It is hard to believe that 3/5 of the minor league season is over. June is always exciting as four new teams join the fray in the Venezuela and Dominican Summer League teams, the Arizona Rookie League team, and the short season A Eugene Emeralds. Add in the draft, signings, and promotions, it can be a whirlwind of activity to cover. This June was no different.
In fact, July may be even more kinetic as the Cubs have money to spend in International Free Agency and the big league club is battling for a playoff spot. Player movement will be more frequent. Some prospects will go up to the big league, others will take their place, and some prospects could even be traded or released.
Only a few draft picks have yet to sign: Bryan Hudson, Jake Kezler, Michael Foster, and John Cresto all have not inked up yet. All others have signed or said they going back to college or honoring their commitments to college. The Cubs will sign close to 30 before its over. That is a substantial number!
Here is my June Organizational All-Star Team
C- Kyle Schwarber – Tennesee/Iowa – Despite seeing 6 games in the majors and having a 4 day All-Star break, he still hit near .300 with 2 HRs and 10 RBIs between Iowa and Tennessee.
1B – Jacob Rodgers – Myrtle Beach – It was a good month for the big lefty who hit 3 HRs to go with 17 RBIs and an OBP of .364.
2B – Chesny Young – Myrtle Beach – Ho, hum, another .337 month with 10 RBIs and 3 SBs
SS – (Tie) Yeiler Peguero – Dominican Summer League – First time I have ever put a Dominican Summer League player on the list. Usually, I have to take their stats with a big grain of salt. However, when someone hits .337 with a .460 OBP and steals 9 bases, something is going on.
SS – (Tie) Gleyber Torres – South Bend – It was another solid month. He hit .305 with 2 HRs and 12 RBIs.
3B – Stephen Bruno – Tennessee – Bruno es en fuego. He hit .355 with 1 HR, and 20 RBIs, and stole 2 bases.
OF – Billy McKinney – Tennessee – He had a solid month hitting .319 with 2 HRs and 13 and at one point in a recent stretch, he reached base 12 out of 16 times
OF – Rashad Crawford – South Bend – Quietly going about his business, Crawford hit .345 with 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 7 SBs – all from the nine spot.
OF – Mark Zagunis – Myrtle Beach – .326 with 4 HRs and 15 RBIs.
DH – Willson Contreras – Tennessee – He hit .373 with 1 HR and 11 RBIs – Another solid month for him.
The amazing thing for these starting pitchers is that have been pretty consistent. All had ERAs under 2.50 with one pitcher under 1.00 for the month (Skulina). Two got promoted and are doing well at their new levels.
SP – Frank Batista – Tennessee/Iowa; Felix Pena – Tennessee; Johnathan Martinez– Myrtle Beach; Tyler Skulina – Myrtle Beach; Zach Hedges – South Bend; Ryan Williams – Tennessee; Dallas Beeler – Iowa; Carlos Pimentel – Iowa
RP – PJ Francescon – Tennessee; Zach Cates – Myrtle Beach/Tennessee; Josh Conway – Myrtle Beach; Michael Heesch – Myrtle Beach; Michael Wagner – South Bend; Brad Markey – South Bend; Juan Rengifo – Dominican Summer League
Most Improved – One player made a great leaps this month and that was Jake Stinnett Stinnett had an ERA under 4 for the first time for a month and finally pitched into the 7th inning in his last start.
Pitcher of the Month
For the first time, I am going with a reliever – PJ Francescon of Tennessee wins this month’s award. A 0.00 ERA in 8 games with 4 saves and he struck out seven along the way. How is he in AA still? Out of all the relievers in the Cubs minor league system, he is by far the best. Teaming with Michael Jensen, they have been near unstoppable in the late innings in wrapping up games. Runners up: Tyler Skulina – didn’t get a win despite a 0.90 ERA in 4 starts – and Zach Hedges – massive improvement in just a month. It helps to locate the fastball.
Hitter of the Month
Stephen Bruno gets Hitter of the Month. His .355 average and 20 RBIs lead the entire Cubs system in both categories. I am glad he has fully recovered from missing all of 2013. He was a little rusty at times last year, but he is coming on strong now. Runners up: Mark Zagunis, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford were all close as they all blistered some balls in June.
For July, the selection process will be twice as hard as now eight Cub minor league teams are in season play. Ian Happ, Matt Rose, Wladimir Galindo, Justin Steele, Donnie Dewees, David Berg, Oscar De La Cruz, Carson Sands, and many other names could nudge their way onto next month’s list. It should be fun to see what happens along with International Free Agency, trades, and promotions over the next 4 weeks.