Let’s look at some news and notes from around the Cubs minor league system …
- At ESPN Chicago, Jesse Rogers sat down with Jason McLeod, the Cubs vice president of player development and amateur scouting, to discuss the next wave of Cubs prospects. Touching on the transition for Willson Contreras, what clicked for Jeimer Candelario, who is jumping out at a camp and much more, this conversation is well worth your time and can be found here.
- Among the most notable bits from that conversation, though, is the lottery ticket that is Dylan Cease. As a first round talent taken in the sixth round because of Tommy John Surgery, the Cubs are playing a high risk/high reward game with Cease. But, if he continues to have easy velocity (99-100 MPH) with a power curve, he can be a top of the rotation starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. The plan for 2016 is to unleash Cease – so to speak – and see what he can do in his first full, healthy season in the organization.
- One final, interesting note from Jason McLeod regards the upcoming draft, to which the Cubs will not pick until round three. Because of their inability to select from the talent expected to go in the earlier rounds, McLeod believes they have scouted the Round 3+ talent more so than ever. Good players do still come later in the draft, and it’s his goal to leave with impactful talent. It will be difficult, to be certain, but it’s hard not to buy into the relative advantage they should have over other teams by dedicating all of their scouting resources to rounds three and above. [Brett: Ooh, I hadn’t exactly thought of it that way before. When you have only so much man power, it’s true that the Cubs will now have the advantage of using their huge network of top scouts to focus on a different crop than other teams will be focusing on.]
- Tomorrow, the Rangers and the Cubs will square up in the 2nd Annual Futures Game after the conclusion of the regularly scheduled Cactus League contest at 1:05 p.m. Top prospects from each organization will be participating in the event and part of the money raised will be donated to Cubs and Rangers’ charities (Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and Cubs Charities Diamond Project).
- Carrie Muskat has a great profile on the 2015 Cubs first round draft pick Ian Happ over at Cubs.com. Happ lost his father to brain cancer back in October, but not before he got to see his son participate in batting practice at Wrigley Field – something the two hoped to share in for a long, long time. You’ll also be happy to read about his newfound friendship with Cubs left fielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber. The two have trained together in the offseason and seem to make a pretty good team.
- The best thing to happen to the AA Tennessee Smokies last season may have been Miguel Montero’s rehab stint back in August. Obviously, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but since that rehab assignment, we’ve heard many prospects claim to be thankful of their time with Montero, as well as off-hand scouting reports from Montero on a number of those very prospects. Most notably, Montero loves to compliment fellow catcher Willson Contreras. Already, Montero sees Contreras as an everyday catcher in the Major Leagues. And, while Contreras may yet have some things to learn, Montero is eager and willing to show him the ropes.
- Brett has mentioned this before, but the timeline for a transition is something close to ideal. Montero, who is signed through 2017, will be the primary catcher this year, as David Ross retires. Then, in 2017, he and Contreras can split time at the Major League level, before Montero hands over the reigns after the 2017 season. Of course, rarely do things like this work out, but if they did, well, like I said: ideal.
- Taylor Davis might struggle to make the Cubs sometime this season, but he has made a lasting, favorable impression on the Cubs coaches this Spring. Joe Maddon, especially, seems to be taken with Davis’ potential, and believes that his relatively stocky frame has left him undervalued. Davis is listed at 5’10” 200, but struck out just 48 times in 333 at bats last season and flashed good power
- How about reading comments from the best pitcher on the Cubs (and in baseball), Jake Arrieta, on one of the best pitchers in the Cubs’ minor league organization, Pierce Johnson? The two have worked a lot together this Spring, and nothing could be better for Johnson’s advancement than learning from the best (and, more importantly, a pitcher that is well-versed in struggling and having a slower start to his career than expected).
- If you missed it, MiLB.com ranked the Cubs’ farm system 14th in baseball.