As I sit watching Dan Straily struggle in the second inning tonight, I am reminded that the season is 3/4 over and in two weeks, many teams expand their rosters. Also, minor league playoffs will begin and the Cubs could have 4 farm teams in the playoffs. Currently, only Kane County has secured a berth. For the Cubs, they will likely not call up too many players until the minor league playoffs are over. I expect to see most of the 40 man roster arrive in Wrigley – particularly, I am excited to see Jorge Soler in right field. Tomorrow, Matt Szczur gets a chance to play in the big leagues while Junior Lake is heading back to Iowa. The Cubs will likely take a look at some starting options for next year this September. In addition to Straily, Felix Doubront will get a look, Jacob Turner will expand his role, and Dallas Beeler could return. Even Eric Jokisch could get a crack.
Also this fall, minor league instructs will take place along with the Arizona Fall League as a few Cub minor leaguers (4) who were injured will get some extra at bats or some innings pitched. These could include Soler and CJ Edwards. When spring training rolls around, several minor leaguers will be awaiting their assignments for next year. What I have done this week is to try to predict who will get promoted in 2015, who will stay where they are at next spring, and who might get released come this winter. It is not an exact science. I based my choices on stats, injury, and the length of time at a level in 2014. The higher the level (AAA, AA), the harder it was to promote a player. The lower the level (High A, Low A, Short Season A), the easier it was to promote. Some players will be back next year, some will not. Some, we just do not know.
This week I will look at the position players while next week I will examine the pitchers.
Promoted – Iowa to the Big Leagues – Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler
Shot in Spring Training for Bench Roles on the MLB Squad – Olt, Watkins, Szczur
Staying the Same – Lopez, Mota, Soto
Released – Kalish, Vitters, Whiteside
I loved typing the first line. I got a little excited thinking about seeing those two bats in the lineup in Chicago. Even Mike Olt, who has redone his stance to make him more reactive, has a shot in my mind if Bryant goes to the outfield. Good thoughts!!!
The whole point of having a AAA team is to help support the major league team. Iowa will do that again in 2015. However, most of the current Iowa Cubs will be on the big league club. I don’t see too many of the roster sticking around in the minors. The Cubs will likely supplement that roster with castoffs and AAAA players (players who succeed at AAA but not in the majors). I really think that this week’s trade of Brett Jackson is also the warning bell for Josh Vitters. If the Cubs cannot find a taker for him over the winter I suspect Vitters is gone. I hate to see Ryan Kalish go, but he just is not good enough.
Promoted to Iowa – Addison Russell, Stephen Bruno, Lars Anderson, Christian Villanueva, Josh Davis
Staying at Kodak – Dustin Geiger, John Andreoli, Albert Almora, Rubi Silva
Could be released – Cutler, Flores, Ha, Chien, Giansanti
I gave promoting Almora to Iowa a lot of thought. I just could not do it based on his stats so far. He has not been successful at Tennessee in a very short period of time. I think he could advance quickly from Tennessee to Iowa next year and to Chicago in mid 2016. The same reasoning holds true for CJ Edwards. If he goes to the Arizona Fall League and does well there, I could be persuaded to change my list and put him at Iowa for next year. For me, the two key bats moving up are Russell and Anderson. Anderson has been such a surprise since the Red Sox dropped him like dead weight. Anderson and Russell both hit for power and average. If Anderson can convert to outfield over the next few months, he becomes a much better prospect as he could be a left-handed power hitter off the bench. The release of Cutler (age 27), Flores, Ha, Chien and Giansanti are good moves as I don’t think any of them can succeed at either Tennessee or Iowa next year. I might be persuaded to change my mind on Cutler.
Promoted to Tennessee – Wilson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Dan Vogelbach, Rock Shoulders, Billy McKinney, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, Bijan Rademacher, Wes Darvill
Staying at the Beach – Ben Carhart, Jacob Hannemann, Jordan Hankins
Released – The Rule 5 draft could affect the promotion of Amaya and Hernandez as the are eligible this winter. If someone snaps them up, they would have to put on the MLB 25 man roster. I doubt anyone will do that for either player.
