Kris Bryant Slated for Double-A Tennessee and Cubs News from the Farm

Many of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system worked out at Northwestern on Wednesday in front of the Cubs’ front office and with Rick Renteria and his coaching staff. The mini-camp is part of the Rookie Development Program that Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Mike Olt, Rubi Silva, Arismendy Alcantara, Armando Rivero, Arodys Vizcaino, Christian Villanueva, Eric Jokisch, Neil Ramirez, Kyle Hendricks and C.J. Edwards are participating in this week. The front office brought the players to Chicago to give them a glimpse of what it will be like when they make it to The Show. The week culminates with the annual Cubs Convention … and many of the players have no idea what is in store for them.

Rick Sutcliffe, Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Jason McLeod, Bill Mueller and Rick Renteria will address the players on Thursday before the group continues with stops on the Cubs Caravan.

Jason McLeod confirmed Wednesday what he said earlier in the off-season that the front office is planning for Kris Bryant to start the season as Double-A Tennessee’s third baseman. McLeod has been consistent all winter about their plans with Bryant for the upcoming season. In order for Bryant to be promoted, he must dominate that level and check off all the boxes on his player development plan.

With Bryant slated for Double-A Tennessee, Iowa’s infield will be Christian Villanueva (3B), Javier Baez (SS) and Arismendy Alcantara (2B) at the start of the season as Jason McLeod also confirmed on Wednesday.

Mike Olt

So with Kris Bryant at third base for Tennessee and Christian Villanueva manning the hot corner for Iowa, where does that leave Mike Olt? Olt will compete for the Cubs’ third base job in the spring and they are hoping he can earn the everyday job out of Spring Training.

Mike Olt is participating in the Rookie Development Program and told the beat reporters Wednesday he is “excited for Spring Training” after taking a prescribed break and hitting the reset button on his career.

Olt said his body feels good and the mental break was what he needed.

According to the report from ESPN Chicago, the vision problems that derailed Olt last year are behind him and he “is ready to return to being the power hitter he showed he was in the minors.”

Mike Olt is one of the big storylines of the spring. And if he is healthy, Mike Olt could push Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy to the bench at the start of the season.

Javier Baez

The Cubs have been upfront with their plans for Javier Baez. The power-hitting, 21-year old shortstop will see time at third base and second base during his second straight big league camp before he goes to minor league camp to prepare for Opening Day with the I-Cubs.

All eyes will be on Javier Baez when the position players report to camp on Feb. 18 and if he lights up the Cactus League again, many will be clamoring for him to be with the big league team on Opening Day. Baez is looking forward to playing in front of big crowds and said Wednesday he would be in the big leagues “as soon as possible.”

When asked about a possible position switch to either second or third base Wednesday, Javier Baez said he could learn either position without any problems.

Chris Coghlan and Other Non-Roster Invitees

The full list of non-roster invites to Spring Training should be released in the very near future. The Cubs added another player to the NRI list on Wednesday with the signing of OF/IF Chris Coghlan to a minor league contract. The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year can earn $800,000 next season if he makes the big league roster. Coghlan’s contract includes a $250,000 incentives package based on plate appearances and includes an opt out on June 15 if he is not added to the Cubs’ roster.

According to reports, Chris Coghlan is healthy and ready to prove he can stay on the field.

Javier Baez , Kris Bryant, Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks should be in big league camp this spring along with the following players that signed minor league contracts with the Cubs that are believed to include non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training.

Here is a list of players that should be in big league camp competing for a job on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster in the spring, most but not all of the NRIs have been confirmed.

Pitchers

  • RHP Paolo Espino
  • LHP Tommy Hottovy (NRI)
  • RHP Carlos Pimentel
  • LHP Jonathan Sanchez (NRI)
  • LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (NRI)

 

Catchers

  • John Baker (NRI)
  • Eli Whiteside (NRI)

Infielders

  • Walter Ibarra
  • Ryan Roberts (NRI)
  • Chris Valaika (NRI)
  • Jeudy Valdez

Outfielders

  • Chris Coghlan (NRI)
  • Aaron Cunningham (NRI)
  • Ryan Kalish (NRI)
  • Mitch Maier (NRI)
  • Darnell McDonald (NRI)
  • Casper Wells (NRI)

Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 13. The first on-field workout is scheduled for Feb. 14 with the first full squad workout slated for Feb. 19.

Cubs Minor League News

Baseball Prospectus is posting their list of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system next Wednesday (Jan. 22). Jason Parks really likes the talent in the organization. Parks thinks the Cubs have the second best system in the game behind only the Minnesota Twins and one ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Five Cubs’ prospects were involved in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 6. It was reported at the time Frandy De La Rosa, Jose Zapata and Jefferson Mejia were in the Toyota SUV driven by De La Rosa. All three players were hospitalized at the time, thankfully without serious injuries. According to a report Wednesday from Carrie Muskat, five players were involved in the accident and two of them are still in the hospital receiving treatment. Kevin Encarnacion was also in the wreck and remains in the hospital, along with Jose Zapata. The fifth player has not been reported. Muskat indicated the other three players are out of the hospital and both Encarnacion and Zapata are “doing well.”

