Predicting What the Chicago Cubs Lineup Will Look Like Next Year
The progress the young guns have made in the minor leagues this season is encouraging for the Chicago Cubs' future. As long as they add some quality pitching in free agency this offseason, they should actually be a pretty interesting team in 2015. Their lineup should also improve by adding prospects at the start of the year.
Just calling up Javier Baez has already made the team more exciting to watch. Once Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler get the call as well, the Cubs are going to be very entertaining to fans. These eight players are the ones who hope to begin the long-awaited turnaround of the Lovable Losers.
1. LF Chris Coghlan
Coghlan has been an extremely pleasant surprise this season. He's more than earned a contract for the upcoming season and could serve as a placeholder while Albert Almora continues to develop in the minor leagues.
Since June 1, Coghlan has been among the best hitters in baseball, and he's been consistent. His speed at the top of the lineup is certainly appealing, and the team really doesn't have many other leadoff options for the time being.
Coghlan's 2014 Stats:
2. SS Starlin Castro
Castro had a bounce-back season this year and is now a three-time All-Star by age 24. Despite several people thinking he will be traded given the shortstop depth in the organization, the Cubs would be unwise to make that move.
This season, he's shown a greater ability to drive the ball, so if he can execute the hit-and-run with Coghlan at the top of the lineup, it will put the big bashers in solid RBI opportunities. With plenty of hitting depth, the Cubs could put up runs in bunches in 2015.
Castro's 2014 Stats:
3. 3B Kris Bryant
Finally Bryant will be up in 2015. He could easily be up this season, but the organization appears set on keeping him in the minor leagues until next season. He's proven to be an elite talent already, and his all-around hitting ability slots him as a No. 3 hitter.
Since he will hit for average and power, Bryant makes more sense in the three-hole than the cleanup role. There will be plenty of protection behind him, so he's going to get pitches to hit most of the time.
Bryant's 2014 Stats (AA-AAA):
4. 1B Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo, just like Castro, has had a bounce-back year in 2014. His power numbers are finally where they should be, and he's viewed as a top-10 slugger in the NL. As a lefty bat, he's even more valuable, and that big-bat hitting behind Bryant could be scary for opponents.
He's just hitting his prime, and the addition of Bryant is only going to help him get more RBI opportunities. Ideally, the Cubs will have a three-year window where all their stars are squarely in their prime. Should that happen, a century-plus World Series drought may end.
Rizzo's 2014 Stats:
5. 2B Javier Baez
Simply because of his insane raw power, Baez has been the most exciting player on the Cubs during his short career to this point. In his first career home run at Wrigley Field, he knocked it onto Waveland Ave. and brought the crowd to its feet.
He's going to strikeout often, but if he hits .250 and bats 50 homers at some point in the near future, the club will be happy. The way he's shown off his power bat, looking for 50 homers out of the young slugger eventually isn't completely out of the question.
*Minor League Only Stats
6. RF Jorge Soler
The next Cub to make his way to Wrigley Field will be the red-hot Jorge Soler. He's actually hitting better than Bryant in the minor leagues this season, though he hasn't played in nearly as many games. Now that he's finally healthy, the team should be close to calling its Cuban slugger up by September.
After getting a month of major league at-bats under his belt this season, he will be primed to make an impact next season. Someone with a power bat like Soler batting in the six-hole just goes to show the organization's hitting depth. If he can stay healthy, he could be one of the key pieces in the Cubs' championship puzzle.
Soler's 2014 Stats (RK, AA, AAA):
7. CF Arismendy Alcantara
Alcantara was the first in the wave of Cubs talent to make their way to the big leagues, and he hasn't disappointed so far. He doesn't project as a superstar, but as a solid utility guy he's going to make a major impact. He's shown he can steal bases and get on base, so he's also an option at the top of the lineup.
He's small and doesn't look the part, but Alcantara actually has some power upside as well. Also, as a switch-hitter, his overall versatility makes him a very valuable asset. When other prospects come up, he may move to a lesser role, but for now he has an opportunity to set himself apart.
Alcantara's 2014 Stats:
*Minor League Stats
8. C Welington Castillo
Castillo may be the Cubs' biggest question mark moving forward. He hasn't been able to consistently stay healthy or perform at a high level, and that's just part of the reason the team traded for Victor Caratini of the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline.
Teams certainly could do worse than Castillo at backstop, but until he establishes some consistency he won't be a completely reliable option. Still, when healthy he can provide some pop at the bottom of the lineup and could ultimately be the X-factor when it comes to the team's success.
Castillo's 2014 Stats:
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