Today, the Chicago Cubs’ High-A affiliate got the minor league roster ball rolling by announcing the tentative slate of players for their season opener on Thursday, April 3.
Roster first, then reactions:
You’re probably noticing Arodys Vizcaino’s name up there and wondering what’s going on. No, this assignment is very likely not reflective of his ability. Instead, you have to remember that Vizcaino, for all the Spring hype, is coming back from two missed seasons and two elbow procedures. Not only does he need to ease he way back into competitive appearances, but it wouldn’t hurt to get those early appearances down in warmer weather than he’d see at AAA Iowa. Vizcaino will progress through High-A, AA, and AAA this year as his development dictates. I’ve said for a long time not to expect to see Vizcaino any time soon in Chicago. And that’s a good thing, long-term.
Albert Almora gets the expected promotion to Daytona, where he’ll likely play most of the season. It’s possible he could see a late-season promotion to AA if he hits the way he should, and if he stays healthy.
Not in the outfield, you’ll note, is Jorge Soler, who will then presumably start the year at AA Tennessee. That was the expected landing spot for him, but it wasn’t a sure thing after he missed almost 2/3 of last season (at High-A), and had an injury-affected time in the AFL.
Dan Vogelbach starts at Daytona, where he was briefly promoted last year. If he hits often and early, he’s another one who could see a late-season promotion to Tennessee, though I’m not sure the Cubs are looking to rush Vogelbach up the ladder. He might stay at Daytona for the full year.
Zach Cates doesn’t get the promotion to AA Tennessee to start the year, which is a mild surprise, given his effectiveness out of the pen last year at Daytona. Perhaps this is a sign that he’s going to continue starting. At 24, we’re coming to a crossroad for Cates.
The middle infield tandem of Marco Hernandez and Gioskar Amaya get the expected promotion after spending last year together at Kane County. Full season ball took a little of the shine of of the duo, and they’ll look to rebound this year.
Perhaps the biggest surprise on the roster is the appearance of lefty Rob Zastryzny, the Cubs’ second round pick last year. Considered a polished, potentially fast-moving starter, Zastryzny is now in position to reach AA in just his first professional year, if he comes out of the gate well at High-A. That’s the kind of thing we’re not used to seeing in the Cubs’ system, but it speaks very well to how effective Zastryzny must have looked over the offseason and in Spring Training.
Tyler Skulina, the Cubs’ overslot fourth round pick last year, had been discussed with Zastryzny much of the time, but it appears they’ll be split up to start the season, with Skulina presumably starting at Kane County. He, too, could reach Daytona at some point, though, not unlike how we saw Pierce Johnson promoted to High-A halfway through his first professional season.