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daytona cubs logoToday, 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:

Pitchers

Zach Cates

Michael Jensen

Austin Kirk

Andrew McKirahan

Felix Pena

Stephen Perakslis

Starling Peralta

Austin Reed

Jose Rosario

Tayler Scott

Arodys Vizcaino

Yao-Lin Wang

Rob Zastryzny

Catchers

Willson Contreras

Chadd Krist

Lance Rymel

Infielders

Gioskar Amaya

Jeimer Candelario

Marco Hernandez

Tim Saunders

Rock Shoulders

Dan Vogelbach

Outfielders

Albert Almora

Pin-Chieh Chen

Bijan Rademacher

Oliver Zapata

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.

  • half_full_beer_mug

    I would think that the decision on which player to put at what level is mainly due to their ability and stage of development at this time. How much to you think actually has to do with filling out a complete roster at each level, and placing players where they can get the number of AB’s (games) they need to continue said development?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Rosters can be fleshed out with the fringier prospects and minor league veteran types once the higher ceiling prospects are in place, if necessary. At the lower levels, though, there is usually a guy at each position a team legitimately wants to take a look at, even if the odds are heavily against that player moving up.

      Placing players where they can get the PAs they need is a factor, though, and sometimes results in some odd roster placements. In this case, put Zastryzny in Daytona could be as much about the number of pitchers slated for Kane County as it is Zastryzny’s own status.

  • Patrick G

    Will Hannemann most likely heading to KC?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sounds about right. Hopefully he’s given a chance (and shows that he’s ready) to move quickly. I guess finishing the year at High-A wouldn’t be so bad, given the baseball layoffs. Turns 23 in late April.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Given the layoffs, age doesn’t really worry me on that guy. I’ll be watching velocity up the system more closely, though.

  • cub4life

    can you guess at the starting line-up? and who will be the SP? I have an idea about most of the positions but not sure about some.

    • cub4life

      Well this is what I think.

      1 Almora CF
      2 Amaya 2B
      3 Shoulders DH/1B
      4 Vogelbach 1B/DH
      5 Candelario 3B
      6 Hernandez SS
      7 Krist C
      8 Zapata LF
      9 Chen RF

      SP – Cates, Scott, Kirk, Pena, Peralta

      Swing – Rosario, Wang

      any comments?

      • Q-Ball

        That’s about right, except Willson Contreras should see as much or more time than Krist. He’s ultimately a better prospect than Krist, who to me is more of an organizational guy. Also, expect Saunders to play alot, just moving all over in terms of positions

        • cub4life

          The only reason I put Krist in is becasue he spend alot of time in Daytona already, but I could easily see in a 5 game stretch 3 out of 5 going to one and the other 2 going to the other. I guess Saunders is a “super utility”? Then he could play most days (like Bonifacio for the big league team) and spell almost every position.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I was hoping that Almora might be ready for sometime in 2015. If he splits the year between Daytona and Tenneesee then he probably doesn’t make it to Iowa until 2015. Might be a similar situation like Baez, if he plays good in AAA the first half then he gets a mid-summer call. V-Bomb should rake in Daytona. I expect that the DH rule is going to be put on the table in the next couple of years and Vogelbach is a good insurance policy if that happens. I want to be optomistic this year, but there are so many working parts and things that could go wrong. Like maybe Baez struggles at Iowa and the big four don’t progress like everybody thinks they will. And maybe the team sucks as bad as last year and the prospects don’t come to save the day. And Ricketts and the rooftops go to court. I hope not, but it would be a damn shame to see the 100th birthday of Wrigley mired in the muck of another year like the last one.

  • J. L.

    So Bryant should start at Tennessee. Has this been expected all along and I wasn’t paying attention? In any case, that’s huge.

    • Kyle

      It’s been expected ever since his AFL stint. I think it was even said at one point in the offseason?

      He’s on a fast track. I’m guessing either a September call-up or May 2015, or maybe both. 1.5 seasons in the minors has been more or less standard for elite college bats.

  • E

    So is Bryant headed to Kane County or Tennessee?

    • E

      I should refresh my page before commenting.

  • nkniacc13

    Im assuming that Vizcanio is in Dayton because they want him to stay in warmer climate and will move up as temps rise this year?

    • cub4life

      That is how it sounds. Should be in AAA prob late May/early June.

  • TulaneCubs

    Pretty aggressive assignment there for Rob “Failed gamble” Zastryzny.

