Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

tennessee smokiesThe lone holdout, the Tennessee Smokies (not the Tennessee Browns), has finally revealed its tentative opening day roster, so we can discuss the landscape of prospect-dom throughout the Chicago Cubs’ system. This morning, we looked at the Kane County and Daytona rosters, and now we’ll look at Tennessee (AA) and Iowa (AAA).

(Yeah, that’s an old Smokies logo, but I like it.)

Tennessee’s Unofficial Roster


RHP Kevin Rhoderick

RHP Dae-Eun Rhee

RHP Tony Zych

RHP Frank Batista

LHP Eric Jokisch

RHP Brian Schlitter

LHP Zach Rosscup

RHP Alberto Cabrera

RHP Marcus Hatley

RHP Dallas Beeler

RHP Kyle Hendricks

RHP Trey McNutt

RHP A.J. Morris


Jair Fernandez (R)

Rafael Lopez (L)


Justin Bour (L)

Elliot Soto (R)

Arismendy Alcantara (S)

Christian Villanueva (R)


Rubi Silva (L)

Jae-Hoon Ha (R)

Johermyn Chavez (R)

Anthony Giansanti (R)

Jonathan Mota (R)

Matt Szczur (R)

So many reactions to the Tennessee roster. First, where’s Roni Torreyes? He may have been late to arrive to Spring Training, so this could be a simple extended Spring Training situation to get him ready for the season (I’ve not heard anything about an injury). He was expected to be the regular second baseman at Tennessee this year, and there isn’t an obvious starting second baseman on the roster right now, so I still expect him to end up there eventually.

The “infield” looks very thin, but Silva, Giansanti, and Mota have all spent plenty of time in the infield, so there are actually several infield options on the roster. It’s a big year for Matt Szczur, who’s going to need a strong start to keep his prospect stock relatively elevated. I’m a bit surprised that Jae-Hoon Ha is starting at AA after playing adequately there last year, but he’s still just 22. I can’t wait to see what Arismendy Alcantara does this year. This is his age 21 season, and he’s already the man at shortstop in AA. It’s easy to forget about him when talking about the Cubs’ wealth of positional prospects, but he’s right up there.

On the pitching side, as you’ll see below, the glut of good-enough arms at Iowa has kept several guys at Tennessee whom you might have expected to see at AAA, like Trey McNutt and Alberto Cabrera.┬áIt’s a reminder that, occasionally, placement at the beginning of the year isn’t dictated by a strict adherence to the development schedule – sometimes organizational needs and depth make it trickier than that. (Or, it’s simply a reflection of McNutt not quite yet being ready for AAA (are they going to try and start him again?), and Cabrera needing more AA time now that he’s converting back into a starter.) Eric Jokisch was another arm that was arguably ready for AAA. Tony Zych could show himself ready for AAA quickly, because he’s got great stuff.

Iowa’s Unofficial Roster


RHP Esmailin Caridad

RHP Yoanner Negrin

LHP Chris Rusin

LHP Brooks Raley

RHP Nick Struck

RHP Rafael Dolis

RHP Barret Loux

RHP Casey Coleman

RHP Blake Parker

RHP Jensen Lewis

RHP Cory Wade

RHP Zach Putnam

RHP Jaye Chapman

RHP Drew Carpenter


J.C. Boscan (R)

Luis Flores (R)


Wes Darvill (L)

Tim Torres (S)

Josh Vitters (R)

Logan Watkins (L)

Brad Nelson (L)

Edwin Maysonet (R)


Ty Wright (R)

Brett Jackson (L)

Darnell McDonald (R)

Brian Bogusevic (L)

iowa cubs mascotUp front, let me say how pleased I am with the Iowa pitching staff. The fact that the Cubs were able to retain all of Coleman, Parker, Wade, Lewis, Putnam, and Carpenter is great. No, none are likely to be serious contributors, but they all have the upside of guys who could be. And, when holes in the big league pen appear – and they always do – the Cubs have a wealth of MLB-caliber middle relievers to choose from. The front office really did an excellent job.

Iowa says that Rusin, Raley, Struck, Loux, and Carpenter will be the five starters, which looks right, given the guys on the roster. Negrin was a possible starting option, too, but his upside is limited.

On the positional side, the guy that jumps out at you is Wes Darvill, who hasn’t played a game above A-ball, and didn’t have a very successful year by the numbers last year. He’s just 21, so I’m not quite sure what his placement is all about. It could be that he is not viewed as a true prospect at this point, and there was simply an organizational need for a utility type at AAA Iowa, so Darvill is the sacrificial lamb.

Once he’s recovered from his broken rib, Junior Lake is expected to join the Iowa squad.

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