Baseball America released its ranking Tuesday of the 20 prospects that could make an impact for their respective clubs during the 2015 season. Kris Bryant topped the list with Jorge Soler right behind him and Addison Russell slipping in the top 20 at No. 18.
Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler could have the biggest impact on any team this season, especially the one coming off a losing season with aspirations of playing in October. Soler is the Cubs’ everyday right fielder unless an injury derails his season. And Bryant will be with the big league team at some point in late-April.
Baseball America thinks Bryant will be “a fixture in the heart of the Cubs’ order” once he’s called up. The question with Bryant remains where does he play, third base or one of the corner outfield spots? Bryant will have adjustments to make and a learning curve at the plate, but he’s expected to hit in the majors. Baseball America pointed out if Bryant moves to the outfield it would open a spot for Starlin Castro, Addison Russell and Javier Baez to possibly play in the same infield.
Jorge Soler announced his presence with authority last season after he was called up. Soler slowed down once pitchers adjusted to him, now it’s his turn. Baseball America thinks Soler will “make the necessary counter-adjustments this season and deliver on his promise as a slugger with enough feel for the strike zone to sustain a healthy average and on-base percentage.”
Addison Russell will begin the season as Iowa’s shortstop and some think he could make his Major League debut at some point this summer. Russell has been impressive in big league camp. And he could be the best of the shortstop prospects in the game according to Baseball America. Russell is willing to move positions and so is Starlin Castro. If Russell progresses in Iowa as he should, the talent at the big league level for the Cubs will take another step forward once Russell is added to the roster.
CF Joc Pederson (Dodgers), RF Steven Souza (Rays), INF Hector Olivera (free agent), CF Rusney Castillo (Red Sox), LHP Daniel Norris (Blue Jays), LHP Carlos Rodon (White Sox), LHP Andrew Heaney (Angels) and 3B/RF Yasmany Tomas (Diamondbacks) rounded out Baseball America’s top 10.
Jim Callis’ Cubs Minor League Notes
Jim Callis recently spent time in Cubs camp and posted notes on the top prospects in the system. Here are the highlights from Callis’ must-read report.
• Callis is consistent on the fact the pitching in the system is better than it’s perceived. Behind C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, RHP Duane Underwood and RHP Jen-Ho Tseng could help give the Cubs pitching options in 2016 and beyond.
• Jaron Madison, the Cubs’ farm director, said the pitchers in the system are “way, way underrated because of the position players.”
• Kyle Schwarber has impressed in Spring Training and has been one of the camp standouts. The Cubs have been happy with his progress behind the plate and his at bats have been “ridiculous” according to Jason McLeod. McLeod pointed out to Callis how much Schwarber’s defense has improved since he was drafted.
• RHP Tyler Skulina has also stood out. Skulina has fully recovered from a sore knee that slowed him down last year and is “throwing 92-95 mph fastballs and hard sliders with downhill plane and difficult angle.”
• SS Gleyber Torres seemingly impresses every time he steps on the field. Torres has seen time in Cactus League games as a minor league call-up for the day. Jason McLeod has noticed the at bats Torres has put together as an 18-year old on the Major League side.
• Jason McLeod has spoken highly of RHP Duane Underwood over the last calendar year. Underwood began pitching to expectations when his on and off the field preparation caught up with his talent. McLeod told Callis that Underwood’s “arrow is pointing north after he understood what he need to do as a pro.” McLeod said that Underwood has “the most upside of all of our starting pitchers.”
• RHP Jake Stinnett has created a buzz early in camp and Jim Callis asked the right hander three questions. And Stinnett is working on “certain things with his delivery to help make him more consistent.”