Triple-A Iowa has four of the Cubs' top seven position prospects in OF Brett Jackson, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Welington Castillo and 3B Josh Vitters. Jackson, Rizzo and Castillo all could be starting in Chicago by the end of the year. The pitching staff isn't as sexy, though deceptive LHP Jeff Beliveau has averaged 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings in four minor league seasons.
Leap Of Faith
Low Class A Peoria figured to have a 19-year-old shortstop, but in an upset, it's Marco Hernandez and not 2011 first-rounder Javier Baez. Hernandez has a better chance to stay at shortstop than Baez, and he also has the ability to hit for average and gap power along with plus speed.
Where Is That Guy?
SS Junior Lake opened eyes by hitting .296 with five homers and a league-best 18 steals in the Arizona Fall League, but he won't open the season on a minor league roster. Sidelined by a back injury that may cost him a month, he'll report to Double-A Tennessee once he's healthy . . . The Cubs may have more high-priced talent in extended spring training than any club. All four of their seven-figure bonus babies from the 2011 draft (Baez, RHP Dillon Maples, 1B Dan Vogelbach, OF Shawon Dunston Jr.) are there, as is $6 million Cuban LHP Gerardo Concepcion.
Time Is Running Out
RHP Jay Jackson opened his first full season (2009) in Double-A, but his stuff has backed up since and he no longer looks like a mid-rotation starter. Now 24, he had just six strikeouts in 17 innings in big league camp and is ticketed for a third straight year at Iowa.
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