By Todd Johnson
Even though there are now eight minor league games a day, it doesn’t seem like much is happening. The draft is complete, the second half began, and all the rookie and short season leagues are in high gear. Yet, here I sit wondering what to write about for the next week. There are, however, good things happening throughout the Cubs system. Here are 14 of them.
1. Trent Giambrone is on fire. He’s hitting .361 with 4 HRs and 8 RBI over his last ten games.
2. Thomas Hatch has allowed one earned run all month. That calculates to a 0.33 ERA.
3. Isaac Paredes, all of 18-years-old, has figured it out at South Bend. He’s hitting .316 and slugging .526 as a shortstop this month.
4. Catcher Alberto Mineo looks to have mastered South Bend. He’s hitting at .323 clip this month.
5. I thought Vimael Machin was going to be a utility/organizational player this year. He has proved me wrong. He is hitting .311 in June and .289 on the year.
6. Justin Steele’s ERA for just May was 1.63. In June, it is 1.62.
7. Charcer Burks is the most unheralded Cub prospect going. He’s hitting .353 for the month and .309 on the year. And, he is a gold glove defender.
8. Victor Caratini’s monthly averages this year are .312, .366, and .333.
9. Bijan Radmacher is on a tear this month. He’s hitting .375 with a .455 OBP
10. Eugene’s Gustavo Polanco has everyone beat in his first 9 games. He’s crushing it at a .486 clip. His OPS is a staggering 1.311.
11. Joe Martarano might be better than I thought. After missing most of 2 years while focusing on football, he’s going at it. He has a .385 average and a .455 OBP. I really like his at-bats. Even when he makes an out, he works counts and lays off stuff out of the zone.
12. Yapson Gomez is the bomb out of the pen for Eugene. He threw 6.1 IP this week and struckout 8.
13. I watched Alex Lange pitch for LSU on Friday. He’s the real deal. He’s not a MLB #1 starter, but he and his curve will do just fine.
14. Carson Sands made his first start of the year in Mesa last night. He had elbow surgery in the off-season to remove elbow splints. He went three scoreless with 6 GB outs.
Draft Signings: 17 to date
The MLB Draft was moved back a bit this year. As a result, draft picks who had normally signed and started playing short season ball are just now getting their physicals. It looks like the Cubs could sign as many as 28-30 players this year.
Rounds 1-10: LHP Brendon Little, RHP Cory Abbott, RHP Keegan Thompson, RHP Erich Uelmen, LHP Ricky Tyler Thomas, 3B/1B/OF Austin Filiere, OF Chris Carrier, and RHP Brian Glowicki
Rounds 11-20: RHP Casey Ryan, RHP Brendan King, RHP Peyton Remy,
Rounds 21-30: RHP Sean Barry, RHP Mitch Stophel, RHP Jake Steffens, RHP Braxton Light, and 2B Cam Balego
Rounds 31-40: IF Ramsey Romano
They should game begin action later this week, most likely in Mesa. The more advanced college players will go to Eugene. There are a few others rumored to be signed, but their physicals must be completed before the signing becomes official. The deadline day to sign is July 15 at 4 PM, CDST.
Daniel Spingola made his way to Tennessee this week. Conor Myers is back with Myrtle Beach after being with Eugene for the past week.
Around the Minors
Iowa: 3-3; 32-43 – This starting pitching thing will hopefully straighten itself out in the next couple of weeks. Zach Hedges was much better in his second start. He will adjust.
Tennessee: 0-3; 0-3 – The second half got off to a rough start with a tropical storm and then losing both ends of a double header. Trevor Clifton was roughed up in his worst start of the year.
Myrtle Beach: 1-2; 1-2 – Going into Friday’s start, all five starting pitchers had ERAs under 3.18 for the month. Then Ryan Kellogg was uncharacteristically shelled by Down East. Michael Rucker was dominant last night in 5 IP before a rain delay ended his start after only 56 pitches.
South Bend: 1-2; 1-2 – First game back and Zack Short hit a HR. Manny Rondon thn had his best start of the year Thursday and Jose Paulino moved to the bullpen this half. I will have to keep an eye on that rotation. Bryan Hudson was excellent last night. Dylan Cease should be coming up.
