Cubs Prospects Sure to Make a Splash in 2015
Regardless of what happens in the remainder of the 2014 season, Cubs fans should feel confident about the future of their lovable losers. Heck, the team may even be able to shed the nickname "lovable losers" in due time.
The reason for the hype surrounding a team that is 16 games below .500 is simple: talented prospects.
The Cubs are rich with talent in the minors, including some potential stars on the verge of being called up to the majors.
In fact, the Cubs have three of the top 10 prospects in baseball, including Kris Bryant, Addison Russel and Javier Baez, all of which are infielders capable of playing multiple positions.
The arrival of the the highly touted prospects in the Cubs minor league system is something that Cubs fans have been looking forward to since Cubs President Theo Epstein took over the team. Their arrivals will be a huge step in the rebuilding phase and signify the beginning of the Cubs' contention.
Here we break down five prospects sure to make a splash in 2015.
Honorable Mentions: Albert Almora and Addison Russell
Both Albert Almora and Addison Russell are currently with Double-A Tennessee and will likely stay there for the remainder of 2014. Almora, an outfielder, was recently promoted to Double-A upon Jorge Soler's departure to Triple-A and has struggled since his arrival, hitting just .213 in 11 games. However, that's nothing to worry about for Cubs fans. Almora is ranked as the No. 6 outfield prospect in baseball.
Shortstop Addison Russell came to the Cubs organization as part of the deal that sent SP Jeff Samardzija to Oakland. Russell has hit .293 with eight home runs in 25 games, though if the Cubs were to call up another middle infielder, they would likely call up Javier Baez and give Russell the opportunity to get some regular playing time at various positions. After all, Baez is in his fourth season in the minors; Russell and Almora are in their third.
Almora likely would be a September call-up at best in 2015. The Cubs must develop him more and turn around his hitting in Double-A. He could possibly start the season in Triple-A depending on his spring performance next year, but he should see some time in Triple-A before being given the chance to make any significant impact in the majors, and that's after he shows some noticable improvement on his Double-A stats.
The same goes for Russell, who could be at a disadvantage as a result of the Cubs' surplus of infield prospects. Even with Russell's stats, the Cubs would be better off calling Baez up first because of his age and more experience in the minors.
4. Arismendy Alcantara
Although it's uncertain which position Arismendy Alcantara will play going forward, Alcantara is a versatile option who can play both infield and outfield. Alcantara has played 15 games at second base and six in the outfield.
Alcantara has earned a lot of playing time at second base since the Cubs parted ways with Darwin Barney and Emilio Bonifacio. He owns a .986 fielding percentage, only one point lower than Barney posted with the Cubs in 2014. However, his average is 23 points higher than was Barney's at the time of his departure.
Regardless of what position Alcantara plays, he has shown thus far that he has potential to be a great asset for the Cubs. Though his average has dropped to .253, Alcantara got off to a solid start to his career. He has seven RBI in 16 games in the majors and has committed only one error in the field.
Alcantara is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the Cubs organization according to MLB.com. He is also the only player of the Cubs top 10 prospects who has been promoted to the major leagues—a good sign that the future is about to begin for the Cubs.
3. Jorge Soler
Jorge Soler got off to a hot start upon his arrival in Triple-A. Through eight games, the young Cuban was hitting .316 with two home runs. He's cooled off a bit as his average has dropped to .265 through 12 games.
At 6'4", 215 pounds, Soler generates a significant amount of power, something that the Cubs could use some more of. Take away Anthony Rizzo's 25 home runs and the Cubs stand at No. 27 in the majors in team home runs.
Hopefully, Soler's splash will be a different splash from his arrival in the minors. Shortly after debuting in the U.S. minor league system, Soler was suspended for charging the opposing team's dugout while wielding a bat in his hand. It's important to note that Soler has not had any other incidents since his suspension, so it appears that Soler learned his lesson quickly.
The 22-year-old will bring power both at the plate and in the field, as Soler possesses a strong arm—both of which are something that the Cubs could use more of.
2. Javier Baez
Recently, it was reported that Baez was a strong candidate to switch to second base out of the Cubs infield prospects because of his athleticism. He saw a little playing time at second base during spring training and has been starting at second base at Triple-A Iowa since Arismendy Alcantara's promotion.
Baez has been long hyped since his arrival in the Cubs organization and has been ranked the Cubs' No. 1 prospect until being overtaken by 3B Kris Bryant recently.
If the rumors are true, the Cubs could be on the verge of having one of the best infields in baseball. MLB.com mentions that Baez still commits too many errors, so he may be a bit of a downgrade at second base from Darwin Barney's Gold Glove. However, his power and bat speed are things the Cubs have lacked at second base.
1. Kris Bryant
Kris Bryant has been one of the most impressive players at any minor league level this season. Bryant is hitting a solid .337 between Double-A and Triple-A while hitting 36 home runs in 112 games. His on-base percentage is a whopping .438. To compare, Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo has a team-leading 25 home runs in 109 games with a .390 OBP.
If that doesn't get you excited about the future, then nothing will.
Bryant and fellow infielder Javier Baez have been an effective duo during their short time playing together. In only 26 games, the two already had homered in the same game four times.
Ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Cubs organization, there is a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the superstar and rightfully so.
Even if Bryant struggles once he reaches the majors, his arrival will certainly generate a great deal of buzz for Cubs fans. The eventual arrival of Bryant and Baez as well as the rest of the Cubs core of prospects will signify the conclusion of the rebuilding phase and the beginning of contention for the playoffs.