Cleat Geeks

Theo Epstein’s Crops are Growing Well

The farm system is a very important piece to a baseball team.  It not only provides young men to fulfill their dreams, but it gives team’s depth and young talent to eventually bring up to the major league level.  It’s important to have a strong foundation and that is something

Theo-and-Jed    Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have expressed.  These guys have made the right draft picks and trades to put together one of the top farm systems in the MLB.  We have already seen guys like Arismendy Alcantara, Junior Lake, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, and Tsuyoshi Wada come up from Theo and Jed’s well-kept farm and blow people away with thier talent. Hopefully in the near future,  many more will be debuting at Wrigley.    The Cubs have a lot of young talent who cannot wait to show what they can do.

Arismendy Alcantara


Arismendy “Mendy” Alcantara has already seen the majors but has found himself back in the minors.  Mendy has a strong plate appearance and can get on base.  Mendy played a lot of OF last season since Baez played second.  Mendy is a nice guy to have for his is athletic and can play multiple positions.  Mendy can also be a threat while pinch hitting.  There were multiple times last and this year where Mendy comes up to the plate with RISP.  His future is uncertain since the Cubs now have Dexter Fowler in CF, where Mendy played a lot last year.  And now Addison Russell looks to be the long term answer at second base.  Mendy is here to help the Cubs but could also help a lot of ball clubs looking for a guy they can move around and a strong lead-off or number two hitter.  I do not see Mendy coming back up to the majors this year unless someone gets put on the DL.   Next year he could be on the bench, pinch hit and gives guys rest.  Mendy could also be dealt to add bullpen strength.

2015 numbers: MiLB Iowa Cubs- 34 GB/ .252 AVG/.332 OBS/ .481 SLG/ 6 HR/ 15RBIs/ 5 SB

Albert Almora


A first round pick by the Cubs, Albert Almora is seen as one of the long term outfielders for the future.  At the young age of 21, by the looks of it Almora will be playing alongside Jorge Soler in the years to come.  He can be seen as a slugger like Javier Baez who can hit the ball to the heavens.  His patience at the plate is amazing and the proof is there, only 13 strikeouts through 33 games this year.  Almora only being in AA gives him plenty of time to mature and develop into the player everyone wants him to become.  I do not see the Cubs moving him at all for he is one of their top outfielders in the system.  He could be promoted to AAA Iowa at the All-Star break but Theo and Jed are patient with their guys as we saw with Kris Bryant.  I would expect to see Almora sometime mid- season 2016.

2015 numbers: MiLB Tennessee Smokies- 33 GB/ .271 AVG/ .312 OBP/ .364 SLG/ 2 HR/ 12 RBI’s/ 13 SB/ and the phenomenal 13 SO in 129 AB

Kyle Schwarber

Mar 5, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber (74) hits a gland slam home run during the second inning against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Alum, Kyle Schwarber is one of the best young guys you will find in the minor leagues.  Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for ESPN, has moved up Schwarber from number 90 to 15 on his prospect list.  That is a phenomenal jump and Kyle has the numbers to show for it.  Kyle is a big guy 6 feet and weighs 235 pounds.  There is no doubt this guy is strong and can be a threat every time he comes to the plate.  I had the chance to go see Schwarber last summer when he was with the Cougars and trust me he is a big dude.  Kyle was drafted a catcher but soon moved to left field for his defensive skills are not the best.  With the Tennessee Smokies, the AA affiliate for the Cubs, Schwarber has gone back to catcher.  There is a possibility he could be the cubs long term guy at catcher but it seems unlikely.  Even if he doesn’t play catcher, Schwarber is here to stay and trust mem the Cubs will find a place for this young and powerful man.  There have been talks that he may see the big leagues this year but if anything I don’t see him until late August- early September

2015 numbers: MiLB Tennessee Smokies- 42 GB/ .307 AVG/ .436 OBS/ .584 SLG/ 10 HR/ 27 RBIs/ 38 SO in 137 AB/ 0 SB he’s not fast but that will not be a problem

Billy McKinney


Acquired with Addison Russell from Oakland, some were not sure what kind of player McKinney would become.  His numbers are far from spectacular in the past couple years but has been a decent player being that he did bat .301 in 2014.  Yet another OF to join Theo’s farm, Billy has played well so far this year.  He has definitely emerged into a nice young talent.  Everyone was focusing on Addison Russell but McKinney has attracted his own fan club.  Only being 20 years old, Billy has plenty of time to keep maturing and explode once he reaches the big leagues.  With so many outfields in the Cubs system, McKinney has to battle and really get the attention he deserves to make a showing in MLB.  It’s hard to tell McKinney’s future because of all the others ahead of him but if the Cubs front office traded for him then there must be a plan for him.  Look for Billy to start getting some talk in the next few months because he is there and not going away.  Billy may not be here for a while being only 20 and to give him time in AAA.

2015 numbers: MiLB Tennessee Smokies- 42 GB/ .313 AVG/ .395 OBP/ .483 SLG/ 4 HR/ 27 RBIs/ 23 SO in 147 AB

C. J. Edwards

CJ Edwards

One of the top pitching prospects in the system, C. J. Edwards is a future number two or three in the rotation.  He is talked about by many and is number 42 on the MLB top prospect list.  Coming off a right shoulder injury that kept him out for most of the 2014 season, Edwards has started right where he left off.  His thirteen starts this year have gotten the attention of many and have moved him up in the ranks.  His fastball ranges in the mid-90s and a curveball and splitter are his other main pitches.  His changeup needs work but that is in the mix as well.  His heater is his best pitch while only giving two homers in 237 innings through three pro seasons.  C. J. looks to be a key rotation player or may even help in the pen from time to time.  C. J. could join the club anywhere fro, the beginning of next season to maybe mid-2016.

2015 numbers: MiLB Tennessee Smokies- 13 G/ 23.2 IP/ W-L 2-2/ 36 SO/ 2.66 ERA

The Cubs have this talent and plenty more.  There is really no telling when these guys will be here but it is something to look forward too. The future looks promising and Cubs baseball is and will get even more fun to watch in the next couple of years.



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