Age: 22 (9/26/1991)
2013 Team: Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 49
How acquired—Drafted in the 20th round in 2011, # 759 overall
Prior to Cubs
Shoulders prepped at Brandon High School in Brandon, Florida, hitting .377 with four homers and 27 RBI as a senior, and was named a 2010 Rawlings 3rd team All-American and to the Florida All-Region 1st team. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 20th round in 2010 but instead of turning pro, headed to Manatee-Sarasota Community College. He hit .318 for Manatee with 14 homers and 58 RBI, both in the Top 20 nationally for junior college players. Shoulders had a scholarship to University of South Florida but turned pro after the Cubs selected him in the 25th round and paid him a reported $290,000 plus money for college.
After signing his contract near the deadline, Shoulders played in eight games in the Arizona Rookie League, making his pro debut Aug. 20 against the Padres. He went 6-32 but five of his hits were doubles. After experiencing his first spring training and two more months in Mesa, Shoulders headed to Boise and in his second game in the NWL, blasted his first pro homer. He would finish short-season with 10 long balls in 63 games, hitting .250/.342/.447. He gained national attention by winning MiLB.com’s Moniker Madness as the best name in the minors.
Looking to be recognized for more than his name, Shoulders did just that in his first month in the Midwest League, hitting .370/.457/.642 with five homers, seven doubles and 16 RBI in 22 games. He was named Cubs Player of the Month for April for his performance. After the hot start, he finished the year hitting .258/.352/.445 with 66 BB and 143 K. He spent a majority of his time as the designated hitter (57 games) but played at first (45) and both corner outfield positions (16). He was named to mid-season and post-season all-star teams after ending the year with 18 homers and 74 RBI.
The 22-year-old will likely head to Daytona and split his time between DH and first base. Shoulders is one of the few left-handed power bats in the organization and shows good plate discipline to go along with his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Shoulders continues to work on his outfield and throwing skills but due to his lack of speed, is a better fit at first. He’s a better hitter than what he’s given credit for and a big year in the FSL should put him on the prospect map.
Rubi Silva, OF
Age 24 (6/25/1989)
2013 Team: Tennessee Smokies, Southern League (AA)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 29
How acquired—Signed as a free agent Dec. 15, 2010
Prior to Cubs
Sliva played for La Habana in Cuba’s pro league in 2008-09 and hit .276/.305/.428 in 283 at-bats with 10 triples and four homers. He was also a member of the Cuban Junior National team, and would have been an middle infielder but Jose Iglesias and Adeiny Hechavarria were on the team and played short and second. Silva was the fifth Cuban player to receive a $1 million bonus when the Cubs signed him in December of 2010.
Silva went through his first spring training and then headed to Peoria and promptly hit .285/.305/.358 in his first 29 games and earned a promotion to Daytona in mid-May. Silva struggled in the FSL batting .229/.250/.362 in 29 games and was sent back to the MWL, finishing the year hitting .307/.326/.419 in his final 64 games. Silva got revenge on the Florida State League in 2012, appearing in 111 games with a slash line of .302/.322/.412 while splitting time between the outfield (61 games) and second (29). His play earned a promotion to AA Tennessee (.263/.277/.413) for 20 games.
The 24-year-old had a breakout season with the power numbers at AA Tennessee as he finished second in the league to teammate Christina Villanueva with 226 total bases. He smacked a career-high 15 homers to go along with 30 doubles and nine triples. Silva finished with a slash line of .284/.310/.483 and stole a career-high 13 bases. With one of the best outfield arms in the Cubs system, Silva had 16 assists and spent time at all three outfield positions. He ended his 2013 campaign in the Puerto Rican Winter League, appearing in 24 games for Ponce, hitting .242/.266/.286.
Silva should start the year at AAA Iowa but that may depend on what happens to the six non-roster outfield invites signed as free agents over the winter. Silva’s achilles heel is his inability to lay off pitches as he only walked 18 times in 2013 while fanning 99. While Silva has a career .288 average but has only drawn 49 walks in 1,546 plate appearances. The Cubs front office may keep the Cuban in AA to work on his plate discipline but other than that, he has noting left to prove with another season in AA. Silva has the tools to be a MLB outfielder and while its unlikely he makes it to the majors in 2014, he should be in the discussion in 2015.
Not yet a subscriber to NorthSiders Report ? Join today for as little as $7.50 per month after our seven-day free trial and be able to read each of our player profiles as well as the Top 50 list and our exclusive year-round coverage.