The Cubs’ beat reporters reiterated the front office told Jorge Soler to take it easy during the Arizona Fall League in order to not risk reinjuring his leg. Soler took a verbal beating from the media and fan base for not hustling during the AFL.

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Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • triple

    It looks like the Cubs have a good group of talented young players on the cusp of playing in the majors. BIg league promotions over the next 2 seasons should be a big improvement over what we’ve gotten in the past two.

    • Tony_Hall

      Nice touch.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      You mean the past two centuries!

  • GaryLeeT

    Looks like it’s sink or swim for Mr. Olt,, and of course everybody is rooting for him to do well. Not only to see that he fully recovers from his head injury, but also be a valuable trading piece.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Just because they say they want Olt to compete for the ML 3B job doesn’t mean he’ll make the team. I would be glad to see him make it–move Luis Valbuena to 2B and give Darwin Barney a “well-served rest” on the bench.

    Coghlan is a lock to make the team, imo.
    Ruggiano is a lock.
    Schierholtz, Lake and Sweeney are also locks.
    The OF is set with 5 players.

    INF:
    Olt–maybe
    Valbuena
    Barney
    Rizzo
    Ryan Roberts.
    If Olt makes it, the infield is set, imo.

    C:Castillo and Kotteras
    Catching corp is set, imo.

    ST is almost a formality for this team. LOL

    SP: Samardzija, Wood, EJackson, Arrieta, and Maholm. Yup. Maholm.

    RP: Strop, Veras, Wright, Russell, Villanueva, Parker, Rondon. Scott Baker will sign.

    That sets up the ML pitching staff.

    As I said, ST is a mere formality.

    We are now ready for our WS run for 2014.

    • GaryLeeT

      Sorry, I didn’t hear you. My ears are still ringing from when I tried to shoot myself.

      • Ripsnorter1

        LOL

        You nut! LOL

    • 07GreyDigger

      You left off Castro and I hope Olt makes the team. You can nitpick all you want, but this team is better than last year’s. The bullpen was a trouble spot and I think its greatly improved. Bullpen lost 30 games last year, that’s going to make up some difference.

      I don’t think they’re going to the playoffs, but I think this squad will be more fun to watch than last year’s Cole Gillespie, Darnell McDonald, Shawn Camp and Kevin Gregg.

      • cubtex

        are you kidding? Sorry Digger. Starting pitching staff is worse. No Soriano to add pop at the 4 hole. Not close. This team is worse!

        • cubtex

          I also forgot no Navarro(who was a huge bat last) and we repaced him with a guy who “walks” Need to have a couple of players who can actually get base hits.

          • paCubsFan23

            Walks raise pitch counts and still put a man on first. Plus, I think there’s a definite disheartening for pitchers when it comes to walks. Except for Mitch Williams, he didn’t really care.

        • 07GreyDigger

          You need some new material sir. Soriano is gone. You make him sound like this supremely awesome bat. He was a 20 HR bat and mediocre from 2009-11. Is the team worse off without him? Possibly. But the bullpen was atrocious last year and it has gotten way better and if any of these minor league deals work out, the bench is better too.

          • cubtex

            Who drives in runs for this team Digger? You can’t expect to put players in situations that they cannot handle. Rizzo cannot handle 3rd but he is put there out of necessity. Castro will probably lead off out of necessity. They will be terrible offensively and the starting pitching staff is definitely weaker. Not a good formula.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I think the second half for this team will be better than the past two years. That’s why I think they improve. They have actual real talent to bring up after the deadline, that’s where it’ll get fun this season.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Thanks for showing me! I added Castro, deleted Baker. There’s your 25 man roster!

    • Cubbiemacg

      Wada will make the relief corps he’s going to be a pleasant surprise.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Iowa’s infield is pretty exciting to me…

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Iowa women are also exciting at times!

    • Eugene Debs

      Yep.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Looking at that list of minor league contract invitees to spring camp, who could be the sleeper on there that makes the team and sends a guy like Ryan Roberts to AAA? It seems like most years there is one guy who surprises (Joe Mather 2012, Clevenger or Lillibridge 2013).

    • CubbyDenCritic

      I believe some of those guys had photos on Dale….that is why they made the team.

  • cubtex

    Alot of Cubs talk on mlb radio this morning. Ugh! Have to listen to some motivational cd’s this morning to bring me back up! Patrick Mooney from CSN Chicago was on. Some bullet points… Brought up the magic number 100 losses again for this year. Said he could see Baez being brought up in July. The plan is to keep Bryant in the minors all year. Almora will start in A ball so don’t expect him either. He was asked about Tanaka signing with Cubs and said it won’t happen. Many more desperate teams looking to win now will get him.
    If Coghlan makes the team…we will have 2 former Marlin castoff outfielders on our roster.
    Memelo stated that no other Big Market would put up with 3 years in a row like this. Only in Chicago :)

    • paulcatanese

      Only blind loyalty allows this.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Wow. What a statement!
        And it’s the truth.

      • John_CC

        It’s like the blind leading the blind around here!

        • Ripsnorter1

          You are talking Theo and Ricketts, right?

