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kane county cougars[Note: Because Tennessee's roster hasn't yet been announced, but is coming out later today, I decided to break these up into two posts, in the lower levels and the upper levels. In other words, Iowa's and Tennessee's will be discussed together when Tennessee's roster is announced.]

The lower levels of the Chicago Cubs’ farm system are among the most prospect-heavy in baseball, so it’s going to be very exciting to follow the Low-A Kane County Cougars and the High-A Daytona Cubs this season.

The opening rosters have been revealed, though they are subject to frequent change, even leading up to the season opening for each club. Speaking of which, the Cougars and the D-Cubs open on Thursday, April 4.

Kane County’s Unofficial Roster

Pitchers

RHP Justin Amlung

LHP Jeff Antigua

RHP Jose Arias

RHP Lendy Castillo

RHP Ian Dickson

LHP Nathan Dorris

LHP Michael Heesch

RHP Pierce Johnson

RHP Eddie Orozco

RHP Felix Pena

RHP Stephen Perakslis

RHP Tayler Scott

LHP Brian Smith

Catchers

Yaniel Cabezas (R)

Willson Contreras (R)

Chadd Krist (R)

Infielders

Gioskar Amaya (R)

David Bote (R)

Jeimer Candelario (S)

Marco Hernandez (L)

Rock Shoulders (S)

Dan Vogelbach (L)

Outfielders

Pin-Chieh Chen (L)

Trey Martin (R)

Bijan Rademacher (L)

Oliver Zapata (S)

I’d rattle off all of the interesting prospects to watch on Kane County, but it’s so prospect heavy that it’s easier to just say: watch them all. The infield is obviously stacked with prospects – genuinely, from first to third (Vogelbach, Amaya, Hernandez, Candelario), every single player is a top 15 prospect in the Cubs’ system, and a threat to crack baseball’s top 100 by the end of the year.

Trey Martin and Oliver Zapata are intriguing in the outfield, which will get even more intriguing when Albert Almora is over his hamate surgery and is ready to go (sometime in May, presumably).

Pierce Johnson is the biggest name on the pitching staff, though you’ll all recognize Lendy Castillo. It’s disappointing to see him starting this low this year, but keep in mind, he’s still very young as a pitcher, having been one for just three years – and last year was obviously pretty wonky, development-wise. He’s 23, and if he shows that low-A isn’t the right spot for him, he’ll be promoted very quickly. There are a couple other legit relief prospects, and Tayler Scott is an interesting starter.

I would have expected a healthy Dillon Maples to be on the staff at Kane County, so he’s going to be at extended Spring Training to start the year. Given that he hasn’t really logged many professional innings, he might even start his season out at Boise mid-year. Juan Carlos Paniagua is another arm missing, but, recall, he’s had visa issues that have delayed his readiness for the season. In other words, I wouldn’t read anything – developmentally – into his absence here.

Daytona’s Unofficial Roster

Pitchers

RHP Yeiper Castillo

RHP Zach Cates

LHP Frank Del Valle

RHP Eduardo Figueroa

RHP P.J. Francescon

LHP Austin Kirk

RHP Luis Liria

LHP Sheldon McDonald

RHP Starlin Peralta

RHP Austin Reed

RHP Ryan Searle

RHP Yao-Lin Wang

RHP Ben Wells

Catchers

Taylor Davis (R)

Micah Gibbs (R)

Chad Noble (R)

Infielders

Javier Baez (R)

Stephen Bruno (R)

Ben Carhart (R)

Zeke DeVoss (S)

Dustin Geiger (R)

Tim Saunders (R)

Outfielders

John Andreoli (R)

Taiwan Easterling (R)

Jorge Soler (R)

daytona cubs logoObviously the big names here are Soler and Baez, but it’s interesting to see Bruno skipping Kane County entirely, and to see Ben Wells promoted despite the fact that (1) he’s just 20, and (2) he got in very little work at the low-A level last year due to an elbow injury. I would imagine some of the promotion has to do with the nice weather in Florida being helpful for his health. He’s very much a pitching prospect to watch, though, and the relatively aggressive promotion tells me the Cubs agree.

Every single one of the positional players is a prospect or a fringe prospect, so they’re all worth following this year. On the pitching side, there are a handful of guys repeating the level, though Austin Reed and Starlin Peralta have followed the normal promotion schedule, and are both legit prospects.

