Chicago Cubs Initial Minor League Rosters Released - Who's Going Where?

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Chicago Cubs Initial Minor League Rosters Released – Who’s Going Where?

Chicago Cubs

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The regular season is already underway, and that means that the Minor League seasons are just around the corner.

But, before fans can argue over a prospect’s value or the players can lace up their cleats, everyone needs to know where to report.

Luckily, over the past few days, each of the Cubs’ various minor league affiliates have announced their rosters, and we’ve consolidated that information for you, here.

Doubly lucky, our very own Luke Blaize has just finished wrapping up his Bleacher Nation Top 40 prospect series, which you can use as a cheat sheet as you pour over the various rosters listed below.

And, just as a random FYI: I’d like to put the MiLB First Pitch app on your radar. It works/looks/feels exactly like the MLB At Bat app (which is excellent), and is great tool for following multiple minor league clubs. Bleacher Nation doesn’t receive any kick backs or compensation for your downloading of the app; I simply use it all the time, and believe in its functionality/usefulness.

Anyway, let’s get to the rosters, starting with the Iowa Cubs (AAA):

There aren’t too many surprises from Iowa, but it is nice to see that the Cubs once again have some very serious talent lurking in the highest level of the minors. For example, top overall prospect Willson Contreras will be the primary catcher for the Iowa Cubs, while long time top prospect (number 4 on the BN Top 40) Albert Almora will be patrolling center field. Additionally, right hander Pierce Johnson (number 8 on the BN Top 40) and 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year Ryan Williams will be leading the staff, and just a stone’s throw away from the Major Leagues.

Let’s move onto the Tennessee Smokies (AA):

Once again, there aren’t too many surprises, but this is yet another very strong roster with true impact talent throughout. Consider, for example, Jeimer Candelario (number 5 on the BN Top 40) is a strong candidate to move up the system quickly after raking last season, again during the Arizona Fall League, and again this Spring Training. He’s been in the system for a while, but is finally breaking out in a very meaningful way. Joining him are other top prospects like Billy McKinney (7th overall), Mark Zagunis (15) and Jen-Ho Tseng (20), but I’m sure you’ll recognize a handful of other names.

Onto the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A):

The Pelicans are going to be an exciting team to watch/follow this season, as they are loaded with top prospects. In fact, they have three of the top ten guys in Gleyber Torres (2), Ian Happ (3) and Jake Stinnett (9).

However, I wouldn’t wait too long to get your tickets, because it’s perfectly possible that Happ and Stinnett might not be there all year. Torres, on the other hand, will probably stay in Myrtle Beach all season, as he’s just 19 years old and only just played his first full professional season last year. He has as much upside as anyone in the system though, so his season (and career) will be one to follow.

Lastly, let’s check out the South Bend Cubs (Low-A):

The South Bend Cubs have a couple of starting pitchers pitchers and couple of IFA outfielders I can’t wait to watch this season. From the mound, Carson Sands and Justin Steele will be the names to look out for. According to Luke, Steele projects as a mid-rotation starter, but has top of the rotation potential (with a mid 90s fastball and a plus changeup, it’s not hard to see why). Sands is more of a back of the rotation starter (in the future), but already commands three pitches (fastball, curveball, change-up) that grade out as average, with relative consistency.

From the outfield, I’m expecting big seasons from Eloy Jimenez and Eddy Julio Martinez. Martinez, you’ll recall, was a big signing out of Cuba, who was expected to get millions more than he ultimately signed for (thanks to a unique set of logistical circumstances). We don’t have a lot of video or stats on Martinez, as of yet, so I’m anxious for him to get going.

Noticeably missing from these rosters are three of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects in Oscar De La Cruz, Duane Underwood, and Dylan Cease. Cease, as we know, was expected to be held back at the beginning of the season, as he continues to ramp up slowly after mid-2014 Tommy John Surgery. Eventually, you can expect Cease and his 100 MPH fastball to show up in South Bend. Although he’s not had surgery, much of the same could be said for De La Cruz, who remains in Arizona for now.

Underwood, on the other hand, was expected to start the season out in AA Tennessee, but is absent from the roster. Underwood has been pitching in extended Spring Training in Arizona after being slowed by arm stiffness and allergies earlier this Spring. Once he’s stretched out, he’ll presumably head out to the Smokies. Underwood has a ton of upside, but needs to show more consistency and health over the course of a full season.

So there it is, Cubs fans. The initial 2016 Minor League rosters. Pore over them, enjoy them, obsess. It’s what we do.

Short-season leagues (short season Low-A, Rookie League, Dominican Summer League) begin in a couple months, so we’ll get to do this all over again soon enough!

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami