The minor league season starts today! Rosters are finalized, pitching match ups are announced, fields are ready, and baseball is back. All four full season teams open their season today, and all four have some some interesting early stories we will be watching.
AAA – Iowa Cubs.
Iowa opens at home against Round Rock. The Cubs have yet to name a starter for the game, but presumably, someone will start.
Iowa features four prospects who could play a big part in the Cubs’ future major league success. Brett Jackson will be in the outfield, Anthony Rizzo will man first, Josh Vitters will (probably) be playing at third, and Welington Castillo will be behind the plate. The Cubs’ AAA team also features a very deep pitching staff. Any one of the starting five could be pitching for Chicago by the end of the year.
AA – Tennesse Smokies.
The Smokies start their season on the road in Chattanooga, just down the road. Nick Struck takes the mound for Tennessee.
Tennessee also features a deep pitching staff, but it is the middle infield that could provide some assistance to Chicago first. Elliot Soto is an underrated shortstop who could back up Castro as soon as next season, and Logan Watkins is in line to dethrone Darwin Barney at second base.
With Matt Szczur and Ronald Torreyes, Daytona has plenty of talent up the middle in support of another deep pitching staff. This season we will also be watching closely the play of Arismendy Alcantara and Elieser Bonne. Alcantara is a toolsy but raw shortstop who showed flashes of promise with Peoria last season. Bonne is a relative unknown, but an intriguing one.
Low A – Peoria Chiefs.
The Opening Day starter for one of the most talented pitching staffs in the farm system will be 2011 draftee Michael Jenson. He’ll take the mound in Beloit.
The Chiefs have a number of pitchers that are well worth keep a close eye on (including Jenson). Reggie Golden and Zeke DeVoss highlight the position players. If things go well, they could both be a big part of the Cubs’ major league plans for a long time.
Be sure to check out the schedules for all of the Cubs full season teams. Many of the games for Iowa and Tennessee can be seen on the milb.com TV package, and when the short-season league starts you will get to enjoy a number of Boise games as well.
No one person can attend all of these games, but we can all enjoy your experience. If you do make it to a minor league park, be sure to tell us about it in the comments, on the Message Board, or via twitter (@bleachernation and @ltblaize). If you have any pictures of the game you want to show off, be sure to load them up on the Message Boards. In a lot of ways I am relying on you to be our scouts. There is no substitute for seeing a player first hand, so any and all first hand reports on our favorite (or least favorite) prospects will be welcome.
The long winter is finally over, and baseball is just hours away. It’s about time.