The sun is shining this morning for Easter and opening night. These two statements sound a little strange because it is supposed to rain every day this week. With no 25 man roster to peruse this morning, fans will have to wait until this afternoon for the final list of Cubs. The minor league teams have not listed their players either and they begin play on Thursday. It all comes down to two spots – a backup OF and a backup IF (until Bryant returns). It could be as simple as selecting Ryan Sweeney’s left handed bat vs Matt Szczur’s torrid spring, or it could involve a trade of either Sweeney, Wellington Castillo, or even Edwin Jackson who made the team despite having only one lefty in the pen. The Cubs will post their roster later today. As I have said before, this will be the roster for opening day. Tuesday’s roster could be different.
Once the major league roster is complete today, the minor league teams will get their assignments. A picture leaked late Friday/early Saturday with names of most of the players in the organization. However, it was also missing quite a few names. It is not known, but has been speculated, that CJ Edwards will be at Tennessee along with Rob Zastryzny, Corey Black, Felix Pena, Ivan Pinyero, and Andres Santiago as starters. Combined with that offensive firepower, it could be a special summer in Kodak, Tennessee. Minor league rosters should be out shortly after the major league roster is announced.
Yesterday, I watched the young prospects play on WGN as Schwarber, Baez, Russell, and Almora took on the Diamondbacks. The young prospects looked overmatched against major league pitching in their first at bats but later put together a short rally to score two runs that were not enough to catch Arizona. However, in the field, Almora and Russell continued to make all the plays and Schwarber threw out his third runner of the spring. Baez looked to be slowly improving in his approach. He hit the ball hard every time, but at someone, had one hit, and played well in the field.
Out in the fields of Arizona, the minor leaguers got in several games this week with Chesny Young, Jake Stinnett, Daury Torrez, Jesse Hodges, and Jeremy Null drawing rave reviews from Arizona Phil. Charcer Burks, Jordan Minch, Danny Lockhart, and James Farris also made names for themselves. In addition, it looks like it could be bounce back years for prospects Jeimer Candelario, Wes Darvill, Anthony Giansanti, and John Andreoli. All four performed excellently in camp.
Saturday night also provided a big draft preview as Louisville took on Virginia, or Funkhouser vs Kirby. I have fluctuated between the arms as to who was my favorite. On Saturday night, Funkhouser out dueled Kirby easily as Louisville won 8-1. Funkhouser went 7 and 2/3 giving up 1 run while striking out 5. Kirby was sailing until he hit the seventh inning when he gave up six runs in the frame. Before he had struck out seven and only given up one run. Funkhouser currently has a 2.22 ERA and K/9 ratio of a little over 9. Kirby, despite the bashing, still has a 1.94 ERA and K/BB ratio of 3 to 1. I doubt if either could fall to the Cubs at number nine. However, two top high school prospects could very well be there.
Now that spring is here, high school players began making their debuts. 6’5” righty Mike Nikorak made his debut going 2 innings. It was reported he sat at 92-95. He walked two, struck out one, and gave up one hit but no runs. Prep outfielder Daz Cameron has been lighting it up:
— Dan Kirby (@DanMKirby) April 3, 2015
Granted it is against high school competition, Cameron is off to a good start after having a rough junior year and summer.
One college pitcher who is on the rise is Kevin Duchene from Illinois. The lefty has been filthy this year along with teammate Tyler Jay in making the Illini a top 20 team. In fact all four Illini starters on the team have been drawing raves. Duchene was profiled here last fall and does have wicked breaking stuff. He is not big physically, but he does know how to use what he has. To me, he is like a lefty Aaron Nola in that Duchene has good control/command of what he does have which is mainly plus breaking stuff.
Illinois Jr. LHP Kevin Duchene tonight: 9 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 10 K/0 BB Over 6 starts: 0.64 ERA, 0.81 WHIP 47 K/3 BB over 42 IP #MLBDraft
— Dan Kirby (@DanMKirby) April 4, 2015
Another name moving up the draft board is University of San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder. The defensive wizard is putting together a great season at the plate. Friday he went 3-4 and is closing in on .400. With a plethora of shortstops in the top of the draft in Brendan Rodgers, LSU’s Alex Bregman, Vanderbilt’s Darby Swanson, Florida’s Richie Martin, and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Blake Trahan, Holder’s defense stands far above them all. His offense and lack of power always has been the concern. The 6’1” Holder is now projected to be closing in the top of the third round and the middle to end of the second round.
Newt Week: Week One of the Maddon Era, Minor League Players of the Week for Opening Week, MiLB TV – Watching Four Games at Once.
Draft Updates Next Week: Mac Marshall, Jacob Nix, and Isiah Gilliam