Alex Lange

Promotion Commotion Is Coming: Who Should Be Moving?

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By Todd Johnson

Now that the first half of the MiLB season and accompanying all-star games are complete, expect to see some promotions coming. However, don’t expect to see too many of them. There are two reasons for that. One is that there were not that many dominating hitting performances when it comes to position players. And, while pitchers were great in the first half, there are not too many pitching positions open. The same can be said for catching. Still, there are several players who are worthy of moving up a level.

Should be heading to Iowa
There’s a pitching spot open since Adbert is out for the year.

Top of the List
Duncan Robinson is really putting together a good season at AA. He’s being pretty quiet about it, too. He had a 3.36 ERA in the first half. And in June, he’s hotter than a firecracker with a 1.59 ERA. What I like is that his batting average against has decreased every month. The fact that he has only walked 10 batters in 75 innings should give you the first clue that he is clearly in control on the mound.

Heading to Tennessee
If Robinson goes to Iowa, that creates a spot in the rotation for the Smokies.

Top Candidate #1
Keegan Thompson is the hottest pitcher at Myrtle Beach. He has four pitches he can throw for strikes and he recently pitched 7 perfect innings in his last start. He’s extremely polished and I don’t see high A Myrtle Beach holding much of a challenge for him at 23 years of age. He’s been named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week twice. In June, his dominance was highlighted by his WHIP of 0.54! He doesn’t look to be challenged much and there are no new pitches for him to polish – that being his strongest point for promotion.

Top Candidate #2
Alex Lange might not be the hottest pitcher in the system, but he has a lot of potential as a pro. Already armed with a plus curve, he’s been working on two things this year – fastball command and a changeup. Sometimes, he takes his lumps, other times, he dominates. From May 17 to June 11, he allowed 1 earned run while striking out 21 in 22 innings over 4 starts. Lange’s 2.83 season long FIP is much better than Thompson’s 3.42, it would be an interesting discussion on who would move to AA.

Heading to the Beach to PItch

The Cubs would have several arms from which to pick at South Bend. Rollie Lacy, Erich Uelmen, Tyler Thomas, and Jesus Camargo are all having excellent seasons for the Cubs’ Midwest League affiliate. On the other hand, Lacy and Uelmen are two of the hottest pitchers in the system. In June, Ulemen has a 1.40 ERA while Lacy has a very nice 0.69 ERA. Lacy’s curve is pretty hard to hit while Uelmen’s natural sinking fastball that bottoms out gets some of the ugliest swings one sees in Class A baseball.

Lacy started out in the pen this year and has been pretty consistent since he moved to the rotation on May 6. He just keeps refining himself every outing and has shown incredible growth through the pitches he throws in certain counts which keeps hitters guessing. His ERA for the year is 2.40.

Uelmen was rocked around pretty hard in April as a starter. His 9.75 ERA and 1.92 WHIP were pretty discouraging. Despite those two stats, Uelmen was still striking out a batter an inning. In May, he figured things out. It was as if he warmed up with the weather in northern Indiana. Back-to-back monthly ERAs of 2.16 and 1.40 point to his growth as well. Even though his ERA is 3.51 for the year, his FIP is a robust 2.47.

It would be a tough choice.

When It Comes to Hitting…
Sadly, no hitter at either Myrtle Beach or Tennessee is just completely dominating. However, I could see Jason Vosler moving to AAA Iowa. Sure, he’s put up good power and walk numbers, and has been hitting well the past month, but there’s not really a spot for him unless someone is cut, or, God forbid, moved to Chicago because of an injury. Who knows what the summer will bring to open up a spot? Maybe a trade will clear some space at AA or AAA.

Card made from a photo by John Conover

Then again, there is only one hitter I can see being promoted and I am pretty sure you know who that is. I feel like all I have done is write about him this year.

Jared Young should be in Myrtle Beach as soon as possible. He can go there, play multiple positions, and, in general, scuff up some more baseballs.

What I see driving promotions later this summer is going to be the play of this year’s draft picks. Players like Nico Hoerner and Luke Reynolds could result in more movement than we have seen so far this year. Outside of Cory Abbott, Matt Swarmer, and Trevor Clifton, there’s just not much movement, or, should I say, big names moving.

That’s about to change.

 

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The Weekly – Pitching Dominates the Week and Some Draft Tidbits

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By Todd Johnson

It was an interesting week in the minors. Everyday saw a great pitching performance or two. On Sunday, Erich Uelmen went six scoreless while Jen-Ho Tseng had the first of two good starts on the week going 7 innings with 9 Ks and 2 runs. On Monday, Michael Rucker went 6 innings with 8 Ks while allowing 2 runs. Javier Assad struck out 7 on Tuesday.

