Chicago Cubs 2015 Preview: Expect A New Atmosphere At Wrigley

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Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

How well will the young guns be?

The Cubs’ season, of course, will hinge on how the youngsters play. Most of them, including Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler already had their taste of the big leagues last year.

There were some ups and some downs, but the Cubs did own a winning record with mostly young players in key spots. They were 28-27 in August and September, and won four of their last six series against their National League Central rivals (including their last three).

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

There has already been a downer this spring. While everyone was focusing on Bryant being sent down, Baez was also sent down.

Baez was expected to be a big part of the Cubs resurgent, and he may very well be still, but as of now, he is having trouble with the major league strike zone. He keeps striking out like it’s going out of business. After striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats in 2014, he struck out another 20 times in 52 at-bats this spring. He might very well swing at a pitch if it is bounced to him.

Baez needs to figure out that strike zone or he will find his way out of Chicago. Where once Starlin Castro was thought of to be trade bait, it may be Baez now going to a team that thinks it could change his fortunes.

Soler is going to be a star for years to come. Unlike Baez, he has a great sense of the strike zone. Scouts have said that of the top prospects the Cubs have, Soler is the best overall hitter. He is going to be a .300 hitter with some pop.

With Bryant and Soler, the Cubs may have two of the top Rookie of the Year candidates in the National League. We may see another repeat of the Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith, who finished first and second respectively in the 1989 NL Rookie of the Year voting.

That duo did not last very long, so hopefully Bryant and Soler can have better success. The earlier duo did help the Cubs win their division in 1989, so there is hope for the later duo.

Addison Russell is another top prospect the Cubs will depend on. He may make an appearance in Wrigley late in the season. He may overtake Castro at short and force him to move to second base at some point. Whether he does get to Chicago this season is still unclear.

Hendricks will be important in the rotation. If he continues to study and learn his opponents, he may be very good. He was 7-2 on a team that was offensively challenged last season, so if the offense can get going, there is no reason to think he won’t reach double figures in wins (maybe 13 or 14 wins).

Let’s not forget about Mike Olt. Olt was supposed to be the guy at third, but he had an injury and a problem with major league pitching in 2014 that made him struggle. He put in a lot of work in the winter and is ready to prove that last season was just a bad memory, and he will have many more positive ones from here on out. If he shows he can handle major league pitching, then Bryant may have to go to left field.

If some of the young kids can come through for the Cubs, it will be a fun summer at Wrigley. Bryant and Soler may be a clean version of the Bash Brothers.

Next: Verdict