Chicago Cubs: 5 Players Turning Heads Early in Spring Training
Spring training is only a couple of games in, but there are already players starting to set themselves apart. Obviously, the stats include small sample sizes, but the ability that some players are showing has been impressive.
There is plenty of time left in spring training, but for now, there are teams clearly setting themselves apart with their work ethic and results. In particular, these five players have been turning heads so far.
5. CF Matt Szczur
Matt Szczur has already tripled this spring, showing off his speed and ability to drive the ball to the gap. The former two-sport athlete at Villanova actually may be able to crack the Opening Day roster. If he continues to impress, he could the team's fourth or fifth outfielder over the likes of Ryan Sweeney or Chris Denorfia.
His higher upside makes him more appealing than his veteran counterparts, because essentially, the team knows what it's getting with them. With Szczur, it has someone who hasn't even realized his full potential yet.
4. Travis Wood
The fifth-starter battle is one of the most intriguing in Cubs camp, and Travis Wood made a nice initial statement in his first outing. He pitched two scoreless innings while striking out two, walking none and allowing zero hits.
Wood took a step back last season after being the lone Cub in the 2013 All-Star Game. If he can return to something close to his 2013 form, the Cubs rotation would be much deeper in 2015. How he pitches over the rest of the spring remains to be seen, but he's off to an excellent start.
3. LF Billy McKinney
The forgotten prospect who was also included in the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Hammel trade a season ago is off to a better start than Addison Russell, who was the centerpiece of that deal. As a young, lefty power hitter, Billy McKinney is used to turning heads with his power.
He's already done that as he blasted a towering home run this spring training. It appears he's still at least a year away from the pros, but if he keeps hitting the cover off the ball, he could really tempt the Cubs into a quicker move.
2. LHP Jon Lester
Did anyone really expect anything different? Jon Lester is already off to a dazzling start in a Cubs uniform. He's only pitched two innings in the Cubby Blue, but he didn't allow a single baserunner, and he struck out three.
Obviously he's not facing full MLB lineups yet in spring training, but he still looks like he's on the cusp of midseason form. He's going to have to be spectacular this season if the Cubs hope to contend for the playoffs.
1. C Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber is a lefty, power-hitting catcher, which is quite the combination. While he could potentially be moved to the outfield in the future, Schwarber could very well be the most valuable prospect the Cubs have not named Kris Bryant.
In true Bryant form, in his first career MLB spring training at bat, Schwarber launched a grand slam into the seats in right centerfield. The Cubs' first-round pick from a year ago has been turning heads in the minor leagues, and now he's catching the attention of even more.
This season in the minors could be an audition for a spot on the big league team at some point next season.