Photo by John Conover

Wednesday was the big day as Brendon Little went 7 scoreless while fellow first rounder Alex Lange went six scoreless with 10 Ks. Duane Underwood also did well on Wednesday along with Trevor Clifton, whose start was cut short due to rain.

On Thursday, the pitching parade continued as Matt Swarmer went 6 scoreless with 7 Ks before leaving in the 7th with a tired arm. He should not miss a start. On Friday, Bailey Clark went from piggyback starter to a full-fledged rotation piece at Myrtle Beach with 4 innings of 1 run ball. That same night, Cory Abbott went 6 strong with 5 Ks and 1 run.

Last night, all four starters were magnificent as well. Keegan Thompson got things started off with 6 scoreless and 8 Ks for Myrtle Beach. South Bend’s Erich Uelmen went 5 scoreless and 8 Ks, too. The only difference between the two was that Thompson gave up just one hit while Uelmen allowed three. Alec Mills continued the night with 6 innings of 1 run ball. Oscar de la Cruz looked very strong for Tennessee, even taking a liner off his knee and staying in the game. He went 7 innings with no runs allowed while striking out 7 and scattering 5 hits.

As the temperature warms up, so has some hitting. 

Christian Donahue is an infielder who currently plays for South Bend. After coming off the DL on the 16th, Donahue’s bat has taken off with steady playing time. He’s hitting .400 for the month. He seems to be a doubles machine as he has a .964 OPS despite not having a home run. But what I like the most is Donahue’s hustle. He plays the game hard. Being an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State might have something to do with that. I will flesh out his bio a little later this week.

Some Good News

Ryan Williams returned to action for the first time in 2 years yesterday. The “Big Lumberjack” threw 46 pitches (3.2 IP) yesterday in an EXST game. He didn’t light up the radar gun, but he was effective the first two innings. In addition, Erling Moreno came on in relief throwing harder than usual at 96-98. Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter wondered if Erling is being transitioned into a reliever.

Roster Changes

Victor Caratini is back in Iowa while Chris Gimenez is now in Chicago. Victor really needs to play everyday. I am sure the experience was good, but Victor’s future is not as a backup to Willson, Victor, more than likely, will be his own catcher at some point. Efren Navarro of iowa, who was on track to make this month’s All-Star team at 1B, was designated for assignment yesterday.

Jim Callis Draft Interview

On Saturday, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline was on 670 The Score’s “Inside the Clubhouse” talking about the draft. Callis said the Cubs have to let the draft come to them picking at #24. Callis talked about how the Cubs may have a strategy of looking for a college bat, but players drop or fall for various reasons. Callis used Alex Lange dropping last year as an example. Callis brought up some college arms who could fall to the Cubs including lefty Shane McClanahan of Central Florida, Logan Gilbert of Stetson, and Jackson Kowar of Florida as guys who could be bypassed earlier in the draft in favor of college bats.

One interesting name that came up as possible bats at that position, aside from Callis’ pick of Trevor Larnach, was Indiana high school outfielder Nick Schnell. The Louisville commit has a nice 6’2” 180 lb. frame and bats left while throwing right. Callis called him an all-around player.

Another player I hear gaining traction, and not just for the Cubs, is Georgia prep catcher Anthony Seigler. Though decent behind the plate, his bat is his true calling card. He also has the experience of playing USA Baseball, a box that scouting director Jason McLeod like to check. If he shoots into the first round, he could mess up a lot of draft boards.

Around the System
Iowa – 5-2 (18-29)
Tennessee – 3-3 (25-23)
Myrtle Beach – 4-4 (21-28)
South Bend – 4-3 (21-26)

Players of the Week

 

 

Card of the Week

Coming Up Next Week on Cubs Central
Monday – Draft Questions
Tuesday – Christian Donahue
Wednesday – Pitching in the MiLB
Thursday – ???
Friday – May MiLB All-Star Team
Saturday – May Cards of the Month
Sunday – The Weekly
Monday the 4th – Draft Day #1

As for Me…

I wrapped up another year of teaching on Thursday afternoon. That, to me, means the beginning of summer. When I am not checking in on baseball the next few weeks, I am going to do a lot of little things around the house and yard while trying to figure whether I am going to South Bend or Des Moines for a trip the week of June 11th.

