Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

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


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


Yaniel Cabezas (R)

Willson Contreras (R)

Chadd Krist (R)


Gioskar Amaya (R)

David Bote (R)

Jeimer Candelario (S)

Marco Hernandez (L)

Rock Shoulders (S)

Dan Vogelbach (L)


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


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


Taylor Davis (R)

Micah Gibbs (R)

Chad Noble (R)


Javier Baez (R)

Stephen Bruno (R)

Ben Carhart (R)

Zeke DeVoss (S)

Dustin Geiger (R)

Tim Saunders (R)


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.

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