There's a bevy of interesting things. A lot of things have been mentioned, so some different things. In general, I believe that a successful 2013 season for the Cubs would entail the development (could be through an acquisition or someone in the pipeline) of a core offensive piece (doesn't have to be a star, a solid starter would do) that is ready to join Castro/Rizzo by year's end, and a young starting arm that is ready to slot in with Edwin Jackson and Jeff Samardzija to start 2014.
1. Arismendy Alcantara in AA - Can he continue to hit as well as he did last year? Can his defense tidy up? If so, he's got a shot to be a part of our future at 2nd base, but perhaps he can become a key trade chip. If his defense tidies up at short and he shows that last year's offensive performance wasn't a fluke, that becomes a fascinating asset, a young, close to ready shortstop with offensive ability.
2. Gioskar Amaya's defense at 2nd - Early reports were positive enough on his defensive ability there. If he can find a home there, that would be great for him. There's a chance he's more a Mark DeRosa type.
3. Marco Hernandez - Can he show the improved discipline and approach that he showed at Peoria and Boise as time went on? If so, there aren't many shortstop prospects in the minors with his sort of complete toolset.
4. Stephen Bruno at ... ? - I still think he could be our 2nd baseman of the future, but I'm fascinated with this catching experiment.
5. Raw arms that were at AZL last year - Obviously, the high ceiling guys hold the most intrigue, but I'm curious about AMG and Elias, amongst others.
6. Robert Whitenack - He could be our 2nd best upper level arm that has more than an end of the rotation ceiling. Can he bounce back? If so, we might see him late in the year.
7. Logan Watkins - I've never been huge on him, but all the talk about him this offseason has me curious if he can show more consistency, offensively and defensively. He looks like he could be a part of the near future for the Cubs (not necessarily as a starter, could be a utility guy or upper level depth).
8. Young OF's below the radar - Trey Martin, Shawon Dunston Jr. both would hold more intrigue in another system. Reggie Golden hasn't gotten started. Do any of them step forward?
9. Ben Wells - What's the deal?
Agree with your list entirely. My number one though is seeing the infield at Kane County. Their performance this year will be telling for some of the highest of the Cubs Prospects. I'm looking forward to seeing some games that may be more exciting than the big league club. I better go early before some of these guys get promoted.
Bruno may jump to A+. He is a favorite of mine as well. Hope to see him keep hitting. Yes, future second baseman/super utility guy. Adding catching to his resume may be just the ticket. Many NL managers wish they had a third catcher that didn't take up a roster spot meant for the utility inf/of guys.
I'm also going to enjoy the lead up to the amateur draft. Even this early it's fun to think about who the cubs take with that 2 pick. A Georgia bat anyone? Or maybe a college or prep arm?
Fun fun fun!