 

A Magical Night of Pitching from Iowa on Down to South Bend

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By Todd Johnson

In yesterday’s article, I talked about how the hitting was struggling at each affiliate.

Last night, the pitching took center stage and it was very impressive.

For Iowa, Duane Underwood went 6 innings and only gave up 1 run while striking out 6. he gave up 4 hits and lowered his season ERA to 3.35. This month Underwood still has a bit of that good start/bad start thing going on. More starts like Wednesday’s will fix that.

Down in Pensacola, Trevor Clifton continued his very good season for AA Tennessee. Clifton’s ERA for May is 3.05 after throwing 4 scoreless with 3 Ks. Except for a couple bad innings this season, he’s been one of the best pitchers in the system. Unfortunately, Trevor’s outing yesterday was cut short by rain and the game will be finished today. His ERA for the season is 3.55.

The highlight, or should I say highlights, of the evening actually involved last year’s two first round picks.

Brendon Little’s May ERA is now down to 3.75 and he is throwing with a lot of assertiveness. Last night Little threw 7 scoreless innings with 5 Ks and did not allow a run on 82 pitches. Little attacked with his fastball-curve combo and an occasional changeup. Rather than nibble like he did in April, he’s going right after hitters, challenging them, and moving the ball all around the zone. Little has become must-see MiLB.TV and he looks like first round material the Cubs envisioned. Some fans were a little concerned about his early troubles in Eugene in 2017 and in April this year.

Be concerned no more.

Meanwhile, down in Myrtle Beach…

Alex Lange of the Pelicans had his best start as a Cubs prospect. Lange went 6 strong, allowed 6 hits without any runs while striking out an amazing 10 batters. While his fastball location was iffy, his use of a changeup seems to be helping his curves because hitters were flailing at his 2 curves all night long. He was devastating against lefties as his curve broke down and in. They stood no chance. It was one of the most impressive starts and pitches of any prospect this season.

Tonight, more of the Cubs top pitchers are back at it. Duncan Robinson goes for Tennessee, April Pitcher of the Month Matt Swarmer goes for Myrtle Beach, and one of my faves, Rollie Lacy, goes for South Bend.

In other news, pitcher Erick Leal will be returning to Myrtle Beach after missing all of 2017. Pelicans’ pitchers Kyle Miller and Elvis Diaz were released while Jose Paulino, also of Myrtle Beach, was placed on the DL.

2017 Draft Class 1 Year Later – It Could Be McLeod’s Deepest Group in Time

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By Todd Johnson

Even after just one year, it’s sometimes hard to get a good feel for a draft class until you’ve seen them play for at least a couple of years. Last year, the Cubs selected 41 players and signed 29 of them. A couple of young pitchers have yet to debut this year while 3 prospects are all the way up to high A Myrtle Beach. A large portion of the draftees are at South Bend (13) and the rest will likely play for Eugene this summer or fill in at South Bend within the next month.

While the Cubs did take a majority of pitchers last year in the draft (including two in the first round), it has been the hitters who are currently my focus on a daily basis this spring in Austin Filiere, Jared Young, and Nelson Velazquez. In addition, there are some pitchers trying to figure out whether they are going to start or relieve. Those decisions might be ongoing for a couple of years.

Next year’s grade will be more interesting and indicative of this class’ potential.

Photo by John Conover

The Big Pitching Guns

It’s a bit hit and miss so far.

Alex Lange, Keegan Thompson, and Cory Abbott have been up and down. Brendon Little is improving every start. Tyler Thomas was very good in April but seems to be inconsistent to begin May. And Brendan King is just getting to South Bend in a relief role and doing well. Rollie Lacy just made his first starts of the year for South Bend. It’ll be much easier to evaluate a year from now when these arms have 25 to 30 starts under their belt rather than five or six.

If the last few days are any indication, there’s a lot of promise. 2nd round selection Cory Abbott struck out 11 on Saturday night and 18 for the week while 3rd round pick Erich Uelmen went 12 scoreless on the week with 9 Ks.

Some Surprises

The Cubs did pick a few hitters who I really liked last year. Austin Filiere seems to have improved the most as he is hitting for average as well as drawing walks. I thought he would hit a lot more home runs but it hasn’t really heated up yet in the Midwest League. Jared Young is another impressive bat who really came on strong in August. He is one of my favorite hitters to watch in the organization because his approach is so good. The same is true of Austin Upshaw who did well at South Bend last summer. However, Upshaw is struggling in 2018 at Myrtle Beach. The approach is still there, but the results are not.

