Cubs affiliate in South Bend is dripping with high-ceiling talent

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The High-A South Bend Cubs will begin their season Friday night against the Quad Cities River Bandits. This will be a big season for South Bend, seeing as they currently feature a sizeable portion of the organization’s top prospects.

As of right now, nine of the Cubs’ top 30 prospects per are opening the year at South Bend. While this includes a mix of both position players and pitchers, it is the arms that are really worth keeping track of on the team.

Notable names starting on the South Bend Cubs to start the 2022 season

To list the position players first, the highest-ranked position player prospect on the South Bend roster is Owen Caissie (#8). Caissie got a taste of Low-A Myrtle Beach last year after tearing it up in Rookie ball. Of all the position player prospects in High-A right now, Caissie probably has the biggest upside.

2020 first-round pick Ed Howard (#14) will be on the South Bend roster as well. He spent 2021 in Myrtle Beach and was trying to work his way back from missing out on the entire year of competitive ball in 2020 due to the pandemic. Slugger Alexander Canario (#18), who played in South Bend last year after coming over in the Kris Bryant trade, will start at the same level he left off in. He hit nine home runs in the Cubs organization last year. Outfielder Yohendrick Pinango (#20) and catcher Pablo Aliendo (22nd) are the other top 30 position players on the team.

Some of the most important pitching prospects in the Cubs organization are starting the year in South Bend. 2021 first-rounder Jordan Wicks (#5) is the highest-ranked Cubs pitching prospect and he looks to ascend in the system fairly fast after being drafted out of Kansas State. Lefty fireballer DJ Herz (#9), who has absolutely electric stuff, will return to the South Bend roster. Herz pitched in three games with them last year after impressing in low-A, and struck out 26 batters in 16 innings.

Kohl Franklin (#12) will pitch competitively for the first time since 2019, but he also features really solid stuff and is looking to get back on track. He was throwing upper-90s in spring. Then there is righty Daniel Palencia, who came over last year in the Andrew Chafin deal. Walks were a bit of an issue for him in Myrtle Beach last year (18 in 27 innings) but he pitched to a 3.67 ERA and struck out 38.

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All these prospects are obviously intriguing with how high they are ranked in the organization, but Caissie, Wicks and Herz are probably the three that are the most important to the Cubs future. Not to say the others are not, but those three are top-ten prospects for a reason. It will be fun to monitor how well they do to begin 2022.