    • baldtaxguy

      ? Test is 9 mos?

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Please explain…He has 24 professional innings and was pretty solid in those 24 innings

      • Drew7

        Surely he has him confused with someone else.

      • TulaneCubs

        Another poster called Rob Zastryzny a failed gamble in a thread about a week ago.

        http://www.bleachernation.com/2014/03/24/draft-notes-rodon-stumbling-beede-off-aiken-rising-more/

        • Drew7

          Ha – I apparently missed that thread.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Didn’t realize that your post was sarcastic haha. That guy in those posts is reaching big time. Since when is 91-93 from the left side with 2 above average to plus secondaries a bad thing??

          • Jason P

            The issue is reaching that range. Keith Law had a write up that included him, and he said he was mostly 89-91 with no plus secondaries.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              I’ll take 89-91 with two above average secondaries, especially with a guy who really seems to know how to pitch like Z does

            • TulaneCubs

              See my other post in that thread. 5 days earlier, a scout say Zastryzny and raved about him. Here’s a transcript of what was said from Josh Norris…

              “Zastryzny threw that day too. There was a scout there that was just raving about him.”I’m going to write up a pro report on him tonight. This guy could be in the major leagues this year.” Just loving every bit of Rob Zastryzny…”

              Jumping to conclusions on young prospects based on small sample sizes and/or spring training performances is not a good idea.

      • Jason P

        I can kind of see what he’s saying. If he can’t consistently get his velocity up into the 91-93 range, his ceiling is a 4th starter. Not ideal with a high second round pick.

        That said, late-season innings isn’t even enough to make assumptions about his velocity.

  • Medicos

    What r the chances of Vogelbach being converted to a catcher. A powerful left-handed hitting catcher is a rarity in baseball. Piazza was also moved behind the plate by Dodgers and will wind up in the HOF.

    • bbmoney

      Virtually nil.

    • Jason P

      Catcher is a difficult position to play for someone who’s done it all their life. Wellington Castillo just last year started to turn a corner with his defense and pitch calling at 26 years old. Even if Vogelbach had the mobility to play catcher, which he probably doesn’t, converting him would mean sending him back to rookie ball for at least 2 years while he learns the basics. For someone with as advanced a bat as he has, such a delay would not be advisable.

      • C. Steadman

        Yeah, here’s to hoping Vogelbach can play just average defense at 1B and he’ll be a good trade chip if NL still doesn’t have DH in 2015/16 when he’s pushing the Cubs for promotion. If you put Vogs at catcher, then you’re losing offensive value when he turns 30 and his knees blow out.

  • willis

    We’ve been discussing around here about Vizcaino starting in Daytona or Tennessee so he can pitch in warmer weather. Glad it’s going this way. The weather in Iowa is a wildcard in April and with the winter y’all have had up that way, who knows what may come. Get him some innings in a favorable climate for the first couple-three weeks and then elevate him to Iowa. Very smart move by the FO.

    • C. Steadman

      Agreed, I also like seeing Almora down there as well. I was hoping they wouldn’t jump high A with him, seeing him just turn 20 next month.

      • willis

        Yeah let him climb the ladder this year on his watch. He’ll start in Daytona, will do great and will be in Tennessee by June. But at 19/20, no reason to push him too hard.

        • C. Steadman

          Exactly, I can see Almora jumping AAA in 2015 sometime midseason if the Cubs are surprising due to Baez doing what he does and Castro, Bryant, Rizzo, Co. all performing the Cubs into playoff contention. Almora has the makeup and maturity to do that. But otherwise I see split season promotion in 2014 to AA and 2015 to AAA if he’s playing well.

  • C. Steadman

    Dodgers are falling apart. Makes me happy even though Ryu is on my fantasy team. Once, SD tied it up it didn’t matter(fantasy-wise) and now I’m rooting for the Padres.

  • npnovak

    So Pierce Johnson is rehabbing an injury, right? Does he start the year at Daytona when he comes back?

    • C. Steadman

      PJ will be at AA, but yes he injured his hamstring, but I don’t think it’s too big of deal. He is listed as limited activity(source:AZ Phil’s ST minor league rosters), might miss a start or two.

    • SenorGato

      Is it too soon for me to not be shocked that Pierce Johnson has one injury or another? He was known for the nagging injury in college. I still like the arm but question the upside as a starter.

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