The Young Guns

Outfielder Nelson Velazquez tore it up last summer in Mesa. I thought he would begin 2018 in Eugene and I was really surprised to see him debut at South Bend the week of May 7. You can definitely see the tools and the skill set on display, but he seems to be struggling at the plate as I don’t think he has seen those types of curves or changeups before. Shortstop Luis Vazquez should also be a sight to see this summer in Eugene. He might be the best defensive shortstop in the system. If he can do anything with his bat, he should move pretty quickly with his skill set on defense. I’m looking forward to seeing Jeremiah Estrada pitch for Eugene this summer. He pitched a little bit last year in Mesa but not enough to get a good look at. This summer, seeing him on TV should be an eye-opener to see if the Cubs got a steal in the sixth round.

There are more than 10 other draft picks who make their 2018 debut later this year. That’s 1/3 of the draft class. Part of me says to give them a B and move on, but that is a lot of players who are still getting in the swing of things.

In trying to decide the grade, the one I really wanted to give was an incomplete. And that might be true for most drafts after their first year, honestly. There are many good things happening with this class and there are other picks who really haven’t even gotten going. I thought it would be unfair to the reader to get through this whole article and not even give a grade.

With that in mind, I’m going to throw out a B-. There’s no one who has gone out and consistently dominated. However, depending on how things go this year, the 2017 class could easily be an A at draft time a year from now if Little continues to improve, Lange and Thompson find some consistency, and Estrada flashes at Eugene to go along with the excellent hitting of Young, Filiere, Upshaw, and Velazquez, and the defense of Vazquez.

The Cubs took some chances in the 2017 draft and may hit on a few of them in due time. Just a year from now we’ll know a lot more. For right now, it’s a pretty promising class.

The Weekly: Good Performances Abound in MiLB System

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By Todd Johnson

It is 10 days into the minor league season and I’m not sure what I am looking at it just yet. Starting pitching was supposed to be the strength of the organization and the performances have been a mixed bag. There are a few exceptions, but it’s been the relievers that have dominated on the mound. As for hitting, some familiar names are off to slow starts while some players I thought would break out are doing so. Despite some of the struggles, there is a lot to like about what transpired for several prospects.

Jared Young was hitting .600. He settled back down to earth but he is off to an amazing start to the year hitting just a little under .400. He still needs to work defensively on playing first base as I think he is going to be there more than at second base this year.

The South Bend Relief Corps – To a man, they’ve been lights out. Rollie Lacy, Bailey Clark, Brian Glowicki, Ben Hecht, Brendan King, and Elvis Diaz all have ERAs under 2.25.

Michael Rucker – He has always been a strike throwing machine and he started off that way again this year. In his first start, he went five innings with 6 Ks and allowed 1 run. He makes his second start today.

Alex Lange – He looked alright in his first start as he gave up one run in five innings. They were glimpses of his brilliance. He looks like the first real deal pitching prospect the Cubs drafted in Theo era. He is still working on his changeup and I hope to see more of that today.

Duncan Robinson has been very good as well. His first start was rained out after two innings but he dazzled in his second start going 6 innings with 4 Ks and he allowed just a single run.

PJ Higgins – He has been outstanding in a second go around in the Carolina League. With the large amount of catchers that the Cubs have in the system, he may not be going anywhere for awhile and that might be the best thing for his bat.

At BP Wrigleyville, I said South Bend would be the team to watch in the first half of the year and they are making me look good. They are 6-2 on the year so far including coming back from an 8 run deficit early in the week.

Tyler Thomas changed his name and is stretched out as starter. He was fabulous in two starts. He went five innings in each one while only allowing a run. In his second start on Thursday this week, he no-hit Bowling Green for five innings. He has 10 Ks on the season and a 0.90 ERA.

Andruw Monasterio, Eddy Martinez, Zack Short, Bijan Rademacher, Taylor Davis, Ian Rice, Jesse Hodges, Teddy Payne, Austin Filiere, and Jhonny Perada are all off to good starts at the plate. So far, Jason Vosler of Tennessee is the only player with 2 HRs.

In Extended Spring Training – A whole new set of players arrived from the Dominican this week to fill out a second squad of players who will mostly end up playing on one of the Mesa teams this summer. Some of the more prominent names to come to Mesa include position players Luis Verdugo, Fabian Pertuz, Orian Nunez, Alonso Gaitan, and Carlos Pacheco along with pitchers Didier Vargas (0.99 ERA in 2017) and Riger Fernandez.

