Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the Cubs minors

John Andreoli smacked his fourth homer in the Cubs 15-4 win and a look at first base depth.

Andreoli hits 4th homer

John Andreoli is the hottest hitter in Cubs camp and based on his performance, has moved into the conversation for the fifth outfield spot. Andreoli, who spent last year at AAA, smacked his fourth homer of the spring, a two-run shot in the 8th of the Cubs 15-4 win over the D-backs. In 27 at-bats, he’s hitting .370/.419/.889 with a triple. Andreoli’s defense may be what starts his year in AAA as the Cubs may be looking for a fifth outfielder with plus defensive skills instead of another bat. What Andreoli has done is prove to the Cubs staff that he belongs and can be counted on if he’s called up during the season. The Cubs brought in a bunch of outfielders with MLB experience to compete for the job but the homegrown Andreoli has outperformed them all this spring.

Victor Caratini lifted an opposite field double down the right field line as a pinch-hitter in the fourth. The switch-hitting catcher walked in his only other spring plate appeareance.......CF Albert Almora singled for the third straight day, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth, grounding out. Leading off the eighth, Almora ripped a single to center and is hitting .240/.231/.320.......3B Jason Vosler (16th round-2014) is still looking for his first spring hit, going 0-for-2 and is 0-8.

First Base Depth

Simply put, the Cubs aren’t developing many first base men. As back-up for Anthony Rizzo, Chicago signed right-handed hitting Jesus Guzman and lefty Matt Clark to minor league deals, and one, if not both, are expected to start in Iowa. Daniel Vogelbach may begin in Tennessee but Iowa and even a September call-up after the rosters expand are on his horizon for 2016. The only other minor leaguer with extensive first base experience is Jacob Rogers, a plus defender with decent power from the left side. Rogers, 25, will move up to AA after helping lead Kane County and Myrtle Beach to league titles the past two seasons.

If you’re looking for the first baseman of the future, Im not sure he exists and if he does, he’s currently refining his skills at another position. In the lower levels, the Cubs have used catchers to handle the duties and gain at-bats in their development. Matt Rose (11th round-2015) played a majority of his games at first after the draft but was recovering from an arm injury that limited his action at third. Outfielder Yasiel Balaguert may be a candidate for 2016 and Wladimir Galindo could move to first if he can’t handle the defense at third.

 


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