This time last season the talk about the Chicago Cubs was if Kris Bryant would break camp with the team. He didn’t, but we’re very aware of how that worked out. So who’s the next impact prospect?
On Friday, the Chicago Cubs cut 11 players from camp as they start sorting out where players will be to start the season. Two of the most notable names had been the two hottest players this spring–Jeimer Candelario and Willson Contreras. While it’s not likely we’ll see either of those two in a few weeks, it is very possible they will have an impact on this year’s team before it’s all said and done.
For the two of them, it’s really a numbers issue. The backstop position has Miguel Montero, David Ross and Kyle Schwarber ahead of Contreras. But with two veterans nearing the end of their careers his time may not be far away. Contreras would very likely be the best defensive catcher of the group if he made the club. But he’s not just a great defensive guy, as he won the Southern League batting title last season.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon believes this spring was a showing of who Contreras is, not just a lucky stretch of games in camp. He believes he’ll get his chance, it’s just not quite that time now.
"“So, yes, I do think that if they go to the minor leagues and play like we think they can play and if there’s a need, I think both those guys can be very impactful.” h/t Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun Times"
For Candelario, he finds himself in a tough spot as well. With Bryant and Antony Rizzo having the corner infield spots locked down for the near future, finding at-bats for Candelario would be a tough task for Maddon. And while he could be valuable off the bench later this year, he figures to be a guy that could demand a full-time spot sooner than later. The Cubs have so much talent it’s tough to find a place for all of it, which could mean Candelario ends up a trade piece in the future.
Infielder Arismendy Alcantara, left-hander C.J.Riefenhauser and right-handers Carl Edwards Jr. and Pierce Johnson were all optioned to Triple-A, while five non-roster players were reassigned to minor-league camp: catcher Taylor Davis, left-hander Edgar Olmos and right-handers Stephen Fife, Felix Pena and Drew Rucinski.