And this little nugget of news came in yesterday

Records Around the System
Iowa 2-6 
Tennessee 3-6 
Myrtle Beach 2-8
South Bend 6-2

Players of the Week

Players of the Day are also tallied in their own tab above.

Things I Wrote for Other Sites This Week
BP Wrigleyville
Jose Albertos Debut
Cubs Insider
Jared Young Profile
Brendon Little’s Start

Coming Up Next Week
I have had a bit of a case of writer’s block since the hoopla of opening week passed. I am ready to go now. I will be checking out Alex Lange’s start today to see if I can do a write up on his second start of the year. A prospect stock watch will be coming later in the week along with 10 things I think. The Friday six pack returns after 7 months on its appropriate day.

Baseball Card of the Week
Dylan Heuer of the Iowa Cubs snagged this dandy of outfielder Bijan Rademacher. Don’t forget to keep up with the cards as they are stored in albums on our Facebook account. There are almost 90 cards so far in the April folder.

2017 Draft Pitching Picks Getting Stretched Out This Week

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By Todd Johnson

When the Cubs select a college pitcher in the draft, sometimes it takes a while to get a good look at what they can do. Most of them tend to pitch a limited amount of innings after they sign as they have already thrown a full season in college. As a result, the next year of pro ball tends to be a bit of an eye-opener as you can see more of what they can do in a five inning start than you can in an abbreviated start or two innings in relief.

With last year’s highly touted draft class, a lot of that holds true for this year. Here are some observations from the past week as these pitchers got more extended looks.

Rollie Lacy –  When I watch a pitcher, I tend to watch for movement and how a hitter reacts to the pitch. While the radar gun totals can be tempting to glorify, it’s really about what the hitter thinks he sees. And on Saturday night, Lacy put on a master class in relief as he faced 10 batters. He struck out seven flashing a changeup and a slider/curve that befuddled many West Michigan hitters. It was fun to watch them try to hit what they originally thought were fastballs. The former Creighton star may not start on the mound, but as a piggyback starter, he’s going to be fun to watch develop over the next couple of months.

Erich Uelmen – For a third round pick, I barely get to see him pitch last year. He didn’t start any games for Eugene as his 24 innings were all in relief and 4 of the 7 appearances were on the road where I couldn’t see him. On Sunday afternoon, Uelmen made his first start as a Cub in low 40° temperatures. He has some nice armside run. When he kept the ball down, he was very effective. When he left it up, he got toasted. And that’s what happened in his debut. He threw 2 great innings and 1/3 of a not so great inning that saw him charged with 6 earned runs. He has plenty of time to redeem himself. He unraveled after he hit a batter.

Cory Abbott – While I did get to see Abbott pitch a little bit last year, it was only just in 2 starts that lasted 3 innings apiece, I did not get a good feel for his entire arsenal, but I did love his demeanor on the mound. He was quite the bulldog. What I came away with from  his start on Monday last night that impressed me was the movement on this slider – it had an almost 1-8 look to it. Hitters struggled to recognize it or even get the bat on the ball. The problem for Abbott, who gave up three earned runs in five innings, was that he left his fastball up and in the zone. He did not get hit hard, but he got it enough. He gave up seven hits but did not give up hard contact, but enough contact. Considering that it was 34°, it was not the most ideal conditions to pitch in. Still, I liked the potential he flashed.

Meanwhile, in Myrtle Beach last night, announcer Scott Kornberg commented that there was a sparse crowd due to that it was very cold at 54°. It was a little strange contrasting with South Bend, but first round pick Alex Lange did not seem to mind.

For Alex Lange, his high Class A debut was impressive. He went five innings on just 60 pitches. He gave up four hits and one earned run while striking out four and walking none. His curve looked great. Several hitters tried to go the other way with it without much success. His fastball command was pretty good. There was not a lot of hard contact. At one point, he got five pop-ups in a row – which was most impressive.

As for a few others, last week, Keegan Thompson made his debut at Myrtle Beach and was roughed up by the hitters and his defense didn’t help with 3 errors. He goes again tomorrow. I am excited to see how he does this week.

And tonight, first round pick Brendon Little makes his South Bend 2018 debut against Bowling Green. He is the last of the 2017 pics to start this year. I am excited to see how his fastball command looks.

 

Myrtle Beach Pelicans Preview: Is a Four Peat™ Possible?

