Top 5 reasons to watch Cubs’ Spring Breakout

March 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian's Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs’ farm system is rich in talent to the point that nearly every Cactus League game this spring has featured some of the organization’s future stars. Spring Breakout is a chance to pack the prospects together on one team that will get a dedicated turn in the national spotlight.

“It's definitely a really cool opportunity. I'm really excited,” Cubs pitching prospect Cade Horton said. “It's always fun going out there and competing against the best players. A lot of those guys will play for the next 15-20 years, hopefully, so it's really cool to see us so young and being able to just develop and get a chance to play in that.”

A loaded list of Cubs prospects is slated to take on a group of White Sox prospects at 4:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. The game will be available across MLB Digital platforms (MLB.TV,, MLB App), as well as on Marquee Sports Network, ESPN+ and Gameday.

Here are five reasons to tune in to the first-of-its-kind showcase for the Cubs:

1. Horton steps into the spotlight
Cubs fans will have a chance to see one of the best pitching prospects in baseball in Horton. And while the righty is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, the North Siders have a recent history of being willing to push deserving prospects swiftly up the ladder. Righty Javier Assad climbed from Double-A Tennessee to the Majors in 2022 and lefty Jordan Wicks did the same in ‘23. Horton, who was Chicago’s first-round pick in the ‘22 Draft, has the potential to follow that path this summer.

“Knowing that good work, good process and good results are likely to be rewarded, it's a really powerful thing, right?” said Ryan Otero, the Cubs’ director of pitching. “Players all know what they're going for, but I think seeing their peers … put in work, get results and go up there, I have to imagine that's a really encouraging thing, just knowing that what you're working for is extremely tangible and right there.”

2. Top 100 reasons to tune in
No MLB team is sending more prospects from MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list than the Cubs. Of the seven players found in those rankings from Chicago’s system, only Michael Busch is absent from the Breakout roster. That’s because Busch -- acquired from the Dodgers over the winter -- is currently preparing for the Cubs’ regular role at first base.

Besides Horton (No. 26), the five other Top 100 players heading to Sloan Park for the showcase are outfielders Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 16), Owen Caissie (No. 47) and Kevin Alcántara (No. 65), and infielders Matt Shaw (No. 54) and James Triantos (No. 73).

3. Rojas is a rising prospect star
When the Cubs signed Jefferson Rojas out of the Dominican Republic in 2022, the organization believed in the bat from the jump. The shortstop prospect, who will turn 19 on April 25, has been impressing evaluators with his overall game since entering Chicago’s system. He spent the bulk of last year with Single-A Myrtle Beach. Heading into this season, Rojas is MLB Pipeline’s biggest climber on the Cubs’ Top 30 list, jumping to No. 10 after being unranked a year ago.

“He's mature beyond his years,” said Jared Banner, the Cubs’ vice president of player development. “Sometimes I watch him play and I can't believe he's 18 years old. He can really slow the game down at the plate. Great approach. Beautiful swing. Excellent defender at shortstop. Good hands. Good internal clock. Great arm. He can just do so many things on the baseball field really well at a really young age."

4. All the outfield tools on display
The outfield trio of Crow-Armstrong, Caissie and Alcántara -- three players acquired via trade -- each brings a different skill set to the table. Simply put, Crow-Armstrong is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game (Majors or Minors). He combines that with a dynamic bat and plus-speed, and he could force his way to Chicago soon. Caissie is one of the top slugging prospects in baseball and he made a strong impression in big league camp this spring. Alcántara does a little bit of everything, giving the Cubs a potential five-tool talent.

5. Shaw making his (show)case for Cubs
The Cubs selected Shaw out of the University of Maryland with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 Draft and they felt he could be a fast riser in their system. To date, the 22-year-old Shaw has done nothing but back up that belief. He climbed to Double-A Tennessee in his pro debut last season and earned his first invite to MLB Spring Training this year. Shaw exited camp with a .500 slugging percentage and a team-high eight RBIs in 13 Cactus League games, all while impressing the Cubs with his work ethic and skill set. At this pace, Wrigley Field may not be too far off in the distance for Shaw.