With the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs’ rosters revealed, we can now look at the Opening Day roster for the Cubs’ AA affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.
The team isn’t quite as stacked as it was last year, but there are still plenty of interesting players and prospects among the 13 pitchers, 3 catchers, 8 infielders and 3 outfielders.
The roster is headlined by the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, Trey McNutt, who hopes to rebound from an injury-plagued 2011 season. The 22-year-old righty could make his way to AAA by mid-season if he’s healthy, and shows a return to form. McNutt isn’t the only interesting starting pitcher at AA, as he’ll be joined by Dae-Eun Rhee, Nick Struck and Dallas Beeler, all of whom could pitch in the bigs some day. The other pitchers on the roster – which includes a number of quality relief prospects – are Jeffry Antigua, Frank Batista, Dan Berlind, Alberto Cabrera, Marcus Hatley, Brooks Raley, Kevin Rhoderick, Ryan Searle, and Casey Weathers.
The three catchers are Juan Apodaca, Michael Brenly, and Luis Flores, whom I believe still has a little bit of time to serve on his suspension for a positive drug test last year.
On the infield, big first baseman Justin Bour and utility player Rebel Ridling will supply plenty of power, and Logan Watkins remains an interesting, high upside prospect. Matt Cerda is a jack of all trades, who boasts some of the most impressive plate discipline in the system. He could eventually see time in the bigs as a utility player. Other infielders include Matt Camp, Jonathan Mota, Nate Samson, and Elliot Soto.
In the outfield, the Smokies will have quality prospect Jae-Hoon Ha, as well as James Adduci and Michael Burgess.
In total, the roster doesn’t boast an overwhelming number of top prospects, particularly on the offensive side (but that’s kind of what you expect in a system that is described as “deep, but lacking in high-level impact talent”). Then again, guys like Matt Szczur and Ronald Torreyes could push for a spot in AA soon enough, so maybe the Smokies will end the year with a prospect-heavy roster.