By Pete Schwichtenberg @schwick26_pete on August 14, 2014
For the last few years, the Chicago Cubs have been a laughingstock of the NL Central, but their time is about to arrive. With the best minor league system in franchise history, many farmhands are getting ready to be major league contributors. Here is a look at the development of their top five prospects.
Although Cuban native Jorge Soler has battled injuries throughout his pro career, he have proven to be one of the most feared hitters in the minors. Even though he has only appeared in 140 MiLB games, he has slugged 25 homers and already advanced to Triple-A. Through 51 games this year across three levels, Soler has slashed .355/.452/.729 with 12 HRs. He is not just a slugger; his patient eye helps him draw walks and consistently get on base.
Many were surprised when the Cubs selected Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick this year. But he has proven to be every bit the hitter he was at Indiana as a professional. Through his first 54 games, he has already seen three promotions. Overall, he has a .335 batting average with 11 home runs and a 1.014 OPS. The only question with Schwarber is if he will be able to catch at the major league level.
When the Cubs acquired Addison Russell earlier this season, they added another top-10 prospect. Because of his strong defensive skills and rare power from the position, many see him as the best shortstop prospect in the game. After dealing with a hamstring injury early, Russell has shown pop as a member of the Cubs organization by hitting eight home runs in just 33 games.
Yes, Baez is already in the bigs, but that doesn't change the fact that he played most of 2014 in the minors, and that he won't earn rookie status with this cup of tea. It wasn't an easy road, though: Before he was hitting homers into the streets of Wrigleyville, he spent a good chunk of the year working off a slow start in Triple-A, slashing .240/.305/.449 (312 AB) before the ASB. So why the call-up? Well, he hit .342/.395/.763 after (76 AB).
Kris Bryant is not only the best prospect for the Cubs, but he is the best prospect in baseball. Bryant's short-compact swing helps him to drive balls with authority. With just under 162 games under his belt, Bryant already has 48 career home runs. This season through two levels he has a .337 batting average with 39 home runs. There is little doubt that Bryant will be in the Cubs lineup on opening day next year terrorizing opposing pitchers.
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