But as in almost every camp in Arizona and Florida, a few players fit into the same basic profile: the unknown prospect trying to open some eyes, the aging veteran near the end of his contract and the faded star hanging on in a last-ditch comeback attempt.
Here's the story of the three Cubs:
Christian Villanueva: The prospect
The 21-year-old third baseman grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, a city known for its love of soccer.
"It was hard to grow up as a baseball player because there are four professional soccer teams," Villanueva said. "No baseball in that city."
But Villanueva persevered and was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He was ranked the 100th-best prospect by Baseball America in 2012 but was blocked by third-base prospect Mike Olt at the upper levels and slugger Adrian Beltre in the majors.
Meanwhile, Cubs starter Ryan Dempster desperately wanted to go to the Dodgers, despite the Dodgers' lack of interest. Minutes before the trade deadline, the Cubs sent Dempster to the Rangers for Villanueva and pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks.
Villanueva was ecstatic to get an opportunity in an organization he watched on TV as a kid.
"I used to watch the Cubs a lot, with Sammy Sosa and Alfonso Soriano," he said. "I knew it was a long time since they've played in a World Series."
Villanueva debuted at Class A Daytona on Aug. 2, hitting home runs in his first two at-bats. He received an invitation to spring training and homered Tuesday against the Rockies. Though he won't make the club, Villanueva might be the Cubs' top third-base prospect.
"It takes time, step by step," he said. "Hopefully I'll get on a good level and see what happens."
Alfonso Soriano: The veteran
Coming off one of his best seasons as a Cub, Soriano, 37, enters 2013 knowing it might be his swan song in Chicago. The Cubs have made no secret about their willingness to deal him, and he said he would consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Cubs fall out of contention early.
But for now, he's willing to be the old man in a clubhouse filled with kids. Informed that Villanueva said he had watched Soriano on TV while growing up, Soriano laughed.
"I'm getting old, babe," he said. "This is my 13th year, and he's not the first one who has said that. I've talked to a couple other players who told me they watched me play with the Yankees. Now I have a third-base coach (David Bell) who I used to play against."
Soriano came up with players he enjoyed watching, such as Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Fernandez, but said he never played with anyone he idolized as a youngster.
"It's good for (Villanueva), but it makes me feel old," he said. "Never in my mind did I ever think of myself becoming the veteran, the old guy playing baseball. But this is the truth. It's no mistake."
Soriano has no wrinkles yet and said he has only a few gray hairs.