With the minor league season ready to get started today, it is time to wrap up the off seasons rankings and get ready to watch the best farm system in baseball take the field.
I am not going to recap the comments on each of the prospects here (links to each of the five parts of the 2015 Top 40 are below for easy reference), but since a list that long can be a little hard to digest as a whole when it is broken up into five parts, I thought it might be handy to have the entire list compiled in one place.
And since the initial rosters for the minor league teams have been announced, this is also a good time to take a look at where some of these players will begin their 2014 seasons. The complete rosters for each of the Cubs four full season league teams can be found at the links below.
Those rosters are not quite completely final and we are likely to see a little more shuffling as we get closer to the Thursday openers, but the majority of the assignments are probably not going to change. All four teams have a lot of really interesting prospects, and this year all four teams will have their home games shown on MiLB.TV. For Cubs fans, that is a very good thing indeed. That means most of the players on this Top 40 you will be able to watch right from your computer.
Speaking of the Top 40, here is the final look at the Bleacher Nation version of the Cubs 2015 Top Prospects List.
1 Kris Bryant, Iowa (AAA)
Cars parked within three blocks of the stadium should be well-insured. Boat traffic on the river should keep an eye out for flying baseballs.
2 Jorge Soler, Chicago (MLB)
By the time the right field bleachers open back up, I think Soler will have earned some adoration from the bums.
3 Addison Russell, Iowa (AAA)
If you want to see him play in a minor league stadium, get your tickets early. He may not stay in Iowa more than a month or two.
4 Kyle Schwarber, Tennessee (AA)
The Smokies recently built a new barbecue place beyond the left field fence. Fortunately for them, Schwarber’s bombs will likely head to right and leave the pulled pork in peace.
5 C.J. Edwards, Tennessee (AA)
Edwards could be promoted to Iowa fairly early in the season, but it remains to be seen if he’ll report to the rotation or the pen.
6 Albert Almora, Tennessee (AA)
Smokies fans have gotten to watch some excellent center field defense in recent years. Almora continues that trend.
7 Pierce Johnson, extended spring training
I don’t know for sure what is going on here, but the most likely case is a minor injury of some kind.
8 Jake Stinnett, South Bend (Low A)
This one surprises me a little. The Cubs have a crowded pitching situation in the minors, though, so once that clears a bit he should start his assent up the system.
9 Gleyber Torres, South Bend (Low A)
I am so very, very happy that South Bend is on MiLB.TV.
10 Jen-Ho Tseng, Myrtle Beach (High A)
I am so very, very happy that Myrtle Beach is on MiLB.TV
11 Mark Zagunis, Myrtle Beach (High A)
I wonder if his experience as a catcher will help his game as a stolen base threat any.
12 Billy McKinney, Myrtle Beach (High A)
This is McKinney’s chance to establish an identity in the minds of Cubs fans as something other than “that other guy in the Russell trade.”
13 Duane Underwood, Myrtle Beach (High A)
The Pelicans have been bragging on Twitter that they have the best stadium in the Cubs farm system. Now they might be able to brag that they have the best fastball as well.
14 Eloy Jimenez, extended spring training
Fans in Oregon, keep your fingers crossed. There is a chance that Jimenez might be coming your way this summer.
15 Paul Blackburn, Myrtle Beach (High A)
We are hoping to see more of the guy who turned up in the playoffs last year. The rest of the league isn’t.
16 Corey Black, Tennessee (AA)
The Smokies may well be simply keeping Black warm until a spot opens up in Iowa.
17 Jeimer Candelario, Myrtle Beach (High A)
In a couple of weeks, after Bryant is promoted, Candelario will be the best third base prospect in the system.
18 Victor Caratini, Myrtle Beach (High A)
Which group is more talented: the hitters who will join Caratini in the lineup each day, or the pitchers who will be throwing to him? I suspect it is the pitchers, but maybe not by much.
19 Carson Sands, extended spring training
Eugene fans, I wouldn’t get too hopeful. Once the weather is warm in South Bend, I think Sands will be on his way to Low A.
20 Dan Vogelbach, Tennessee (AA)
Vogelbach can drive the ball to all fields, so that barbecue joint beyond left may well be in his range. If he does hit one there, the least they can do is name a sandwich after him.
21 Eric Jokisch, Iowa (AAA)
Jokisch may get used to the inside of the Des Moines to Chicago shuttle before the end of the season.
22 Trevor Clifton, South Bend (Low A)
This could be the season Clifton tames his stuff and emerges as a significant prospect.
23 Jacob Hannemann, Myrtle Beach (High A)
With Hannemann in town, no base is safe.
24 Dallas Beeler, extended spring training
The Cubs can let him take his time as he recovers from his injury set backs and prepares to join Jokisch on the Chicago shuttle.
25 Rob Zastryzny, Tennessee (AA)
Keep in mind that Zastryzny struggled at the start of last season. If he starts slow, don’t write him off.
26 Christian Villanueva, Tennessee (AA)
I doubt Villanueva needs to bother unpacking. He’ll probably head back to Iowa not long after Bryant goes to the majors.
27 Justin Steele, extended spring training
Ok Oregonians, I think this one is very likely headed your way.
28 Bijan Rademacher, Tennessee (AA)
If they named a sandwich after Rademacher, what would they put on it?
29 Daury Torrez, Myrtle Beach (High A)
I believe this was the first Cubs pitching prospect Brett ever watched in a minor league game. He can carry that accolade proudly during his time by the beach. [Brett: In person, it’s true.]
30 Armando Rivero, Iowa (AAA)
I really enjoy watching this guy pitch. One day soon, Chicago fans will too.
31 Matt Szczur, Chicago (MLB)
You are going to tune into opposing team broadcasts just to hear them try to say Szczur when he first enters the game. Don’t try to deny it. You know you will.
32 Stephen Bruno, Tennessee (AA)
Tennessee fans have also enjoyed a remarkable run of very talented middle infielders in recent years. Bruno is just the latest in that bunch.
33 Daniel Lockhart, Myrtle Beach (High A)
Here is another reason to be very happy that Myrtle Beach home games will be filmed this season. I’ve heard good things about Lockhart, and it will be nice to watch him play.
34 Tommy Thorpe, South Bend (Low A)
Thorpe is one of three southpaws on the Cubs roster, and is the only player in South Bend whose first name and last name starts with the same letter. This bit of onomastics has been brought to you by a long time fan of Pat Hughes.
35 Kevonte Mitchell, extended spring training
Another candidate for a trip to Eugene. I bet he didn’t have to look up the definition of onomastics.
36 Gioskar Amaya, South Bend (Low A)
I liked him as a second baseman, and now I get to watch him as a catcher. I’m looking forward to it.
37 James Norwood, South Bend (Low A)
Even though the Cubs system is crowded with pitching, he could still have a chance to move up quickly.
38 Jeffrey Baez, South Bend (Low A)
He isn’t the best Baez in the Cubs farm system right now, but he will be once that Javy guy makes it back to Chicago.
39 Ivan Pineyro, Tennessee (AA)
His first order of business is to stay healthy. He will also be looking for his first professional hit.
40 Charcer Burks, South Bend (Low A)
Burks may have a tough time making a name for himself in a farm system crowded with outfield talent. I suspect he’s up to the challenge.