It’s interesting that the roster has just nine infielders/outfielders on it, which leads me to believe another player or two will be coming at some point soon-ish. Andreoli repeats at Daytona, despite having a good year there in 2012, and already being 22. I expect that, when Tennessee’s roster is released, we’re going to see that was at least partially the product of there not being an obvious starting spot for him at AA right now.

  • Andrew

    Question(s): How long would it take for a player like Vogelbach to be promoted if he was having a phenomenal year? Is there a specific time of the season in which promotions occur?

    • Blublud

      Vogelbach will be in Daytona at some point by years end, and if he crushes Kane County, it could be sooner then later. There is really no one blocking him from moving up if he is ready. There is a slight chance he makes it to Tennessee if he is completely smashing the ball this year.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Must. Resist. Fat joke.

        OK that’s better. I totally agree with you Blu.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      One thing to remember is that the Cubs FO are very “stats” (really, probability) savvy people. Most “phenomenal years” (and extended slumps) are indistinguishable from fluxes that you’d expect in systems like baseball. So, Vogelbach or any other prospect would have to really dominate to accelerate promotion.

      (Baez’s spring offers a good example; a lot of teams might have bumped him up another notch after his 3 homer in 3 PA run; however, the Cubs FO recognized it for what it was and kept Baez on the same regimen.)

      • hansman1982

        “…indistinguishable from fluxes that you’d expect in systems like baseball.”

        The Rays have taken this to a whole new level. Beyond the “usual” super-sabr-stats, they also get ball velocity off the bat to see how a batter is hitting the ball and utlize video like no other org (at least in 2009-ish when I read the article about it).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Minimum 100ABs is the norm. I don’t look for much movement until June.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        heh, I hope that it’s PAs rather than ABs: otherwise, Cubs’ prospects will come up for evaluation in about a week earlier than Sox prospects did!

  • http://www.obstructedview.net Berselius

    Isn’t Kane County technically “Regular” A, and Boise is Low-A?

    • hansman1982

      Boise is Short Season A.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s a long-disputed descriptive issue. I always used to say Low-A for Boise and A for Peoria, but I lost that fight. The majority of folks, as Hans notes, now say short-season A for Boise, and Low-A for Peoria/KC.

      • hansman1982

        For a while wasn’t there an A++ (a step above Daytona but below Tenn)?

      • http://www.obstructedview.net Berselius

        Ah, I see. I’m usually going from the abbreviations at fangraphs, which has the levels as A-, A, A+

        • hansman1982

          In a limited space, those work well, especially when the audience is fairly well versed in baseball.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          That’s how baseball-reference does it too…

  • cubchymyst

    I’m going to have to find a few schedules and see how close these teams get to Kansas.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I thought Baez and Soler were starting off at Kane County.

    • Noah

      Baez already crushed the Midwest League last year, and Soler (albeit in a limited time) did as well. They need to move up to be challenged, and it was pretty well known they’d be headed to Daytona to start the season. When Almora comes back from his hamate bone injury in about a month he’ll be at Kane County.

    • On the Farm

      I was really hoping to see Soler playing for Kane County. I didn’t get a chance to see him when he played for Peoria. Oh well looks like the Kane County team is stacked with talent. Can’t wait to watch a few of those games this summer!

      • beerhelps

        Ya I suppose I’ll be buying Peoria Chiefs tickets only when KC comes to town. Or on thirsty Thursdays.

  • tim

    dang I was hoping to see the top prospects at Tennessee!!

    • Blublud

      Don’t worry, Baez and Soler will both be there in a couple of months.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The August roster in Tennessee should be a bit more prospecty than the April roster.

      Not that the April roster is going to be bad.

  • BFiddy

    I live 30 minutes from Fort Wayne, IN…I’ll be there every time Kane County comes to play the Tin Caps (who have an awesome ballpark btw if you’re ever in the area).

    First series is late april…crossing my fingers and hoping for Almora to make a super-quick recovery, but not planning on it.

  • Rudy

    Where’s Golden? Ext spring Training? I thought he was healthy and figured he’d start out in low A again…

    • Chet Masterson

      AZ Phil on thecubreporter said Golden is indeed staying in Mesa for EXST and that he has looked pretty rusty thus far.

