The Cubs start their first season with Single A affiliate South Bend on April 9th when they host Bowling Green. Today the South Bend Cubs announced their Opening Day Roster of 28 players. It should be noted that the roster limit is 25 players so three player will most likely be placed on the DL. Jimmy Gonzalez will be entering his first year as manager and has the following roster to work with:
Pitchers—Francisco Carrillo, Trevor Clifton, James Farris, Zach Hedges, Tyler Ihrig, Erick Leal, Ryan McNeil, Jordan Minch, James Norwood, Jeremy Null, Jasvir Rakkar, Jake Stinnett, Tommy Thorpe, Ryan Williams
There are many intriguing prospects on the roster for South Bend with 10 players returning from a Kane County team that won 91 games last year while winning the Midwest League Championship. There are also 10, 2014 draftees on the current rosters. The outfield crew is the most intriguing to me with all the talent 1-6. I hope I get to see an outfield of speedsters Charcer Burks, Rashad Crawford and Trey Martin, I wouldn’t expect to see to many fly balls to hit the grass with that alignment. I will break down the roster in three sections to highlight some of the players on the team. The first section will be titled “headliners” and will focus on the best prospects on the rosters. The second sections will cover “sleepers/intriguing” prospects where I’ll highlight players who I think could breakout or I feel are intriguing prospects to keep an eye on. The last section will be a “personal favorite” prospect of mine that I haven’t covered yet.
Gleyber Torres: ranked as the Cubs #9 prospect by Northsiders Report is making his full season debut and will be one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. The 18-year-old showed his ability last year by hitting .297/.386/.440 between the AZL Cubs and Boise Hawks in his pro debut. Torres was acquired in 2013 as an international free agent for $1.7 million. He will look to use his advanced approach at the plate facing pitchers much older than him. It will be very fascinating to see his progress throughout the season for South Bend.
Jake Stinnett: The Cubs 2014, 2nd round pick will be making his full season debut with South Bend. The big 6-foot-4 right-hander pitched limited innings last year in pro ball after a long season with a Maryland team that made the Super Regionals. He also experienced a mishap in PFP’s that cause him to have surgery to his manhood region. Stinnett is ranked as the Cubs #19 prospect by Northsiders Report. I haven’t seen Stinnett pitch live so I am very excited to watch him on MiLB.tv and would expect to see him be promoted to Myrtle Beach sometime during the season. He has a big fastball that touches 97, and sits in the 92-95 range. He also has a plus slider and a change-up that he needs to continue to improve on.
Gioskar Amaya: I am very excited to see Amaya’s progress behind the plate as he continues his transition from 2nd base to catcher. Ranked as the Cubs #25 prospect by Northsiders Report, Amaya played a full season in A+ last year for Daytona where he hit .276/.379/.369. His bat will be advanced for the MWL but his development as a catcher will trump everything this season. I’d expect he spends the whole season with South Bend.
Chesny Young: Young made his pro debut last year after being drafted in the 14th round in June and did nothing but hit. In 44 games between the AZL Cubs, Boise Hawks, and Kane County Cougars he hit .327/.384/.409. The #44 Cubs prospect according to Northsiders Report looks to be the everyday 2B for South Bend. I’d look for him to stay with South Bend the whole year since it will be his first full professional season.
Charcer Burks: Burks really opened my eyes with an impressive season last year in Boise as a 19 year old. In Boise he hit, .313/.416/.391 although he didn’t slug or show much power he has above average speed. The 9th round pick in 2013 will spend his first stint in full season ball as a 20 year old and could continue to climb prospect charts with another solid season.
Trevor Clifton: Clifton a 12th round pick in 2013 will also be making his full season debut. The 6’4 RHP will turn 20 on May 11 and has a lot of work to do to reach his potential as a mid-rotation starter. Ranked as the Cubs #42 prospect by Northsiders Report, Clifton has work on his command while also becoming a more consistent pitcher while continuing to grow into his body. He has a fastball that reaches 96 but is inconsistent. He also throws a slider, a curveball, and a change-up that flashes as a plus pitch. Clifton will most likely spend the full season in South Bend.
Erick Leal: Leal was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the Tony Campana deal in 2013. He is making his full season debut and will take a spot in South Bend’s starting rotation. Leal is a control pitcher who took a step back last year in Boise after a stellar debut in 2013 for the AZL Cubs. The 20 year old RHP will look to rebound this year and is a candidate to have a breakout year in my eyes. Leal will spend the full season at South Bend in 2015.
Jasvir Rakkar: I placed Jasvir Rakkar here because he is looking to become the first player of Indian descent to reach the Majors. The 23 year old who was drafted in the 26th round of the 2012 draft has a long way to go to reach the Majors. As for the pitching Rakkar had stints with 4 teams last year with his most innings coming with Kane County. He displayed good control logging 42.1 IP striking out 40 batters, and only walking 11. Jasvir could see time at Myrtle Beach this year with an outside chance of reaching AA Tennessee.