deserves a prolonged shot at the big league level. He doesn't have ace-quality stuff, but as he progresses, he could easily become a solid No. 3 starter at the big league level.
At 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in Triple-A this season, Hendricks has shown he can handle every form of competition. Now, it's time to show whether or not he can have that same level of success at the big league level.
SS Javier Baez
Although he could be headed for second base or the outfield in the future after the team traded for top shortstop prospect Addison Russell, Javier Baez deserves a shot at the major leagues in the second half of this season. He struggled during the opening part of the season after dominating spring training pitching, but Baez has recovered nicely.
While he has plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, Baez also has some of the best power potential in all of minor league baseball.
He has been on a run as of late, running his splits to .240/.305/.448. Those numbers won't blow anyone away, but with 14 homers this season, he's just off pace to hit 30 again this season.
While he's taken a step back in terms of statistical output this season, taking his lumps now is better than when it matters in Chicago. For that reason, Baez should be allowed to get some major league playing time before the Cubs put all their cards on the table in 2015 and beyond.
3B Kris Bryant
Obviously, the best hitter in all of minor league baseball deserves a call-up in the near future. Even though Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reported a few weeks ago that team president Theo Epstein has said that Kris Bryant won't be up this season, he should reconsider that decision.
Epstein said, "I don't foresee a scenario where he would be up this season," and added, "I don't think it's the right thing to do for someone in his first full professional season, barring extraordinary circumstances both with respect to the player and what's going on with the big league club."
Currently, Bryant has taken minor league baseball by storm, hitting .348 with 31 homers and 81 RBI in just half of a minor league season split between Double-A and Triple-A.
Possibly the best hitter in the Cubs organization, including the major league roster, Bryant deserves a shot to show what he's got before he's thrown into the fire of a full MLB season. Based on Epstein's comments, it seems unlikely he will get a call up this season, but getting him experience now could pay off in the future.