Shortstop Gleyber Torres is the top Chicago Cubs prospect assigned to the first South Bend roster since the team affiliated with the Windy City club this past offseason.
Three right-handed pitchers also are among the players ranked by Baseball America as top-30 Cubs prospects: Jake Stinnett (No. 12), Trevor Clifton (No. 23), and James Norwood (No. 29). Torres is ranked No. 8.
Torres, who turned 18 in December, split last season between the rookie-level Arizona League (43 games) and the short-season Northwest League (7 games). He cumulatively batted .297 with 2 HR, 33 RBI, 29 BB, 40 Ks and 10 SB in 50 games.
Baseball America says Torres “has an advanced approach for any age, with strength that allows him to drive mistakes to the gaps and fight off pitchers’ pitches. He’s willing to draw walks and has a chance to be an above-average hitter with fringe-average power down the line. He’s an average runner and won’t be a big base-stealer.”
Stinnett, 22, was limited to 11 innings in his debut season last year because of an injury incurred during fielding drills. Baseball America believes he “could jump on the fast track thanks to his fine pitcher’s frame, fairly fresh arm, and big stuff” that includes a fastball that peaks at 97 mph and a slider in the 79-84 mph range.
Clifton turns 20 next month. Baseball America puts his ceiling at mid-rotation starter if he can be consistent with his fastball velocity and hone his secondary pitches (a curveball and a slider). He pitched 61 innings for the short-season Boise Hawks last year, going 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA, 54 strikeouts and 30 walks.
Norwood, who turned 21 in December, enters his first full season as a professional ballplayer. He posted a 7.65 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20 IP last year.
Ten players on the South Bend roster are Midwest League veterans, having played with the Kane County Cougars when they were affiliated with the Chicago Cubs the past two years. Those players include catcher Cael Brockmeyer, who batted .297 with 8 HR and 43 RBI in 77 games with the 2014 Cougars; infielder-turned-catcher Gioskar Amaya, who batted .252 with 5 HR, 28 RBI and 13 SB in 117 games with the 2013 Cougars; outfielder Trey Martin, who batted .243 with 5 HR, 42 RBI and 31 SB in 123 games with the 2013-14 Cougars; and infielder Chesny Young, who batted .324 with 9 RBI in 27 games with the 2014 Cougars.