Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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Spring training officially kicks off this week and position players will officially be reporting to their team’s facilities! I don’t know about all of you out there, but this makes me happy. I’m officially done with all this snow, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures (even though as I write this, we’re apparently having a heat wave as the temperature is currently at a balmy 36 degrees outside). At any rate, it is high time for green grass and hot dogs to be the order of the day. With these warm thoughts in mind, I give you The Cubs Column: Position Players Edition.
Every year, the Cubs seem to have a good group of players that report to Arizona ahead of even the pitchers and catchers. That group always seems to include Darwin Barney, who needs all the help he can get in the batter’s box. If he doesn’t step it up, he could find himself out of a job very easily. But this year, Ryan Kalish was the most notable of the early birds. Kalish suffered a neck injury in Triple-A while being buried in the Boston Red Sox outfield depth. He underwent the same operation that Peyton Manning did and is now poised to make his comeback. Kalish is one heck of an outfielder and could compete for a starting spot this year. If not, he’ll add some much needed depth to this organization.
With the Cubs smack in the middle of a long rebuilding process, prospects seem to be the most exciting thing about the team right now. That said, the farm system is absolutely stocked full of up and coming talent. If all of these guys make the big club and succeed, the Cubs future is in good hands. Am I drinking the Cool-Aid a little bit? Maybe…
- Dan Vogelbach – 1B: I like this guy simply because he’s fat. I’ve been hard on fat baseball players in the past, namely Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia, but guys like Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) seem to make me feel better. Anyhow, Vogelbach can hit. Last year he hit 19 homers and 23 doubles between low-A and high-A. Now, I’m not saying that he’s going to jump up and challenge Anthony Rizzo for the first base job, but this dude could become a very attractive trade piece if he continues to develop.
- Arismendy Alcantara – 2B: Alcantara is one of the guys who have a serious shot at making the big club this spring. His fielding is right where it needs to be, all that needs to come around is his bat. Darwin Barney, watch out for this guy.
- Mike Olt – 3B: Olt was acquired from Texas in the Matt Garza trade last season. He suffered from some concussion related symptoms while in the Rangers organization, but those seem to be gone now. Olt needs to prove that he can produce. At 25 years old with a very strong upside, he has the opportunity to lock down the third base job with the Cubs, but he needs to make sure that he doesn’t get upstaged by other prospects like…
- Kris Bryant – 3B: Kris Bryant is expected to open the season at double-A Tennessee, but he certainly has the opportunity to turn some heads this spring. Don’t be surprised at all if his ascension to the major leagues looks very Starlin Castro-esque, especially if he keeps knocking the cover off of the ball like he did last year.
- Jorge Soler & Albert Almora – OF: Both of these guys are currently down in A-ball. However both have big potential. Soler already was signed to a big contract, so the organizational faith is there, he just needs to stay healthy and show some consistency. The Cubs are counting on Almora to become their future lead-off hitter and center fielder. My money is on Almora to make the big leagues first between the two.
- Javier Baez – SS: This dude is a flat out stud…the type of stud that could send Starlin Castro to second base in the future. This guy has been absolutely tearing up minor league pitching to the tune of 37 homers and 111 RBI’s between single-A and double-A last year. This guy has the potential to hit 30+ homers per season at the big-league level, production that the Cubs MUST find a place for. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this guy breaks camp with the big club this year, but it’s widely expected that he’ll start the season at triple-A and be called up later in the year.