The Chicago Cubs Infield: Things Will Get Interesting

The Cubs infield serves up the best collection of young talent for fantasy owners in baseball. It includes a young middle infielder who might have the biggest range of outcomes of anyone in the majors, a 25-year-old stud first baseman, a shortstop hoping to recapture his past success and two of baseball’s best prospects just waiting for their chance.

Catcher

Miguel Montero
Welington Castillo

Steamer is not excited about Miguel Montero’s prospects after two down seasons, pegging him for 9 home runs and a .239 average in only 359 at-bats. Those numbers seem a little pessimistic for a player who’s managed to top 400 at-bats each of the past four seasons. Montero can take a walk and he still possesses a small amount of pop. He’s relevant in deep or two-catcher leagues. Welington Castillo does not figure to get enough playing time to be relevant in fantasy leagues.

First base

Anthony Rizzo
Mike Olt

Anthony Rizzo is obviously the starter, but there is at least some intrigue regarding what kind of player he will be in 2015. As detailed here by Scott Strandberg and here by Landon Jones, Rizzo conquered his one big weakness in 2014: hitting lefties. The only question mark is if he can continue to do so. Steamer says yes and projects Rizzo for nearly identical numbers in 2015, with a few more RBI and slightly worse batting average mostly due to a BABIP closer to his career rate. A 25-year-old who just produced an ISO of .240 with a strikeout rate of 18.8 is someone you want on your fantasy teams.

Second base

Javier Baez
Arismendy Alcantara

Javier Baez is perhaps the most interesting player in fantasy baseball. During his abbreviated stint in the majors last year he produced the lowest contact rate among all players with at least 200 at-bats. He was also 21 years old and occasionally did really mean things to baseballs. Steamer projects 24 homers, most among second basemen. But that projection also comes with a .221 average. It’s not crazy to imagine Baez hitting 30 home runs, stealing 20 bases and being a top five fantasy pick in 2016. It’s also not crazy to imagine him crashing so badly he ends up back in the minors.

Don’t forget about Arismendy Alcantara. He showed an enticing combination of speed and power in the minors before scuffling with strikeouts in the majors last season. Playing time might be tough to find with Baez ahead of him at second and Dexter Fowler in center.

Third base

Mike Olt
Tommy La Stella

In the minors
Kris Bryant

Under the right circumstances, maybe Mike Olt can be a useful… hold on, I know what you want: Kris Bryant! Bryant is baseball’s top prospect and all-around beastly hitter. His occasional contact problems mean he may be not be a plus in batting average right away, but the power should translate immediately. His potential vaults him in the top 20 among third basemen even without knowing when exactly he’ll play in the majors. Olt is a one-time big prospect who so far has failed miserably in two short spells with the Rangers and the Cubs.

Shortstop
Starlin Castro
Javier Baez

In the minors
Addison Russell

Things improved for Starlin Castro last year after a down 2013, but he’s still not at the level he was earlier in his career. His speed is falling off the table and he has been successful on just 13 of 23 steal attempts the past two seasons combined. His increased strikeout rate in 2013 now looks like it may be a trend instead of a spike, as his contact rate dipped to a career-low 80.6 in 2014. Despite that, he hit well at .292 and maintained his modest power. Castro’s generally good health and all-around contributions mean he’s a fringe top-5 option at shortstop.

The Cubs have a fantastic shortstop prospect who looks ready for the majors in Addison Russell, meaning Castro may be a trade candidate.



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Adam McFadden contributes to RotoGraphs when he's not working as a sports editor at MSN. His writing has appeared online for FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.

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Dann
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Dann

Catcher: David Ross is the backup. Welington Castillo will be traded or waived, so somebody else might pick him up and give him the Miguel Olivo treatment – 70% starter on a bad team, or short side of a platoon on a good one. He’s not worth drafting in any meaningful round, true, but he’s someone to watch post-draft on the waiver wire as decent depth.

Cornflake5000
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Cornflake5000

Castillo is not getting waived.