    • Noah

      If he’s going to be in extended spring training, it will probably be just for a short stint to make sure he’s 100% healthy and ready. I’m quite sure he’ll be in Kane County within a few weeks.

  • Chaz Mulherin

    45 minutes from Daytona! Definitely catching some games this year.

    • @Zorag

      We’re going April 10th. The family is flying in from Albuquerque. I’ll be easy to spot, 6’5 with a blue Mohawk.

      • THEOlogical

        I’m headed there tomorrow to watch the exhibition game. Gotta catch Baez and Soler when I can.

  • terencemann

    I suspect their promoting Bruno just so that Vogelbach gets plenty of time to develop at the right pace. If anything, I’d say it shows Bruno is mostly an org guy.

    • terencemann

      *they’re

      argh

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Bruno is a second baseman and utility player, so I don’t see the Vogelbach connection. Amaya, maybe.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Bruno, a college guy, should be advanced enough to handle Daytona. I’m not sure this is connected to Amaya at all.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I don’t think so either – I was just pointing out that Amaya is the second baseman at KC.

  • TWC

    Re: Ben Wells, and his somewhat aggressive promotion:

    Has anything further ever been brought to like about the purported clause in his contract requiring him to be added to the 40-man after this season?

    • TWC

      *brought to light

      damn edit button…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It was purportedly after LAST season, so I’m thinking the whole thing was bunko.

  • terencemann

    I am totally confused. I’ve thought he was a first baseman for at least a full season. Oops.

  • Cedlandrum

    According to AZ Phil one name you won’t see on the rosters is Roni Torreyes who isn’t hurt apparently. We shall see as Tenn. makes the most sense for him there and their roster hasn’t been announced.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Torreyes being in extended ST without an injury wouldn’t make a lot of sense unless his visa process was delayed or something. That’s interesting.

      • Cedlandrum

        It seemed to have AZ Phil scratching his head too. I do think he was one that came late with Visa issues. I’ll see if I can find it.

        • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

          Torreyes has been playing in minor league camp.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            That doesn’t mean he wasn’t late, though, which could keep him in Ex ST for a bit.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Torreyes should be the regular second baseman in Tennessee this year, unless something strange has happened. He hit extremely well in High A in the second half of last year.

  • Kyle

    It’s really starting to show how the front office intends to be very deliberate in moving players up. There will be some exceptions, but they won’t necessarily be the high-profile guys or based on raw talent.

    • BluBlud

      I think the front will promote players a lot faster then eople think. You can’t go by what they did in Boston, as they had a roster that allowed them to take their time promoting players. If Baez, Soler, Almora, Vogelbach and any other prospect show that they are ready, they will get their promotion, if they don’t, they won’t. I think it’s pretty simple. I don’t think stats will always be the end-all, be all.

      • Kyle

        We don’t need to go by what they’ve done with Boston. This is now their second season with the Cubs, and the conservative assignments outnumber the aggressive ones 6:1.

        Of course they’ll promote people “When they’re ready.” That’s just a meaningless tautology. Their definition of “ready” seems to be much more conservative than the fans’.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          But going by what they did in Boston just adds strength to the argument. After all, two years means that they are dealing with largely the same sets of players, and what really shows a FO’s philosophy is what they do with lots of players. I don’t know if “6:1″ conservative:aggressive is the right ratio, but it was imbalanced in favor of conservative in Boston and imbalanced in favor of conservative so far here.

          It will work both ways: hot streaks won’t garner promotions, and cold streaks probably will not prevent them. The core numbers (including those often not included on standard spreadsheets) will be much more important, and those usually are indistinguishable during hot and cold streaks, anyway.

          • Patrick W.

            Asking because I don’t know: Don’t they also put an emphasis on number of at bats at a certain level? I know they do at AAA, do they do that at all levels?

            (Feel like I have to preference why I’m asking a question)

            • hansman1982

              “(Feel like I have to preference why I’m asking a question)”

              The wonders of the internet…

  • ProfessorCub

    Sorry if I missed this elsewhere, but are Blackburn and Underwood going to start off in AZ?

    • Cedlandrum

      Yes they will. They are perfect candidates to go to Boise this year. Could be a fun rotation of those two with Maples, and Conway.(Guess I don’t know if he will be ready or not.)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That would be my guess – extended Spring Training, and then Boise when short season kicks off.

