Its possible the Cubs third baseman of the future isn’t even listed in this depth chart. Its possible Starlin Castro, Addison Russell and Javier Baez, along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo circle the infield in some combination, and Kris Bryant is moved to the outfield. But as far as 2015 is concerned, Bryant may not break camp with the Cubs but he’ll be taking aim on the new Jumbotron soon enough. Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt are in place to mind the store until Bryant’s arrival with Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario developing in the minors. Here’s a look at third base from the 40-man to the VSL.
Cubs 40-man roster
Luis Valbuena (105 games) and Mike Olt (48 G) started the majority of the games for the NorthSiders and along with Kris Bryant, should battle for the third base job and roster spots next spring. The 28-year-old Valbuena hit .249/.341/.435 with career-highs in homers (16) and RBI (51). Valbuena’s versatility will land him a spot on the roster as he can also fill in at second and has experience in the outfield.......The Cubs were hoping to hand Mike Olt the third base job but the 26-year-old never got on track despite leading all NL rookies with 12 homers. He hit .160/.248/.356 with 100 strikeouts in 258 plate appearances. Olt was sent back to Iowa, changed his approach at the plate, including swing and stance, and looked more comfortable in the box when he returned in September.
Kris Bryant was the best player in the minors and spent most of September collecting awards. He started the year in Tennessee destroying Southern League pitching at .355/.458/.702 with 22 HR and 58 RBI in 68 games and was named player of the week three times. After being promoted in July, Bryant’s first five hits were all homers and he ended his AAA campaign batting .295/.418/.619 with 21 HR and 52 RBI in 70 games. He also showed improvement at third and will get a chance to showcase his talents sometime in 2015 in Wrigley.
Christian Villanueva was voted the best third baseman in AA in 2013 but couldn’t repeat that success at AAA Iowa (.211/.282/.372, 64 G), and ended up back in Tennessee after Bryant was promoted. Despite his 2014 campaign, the 23-year-old still possess the glove and bat to be a big league third baseman. In 62 games for the Smokies, Villanueva hit .248/.310/.385 and finished the year with 38 doubles between the two levels......Jonathan Mota (11), Anthony Giansanti (6 G), Dustin Geiger (4 G) and Wes Darvill 2 G) all played third for Tennessee.
Jordan Hankins was an all-star in the Midwest League (.322/.361/.461 3 HR, 34 RBI, 50 G) but didn’t have the same success when he was promoted to Daytona. The 22-year-old hit .218/.323/.318 with two homers in 33 games in the FSL. During an interview early in the season, Hankins said he would switch to catcher during the off-season and is working out behind the plate at fall instructs.......Wes Darvill (.231/.288/.306, 39 G) started the season in Tennessee but finished up in Daytona, playing 32 games at third. Darvill is also good with the glove at second and hit .257/.308/.345 for the D-Cubs in 228 plate appearances.
Jeimer Candelario ended the year in Kane County for the second straight season, after beginning the 2014 campaign in Daytona (.193/.275/.326, 62 G). The switch-hitting 20-year-old batted .250/.300/.426 with 6 HR, 19 2B, and 37 RBI in 244 at-bats in Kane County. Candelario should start 2015 in Myrtle Beach and still has all the tools to become a big league third baseman despite the setback in 2014......2B David Bote played 24 games at third in MWL while C Benjamin Carhart and 2B Chesny Young played six games each.
Jesse Hodges was the anchor at third, starting 72 games in his second pro season. The 20-year-old Canadian hit .265/.329/.401 with 7 HR and 44 RBI, second on the team in both categories.....Alex Tomasovich (3 games), David Bote (2), Jason Vosler (2) and Varonex Cuevas (1) filled in at third.
Playing in his third pro season, 20-year-old Adonis Paula was the primary third baseman in Mesa, with 47 games and a slash line of .228/.284/.309........Joe Martarano, the Cubs 2014 pick who plays football for Boise State, saw action in two games while Varonex Cuevas played 10 games at third.
First-year pro Miguel Ruiz was the mainstay for the DSL Cubs, playing 34 games at the hot corner. A switch-hitter, Ruiz batted .237/.364/.317 with 28 RBI and 7 SB......Antonio Valerio (.256/.336/.316) was the back-up with 19 games and Antonio Gonzalez (.250/.382/.386) played all over the infield, including five at third.
Part of the July 2, 2013 international haul, Wladimir Galindo was ranked as a top 20 international prospect and the 17-year-old didn’t disappoint. Playing 46 games at third and 11 more at first, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder hit .278/.356/.462 and led the team with 7 HR. He knocked in 30 and had a 20:55 BB/K ratio. He will need to improve his footwork and his defense as he develops, and that work continued at fall instructs in Mesa.......Miguel Rico played 23 games at third but was written up in the first base article.
Cubs Organizational Depth