Although they had a down year in 2014, the Chicago Cubs finished strong. While out of playoff contention, they reached into their farm system and brought up guys like Javy Baez, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Hendricks who experienced some great success early on in their MLB careers. Those three intend to be a big part of the Cubs future. Baez, age 22, displayed good pop in his bat for a middle infielder. Jorge Soler, 23, displayed good range in the outfield as well as the ability to hit for power and average. Hendricks, age 25, showed he can win close ball games and give valuable innings when needed every fifth day.
These aren’t the only youngsters on the ball club. The Cubs have 24 year old Starlin Castro who has been with the team for sometime now and has proven the ability to hit, field, and run. Anthony Rizzo, the 25 year old first baseman has displayed pop in his bat hitting 32 home runs last year.
While the Cubs have a good nucleus of young players who should only get better in time, the real prize is still currently playing in AAA but should be on the major league roster shortly after the season starts. I’m talking about third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant, just 23 years of age has absolutely torn the cover off the ball in the minors. The 2nd overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft, Bryant hit .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBIs between AA and AAA last season. Although he plays third base, the Cubs may want to fit him in the outfield.
Even the coaching staff has received a youth injection. The Cubs hired Joe Maddon, formerly the manager of the Tampa Bay Ray’s this off season. Now Maddon is 61 and does not seem to be a youth injection, but former Red Sox GM and now Cubs President Theo Epstein has brought on two familiar face to the coaching staff. Epstein hired former Red Sox OF Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant and IF Kevin Youkilis as a scouting and player development consultant. Both are recently removed from their playing careers and figure to be some of the youngest coaches that were former players in the league.
It might be another growing pains year for the Cubs but don’t be surprised if they make a late run for the playoffs this year. If not this year, next year could certainly be the year the Cubs make some noise in the NL Central.