8.) Christian Villanueva – Infielder
Date of Birth: 6/19/1991
Acquired: Trade with Texas Rangers in 2012
Villanueva’s time within the Cubs’ organization has been up and down. He led the Double-A Southern League in doubles, extra base hits, and total bases in his first full season, however regressed in 2014 before bouncing back in 2015. Villanueva is rated as the best defensive third baseman within the organization.
An average to above average player in all aspects of the game, Villanueva shows promise both at the plate and in the field. A talented infield-utility player, his mainstay is at third base, but he can also play first and second base. He’s got a good arm for third but the Cubs already have an All-Star manning the hot corner. Villanueva could find himself in a very useful backup role with the big club someday soon, possibly even in 2016. As long as his defensive prowess doesn’t let up, and his at bats continue to become more patient in addition to showing his power, Villanueva will continue to trend upward within the Cubs’ organization.
7.) Duane Underwood – Right Hand Pitcher
Date of Birth: 7/20/1994
Acquired: Drafted 2nd Round in 2012
Underwood has a power arm highlighted by a mid-to-upper fastball. His curve ball is his second best pitch which can be nasty at times. However, he still needs to develop consistency with his secondary pitches to continue trending upward within the ranks. With added strength and command, Underwood has the tools and potential to be the Cubs top pitching prospect.
Although an elbow injury kept him out of the lineup for two months, Underwood had a pretty solid 2015 season. His fastball plugs away at around 92-94 mph, but overall consistent control plagues him. Underwood is working in a change up to compliment a slightly above average curve ball as his secondary pitches. Underwood, 21, is still young in years, maturity, and experience, but he has made promising strides in the right direction. He could begin 2016 in High A ball, but with his current rate of progression, Underwood might be in Double-A before to long.