Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs worked out the prospects in town for the Rookie Development Program at Northwestern, which yield a bunch of great tidbits for the prospectly-inclined among you. You can and should read up on the event here, here, here, here, and here, among other places.
- Jesse Rogers wrote specifically about Mike Olt and the concussion/eye/tear duct issues he’s dealt with over the past year. For his part, Olt is pretty unequivocal in saying that he believes his eye issues are in the past. If Olt struggles this year, then, we can conclude that’s just Olt. If he succeeds? I will smile a lot.
- Patrick Mooney wrote specifically about Jorge Soler, for whom the Cubs still have very high hopes. He just has to play. Incidentally, Jason McLeod told Mooney – as we’ve heard before from Sahadev Sharma – that the Cubs expressly told Soler to take it easy when running in the AFL, because he was still recovering from the stress fracture in his leg. All of those scouting reports about Soler loafing and not taking things seriously? Throw them out.
- As expected, the plan at the outset of 2014 is for Javier Baez to start at shortstop at AAA, and Kris Bryant to start at third base at AA. Christian Villaneuva and Arismendy Alcantara will also head to Iowa, while Albert Almora and Jorge Soler’s future is undetermined.
- There’s no doubt that Almora can be ready for High-A after a full-ish year tearing up Low-A, so I can’t help but wonder if the Cubs are toying with the idea of skipping him straight to AA. That would be pretty nuts, but the development staff knows their players well, and everyone accepts that Almora is extremely polished for a teenager. The decision can’t be between heading back for some time at Kane County or going to Daytona, right? In any case, starting somewhere other than High-A would surprise me.
- The decision on Soler, presumably is the same High-A/AA question. It might depend on how he looks in Spring Training, when he’s going full-speed. He handled High-A just fine last year when he was able to play (with a jacked up leg, I might add, which is now finally healthy). Tennessee is the best guess, and the hope.
- C.J. Edwards, who’ll also start at AA, is trying to add weight any way possible. I wouldn’t hate having that problem.
- It sounds like the Cubs are doing their best to walk the line between acknowledging that the rebuild is counting on, in very large part, these prospects to emerge as difference-makers at the big league level, while still trying to protect the kids from feeling the weight of too much pressure. I’m glad they’re thinking about that issue, and things like the rookie camp will help. But the best way to protect the prospects from suffering by way of unreasonable expectations? Add veteran talent to the big league roster before the kids arrive.