I know it’s only preseason and I will do my utmost to keep my glee subdued, but no matter what time of year it is there is one unified thought throughout all Cubs fans: These kids can play. Not since the late 90’s and early 2000’s when watching Kerry Wood at his prime have I been so enthralled to be watching anyone (or in this case four or five) Chicago Cubs take the field.
Jorge Soler is one such player. A 23-year-old right fielder from Cuba, this talented kid packed on a few pounds of muscle in the off-season is it’s shown this spring. He played in only 24 games last season with the big league club but he made a lasting impression. His slash line of .292/.330/.573 is nothing to scoff at, especially when it’s joined by 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBI. This spring is no different other than the fact that he looks more like a linebacker than his thin wide receiver frame from 2014. The added muscle should not only contribute to his power at the plate but also help guard against injury in the long season ahead. Going into Sunday, he’s hitting .417 this spring with two home runs in four games.
Addison Russell won’t be starting the 2015 campaign with the big league club, but he most certainly has the potential to. Russell, 21, was a first round draft pick of the Oakland A’s acquired by the Cubs in a trade last season that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. Thus far with the Cubs organization, he’s lived up to being a first round pick and is showing what the future holds for the North side’s left side of the infield for years to come.
He’s beginning to come into his own this season in spring training hitting .417 while splitting time between shortstop and third base. Russell’s three year Minor League slash line couldn’t be more impressive either with a .300/.379/.522 while clubbing 37 home runs and 150 RBI.
Differing on which way the wind blows with fellow shortstop Starlin Castro, third base may be Russell’s home in the future, especially if fellow prospect Kris Bryant transitions into the outfield as some suggest that he may.
Speaking of the number one prospect in all the land, have you had the privilege of watching young Mr. Bryant in spring training yet this year? The words “awe-inspiring” just don’t cut it.
In six games this spring he’s belted four home runs and driven in six RBI to go along with his video-game-esque .500/.563/1.429 slash. As if those numbers aren’t gaudy enough, in two minor league seasons thus far he’s amassed 203 hits, 103 of which are for extra bases. If I mentioned any more of his astronomical statistics, I’m certain your attention would begin to stray as you’d think I’ve started to make these numbers up. I assure you though it’s all real, and so is he.
Kris Bryant is the epitome of what Major League prospects should be: Charming, humble, hard working and driven by a passion not only for success but for a love of the game of baseball itself. His maturity both on and off the field are staggering especially coming from someone who’s only 23 years old. If the future of the organization rests in hands such as his, then the rest of us can breathe easy.
All-in-all Spring is looking pretty good for the Chicago Cubs. Whether it’s Javier Baez trying to find his swing or Felix Doubront working on his breaking ball, even though the “future” may still be a year away, that future is already looking bright.