What I like most about this team is that these guys can hit. I am excited to see what Schwarber does next year in his first full season as a Cub. He is a little bit worn down now since starting in January for college baseball. When it comes to who could move the fastest from Tennessee to Iowa, I think it has to be Vogelbach, Schwarber, and McKinney. They have the most advanced bats, power, and talent. For Rock Shoulders, I was not sure on whether I should promote him. But, when looking at Rock’s stats in detail, his first two months were horrid. While he has had good a summer, however, I think Tennessee could be the last stop for him if he can’t hit for average. I truly think that with the glut of catchers at Daytona next year, it would not surprise me to see either Will Remillard or Mark Zagunis of Kane County skip Daytona…or both. Remillard is such a good defender, caller of games, and leader. Zagunis can control the strike zone as a hitter and play left which is why he would advance at a quicker rate.
Heading to the Beach – Victor Caratini, Cael Brockmeyer, Jacob Rodgers, Chesny Young, Jeimer Candelario, Trey Martin, Shawon Dunston, Danny Lockhart, Jeffry Baez
Staying in Geneva – Yasiel Balaguert, Carlos Penalver, Kevin Encarnacion (Been on the DL all year from a car fire)
Skipping a Level to Tennessee – Will Remillard and Mark Zagunis
Half of the current position players at Kane County weren’t on the Cougars’ roster or in the Cubs organization at the beginning of June. Some were drafted and some came by trade and some came from Boise. I think next year, Dunston, Martin, and Rodgers will continue to develop. I am excited to see what Daytona hitting coach Mariano Duncan can do with Jacob Rodgers who I like a lot. I think the power potential and the selective eye are there for Rodgers, he just needs a few adjustments.
Caratini has a chance to do well behind the plate, as does Brockmeyer, but neither is a defensive stalwart. But their advanced bats put them on the beach. It will be interesting to see what Jeimer Candelario does on his return to Daytona. For Dunston and Martin, I think they will really begin to shine. They have played really well since early June with Dunston killing it in July and Martin in August. Neither will hit a lot of home runs, but they can create havoc on the basepaths and track down some balls with their speed.
Heading to the Burbs – Marra, Malave, Canela, Bote, Tomasovich, Hodges, Flete, Vossler, Brown, Crawford, Burks, Graves
Staying out west – White, Cuevas
This team can just hit. The two guys who haven’t broken .200 will likely return to Boise next year. I am excited to see Marra, Malave, and Hodges next year in Geneva. It should be an exciting offense to watch.
Rookie Leagues: Mesa, Dominican Summer League, Venezuela Summer League
I am not even going to try to predict promotions for these teams. A few players could skip a level. If I had to pick three players I would say Andrew Ely, Kevonte Mitchell, and Ronnie Alcala could skip Boise and go to Kane County. They all have advanced hit tools, discipline, and work hard. Mitchell is only 18 years old, but he has done so well Rookie League. Then again, there is no rush to get Mitchell to the big leagues.
I think Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres will most likely go to Boise, but it would not surprise me to see Jimenez repeat in Mesa. However, Jimenez’s biggest weakness is game experience and Boise plays around 80 games, something he won’t get in Mesa.
Tennessee, Daytona, and Kane County should be loaded up and down the lineup while Iowa will be quite a different club next year after losing Baez, Bryant, Soler, and Alcantara. Iowa will be pitcher heavy team, though, and that bodes well for Cubs fans. Daytona could be gunning for their third straight FSL championship with the batting lineup they have and the pitching which you will read about next week. Kane County should be good to go at the plate, but as you will read next week, the pitching for that team is uncertain. Mesa and Boise’s rosters will be most affected by performances in spring training, extended spring training, and the 2015 draft. I am excited to see where all the players end up for next year. It should be interesting especially if 17 year old Wladmir Galindo makes it to the states.
NEXT WEEK: 2015 Pitching Promotions