    • GaryLeeT

      I look at Bryant, and the 5 years it will take him to get from high school to the Majors. I have to ask, is college baseball that much of a waste of time?

      • cubtex

        I was drafted twice. Didn’t sign the first time and did the 2nd time. Unless you are a 1st round pick out of high school…I recommend the college route.

      • cubtex

        I am glad they signed with the Cubs but I will bet that Dillon Maples and Shawon Dunston Jr would have both been better off going to college first. Both Vanderbilt and North Carolina are $40,000 plus institutions per year. Both very good baseball programs and they would be able to be kids get excellent coaching and grow up a little before making baseball a career.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Memelo is terrible.

      • cubtex

        why is he terrible? I think he is very good. The comments about the team were from Patrick Mooney. 100 losses. Tanaka. Baez. Bryant.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Sorry about that. Confused him with someone else.

    • Gramps

      Mooney and Memelo???? Makes me laugh that anyone would believe either one of these guys. I would rather believe some of the posters on this site. And believe me, that is reaching. lol ! ! !

  • cubtex

    Keith Olberman piles on Clark the Cub. It is a little ridiculous but it is very funny if you haven’t watched it. A little long but worth the watch.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/01/15/Olbermann-Weighs-In-on-Cubs-New-Mascot

    • John_CC

      Olbermann is a satirist. He is piling on all the ninny bloggers and twitter nit-wits that have gone fully off the deep end over a completely inconsequential issue.

      • cubtex

        It is ridiculous. But you have to admit. It is pretty funny!

        • John_CC

          I think Olbermann is funny, indeed. And the hysteria is funny in a pathetic sort of way, to me.

      • mutantbeast

        Uberdork is an AHO, an elitist snob , to put it mildly. ESPN fired the jerk once before, for slapping Suzy Kolber no less, over jealousy that she got the NFL assignment he wanted. I wouldnt take anything that clown says seriuosly. The jerk doesnt even know sports all that well.

        • John_CC

          Well, no thanks for sharing your unsolicited opinion of Keith Olbermann,

        • cubtex

          how do you really feel about him? lol

    • cc002600

      Olbermann should stick to his day job, whatever that is these days. That wasn’t even remotely funny. Sorry, but that was totally stupid.

      • cubtex

        ummm. that is his day job. He has a TV show on Espn. It was way over the top but I thought very funny. Sorry you didn’t care for it.

        • cc002600

          yea, at least it wasn’t vulgar or too mean-spirited like so many morons are on Twitter these days. I just didn’t think it was funny, but that’s just me. :-)

      • cubtex

        It could be worse. They could have had chosen Twinkie the Loon. With all the seagulls flying around Wrigley…Twinkie the Loon might have attracted more seagulls and made it even more difficult to patol the outfield at Wrigley.

  • cubtex

    The Giants have signed right-handed reliever Rafael Dolis and invited him to Spring Training, according to the club’s list of non-roster invitees.
    Dolis, who just turned 26, had spent his entire career in the Cubs
    organization. He only saw five games in the bigs last year, but made 34
    appearances in 2012. In his MLB career, Dolis has a 5.48 ERA in 44 1/3
    innings pitched.

    • Ripsnorter1

      He won’t be missed.

      If could he make us better, that would simply mean we would be set to lose 125 games.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    As I look at this roster, I can see the high side of 80 wins for this Cubs team…….I can also see the Cubs lose 100 plus games……We have no Soriano……No Garza….No Feldman………then again, we don’t have Marmol, Camp or Bowden, so maybe we can gain 10 wins with our new bullpen guys…….I think Navarro won 6 games with his bat last season……and he is gone……Castro & Rizzo have to have better years, and they will….It maybe be until mid July we see Baez…….there is always the “surprise” factor of a player who is hitting like Babe Ruth…….maybe Olt is that guy……and there is the guy who hits like Mario Mendoza…..and we might have several players like that……….I see no starter winning more then 12 games…….what I can say what will happen is that many players will be moving in and out of the Cubs clubhouse this season……Schierhioltz, Barney, Villaunuva and Shark will all say goodbye ….and if we are lucky, Edwin Jackson also………………..and we will hear Renteria swear in both English and Spanish in post game media conversations………..but if more then two players from the NRI list makes this Cubs team, we are in trouble…….if Coghaln makes the team, Brett Jackson & Josh Vitters Cubs days are numbered…………at least we will have one of the top 5 draft picks in 2015.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    BREAKING NEWS>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Cubs have Signed …….BILLY JOEL for a Wrigley Concert……..
    First CLARK…..now the PIANO MAN…………and least Billy Joel will be wearing pants!

    • Ripsnorter1

      Is that in his contract?

  • mutantbeast

    Ive heard some scouts have said Baez might be a better 3b than a SS. His bat certainly seems to fit well there. Also, Ive even heard some scouts say Chrisitan Villanueva might be a better 2b than a 3b. If he hits the org will have a nice problem soon.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Villanueva’s bat might profile better at 2nd but a lot of his value is going to come from solid defense at 3rd.

  • No Baseball In Indiana
  • Eugene Debs

    Can we keep Ryan Roberts over Darwin Barney?

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