By Todd Johnson
The second half of the minor league season has been going for a month now. Players in Mesa, Eugene, and the Dominican have been grinding away and developing their craft at the plate, in the field, and on the mound. It is usually in the second half that some players break out and surprise us with their performance and development. Still it’s still a little early to declare a break out prospect after just one month, but there are a few players who are off to good starts here in the second half. Today’s post looks at players from Eugene on down while tomorrow’s looks at prospects from South Bend on up.
Fabian Pertuz was signed last summer as an International Free Agent is doing very well in the DSL. At 17, he’s hitting .323 with an amazing .463 OBP and he’s stolen 18 bags while missing two weeks. He should be in Arizona at some point for instructs this fall.
17-year-old SS Pedro Martinez (Yes, that is his name) is leading the squad in hitting at .336 with a .424 OBP. He’s also swiped 22 bags and seems to be a pretty consistent player the last six weeks.
At 6’6”, 19-year-old Pitcher Johan Lopez is an intriguing prospect. He’s struck out 32 in 31 innings while posting a 2.87 ERA. His WHIP of 1.20 is a bit of a head scratcher, but at this level, it’s OK. This is his first year as a pro and, as such, is a late bloomer.
Two hitters caught my eye in Arizona. 2B Clayton Daniel, a 31st round pick this year, can get on base with his bat or by walking. When I started writing this article on Saturday, he was in Mesa. He moved up to Eugene for a couple of days and I saw him arrive last night in Davenport about an hour before game time as he was promoted to South Bend. Not too shabby for a 31st round pick. Daniel is hitting .344 with a .408 OBP. 3B Yonathan Perlaza is part of that vaunted 2015 international free agent class. It looks like things are starting to click for him this year as he nears .300 after a rough start.
Reliever Maikel Aguiar is a strikeout machine whiffing 23 in 18 innings to go with a 0.48 ERA. Starters Didier Vargas and Jesus Tejada both had rough starts their first times out. Since, they have been turning it around. Tejada looks to be the more stable arm right now with his WHIP of just over 1.
3B Fidel Mejia is closing in on .400 for the season. Over his last ten games, he’s hitting on all cylinders at a .500 pace. In addition, 2nd round compensation pick Cole Roederer is showing a propensity to get on base at a steady clip as a top of the order bat. He’s batted first and third for the rookie league team. He’s hitting .371 with a .488 OBP in just nine games. I’m a little excited about that pick. After yesterday’s 3/5 performance, I am beginning to wonder if he belongs in Rookie League.
The player no one saw coming is non-drafted free agent Grant Fennell. The utility player was the Mountain West Player of the Year as a senior at the University of Nevada. Every time I check the box score he’s going 2-for-5 with an RBI. He’s hitting .355 with a team leading 20 RBI. In addition, that RBI total leads the Arizona League. He made his Eugene debut on Tuesday this week.
Over the past month, Cubs Central already profiled two top young prospects in Brailyn Marquez and Luis Vazquez. But in the bullpen, reliever Dalton Geekie has thrown 11.2 innings without allowing a run and struck out 16 while only walking 4. His WHIP is fantastic at 0.86. At 23, he’s a reclamation project who should be at South Bend very, very soon.