And finally, sorry about the delay, its the outfielders. This series was a snapshot of where everyone finished the year and what type of season they had. The major league debuts of Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler at Wrigley gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future. The North Siders have a stockpile of 4th-5th outfielders at the MLB level but could look at the free agent market for a veteran left fielder with some power.
Albert Almora and Billy McKinney highlight a minor league outfield system that’s vastly underrated and includes a bevy of young prospects highlighted by 17-year-old Eloy Jimenez. While several players saw action in the outfield in the minors, only primary outfielders at each level are listed.
Cubs 40-man roster
The arrival of Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara, along with Matt Szczur, infused a shot of youth and upgraded the defense. Unless the Cubs head to the free agent market, they’re likely to break spring training with five of the eight outfielders on the 40-man......Jorge Soler is a lock to leave Mesa with the big league team even after a season with two stints on the DL. Soler started the year at Tennessee (.415/.494/.862, 22 G, 6 HR, 22 RBI), was promoted to Iowa in late July (.282/.378/.618, 32 G, 8 HR, 29 RBI) and joined the Cubs Aug. 27, appearing in 24 games of season (,292/.330/.573, 5 HR, 20 RBI)......Arismendy Alcantara made his pro debut on July 9 filling in for Darwin Barney, he never left. Playing 48 games in center and 21 at second, the 22-year-old hit .205/.254/.367 with 10 HR and 8 SB in 300 plate appearances. Named to the PCL all-star team, the switch-hitter batted .307/.353/.537 with 10 HR, 41 RBI and 21 SB in 89 games at Iowa.........Matt Szczur led all Iowa outfielders with 111 games before getting promoted the final month. In 33 games with Chicago (62 AB) the 25-year-old hit 226/.273/.355 with 2 HR and made several good defensive plays. For the I-Cubs, Szczur batted .261/.315/.312 with 30 SB and 12 outfield assists........Chris Coghlan led all Cubs outfielders with 103 games and racked up 829 innings, over 140 more than Nate Schierholtz. The former Rookie of the Year hit .283/.352/.452 with 9 HR and 41 RBI, mostly from the leadoff spot and should be on the team next season as a starter in left or a reserve outfielder...........Junior Lake started 70 games in OF, third best on the squad but struggled at the plate in 2014. Lake hit .211/.246/.351 and fanned 110 times in just over 300 at-bats..........Ryan Kalish made the team out of spring training but after hitting .242/.303/.330 in 39 games (20 starts) he spent the rest of the year in Iowa before a September call-up........Justin Ruggiano ended the year on the 60-day DL after appearing in 81 games in his first year with Cubs. He hit .281/.337/.429 with 6 HR and 28 RBI. He played all three OF positions.......Three trips to the DL limited Ryan Sweeney’s season to 77 games and a slash line of .251/.304/.338 after making the team out of spring training.
With September call-ups, only three outfielders remain on the Iowa roster. A member of the 40-man roster, Josh Vitters moved from third to left in 2014 but it didn’t help him at the plate batting .213/.268/.339 in 112 games with 11 HR and 38 RBI. His spot on the 40-man roster may not make it through the winter.........Jae-Hoon Ha spent a majority of the season in AA (.226/.273/.302, 117 G) but ended the year in Iowa, playing 8 games (8-for-28).......Jonathan Mota played 23 games in OF and hit .246/.281/.320 in 187 plate appearances in Tennessee. He went to bat 152 times in AAA and ended the year with a slash line of .261/.278/.373 and 18 RBI.
Albert Almora started the season in Daytona batting .283/.306/.406 with 7 HR and 50 RBI before earning a promotion to the Southern League. AA was not kind to the 20-year-old as he only hit .234/.250/.355 in 36 games but did play great defense, his best tool.......John Andreoli played in 61 games before a wrist injury ended his season in early June. The 24-year-old hit .211/.329/.249 in 252 plate appearances.......A trip to the DL cut Rubi Silva’s season in half and he wasn’t able to duplicate the success he had in 2013. The Cuban hit .246/.286/.375 in 81 games.......Anthony Giansanti was the Smokies utility man in 2014 and that included 45 games in the outfield as well as games at every position except catcher. The 25-year-old hit .239/.289/.315 with 3 HR and 19 RBI.
Bijan Rademacher led all Daytona outfielders with 100 games as the 23-year-old hit .281/.363/.448 with 10 HR and 56 RBI. His play earned his a spot on the Arizona Fall League roster as a taxi player........Bill McKinney played all three outfield spots in Daytona after being traded from the A’s in July. The left-hander batted .301/.390/.432 with 36 RBI in 51 games. One of the Cubs top prospects, McKinney should start 2015 in AA Tennessee.....Leading Daytona in games played in right, Pin-Chieh Chen had a solid season batting .275/.359/.389 with 8 SB. Chen also played 27 games in AA (.232/.343/.297).....Rock Shoulders played 28 games in the OF in the FSL, also spending time at 1B. The left-handed power hitter struggled early in the season and finished the year with 12 HR, 42 RBI and a slash line of . 223/.341/.397........Jacob Hannemann joined the D-Cubs in July and played in 36 games, primarily in center. Batting leadoff, Hannemann hit .241/.299/.345 with 5 SB. At Kane County he played in 88 games (.254/.321/.377, 5 3B, 6 HR, 32 SB) mostly in center, before being promoted.....Kyle Schwarber’s play in left field (26 games) drew a lot of attention across the baseball world but the Cubs have said he’s a catcher moving forward.