Eugene – 3-3; 5-5 – Gustavo Polanco es en fuego and Yapson Gomez has been money in the pen. And who is Jhon Romero (Yes, that’s how he spells it)? 2B Rafael Narea seems to have taken off since he was moved to the leadoff spot. He went 3 for 4 with 2 BBs last night. He’s batting .344 with a .488 OBP.
Mesa: 1-0; 1-0 – Opening day went very well except for that one part where they batted out of order. However, Delvin Zinn did well (2-5) as did Rafael Mejia (3-4, HR). Carson Sands had 1 K in his 3 innings.
DSL 1: 1-4; 5-13 – It was a rough week. Let’s leave it at that.
DSL 2: 2-3; 8-10 – This team has some serious starting pitching but can’t score a lot of runs.
Players of the Week
Card of the Week
My Other Cubs Articles on the Web from this Week
BP Wrigleyville: Thomas Hatch
Cubs Insider: Alex Lange
By Todd Johnson
As I have said before, it is hard for a prospect to break out anymore. There is press coverage almost everywhere in addition to photographers and people who can take video. With Mesa and Eugene ready to begin play, here are some names of prospects who I think will grab a few headlines in the second half and propel themselves up several prospect lists.
I did not include top prospects Miguel Amaya and Aramis Ademan on this list. Technically, they should break out, but most people already know about them. For me, it’s just a matter of seeing them do it this summer on him MiLB.TV.
Joe Martarano – At 6’3” and close to 240 pounds, Joe is quite the presence in the batters box. I saw him for the first time on opening night at Eugene. The thing I took away from his performance was that he does have a really good eye at plate. He might be a little “roller-coastery” this summer as he gets used to playing every day after not playing for two years.
Delvin Zinn – He is beginning this year in Mesa after missing most of spring training. He’s a great athlete and it looks like he’s gonna play second base. With college draft picks coming, I think he’ll be at Mesa most of the summer.
Bailey Clark – I love this kid. While technically a bearded monster, he also has a 95 to 98 mph fastball. He is starting out at Eugene and should eventually spend most of his time this summer playing at South Bend.
Brailyn Marquez – At 6’6” and only 18 years of age, I look forward to seeing what this young left handed pitcher can do. Last year in the DSL he put up an ERA of 1.48. He struck out 48 in 54 IP in the DSL, I doubt he does that in Mesa. I am intrigued to see how he does stateside.
Faustino Carrera – He’s a bit small, so I don’t think he’s destined to be a starter, but for right now he is. He put up a 1.06 ERA in the DSL last year and, like Marquez, I wonder if he if he can do that in Mesa with the same success.
Jonathan Sierra – He looks like Darryl Strawberry, but does not have Darryl’s skills yet. Then again, Sierra is only 18. He hit .264 in the DSL last year with a .384 OBP. That shows me he has a good eye at the plate. He did not have the greatest spring training, but I am interested to see how he hits in Mesa and whether his power stroke begins to develop. Hopefully, he begins to breakout this year. If not, it could take him 2-3 years to do so.
Gustavo Polanco -Last year, he lead the Mesa Cubs in hitting at .322. He is already off to great start at Eugene. Although he started off as a catcher, the 20-year-old moved to first base and is also a designated hitter. At 6′ and 190 pounds, he is pretty much maxed out physically, but he has a great eye for the ball.
Under the Radar
I am sure there will be other players who do breakout. More than likely, most will be players the Cubs recently drafted. I wrote the following at BP Wrigleyville about two top hitters I think might fit the breakout bill.
3B Austin Filiere (eighth round pick) and OF Chris Carrier (ninth round) both have a lot of potential for power. Carrier comes from Memphis while Filiere comes from MIT—neither of which are powerhouse college programs. Carrier is a sculpted physical specimen at 6’2” and 225 pounds, while Filiere’s experience in the wooden bat Cape Cod League might give him an advantage as they begin their pro careers, most likely in Eugene.
2B Jared Young and OF Brandon Hughes are two other college names who could do the same as Filiere and Carrier.
When it comes to pitchers, the Cubs did pick some relievers. Most notable are Casey Ryan from Hawaii, Sean Barry from San Diego, and Brian Glowicki from Minnesota. The starting pitchers the Cubs draft pitch short stints (40-50 pitches) as they already have thrown a full season.
