On Wednesday, March 2, all Cub minor league players who are going to be stateside report for their physicals. If all goes well, spring training will officially begin on the fifth or the sixth. We’ve already seen a lot of pictures rolling in this week from John Antonoff and Rich Biesterfeld along with regular MLB beat writers like Sahadev Sharma and Jordan Bastian.
While seeing prospects in their blue walking bear shirts is nice, I am pretty much ready for them to put on some affiliate gear. We are about five and a half weeks away from that happening on April 8.
It’s strange to see MLB beat writers now pursuing the minor league angle. Yesterday, Jordan Bastian, the Cubs’ beat writer at MLB.com, dropped his peek at mini-camp. Maddie Lee of the Sun-Times was very busy as she talked to both Pete Crow-Armstrong and Reggie Preciado. She actually started off the week talking to Caleb Kilian. Meanwhile, Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney talked with Pete Crow-Armstrong and DJ Herz in two separate articles.
While the lockout and negotiations continue to be the main stories for the major league squad, prospect list season is coming to a close in the minors. MLB Pipeline still needs to release their top 100 list along with each team’s top 30. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel still has yet to drop his individual team lists and I am starting to hear that it’s doubtful for Marquee Sports Network to put out a prospect list this winter. However, that situation might be fluid – we’ll see.
This week was pretty exciting for two articles from FanGraphs. They released their top 100+ list earlier this week that included five Cubs in the top 114. Greg Huss broke the list down earlier in the week. I was under the impression that Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs was a little bit higher on Reggie Preciado than this list suggested at 114. Then again, looking at what Alcântara, Caissie, and Triantos did in Arizona last summer, I can also see why FanGraphs is higher on them. Here is where they had those five ranked.
25. Brennen Davis
87. Kevin Alcantara
104. Owen Caissie
106. James Triantos
114. Reginald Preciado
In addition, a couple days later FanGraphs dropped another article where they predicted some players who could possibly break into the top 100 over the next year. That list included Pete Crow Armstrong and Cristian Hernandez from the Cubs. If Davis makes it to Chicago, the Cubs might end up with six guys in the top 100 in the next year. That’ll do.
Cubs’ Best Defender
MLB Pipeline has been fairly quiet this month as they gear up for their top 100 drop and team lists. This week, though, they put out a list of the best defensive prospects for each team. I was a little surprised to see Ed Howard get the nod for the Cubs. Pete Crow-Armstrong would probably have been my pick or I could have also gone with catcher Casey Opitz. However, there’s nothing wrong with Ed as he is a pretty slick fielder at both short and second, which is probably the main reason for the inclusion. Here is what Pipeline said of Ed’s talents.
Cubs outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong made our All-Defense first team, but Howard gets the nod here as another well above-average defender at a more impactful position. A local Chicago high school product drafted 16th overall in 2020 — three picks before the Mets took Crow-Armstrong — he has athletic hands, quick hands and feet, a strong arm and the ability to make throws from a variety of angles, not to mention a high baseball IQ.
Pictures of the Week – Lots and Lots of Them
Video of the Week – DJ Herz on the Cubbie Corner
The South Bend Cubs broadcast team of Brendan King and Max Thoma recently began a YouTube series called Cubbie Corner where they discuss Cubs prospects. This week they interviewed pitcher DJ Herz who will more than likely be starting his 2022 season in South Bend. It’s a pretty fun interview and an impressive one as DJ has some high goals for himself.
Rikk Carlson has been a friend of mine for several years. In addition to photographing the South Bend Cubs from time to time, Rikk also does some great artwork of Cubs players, past and present, as well as his his latest venture, hand-drawn baseball cards. Give him a follow and you may even want to purchase a few cards from Rikk.
The Just So You Know Tweet of the Week
Coming Up on North Side Bound.
On Tuesday, I’ll be rolling out a sneak peek of the Tennessee Smokies and I’ll also examine where Caleb Kilian should end up to start the year.
I feel like my head is spinning and I don’t know whether I’m coming or going this week. I coach an academic team and we kicked off conference play this week. It’s always hectic as we are a small school conference who tries to squeeze the season in between basketball and baseball/softball. I have two more meets next week and then three the week after and then I’m done on the 10th with the conference tournament. Needless to say, when it’s done, I am mentally and physically shot.
Jam of the Week
This is just a cool video to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Permanent Waves album, also the first Rush album I bought because I liked this song so much.
I’d have been more surprised if Howard wasn’t considered their best defensive prospect. Opitz can defend but projects as a backup so putting up big defensive stats is unlikely. Crow-Armstrong’s as good in CF as Howard at SS but yeah harder to find a full time SS let alone with a high ceiling there. Howard’s handily the best defensive infielder in the system, can pick it at 2B or 3B too and is the best defensive SS