As the minor league season ends here in the next couple of weeks, there’s a lot to look forward to in the Cubs organization for next year. Last week, the Cubs’ farm system was ranked as the fourth best system in the minor leagues by MLBPipeline.com. This comes after last winter’s declaration of the Cubs as having the best minor league system. The big difference is that Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant are now playing in Chicago every day. That’ll take the wind out of any minor-league system. But the Cubs, it looks like, are going to have a few years in which to rebuild the system as most of their position players aren’t going anywhere for the next two to three years and a young collection of arms from Myrtle Beach on down rises up.
Next year there will be a lot of new faces in the Cubs’ system. Here is part 1 of a 2 part series about 16 things to look forward for 2016 about the Cubs’ minor league system.
1. Changes in Iowa – I will have a full-fledged post on this in a week or two, but for right now there are a lot of players in Iowa who may not be in the system much longer. One reason is they are organizational players used to fill out the system. Three to four of them will be in Chicago next year, and I think several of the 28. 29, and 30 year olds will be released. This will create a hole of about 12-15 roster sports to be filled by current AA players.
2. Stateside debuts – In the past week, and very silently I might add, pitcher Gabriel Lima made his stateside debut in the Arizona Rookie League. He is one of three players this year to debut in the states for the Cubs from their Dominican and Venezuelan Summer League teams. Lima joins Chris Pieters and Pedro Silverio in making their stateside debuts. Next year, there are likely to be many more players making their stateside debut in the Arizona Rookie League including Johnny Bethencourt and Junior Marte, among others
3. International free-agent debuts – On July 2, the Cubs made a big splash by signing several international free agents. Although many of them are only 16 or 17 years old, they will likely make their stateside debut next year because of their talent level. Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres did the same as 17 year olds in 2014. Four names to keep an ion are Yonathan Sierra, Yonathan Perlaza, Aramis Ademan, Yunior Perez, and Gwang Min Kwon.
P.S. Eddie Julio Martinez is still unsigned and available.
4. Competition – With the amount of college pitching selected by the Cubs in the 2015 MLB first year player draft, there is going to be a lot of competition for pitching positions next year in South Bend. I’m wondering who all will make the cut. Several interesting names to keep an eye on are Preston Morrison, Casey Bloomquist, Kyle Twomey, Ryan Kellogg, Carson Sands, Oscar De La Cruz, Justin Steele, Jose Paulino, and Adbert Alzolay, to name a few of the arms. One might even skip to Myrtle Beach.
5. Will Remillard – In 2015, Will Remillard has missed the entire 2015 season as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. It’s a little strange for a position player to have Tommy John Surgery. As a catcher, it’s a pretty big deal. In 2014, Remillard was one of the leaders of Kane County during the first half the year before a back injury sidelined him the second half. He was also one of my favorite players on the team that first half. It will be interesting when he returns to action for a couple reasons. One is where he goes – I am thinking Myrtle Beach. And two, whether he sticks at catcher or not. Could he play 1B and DH to take the pressure off the arm from so many throws as a catcher. Before the injury he had a solid arm. However, what I like most about Remillard is his presence on the field. He clearly comes across as a leader.
6. Donnie Dewees – Currently, the Cub’s second round draft pick from the 2015 MLB draft is assigned to short season Eugene. The thing about college position players playing right after they’re drafted is that they really don’t stop playing from January through August. That’s a long season. As a result, we really don’t get a chance to see what they can do until the beginning of the second season in the big leagues. I think the same is true of Dewees, although we have seen flashes of what he can do, including fielding, speed, and power. I don’t think his .257 average is indicative of the talent of Donnie Dewees truly has. After instructs and a good off season conditioning program, I think he will tear it up next year.
7. Scott Effross – The Cubs drafted Effross in the 15th round of the 2015 draft. Effross came to the Cubs from Indiana University where he was mainly the closer. This year he’s been a reliever at both Arizona and Eugene and has done extremely well in both places. Effross has command of four pitches. As a result there’s been some discussion that the Cubs might turn him into a starter next year. It should be interesting to see what he can do as he gets stretched out from a closer. It may take a little time to get him out there. However, the Cubs have a penchant for doing this well, most recently with Tommy Thorpe, Brad Markey, and with greater success, Ryan Williams.
8. The David Rosario Effect – David Rosario is currently the pitching coach for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. For the past two years, he’s been charged with handling Duane Underwood, Paul Blackburn, Jen-Ho Tseng, and Daury Torrez at Kane County in 2014 and in 2015 at Myrtle Beach. There are certain coaches in the Cubs organization that are known for helping players develop quickly. One is batting coach Mariano Duncan. Another is Myrtle Beach Manager Mark Johnson, who is known for his work with catchers, and third is Rosario for his work with pitchers. It will be interesting to see what magic Rosario can work with Jake Stinnett, Trevor Clifton, Erick Leal, Tommy Thorpe, Zach Hedges, James Norwood, and the rest of the South Bend pitchers.
Part Two of this series will come out Saturday and looks at eight more trends, players, and other interesting aspects of the Cubs’ minor league system for 2016.