Roaring Back: Here Come Some Prospects

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Stephen Bruno languished last year on the DL after having Tommy John surgery. For a player, being injured is one of the most frustrating things. For Bruno, it was equally hard. He is such a fiery competitor. In 2012, Bruno hit .361 in 52 games at Boise while compiling a 442 on base percentage. Last year at Daytona, through 19 games, he had similar stats when the injury struck. Bruno stayed supportive of his teammates as they went on to win the Florida State League Championship. Despite playing in only 19 games last year, Bruno was promoted to AA Tennessee for 2014. He got off to a slow start and has been pouring it on as of late. He is currently batting second, with Kris Bryant and a newly healthy Jorge Soler right behind him. Bruno’s average has crept over 300 finally and he is scoring runs at a prodigious rate.

The Tennessee Smokies have won 10 out of 11 and now sit in second place in their division at 20-14. Along with Bryant and Bruno, the Smokies’ bats have awoken. Anthony Giansanti, John Andreolli, Rubi Silva, and catcher Charles Cutler (Rule 5 minor league pick frm Pittsburgh) have powered the charge. Pierce Johnson has returned and done well despite some high walk rates. CJ Edwards is still on the DL, but the Smokies are cruising right along. Even a poor outing by Corey Black this past week has not stopped them. Dae-Eun Rhee has been inconsistent, Matt Loosen the same. The hitting has been the propellant in this streak. If the pitching gets back on track, look out!

Up north, Kane County continues to cruise along in first place. Will Remillard, recently named Hitter of the Month by this blog and the Cubs organization, continues to drive in runs. His teammate, 6’5” Cael Brockmeyer seems to have woken up this past week, too! As 23-10, the Cougars have relied on pitching. Thursday night, Duane Underwood gave up seven hits but managed to only give up one run. Paul Blackburn, Jen-Ho Tseng, Duary Torrez, and Juan Carlos Paniagua continue to show progress start after start. What I really like about this team, is they are not home run hitters, but yet they score runs in bunches. Jordan Hankins, Danny Lockhart, and Yasiel Balaguert have been solid. Jacob Rodgers, Trey Martin, and Shawon Dunston got off to uninspired starts but even they seem to be turning it around.

At Iowa, my favorite part of the week occurred when Chris Rusin threw a complete game no-hitter!!!! Easily, it was his best start but Rusin has been inconsistent all year. In addition at Iowa, my second favorite part of the week occurred when Dallas Beeler made his 2013 debut going six innings and only giving up a run. This team has not shown a lot of consistency except for Tsuyoshi Wada, Matt Scuzr, and Chris Valaika. Kyle Hendricks has been up and down. Thursday he gave four runs, but only one of them was earned.

In the Show…
When Mike Olt plays a couple days in a row, he starts hit home runs: nice long ones, too. Then Renteria sits him and Olt has to start all over again. At 12-21, the Cubs wasted great starts by Samardjiza, Jackson, and Hammel this past week because of their inability to score runs. Jake Arrieta did well in his two starts and has solidified the rotation. If only bats besides Rizzo and Castro would get going. Nate Schierholtz has been almost non-existent at the plate and Bonafacio seems to have leveled out instead of bottoming out but he is still not being driven in.
What I would like to see happen is to see Olt penciled in every day at third. At 12-21 this team is not in playoff contention. If you are going trade Barney or Valbuena, then do it quickly.

Here Comes the Draft

With less than a month to go, some bad news happened this week when East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman announced he was going to have Tommy John surgery. This throws the top end of the draft into a more solidified group. High schoolers Brady Aiken ad Tyler Kolek appear to be going in the first five along with NC State’s Carlos Rodon, High School Catcher/Outfielder Alex Jackson, and Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede. Four months ago, Rodon seemed a lock as the top pick and had been so for a long time. He did not get off to the greatest of starts this year and his stock fell a little bit to be replaced by Aiken.

The solid pick would be Aaron Nola of LSU. The problem is Nola does not have a high ceiling (#4 starter) but he would be the fastest to the majors as he has great control and is an excellent pitcher. SS Nick Gordon, Dee’ s brother and Flash’s son, has been sneaking up many charts. For me, though, I just don’t see Theo and Jed going with an arm in the first round and it is too much money to gamble on a player who is one TJ surgery away from ending his career. Jackson would be the pick if he available. He has power, a commodity the Cubs lack and is lacking in the majors in general. Jackson would likely go to the OF full-time and not catch. A lot still can happen as the draft approaches and the College World Series always changes minds.

In the second round is where I think the Cubs can strike a gold mine if they select Michael Kopech, a HS arm at the top of the round. Former highly rated Karsten Whitson has returned from injury (albeit in limited action) and could be available in later rounds. The former highly rated prospect has battled an injury the past two years but has had a successful rehab to return to the team.

Players of the Week
Hitter
Kris Bryant – in one night Bryant had what most players would consider a good week: 2 HRs and six RBIs. This dude is just killing and with Soler hitting behind him (for what I hope is the rest of the season), he could put up some mammoth numbers.
Pitcher
Chris Rusin – Throwing a no hitter usually gets you a Pitcher of the Week award. This is true for this week.

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