      • ProfessorCub

        Thanks, that’s what I thought. I’m really looking forward to tracking Underwood’s progress – living in GA now, I heard so much about him when he was in high school down here. I never saw him in person, but apparently he is an electric athlete.

  • StalinCastro

    Almora gonna start in AZ?

    • X The Cubs Fan

      He’s still out with hamete bone injury.

  • SVAZCUB

    These rosters look odd.

    Where is Michael Jensen? Is he injured?

    You would also think that guys like Kirk, Del Valle, Yeiper and Searle would be up at AA.

    There must be some more adjustments coming.

    • AB

      Probably Cabrera/Loosen/Jokisch/Hendricks/Jensen at AA

      I don’t see Rosario anywhere, but if I remember he was injured towards the end of last season, so maybe he is at EXT.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’d expect Jokisch to be in Iowa. Could go either way, though.

        Probably the same for Cabrera.

        • AB

          Iowa was announced this morning

          Struck/Raley/Rusin/Loux/Carpenter

  • Marc N.

    I like seeing Wells and Reed at Daytona. Reed is one of my favorite really deep sleepers in the system and I think he’s got closer potential.

  • Pete

    Sad day for a guy that lives in Peoria. Stuck watching the Cardinals system all season now.

    • Paul

      I hear ya. Being a Cubs fan living on the Mason Dixon line of Cubs/Cards country can be hard, and with the Chiefs alignment with the Cardinals just gave em Cardinal fans more ammunition against us. I heard it all winter from those fans. Oh well, still going to sport my Cubs gear at the games, if they are playing Kane County or not…

      • Cyranojoe

        Used to live in Peoria myself, born in Bloomington — both towns must be right along that Mason-Dixon line. My sister still claims the offensive idea that I rooted for the Cardinals as a very very small child. IMPOSSIBLE.

        Cubbie4LYFE haha.

  • On the Farm

    Brett-

    Re: Maples, what is his time table looking for him? Just wondering if his return is expected until late April, or May, or even later. I haven’t seen much about him lately.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Last I’d heard/seen, he is throwing off the mound, so – assuming no issues – he should be ready at least in time for short-season ball, which starts in mid-June. Hopefully earlier, but that might depend on what level the Cubs think best suits him.

      • On the Farm

        Thanks.

        It would be nice to get a little luck in the pitching department, so here’s to hoping for a swift recovery and him getting some innings for KC.

  • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

    Is anyone else confused by the very conservative placement of Pierce Johnson? Seems way too low for an ‘elite-ish’ college arm.

    • dash

      Not really. Low A is filled with elite college arms. That’s where most of them start out.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      That’s not conservative at all for a guy who was just draft last summer.

    • Kyle

      He is definitely not “elite-ish” or anything like that.

      He’s a guy who could be a useful MLB starting pitcher, but not likely much more, and that’s if his arm can handle it.

      • hansman1982

        Thanks to ESPN, elite isn’t quite the same word it once was.

        • DarthHater

          Thanks to ESPN, many words are not what they once were, starting with “journalism.”

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Ben Carhart apparently jumped from the Arizona Rookie League to Daytona in one titanic leap, and if I’m reading that roster right, might just be the regular first baseman.

    • King Jeff

      They cut Hoilman right? So there is an opening. Interesting that he made that leap. Maybe Vogelbach heads down here sooner than later?

  • Windy City Misfit

    Any news on Concepción?

  • Pingback: Minor League Rosters Announced: Tennessee (AA) and Iowa (AAA) | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

  • Bill

    Was Gerardo Concepción assigned to a team?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not yet, no. He’s got a lot of work to do.

  • DRP

    What happened to Gretzky’s kid?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Should be tickted for Boise.

  • Wilson17

    Sweet by mid year we can see Soler and Baez here in Tennessee :)

  • kevin

    huh? Lendy Castillo in Kane County? ouch from the mlb to A ball. he did suck.

  • kevin

    I cant wait to see Pierce as I will be at many Cougars games this year instead of Wrigley, Maples has to be good, his name is star caliber

  • JBarnes

    I work for the Peoria Chiefs so kinda pissed I’m missing out on seeing these guys play almost everyday.

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