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By Todd Johnson

The relationship between the Chicago Cubs and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans seems to be working out just fine. In the three years the affiliate has been in the Cubs’ system, the Pelicans won two Mills Cup Championships and made a third playoff appearance. Can the Pelicans make it back to the Mills Cup Championship Series for a fourth straight year? I think the odds are very good, but everything has to come together perfectly.

What Needs to Happen
One Good Half: Two years ago, most of the 2018 Pelicans’ roster was part of a team that dominated the short season Northwest League. Last year, several players from that team moved quickly but some of the pitchers seemed to struggle in full season ball at South Bend. For the Pelicans to make it to the playoffs, they have to win a first half title or a second-half spot. And, in a 10 team league, it seems a little bit easier to make the postseason if you get hot for a little bit. That’s what happened last year in Myrtle Beach as the Pelicans were a destructive force in May and June. This year, there are a few key factors that will determine if the Pelicans can get back to the promised land.

Pitching Certainty
It all starts with pitching. Starting pitching and relieving all have to be good. Considering the current backlog of prospects in the organization, most players are not going to be going promoted to AA Tennessee unless they have a completely dominant first half.

To begin, 2017 draft pick Alex Lange should be a great watch every sixth night for a couple of months. He has a devastating curve and, when his fastball command is on, he’s so hard to hit. The issue is if he can develop a change to go with his other two pitches. If he can, he is gone to Tennessee by mid season. One aspect of Lange’s personality that I love is his competitive fire. He has a burning to desire to win and also to dominate. His only issue this year could be overthrowing.

Jose Paulino is a 22-year-old lefty who struggled in the first half of 2017 at South Bend after dominating the Northwest League in 2016.  He rebounded to pitch well in July and August and playing at Myrtle Beach will only help him as long as he stays aggressive in the zone. He put together a great spring and I’m excited to watch him go at it in a pitcher’s park in Myrtle Beach.

Fourth round pick Keegan Thompson will make the rotation and actually pitch opening night. He has great command of all his pitches and works off a 91-93 mph fastball. As for Erling Moreno (who is injured), Tyson Miller, Matt Swarmer, and Bryan Hudson, they need to stay healthy and need to stay consistent from inning to inning.

Catcher PJ Higgins is returning to Myrtle Beach and he should provide excellent leadership for the young pitchers. Jhonny Perada, who has been nailing runners at second like crazy in spring training, could be one of the most improved players this year.

Maturity
Even though the Pelicans are a level higher than South Bend, they have the youngest average age of any of the affiliates this year. Maturity was a factor last year for some of this team at South Bend at the end of the first half. They made a push in August but fell a little short to get into the Midwest League playoffs. Another year older, they should also be another year wiser.

It looks as though 1B Tyler Alamo, who was very good in the second half last year (.306 with 5 HRs), will return and begin 2018 in Myrtle Beach. His maturity and leadership can only help these young guys.

Staying Healthy
I often refer to Wladimir Galindo as “my guy.” He is still rather young but this guy can just put the barrel the bat on the ball and drive it places at will. The issue is that he has to stay healthy. He has yet to play a full season without going on the DL. He missed most of last year with a broken foot. As soon as he hit the ground in spring training this year, he started hitting and hitting well.

The Blossoming of Austin Upshaw
Everyone that watches Austin Upshaw plays comes away very impressed. This kid can flat out rake. There is some potential for potential for power there, too, but that will come in due time. I also like that he can play three infield positions (1B, 2B, and 3B) well. If all goes well, he might not be at the Beach very long.

Breaking Out
While the Cubs don’t have any top 100 prospects, there are three players who should be at Myrtle Beach this year who could be big talents in the organization fairly quickly with a breakout season.

Shortstop Aramis Ademan is already a top four prospect in the system but still needs to develop his bat some more. Defensively, he’s pretty good with his feet and his arm is very good. While he can turn on a fastball, he struggled a bit at the plate in his short tenure at South Bend. He’s still only 19 and should be a Pelican all year.

Outfielder DJ Wilson is an elite athletic talent who has yet to hit with any consistency. He has elite defensive skills and the potential for power, as he showed last summer when he was the Cubs’ July player of the month.

The guy I am looking most forward to seeing this year is Kevonte Mitchell. He is turning into a physical beast. Last time I saw him in person in was at Beloit, he looked Hulk-like and was tracking the ball well. Hopefully this year that pays off with a 20 home run season.

It’ll be interesting to see how this team looks at the end of the first half. If they can get it going on the mound, these young position players can score runs in bunches. They just need to be more consistent on a daily basis.

Other Affiliate Previews
Iowa

Tennessee