There’s no doubting that the Chicago Cubs don’t have an incredibly deep, and talented, crop of young players. Names like Javier Baez, Mike Olt, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Starlin Castro tend to come to mind first.
Now all that young talent is great, but that raises a question: Where do they all go?
When you look at both Javier Baez and Starlin Castro, both are naturally shortstops. Both are extremely talented as well, Castro being a two-time NL All-Star at the age of 24, and Baez being ranked as the number five prospect by Baseball America at the age of 21. The “simple” solution would be to teach Baez the ways of manning third base, and that’s what it seems the Cubs are attempting to do now.
So problem solved there, both Baez and Castro are on the team, but where does power hitting top third base prospect Mike Olt go now?
Olt (pictured right), who was acquired in the Matt Garza to Texas deal, is 25, and has the potential to be a great player at the major league level. But it seems that with Castro at third, Baez, who is a far and away better prospect than Olt, will be swiping Olt’s job.
So what now, do you move Olt to first base, his secondary position? Well, that’s unlikely, with 24-year old star Anthony Rizzo keeping his spot there. Olt doesn’t exactly have the skills to pick up one of the corner outfield spots like most out of position prospects do, either.With no designated hitter spot in the National League, it looks like Mike Olt is the odd man out. Maybe he could become trade bait, still being an attractive piece to any team willing to deal a starting pitcher, say, to Chicago.
He may not be heading straight to the trade block, he won’t be finding a permanent spot in Chicago’s lineup either.
So let’s go through a quick run through of how we’ve assembled the Cubs prospects so far; Starlin Castro remains at shortstop, Javier Baez moves to third base, and Mike Olt remains the odd man out, but we still haven’t reached a solution.
Enter 22-year old third base prospect Kris Bryant (pictured left), who was selected with the second overall pick out of the University of San Diego in the 2013 Amateur Draft. Bryant boasts impressive power, but unfortunately at a position where he won’t have too much of a chance to break through. Unlike Mike Olt, however, Bryant may have the skills to move to a corner outfield spot. Sending Kris to the outfield would give the Cubs one of the most dominant trio of outfield prospects, along with 19-year old Albert Almora, and 22-year old Cuban import Jorge Soler. A switch to the outfield might be extremely beneficial for both Bryant and the Cubs. This would then give Kris a heightened to break through to the MLB, as opposed to being stuck behind Baez, and the Cubs now have the privilege of keeping their elite prospect, as opposed to having him be left out of the mix, ala Mike Olt.
There’s no way to exactly tell what Chicago plans to do, and maybe at the moment it might not be their biggest problem. After all, is having too many elite prospects really a bad thing? GM Jed Hoyer and manager Rick Renteria are smart baseball minds, and will surely figure something out, maybe even by seasons end.
Shawn McFarland covers the MLB for Call To The Pen