On Wednesday, in the AL or Nothing space, I noted the bevy of Boston prospects who are on the horizon, possibly making the Boston club the most exciting on the horizon in the American League.
In the National League, the Cubs are the analagous next big thing, prospect-wise, meaning the two teams have a lot more in common than Theo Epstein and the best two ballparks on earth.
It would be fun to see the North Siders break back through the postseason, and with the youngsters they have in tow, this might indeed be the scenario.
Dubious? I can appreciate why, but, let's take a look at what is coming down the road in Wrigleyville.
Kris Bryant (3B): Haven't heard of Bryant, arguably the next big hitter on the Major League horizon? Well, if you are in a keeper league, it is way too late, as he will be way too gone. For the archivists, 93 games into 2014--with 68 at Double-A, and 25 at Triple-A--Bryant is hitting .350-32-82 with 11 swipes, 27 doubles and 55 walks to 108 whiffs (.446 OBP). 48% of his hits have gone for extra bases, and the only question is where he will play. With Anthony Rizzo already at first, it won't be there.
Arismendy Alcantara (2B/OF): Already arrived at the show with a .391-1-5 flourish over his first five games, the 22-year-old has surely helped make a splash. Was hitting .307-10-41 with 11 triples at Iowa. Chances are Arismendy will own second base and partner with Starlin Castro for awhile.
Javier Baez (SS/3B): Almost made the club out of spring, and he is just 21, Baez got hurt in camp and started slow, but he too has kicked it up at Iowa, hitting .244-15-58. He does whiff (28 walks to 111 strikeouts) but again, he just turned 21 in January. Likely will move to third to keep Castro as a wiley veteran at short, at least until Addison Russell comes up.
Addison Russell (SS): Part one of the spoils of Jeff Samardzija, Russell was a first-rounder in 2012, who hit .275-17-60 at Stockton last year. Russell was slowed with hurts this year, but was hitting .333-1-8 over 13 Double-A games when swapped. He is the real shortsotp of the future for the Cubs, and with Rizzo, Alcantara and Baez joining, will be part of a seriously good infield. Meaning Bryant will have to learn to play left, and perhaps Castro center.
Billy McKinney (OF): Part two of the spoils of Jeff Samardzija, the Athletics first-rounder last year was hitting .241-10-33 at Stockton when swapped, but with 36 walks to 58 strikeouts, at age 19, he still has more than a ton of upward growth in his sights. Actually an outfielder, McKinney is likely a late arrival to the position lineup, but he is very interesting.
Jorge Soler (OF): A 22-year-old, and another outfielder, Soler is big (6'4", 215 pounds) and looks every bit the power right fielder with a .310-20-87 line over 113 pro games, that also includes 17 swipes, 32 doubles, 45 walks to 77 strikeouts and a .912 OPS.
Kyle Hendricks (P): Acquired in the 2012 swap for Ryan Dempster with the Rangers, Hendricks is 31-19, 2.69 over 452.3 innings with 386 whiffs and a 1.072 WHIP. Made his Major League debut last week, but will be at Wrigley to stay to start 2015.
Jake Arrieta (P): Drafted by and struggled with the Orioles, and then swapped for Scott Feldman, at 28, Arrieta is not a prospect let alone a youngster, but he seems to have learned his craft with a 5-1, 1.95 mark over 13 starts and 78.3 innings this year. Arrieta has 85 strikeouts and a sterling 1.009 WHIP. He will be a wiley vet when the rest of this list comes into their own, and maybe then World Series rings will grace Wrigley and Chicago can breathe again.