The Cubs have made some solid moves to add depth to the minor league system recently. Most of these players are guys who are still 2-3 years away from making an impact. With the departure of Dempster, Maholm, Soto and Johnson, things are looking bleak for the near future. I thought it would be a good idea to list out some of the names that we could expect or hope to see by the end of 2012. Some of these guys are merely stop-gap measures, holding down the fort until the Baez,Soler,Almora group is ready and some of these guys could develop into mainstays for years to come.
3B - Josh Vitters: Josh had struggled to live up to his hype in the farm system for the past few years, but is really coming on strong. With no one locking down the 3B position, Vitters could see the most AB of anyone to be called up at the end of the year.
Ceiling: With a strong showing in September and a follow up in Spring Training, Vitters could hold down the 3B spot and make remember why he was so highly touted.
Floor: Vitters comes in and demonstrated that his AAA numbers this year were a fluke as he regresses to his typical numbers. Cubs are searching yet again for someone to hold 3B down until Baez or Villanueva is ready.
OF: Dave Sappelt: Dave saw some major league time with the Reds and obviously the Red's weren't too impressed with his .243 average. Many people thought Sappelt would be the guy called up to take Reed Johnson's spot on the 25 man roster which ended up going to Cardenas. This could be a sign of how the Cub's front office is feeling about Dave this year. I think he sees some time at the end of this year, but at a smaller workload than Vitters.
Ceiling: If Sappelt can come in and play solid defense and get on base, I can see him filling Reed Johnson's spot nicely next year. He will most lilkely never be an every day outfielder for the Cubs.
Floor: Sappelt comes in and displays the same kind of effort he did in Cincy. Could become the dreaded AAAA player.
OF: Brett Jackson: We all know the story. Had huge upside when drafted and has seen that slowly decline. He would have seen action by now if it wasn't for his alarming strike out rate. The Cubs are in a tough position here because he was groomed as the CF of the future, but is just not taking advantage of it.
Celing: The power numbers are there, so if Jackson can just figure out how to make contact, which should bring his average he could be the guy that everyone thought he would be and hold down CF for a long time.
Floor: Felix Pie 2.0
P: Chris Rusin: He has the most innings pitched at Iowa this year and has been consistent even though his stats don't jump out as you. With gaping holes in the Cubs rotation, the opportunity is now to give guys like Chris a chance. The Cubs would love to see one of the younger guys fill in the missing pieces rather than reverting back to Volstad or RoLo. Can Rusin be the guy that takes advantage of Dempster and Maholm leaving?
Ceiling: Rusin could develop into a dependable #4 starter on a good Cubs team. I see him in the Jason Marquis type role. Never going to blow you away, but will put you in a position to win the game.
Floor: If Chris doesn't pounce on his first good look, he could get passed up by some of the other SP prospect and not get another good look until its too late.
P: Brooks Raley: Raley is 2 years younger than Rusin and projects to have a bit higher upside. He is the only man to through a complete game in Iowa this year and it was of the shutout variety. He has lowered his ERA to 3.20 in 18 starts, which is lower than the 3.51 he posted in AA earlier this year.
Ceiling: Raley is the closest pitcher the Cubs have that can compete with Travis Wood and Shark for their rotation spots in the next year or so. If he continues to do well and throws a few good games for the Cubs this year he will have a lot of attention in Spring Training '13.
Floor: If Raley doesn't take advantage of Dempster and Maholm leaving, the Cubs are surely going to need some FA pitching help in the offseason. Raley gets bumped farther down the ladder.
P: Jaye Chapman: The jury is still out on exactly where he fits in with the Cub's future plans. He has some control problems, but gets a lot of strikeouts to compensate. His best chance to pitch for the Cubs this year would be out of the bullpen.
Ceiling: Jaye is someone overlooked by Vizcaino (deservedly so) but could become a solid contributor for the Cubs when they need pitching the most. He could be a nice middle reliever down the line.
Floor: The throw-in trade piece remains a throw-in trade piece and he fades off into the distance as the Cubs continue their minor pitching depth.
Honorable Mention: These are guys who I feel are not quite ready to see some time for Chicago this year barring injuries, but are looking forward to 2013.
CF: James Aducci
SS/2B: Junior Lake
OF: Matthew Szczur
P: Jay Jackson