Feature photo of Ed Howard by Rich Biesterfeld

We’ve spent the past two weeks making all sorts of predictions here at North Side Bound as a part of our preseason extravaganza. Everything from statistics to awards and all-star teams have been covered.

But with just four short days until the minor league season kicks off, there is one thing we haven’t covered — BOLD predictions.

Bold. Outlandish. Wild. Hot takes. Hot taeks. Call them what you want, but they have a place in today’s sports coverage. And for prospects, they represent the pinnacle of what we hope for in our favorite players.

Here are five of them.

Yohendrick Pinango hits 15 pumps

Let’s start off slow with a simple stat prediction. The consensus is that Pinango is still another year away from really tapping into his power and while that may be true, I can’t help but notice the changes he put into place last season. He transformed from a slap hitter to a guy more capable of using the whole field.

He’ll need to turn on more hanging breaking balls to make this happen, but the body is already filled out. He hit five homers a year ago, I think he’ll attack a few extra heaters and punish several more cement mixer sliders than he did in 2021.

Kohl Franklin throws innings in Iowa

My favorite pitcher in the system is gonna begin the year in South Bend plus he’ll absolutely be on an innings limit considering he hasn’t thrown in a game in over two years. It’s an uphill battle for this prediction to come true.

But Kohl will be way too advanced for Single-A hitters considering he is equipped with a 99 mph heater, the best changeup in the system, and a silly spike curve. He’ll get a quick promotion to Tennessee where I think he performs well enough to get a cup of coffee in Iowa to wrap up the year.

Scott Kobos makes ten starts

This one is a bit off the wall. There’s a chance he will get a whopping zero starts. But it’s something about his game that intrigues me as a starting pitcher. The use of his repertoire and sequencing reminds me of a guy that can perform multiple times through a lineup.

Kobos will find himself in Tennessee, a level that will start the year with 1) not a ton of dominating sure-fire starters, and 2) many piggybacking opportunities due to pitchers with injury history. I feel pretty confident Kobos will be used to piggyback with guys like Riley Thompson, Peyton Remy, and Anderson Espinoza, but for this prediction to come to fruition, he’ll need to be the first piggybacker instead of the second piggybacker.

Pete Crow-Armstrong takes every at-bat from the leadoff spot

This couldn’t be more straight forward. PCA is your prototypical leadoff guy from the pre-2010 era of baseball. I’m talking Juan Pierre prototype. I think he’ll perform well enough to stay in that role in Myrtle Beach as long as he’s there. And better yet, he won’t be needed in the middle of the order thanks to guys like Kevin Alcántara and James Triantos.

My only worry is when he gets the call to South Bend. Will he get eased into the fold further down the order? Fingers crossed the answer to that is “no.”

Ed Howard slashes .275/.340/.435

I’ve been telling you to stop sleeping on Ed Howard so I might as well back it up with a prediction. He’s looked good in spring, I think he starts the year in South Bend, and any above league-average offensive production would be enough to make him absurdly valuable given his glove at short.

I used Jared Young’s slash line from last year as a guide (.290/.361/.471). Young was damn good last year, huh? My prediction for Silk isn’t quite as impressive, but a full year OPSing .775 would have been good enough to rank ninth best in the system a year ago. A .775 OPS as a 20-year-old in High-A and elite defense makes him a Top 100 prospect in baseball. Easy.