By Todd Johnson
Outside of Baseball America Magazine releasing a prospect list, it was a pretty boring week in the Cub universe. The Cubs did sign three players to minor-league contracts: shortstop Munenori Kawasaki. catcher Carlos Corporan and third baseman/first baseman Chris Dominguez. All will probably compete for a spot at Iowa in spring training.
For the first time in several years, I will not be at the Cubs Convention. It just didn’t work out this year. I shall miss it in some ways, and in other ways, I’ll be happy sitting at home in my office and trying to keep caught up via Twitter.
Planning the Previews
This is probably the hardest time of the year to write or at least to come up with something to write. It’s also the time of year that I start planning out the previews for each affiliate. So far, it’s been a disaster. The problem is I don’t have concrete ideas of who is going to be where just yet. I still think there are some moves to be made as far as trades and free agency. That could shift some prospects around.
However, the biggest reason for the hold up is that there is going to be a lot of competition for starting pitching spots from AAA Iowa all the way down to Eugene. There are a lot of ifs, buts, and what have yous about who is starting, relieving, going up, and going down. I honestly don’t know who is going to end up where. Most deployments depend on spring training performance. Here are just a few thoughts I am having about each affiliate right now.
Iowa – I would really like to see Zack Hedges start out 2017 in Des Moines. I think Iowa will likely produce four to five players to help the big league club in 2017 including Chesny Young, Mark Zagunis, and, if he stays healthy, Ryan Williams.
Tennessee – I think there will be plenty of pitching here to gaze upon between Trevor Clifton, Erick Leal, Preston Morrison, and Duane Underwood. Jake Stinnett, Jeremy Null, Jonathan Martinez, and a few more will also be competing for a spot. The problem is there are only 5 rotation spots. That’s a big transition going from a six-day rotation to a five-day one. Along with South Bend, Tennessee will have a lot of elite prospects playing every day.
Myrtle Beach – This team will be loaded with hitters spearheaded by Eloy, Eddy Martinez, and Carlos Sepulveda. As for the pitching, that is completely up in the air. There could be as many as eight different starters in the rotation. Names like Thomas Hatch, Casey Bloomquist, Kyle Miller, Ryan Kellogg, Justin Steele, Adbert Alzolay, Jose Paulino will be competing with against Oscar de la Cruz.
South Bend – There will be a lot of bona fide pitching prospects and 4 or 5 position players who could make a name for themselves by the end of the year. Pitcher Dylan Cease should be there along with Bailey Clark and Erling Moreno. Future stars like DJ Wilson and Wladimir Galindo and my two favorite picks from the 2016 draft, Zack Short and Trent Giambrone, headline the position players. As for the other pitchers, Bryan Hudson, Manny Rondon, Pedro Silverio, Tyson Miller, Duncan Robinson, Stephen Ridings, Jesus Camargo, and Tyler Peyton will try to fit into three spots. You can see how hard it is to judge who is going to make the roster or head to extended spring training.
Eugene – Outside of pitcher Javier Assad, I have only a few ideas about who will be on this team. Gustavo Polanco and Delvin Zinn will likely make the squad as position players. Extended spring training should be extremely interesting as players from last year’s Dominican Summer League teams will compete for spots with players who were on Mesa. I tend to lean towards college draft picks taking up most of the roster.
Look for those spots to come in late March this year rather than February.
Position Breakdown Series: Right Handed Starters Part Two
Next Up Series
Draft profile: Leftovers