Fantasy Baseball: Which Chicago Cubs hold the most value?

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Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Javier Baez

There are some questions regarding all three of the Cubs’ hot prospects.  First, does Kris Bryant start the season in the minors?- and if so when does he finally get called up? Second, will Jorge Soler stay healthy and continue his rise to stardom? Third, where does Javier Baez fit with the Cubs and where does he play? There is another question – but I’ll save that for the end.  Answering the first three will come first.

First off –I still think no matter what Bryant does — he’ll start the season in the minors.  The service time issue is too big of a problem that I don’t see the Cubs ignoring – even with the Player’s Union and MLB keeping a close eye on the whole situation.  I also think the Cubs will want to see some extra outfield work done by Bryant to make him even more valuable to the team.  There may be a situation that the Cubs are forced to figure out where to play Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell in the same line up at the same time.  Having Bryant with the ability and confidence to play in left or right will be huge.  Once he does come up – expect the same that you’ve seen so far in the minors – plenty of power and plenty of home runs.  His bat has been said to be Major League ready from the start – his glove wasn’t quite yet.  While he may not provide your fantasy team this year with all that has been said – in keeper leagues – his value could be as high as anyone in baseball not named Mike Trout.  With the potential of consistently hitting 40 home runs and who knows maybe even at some point getting to the 50 home run plateau – there isn’t much doubt about what this young man can bring to the sport.

Second question – Jorge Soler added muscle, 27 pounds of it to be precise.  Hoping this helps him stay healthy – it also adds to the chances of more home runs and runs batted in for him.  Figuring he’ll probably be slotted at the fourth or fifth spot in the lineup – he’ll have a prime chance to see his fair share of pitches and opportunities to put runs on the board for the Cubs.  I’m sure if Rizzo continues his progress, he’ll be walked more until Soler proves to be as dangerous as we know he can be.  Once he does that, he’ll either be walked more – which will give him opportunities for steals and runs or he’ll be pitched tough which will test his ability to sit and wait for his pitch.  He has been working on his plate discipline – for all of us I hope he is successful with that work.  Outfielders in fantasy baseball are everywhere, you can draft them late if needed, but really good ones who show big power – they are drafted early and are usually guys who carry teams to league championships.  He like Bryant has big time-keeper league value – the only hang up on him will be his durability.

The third question is the toughest one.  Javier Baez has rare qualities – his bat speed is something that doesn’t come around very often.  To have that aspect of your game to be compared to a player like Gary Sheffield is quite the compliment – it’s also a lofty expectation to put on a young player.  I fully expect Baez to start the season in the Minors and it’s probably for the best.  He needs time to gather himself, get his timing right and be ready for his call-up that will happen at some point during the season.  With Manny Ramirez back to help him, that comfort level and confidence might come quicker with their relationship that they had last year.  Finding a place for Baez in the field will be an interesting problem but I fully expect him to be at second or third when he does finally come up.  I also expect his power to be back, but his strike outs will probably follow.  They will go down – but they will still be a problem.  Fantasy wise – if he’s a second baseman – his value is a lot higher where there aren’t as many top hitting second basemen.  Any other position – his value is lower if he doesn’t fix his plate approach.  To have a second baseman who can hit you 30 home runs is huge, even if he can only bat a .240 average.  If he can get his average over .270 with those 30 or more home runs, no matter where he plays, he’ll bring your team exceptional value.

The final question I didn’t list but said I would be this – which one has the better shot at the NL Rookie of the year? Soler needs to stay healthy – if he does, he can win it easily.  Bryant will likely contend but will get a late start on the competition – while he might have more value in the long run than Soler – it just may not be this year that he gets the attention with the awards – but Bryant will get his fair share of attention soon enough.

Next: Could Castillo be due for a position change?