By Jacob Kornhauser on March 25, 2014
With the 2014 season fast approaching and not seeming like it will be a season in which the Cubs can seriously compete, it makes sense to look forward to the future. 2015 and 2016 are when they figure to be competing and there will be several key pieces to those teams. While some contributors of the future may not be on the team at the moment, here are the 10 players who will make or break the Cubs of the future.
Acquired from the Braves along with other prospects in the 2012 season in exchange for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson, Vizcaino is a flat out flamethrower. He consistently touches triple-digits with his fastball and averages 96 mph. That electric arm makes him a prime candidate to be the team's closer of the future. Obviously, that could be a huge role in the coming years.
As the best pitcher on the team who hasn't run his mouth non-stop about a new contract, Wood figures to be with the team for the long run. He was the team's only All-Star a year ago and figures to appear in more of those games in the future. He's a very valuable left-handed arm at the top of the rotation.
Included in the mega-package for Matt Garza last season, Edwards had a great season in the minor leagues. He still has to fill out his lanky 6-foot-2, 155-pound frame before he's ready for the big leagues, but with his combination of fastball and off-speed pitches, he's projected as a very good No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
Perhaps the most overlooked Cub on the current roster, Castillo will play a big key to the Cubs' future success. For one, he gets on base at a better rate than almost any other Cub. On top of that, the Cubs don't have many catching prospects waiting in the wings, so this is Castillo's job for the long run. Once all of the prospects are up, Castillo could be an under-the-radar, but very key piece of the Cubs' winning puzzle.
Signed out of Cuba, Soler is said to have a higher ceiling than his countryman Yasiel Puig. If he reaches that ceiling, it could be scary for the rest of the National League. Injuries have stifled his development, but he appears only about a year away from being ready to join the Cubs' outfield.
Even as he barely enters his 20s, Almora could be a future leader of the Cubs. He has the talent to be the team's starting center fielder and leadoff man along with the leadership qualities that every team looks for in a young player. Since he's so young, the Cubs have been patient with him, but he could be up in 2015 at some point.
After a very disappointing 2013 season, Castro is primed to have a bounce-back season. He's one of a few current Cubs pieces that figures into the team's future plans and for good reason. With his uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball, he's always a candidate to hit .300. Ideally, he could slide into the No. 2 hole in the Cubs' order of the future.
Even though his average fell last season due to several separate slumps, Rizzo still put together a fairly productive season. He's only scratched the surface of his potential and is a 30 home run, 100 RBI candidate every season hitting from the left side of the plate at Wrigley Field. He certainly fits into the Cubs' future plans in any spot in the order 3-5.
Bryant was selected in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft with the second overall pick and proved early on why he was taken so early. He thoroughly impressed in his limited minor league action and then went on to win the Arizona Fall League MVP. He's struck out a lot this spring training but has also shown his power upside. He's on the fast track to the major leagues and could be a truly special player on the north side of Chicago.
Not only has Baez been the best Cub this spring training, but he has been the best player in the entire league this spring. He hit five home runs in just 42 at-bats, including a 452-foot bomb that dropped a lot of jaws. He's clearly major league ready, but won't be called up quite yet because the Cubs want an extra year of team control over him. That extra year of team control could be the difference in a future Cubs playoff push.
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