After surgery to repair a torn labrum ended his 2013 season, Trey Martin led Kane County with 110 outfield games, splitting time between left (45) and center (58). The 21-year-old is an outstanding athlete and went over the wall twice to rob homers in Peoria. He also only committed one error in 235 chances, logging 949 innings. In 368 at-bats, the Georgia native hit .247/.297/.337 with 5 HR and 28 SB.......Shawon Dunston took a big step forward in his development in the field and at the plate. He was a fixture in left the second half and moved into the leadoff spot. He hit .268/.304/.381, swiped 27 bases and scored 53 runs. He made only one error in left (.994 FLD %) and improved his reads and range on defense.....Yasiel Balaguert missed over a month with a foot injury (broken bone) but returned for the Cougars MWL title run. The 21-year-old Cuban hit .252/.291/.366 with 7 HR and 53 RBI in 93 games, 79 in right .............Jeffrey Baez joined the Cougars for the final month and their playoff run, hitting .236/.299/.491 with 6 HR in 118 PA. He played 22 games in right but also saw action in left and center, recording four assists. Baez, a NWL mid-season all-star, played 38 games in Boise, batting .267/.341/.460 with 7 HR and 30 RBI and 17 SB. He gunned down six runners.
Rashad Crawford had a breakout season batting .259/.297/.360 with 34 RBI, 45 R and 14 SB in his third season. The 20-year-old anchored CF for the Hawks, starting 70 games, and was named a NWL mid-season All-Star.......Kevin Brown, a 22nd round pick in 2013, got a tour of the minors in his first full year starting at Boise, heading to AA (.333/.407/.458, 6 G) for a week in late July, moving to Kane County (.221/.279/.325, 2HR 10 RBI) for 22 games and then returning to Boise for the final three weeks of season. He played 28 games in the OF for Boise, ending the year with a slash line of .270/.331/.460 with 3 HR and 23 RBI.......Charcer Burks, 19, was promoted to Boise in late July after a tremendous start in the Arizona Rookie League hitting over .400 his first 12 games. The speedy outfielder from Texas made the switch from center to right when he arrived in Boise, seeing action in 34 games in right. The 9th round pick in 2013 hit .313/.416/.391 with 20 RBI and 25 R........Charles White split time in left with Brown, playing in 30 games in OF after being drafted out of the University of Maryland. He hit .200/.306/.259 in 85 at-bats.
Five players got over 20 games in the outfield for Mesa with Ricardo Marcano leading the pack with 41, majority in left field. The 19-year-old made his stateside debut in 2014 batting .265/.301/.368 in 43 games with 2 HR, 14 RBI and 5 SB......2014 draft pick Kevonte Mitchell played third in high school but made the quick transition to the outfield and started 30 games in center. The 6-foot-4, 19-year-old hit .294/.374/.371 and led the team with four triples and 19 stolen bases.......Eloy Jimenez, the Cubs top July 2 free agent last year, made his pro debut playing 24 games in the OF and 18 at DH. The 6-foot-4 Dominican hit .227/.268/.367 with 3 HR and 27 RBI in 150 at-bats ....... 22-year-old Shamil Ubiera made his stateside debut with a slash line of .206/.259/.299, in 34 games, 24 starts in OF.........Charcer Burks (.308/.343/.446) saw action in 20 games in center before being promoted to Boise......Calvin Graves spilt his first pro season between Mesa and Boise as the 27th round pick hit .265/.338/.324 with 6 SB, playing 15 games at both stops. He played primarily in left (17 G) but also saw time in center, where he played at Franklin Pierce University.
Third-year pro Roberto Caro not only led the DSL Cubs in games played (65) in the OF, the DLS all-star spent most of them in center, hitting .289/.416/.472 in 246 at-bats. The 21-year-old walked (48) more times than he fanned (47) and led the team with 35-of-42 in stolen bases. He led the DSL with 15 triples and the Cubs with 66 runs and 71 hits.......Also in his third season, Jenner Emeterio, 21, had his most productive season batting .309/.452/.404 in 56 games, 51 in the outfield. He swiped 24 bases and walked 44 times while striking out 31. He played 29 games in left and also hit double figures in games in right and center, making one error in 98 chances with seven assists.....Robert Garcia hit .316/.398/.398 in 52 games, spending most of the season in left. The 20-year-old switch-hitter swiped 24 bases and had seven assists, although he committed seven errors.....18-year-old Luis Ubiera hit .207/.369/.244 in 30 games in his first pro season.
18-year-old Jose Gonzalez batted .232/.293/.263 in 64 games in his first pro season. He played 44 games in center and recorded 10 assists from the outfield but committed five errors for a. 966 FLD%. He also saw time in left and right......Luis Ayala played 50 games in the outfield, second only to Gonzalez. In his first pro season, Ayala, 18, hit .209/.306/.233 with 14 stolen bases......The VSL young outfield was capped off by Luis Hidalgo, who logged 46 games, in his first season. The 18-year-old right-hander hit .318/.370/.430 with 3 HR and 19 RBI in 151 at-bat.......Victor Gomez hit .182/.258/.239 in 27 games in his second season in the VSL....Infielder Humberto Garcia was 4th on the team with 29 games in the outfield and 20-year-old Moises Colasante hit .205/.271/.250 in 17 games but didn’t play after July 16.
Cubs Organizational Depth