C – Bryce Windham, Cam Balego, Harrison Wenson
1B – Bryce Ball, Nelson Maldonado
2B – Christian Donahue
3B – Chase Strumpf
SS – Devin Zinn
OF – Nelson Velazquez, Yonathan Perlaza, Chris Morel, Darius Hill
SP – Cam Sanders, Ryan Jensen, Riley Thompson, Anderson Espinoza, Javier Assad, Peyton Remy
RP – Scott Kobos, Burl Carraway, Blake Whitney, Darius Valdez, Brandon Hughes, Eury Ramos, Bryan Hudson
Other RPs for consideration: Brandon Leibrandt, Kyle Johnson, Graham Lawson
The Roster is not officially announced, but this is a best guess based on available information. The official roster will be linked to when released.
In some ways it’s the players who aren’t in Tennessee. Both Caleb Kilian and Brennen Davis showed enough to Cubs brass to start the season and the South Bend Cubs look positively stacked with talent, especially in their starting rotation. Nestled right in the middle is the Tennessee Smokies and it would be wrong to overlook this team. The AA squad features players at a critical point in their minor league tenure, where they are one call away from a big-league opportunity. This is a System on the Rise and one of the upper levels of the Cubs minor league system features North Side Bound’s number 10th, 18th, and 20th ranked Cubs prospects with many more possibly debuting later in the spring or summer.
What To Watch
Nelson Velazquez capped his 2021 breakout season with an Arizona Fall League MVP award. He’s set to be joined by fellow Cubs prospects Chase Strumpf and Chris Morel. Other intriguing names like Bryce Ball, Yonathan Perlaza, and Bryce Windham should join them on offense.
On the pitching front, the stuff that’s set to be unleashed is wicked. The rotation looks to feature a hellacious combination of velocity, movement, and moxie led by Cam Sanders. He led all Cubs minor leaguers in K-struts last year. North Side Bound’s number 10 prospect, Ryan Jensen, is set to follow him. His one-seam sinker gets votes for one of the best solitary pitches in the entire system. He’s working to deploy his entire arsenal in Tennessee. The bullpen is a treasure trove of pitchers with upper-level stuff. On any given night the pen could send out Kobos, Carraway, Valdez, Hughes, Ramos, and Hudson to shut down the opposing team. The common thread around most of the pitchers on the staff will all be about incorporating improvements to command and sequencing.
Most Likely To Be Promoted First
The pitching. As players in AAA either opt-out or are called up to the big leagues, there will be obvious room for promotions. Starters like Sanders, Espinoza, Jensen, and Thompson offer the best bet of any early season promotion up to Iowa. The bullpen corps may be even more likely as any number of the crew could make their way to Iowa or even to Wrigley.