Updated: September 30, 2013 1:21PM
SOX 7 for ’14
• Chris Sale. The 24-year-old centerpiece of the staff rates as one of baseball’s best pitchers. Ventura said the only certainty for 2014 is that he starts Opening Day.
• Avisail Garcia. The 22-year-old right fielder was a great get for GM Rick Hahn in the Jake Peavy trade. Five-tool budding star has good makeup, too.
• Marcus Semien (sooner) and Micah Johnson (later). Infielders appear to be legitimate prospects.
• Erik Johnson. Scouts like what they see in the best pitcher from farm system, who was 3-2 with 3.25 ERA over five starts.
• Offseason upgrades. Hahn tackles a big project getting the Sox back on track. Watch him work under the radar on trades and free agents in name of long-term, not quick-fix growth.
• Moving forward without Paul Konerko or with Konerko in a reduced role. This team will be younger, more athletic and versatile.
• The June draft. The Sox will have the third pick overall.
—Daryl Van Schouwen
CUBS’ 7 for ‘14
*Travis Wood looks legit after All-Star season in first full year in big leagues. Opening Day starter?
*Edwin Jackson (8-18, 4.98) can’t be as bad next year; might even provide good trade value by July.
*Watch for the imminent debut of Javy Baez, the Cubs’ most hyped prospect since … (uh, never mind the comparisons).
*Alfonso Soriano, a clubhouse favorite for 6 ½ seasons with the Cubs, returns to Wrigley in May for the first time since his trade to the Yankees – and perhaps for the last time.
*Outfielder Junior Lake gets chance to claim a place in Cubs’ long-term plans after exciting debut summer.
*Arodys who? Right-hander Vizcaino, the injured power pitcher the Cubs acquired in 2012 from Braves, is expected back in ’14 as a reliever.
* Shark tweak: After a 213 2/3-inning, 214-strikeout season, Jeff Samardzija tries to take next step as difference maker.