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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

Pitchers

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

Catchers

Jair Fernandez (R)

Rafael Lopez (L)

Infielders

Justin Bour (L)

Elliot Soto (R)

Arismendy Alcantara (S)

Christian Villanueva (R)

Outfielders

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. It’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

Pitchers

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

Catchers

J.C. Boscan (R)

Luis Flores (R)

Infielders

Wes Darvill (L)

Tim Torres (S)

Josh Vitters (R)

Logan Watkins (L)

Brad Nelson (L)

Edwin Maysonet (R)

Outfielders

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.

  • Austin

    Brett,

    What are your thoughts on Watkins? Can he be a long-term solution at 2nd base? How does his offensive potential weigh against that of Barney’s?

    Thanks.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Plausible future second baseman, yes. More likely utility guy? Yes. His offensive upside is higher than Barney’s, without a doubt. But he’s probably not going to be quite the defender Barney is, and he’s also probably not going to be a *great* offensive player in the bigs.

  • Edwin

    Interesting to see Esmailin Caridad still with the Cubs. I’d have assumed they would have let him go by now.

  • cubzfan

    Jason McLeod said they were going to start Cabrera at AA so he could work on all his pitches as a starter and not get knocked out of games early. Once he shows better command of the secondary pitches, he would move up to Iowa.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well there you go. Sounds good to me.

    • mak19

      Probably true for McNutt too?

      • David

        McNutt is still in the pen I believe

  • http://Bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    If Alcantara plays the way I think he can(.300 avg. and a solid defender) I’m thinking he will eventually be moved like Rizzo and Gregerous where. Top positional prospect for a top pitching prospect. It’s just hard to imagine him playing on the left side of the Cubs infield with guys like Castro and Baez already in place.

    • http://Bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      That’s assuming Baez doesn’t flame out.

      • CubsWin

        That is why I trade Baez while he is hot. I don’t like his approach and think it could really hurt him as he goes up.

  • Smitty

    I obviously missed something over the last few weeks, but I am not seeing Brenly’s son at catcher. What happened with him? Sorry I missed it.

    • Cedlandrum

      released

  • Cedlandrum

    The Darvill thing has to be a temporary thing until Gonzalez comes back down. Then I think you will see Wes in KC or Daytona.

    • Noah

      That’s the way I read the Darvill thing too. They need an emergency guy who can fill multiple roles, and Darvill can do that. He’ll probably go to Daytona after that.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Exactly.

        Remember, Amaya actually got some time in Iowa last year, before he ever appeared in a game for Boise. He has quite the nice Triple A BA/OBP/SLG line as a result, too.

        But I don’t think for a minute that Darvill is up long term. I’d love to be wrong, though. That’d be a great story.

  • preacherman86

    Who is saying Alcantera couldn’t be a gold glove caliber second basemen? hitting .300 possibly with a great glove and switch hitting? If he keeps improving his bat, he could be a .300, .360, .750-.800 type of second basemen which would be an incredible asset to have. of course if he hits that well and could stick at short you might find better value in potential return as opposed to on the squad….but with the Baez to Sheffield comparison, maybe a future left field move for him if the defensive infield and overall offense benefit from it? just a thought.

    • http://Bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      Good points all around.

    • preacherman86

      I should add, it could be reminiscent of Barney, moving because of blockage at ss, but with a better bat and more intangibles (Switch hitting, more speed, better hit tool, stronger arm). and add on to that, and I know I am beating a dead horse here but hang in there a bit. Detroit has a glut of starting pitching (at extreme cost) and really a lack of depth in the bullpen. It isn’t every day a team’s top starting pitching prospect is put in the bullpen day one of the season. Either send him down and let him start in AAA or move out one of the guys you aren’t sure of. Also, Infante is three steps from done as a starting MLB second basemen, so why not flip either of Marmol and Russell along with Darwin Barney for Smyly or Porcello. With the amount of injuries we have seen with our pitchers already it would be good to have another solid long term piece that could be a plausible 2/3 in the future. Let Valbuena play second since Dale has a man crush on him, and then enter Logan Watkins when he is ready. Gives us a good young arm no matter how ya look at it, and sheds marmol (hopefully) and if not, a lefty setup man is a luxury that ought not be afforded to a team that is hoping to avoid 100 losses. Remember the Sean Marshall trade last year with the same understanding. Just throwing out thoughts and tidbits.

      • Noah

        I apologize in advance, but the language/grammar nerd in me has to note that all the things you listed are tangibles: speed, the fact that he switch hits, arm strength, better hit tool. They are all things that can in fact be measured via some objective criteria.

        Intangibles are things like chemistry, that the guy is a hard worker, that he’s a good guy, things like that.

  • Suave1671

    What about Junior Lake? Is he starting on the DL somewhere?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Last sentence:

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

    • cas-castro

      See Brett’s last line in this post

  • elizarudi15

    No lefties in the pen for Iowa….
    What happened to Ty’relle Harris?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I believe he was let go, but I could be mistaken on that one.

      • mak19

        Yup, according to AZPHIl, he’s been released.

        • Andy

          Good to see that the Derek Lee trade worked out for us

  • JulioZuleta

    Where in the world Kyler Burke? Did I miss him on the KC/Daytona lists?

