MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber were promoted from the Minor Leagues to the show in 2015, and they helped the Cubs get to the postseason. So, who's next?As the Cubs count down to Spring Training, here's a look at some of the team's top prospects
MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber were promoted from the Minor Leagues to the show in 2015, and they helped the Cubs get to the postseason. So, who's next?
As the Cubs count down to Spring Training, here's a look at some of the team's top prospects who will be worth watching in 2016, starting in the Cactus League games in March.
• Comeback candidates | Newcomers
RHP Carl Edwards Jr.: After being used as a starter most of his Minor League career, Edwards was switched to the bullpen last season and did well. He compiled a 2.77 ERA in 36 games at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and was called up in September, appearing in five games with the Cubs. Rather than send the right-hander home after the season ended, the Cubs kept Edwards, 24, with the team during the postseason, and that experience may be more valuable than any side sessions. He's ranked third on MLB.com's list of the Cubs' Top 30 prospects.
OF Albert Almora: The Cubs' first-round Draft pick in 2012, Almora's career has been interrupted by injuries. The Cubs feel the outfielder, ranked as the Cubs' No. 5 prospect by MLB.com, is on track -- and healthy -- coming off a good season in which he batted .272 at Tennessee. A solid defender, Almora, 21, will likely open '16 at Iowa.
3B Jeimer Candelario: Candelario, 22, drew raves during the Arizona Fall League, when he batted .329 in 21 games. He opened last season at high Class A Myrtle Beach, where he batted .270 before being moved up to Tennessee, where he hit .291. Being in big league camp this spring will certainly help Candelario's confidence. He is ranked as the Cubs' 20th-best prospect.
RHP Duane Underwood: Underwood, 21, received an invitation to big league Spring Training camp for the first time. Manager Joe Maddon might have had something to do with that. He watched the right-hander pitch last spring during an intrasquad game and was impressed. Last season, Underwood was 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts at Myrtle Beach. A second-round pick in 2012, he is most likely another year away from the big leagues -- but he's on the fast track now that he's healthy. He's ranked as the Cubs' No. 4 prospect.
RHP Pierce Johnson: Johnson, 24, was limited to 16 games last season because of an injury. When he joined Tennessee, the right-hander posted a 6-2 record and 2.08 ERA. He took advantage of the rehab time to work on adding a changeup to his repertoire, and says that pitch may be a "game changer" for him. Ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the organization, Johnson is expected to open the season at Iowa.
C Willson Contreras: Contreras is moving up quickly. The Cubs' 2015 Minor League Player of the Year, he batted .333 at Tennessee last season, with eight home runs, 34 doubles and four triples while driving in 75 runs. Contreras, 23, played 14 games in the Arizona Fall League, and was then shut down after suffering a mild left hamstring strain. He'll open '16 in the Minors, but is worth keeping an eye on. He's ranked as the Cubs' No. 10 prospect.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.