More than six months until triple-A rosters are set, little is known about what the 2014 Iowa Cubs roster will look like. One thing seems certain; the team will have a much different look than the 2013 version.
With the implementation of the Theo Epstein version of the Chicago Cubs organization, fans in Des Moines look to be in line for a wealth of prospects to appear at Principal Park in 2014. Here is an early look at the potential field positions next season.
The majority of the 2013 season featured J.C. Boscan and Luis Flores at the catching position. Boscan received a September call-up to the Cubs but there are no guarantees he will return. The Cubs are admittedly weak at the catching position throughout the system.
Rafael Lopez spent the 2013 season at double-A Tennessee and could make the jump next season. The best bet looks to be either Flores or Lopez along with a free agent, whether it is Boscan or someone else.
It’s tempting to stick in the entire infield of the Tennessee Smokies into the Iowa plans for 2014 and that may not be far off. The only position that appears to be a lock is that phenom Javier Baez will open the season at shortstop for Iowa.
Arismendy Alcantara was the starting second baseman in the Southern League all-star game as a member of the Smokies in 2013. Alcantara appears to have earned a promotion within the organization and should complete the middle infield for Iowa.
Third base appears to be a toss-up between Mike Olt and Smokies third baseman Christian Villanueva. Villanueva was also an all-star for the Smokies in 2013. Olt struggled in 2013 for both the Cubs and Rangers organizations. Olt suffered a concussion which caused vision issues that got him off to a slow start in 2013 and he was never able to get it going.
First base looks to be the most open position for 2014. Brad Nelson is a free agent. Justin Bour spent the last two seasons in Tennessee, combining to hit 35 HR and drive in 174 runs, making a strong case for a promotion.
With Baez and Alcantara likely the everyday middle infielders, Logan Watkins looks to be the backup infielder in 2014 along with another possible free agent.
The look of the outfield is a complete mystery. The Cubs recently announced that Josh Vitters will make a move to left field. Jae-Hoon Ha struggled offensively for Iowa but played as good a defensive center field as anyone in the PCL. What will become of Brett Jackson? Another Smokies all-star, Matt Szczur, has made a steady rise through the Cubs system and appears to have earned a promotion to triple-A next season.
Iowa may well see highly regarded prospect Jorge Soler at some point in 2014 but most likely not in April.
Vitters, Ha, and Szczur seem safe bets to appear in Iowa uniforms in 2014. Free agency could fill the other two outfield positions.