    • Kyle

      I’m like 85% sure Burke was released at some point this spring.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’ll make that 87.5% sure.

      • JulioZuleta

        That’s a shame, his rawness as a pitcher made him at least mildly interesting.

        • JulioZuleta

          Most recent rotoworld.com post on Burke

          “Cubs sign Kyler Burke to minor league deal
          Sun, Nov 11, 2012 04:51:00 PM”

          Mysterious.

          • JulioZuleta

            He was Rule V eligible, but I/m 99.8769% sure he wasn’t taken.

            • mak19

              I’m fairly certain he’s with the club still.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You guys are right. He’s still around, but he’s been hurt – that’s why we haven’t seen him.

            http://www.thecubreporter.com/03272013/2013-cubs-minor-league-camp-rosters-updateed-326

            • mak19

              Frankly, a lot of the injured names are more interesting than the guys who are rostered. Burke, Carreno, Rivero and Concepcion are guys who are at least somewhat interesting.

  • Rudy

    I’ve been pondering this question for a while, but if I could choose one Cub minor leaguer/propect to really have a break out season I think I would have to choose Alcantara… at least on the positional side. The value brought to the team(one way or another), I think would be tremendous!

    While we are thinking of this hypothetical I guess for pitchers It would be between Cabrera and Paniagua(if he ever shows up). I didn’t want to pick any of the tip top prospects becuse they already have great value.

    What do you guys think?

  • Jon Zuckerman

    Why isn’t Joe Zeller on any of the lists? Did he slip through the cracks?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Released.

    • mak19

      Released last week. I was pretty surprised about that one.

  • John

    To add to the lists of players we are not seeing on these rosters. Where is Greg Rohan?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Injured, but I’m not sure what the issue is.

    • mak

      also listed as injured for now.

  • KidCubbie

    Where is the RHP Moscoso that we just picked up off of waivers?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That is an excellent question. Maybe it’s just a matter of extended ST because he bounced around so much this Spring and didn’t get in enough work? (Or that’s the Cubs’ thinly-veiled excuse because they’ve got a glut at AAA right now.)

      • KidCubbie

        Hmmm… I’m sure we will find everybody eventually.

  • Rob

    What happened to that Gutierrez pitcher we claimed off waivers from Minnesota?

    • Kyle

      99% sure he was released.

  • Troy

    Do you just say everyone’s been released when answering lol

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    I find it somewhat interesting that Bour is in AA and not AAA. I guess it makes sense if Brad Nelson is a better fit to be called up to the majors in case of injury. I just thought that Bour was going to start this year in AAA.

  • MightyBear

    If Whitenack clears waivers and is back with the Cubs, where does he go? Tennessee?

    If the Cubs ML catchers start dropping like flies, who is the first catcher up from Iowa? (I hope that doesn’t happen but it’s the Cubs)

    • Andrew

      Since they have 3 catchers in Chicago, I assume that if 1 were injured no additional catcher would be called up. If 2 were injured, the replacement is obvious… Koyie Hill.

  • Troy

    What about jay Jackson? Released?

    • Kyle

      Wait for it … released :)

      (this one I’m 100% sure on).

  • Troy

    Haha ok so who all has got released? There was the list of like 5 that did with Brenly but who else? Is there a list somewhere or is it a mystery?

    • AB

      Check BA minor league transactions.

      The only other big name I remember being released was Brett Wallach, the last piece of the Ted Lilly Trade.

      Oh and Ben Klcaczhcxyi’s nemesis, arch-rival and Onari Fleita’s nephew, Ebeneezer Bonne, an OF at Daytona last year was also released.

  • AB

    Interesting Matt Loosen didn’t show up on the AA roster. He tweeted he was heading up there a few days ago.

    Starting pitching is so much more deeper than the beginning of last year at the upper minors. Even without elite talent, figure to have at least 1 or 2 Randy Wells types (hopefully) in there who can give the Cubs decent solid starting pitching at the back of the rotation for a couple years.

  • Jason

    If Alcantara performs well at Tennessee this year, then his trade value could reaaaly skyrocket. I mean, how many true shortstops who have proven they can hit at the Double A level are out there? Not a whole lot.

    • Rebuilding

      Just look at the Elvis Andrus contract. An average hitting SS with a good glove is worth a ton. Makes the Castro extension look like a steal

  • Alex

    Brett, Why do we still have caridad? He’s a hold over from Hendry, not to mention he hasn’t been called up in a while and he must be also 30 by now.

  • Katie

    Happy for Giansanti. Hoping to see him in Iowa someday.

  • Pingback: Tennessee Smokies Announce Opening Day Roster, Pitcher Heavy « Born on Third

  • Josh

    Where is Almora starting off?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Kane County, after his wrist heals.

  • JBarnes

    Darvil was in Peoria for the majority of last year…looked to be a very athletic kid, moves well in the field, decent pop at times and decent speed around the bases. Surprised to see him there but happy to see it also, really nice kid and hope he’s there because they believe he can succeed.

  • Teresa Francescon

    Where and What has happened to Matt Loosen, Can’t find his name on any Roster. The last report I saw he was headed to Tennessee. Where are you Matt??????

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