By Todd Johnson
The Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs’ short season Class A team, opens up at home tonight to begin defense of its Northwest League title. The roster was released on Tuesday to oohs and ahs throughout the Internet (Well, actually, it was just me and another guy in Louisiana). Still, I find it very exciting as they usually play at 9 Central when most Cub affiliates have just ended their games. They have my sole attention every summer.
This year’s team, for now, is a mixture of international players and some of last year’s draft picks. Most of the players played in Mesa in Rookie League last year where they made it the AZL playoffs. There are a few players who played in the Dominican Summer League and skipped Mesa this year. There is a lot of talent on this roster. The Emeralds begin their title defense with the following players.
Pitchers: Luis Aquino, Javier Assad, Jesus Camargo, Holden Cammack, Bailey Clark, Enrique de los Rios, Andin Diaz. Elvis Diaz, Hector Alonso Garcia, Yapson Gomez, John Michael Knighton, Mark Malave, Junior Marte, Manuel Rodriguez, Jhon Romero, Andry Rondon, Matt Swarmer
Catchers: Miguel Amaya and Gustavo Polanco
Infield: Aramis Ademan, Jhonny Bethencourt, Joe Martarano, Rafael Narea, Edgar Rondon
Outfield: Zach Davis, Jose A. Gonzalez, Kwang-Min Kwon, and Connor Myers
It is worth noting that short season rosters can contain up to 35 players with 25 active per night. Most of those inactive for a game are pitchers.
Here are a few key players to keep an eye on over the the next 70 games.
1. Bailey Clark – I don’t know how long he will be at this level. He missed spring training finishing up his degree at Duke. He showed up in EXST in May and has been getting ready for the season. To be honest, his upper 90s fastball should be too dominant for this league. I wrote about him last year and I expect to see him in South Bend quickly.
2. Javier Assad – He was the ace of the 2016 Cubs rookie league team that made the playoffs. He struck out 42 in 37.1 IP last year with a 2.87 ERA. John Arguello said that he is more physically mature this year. His unofficial stats from EXST (courtesy of the Cub Reporter) were impressive. He had a 2.55 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in 24.2 IP. He struck out 26 and batters hit only .229 versus him. At the tender age of 19, expect him to be an Em all season.
3. Miguel Amaya – He’s just 18 and he drew rave reviews this spring for his catching abilities and his developing power. Amaya was signed by the Cubs in 2015 as a 16-year-old and he also is still growing. In EXST this year, he unofficially hit .350 with 4 HRs and was on fire as camp ended hitting .531 with a .600 OBP over his last ten games. I am extremely excited to see him play!
4. Aramis Ademan – Aramis is also a member of the 2015 IFA class and he is already considered the top defensive SS in the Cubs system. He will be skipping rookie ball and going right to Eugene. This spring, he proved he his bat is more advanced than previously thought. He hit .270 over 28 games with 1 HR. He’s not going to be a power guy. It is all about defense for him.
5. Joe Martarano – The former Boise State linebacker is now 100% committed to baseball. I like that. I like that he is 6’3” and 235-240 lbs. I like that he can hit for average as well as power. He did play some for the Cubs in the summer after being drafted in 2013. He did not play at all in 2016. He showed no signs of rust in EXST hitting .324 with a .448 OBP. I find that plate discipline to be amazing with how little he’s played after focusing on football for so long. The kid can hit.
6. Rafael Narea – Another IFA, he came on strong this spring. The 19 year-old-shortstop hit .290 and showed a deft bat and plate discipline as he only struck out a 4% rate.
The roster is also notable for the one player not on it. Pitcher, and top young prospect, Jose Albertos is staying behind in Mesa to work on his grip on his curve, which he keeps spiking in the dirt. Eventually, he will make his way to the great northwest.
Last year, over 50+ players flowed through Eugene. Once the draft picks sign, many more players will be coming. Expect to see the college position players arrive in late June. I doubt you will see first rounder Alex Lange as he is in the CWS for the next two weeks. However, top pick Brendon Little should be in the bullpen or making short starts of two innings. It will be exciting to see who all shows up!
Draft Picks Who Should Be in Eugene by July
The list could include OF Chris Carrier, 3B Austin Filiere, P Cory Abbott, P Erich Uelmen, P Ricky Tyler thomas, IF Austin Upshaw, OF Brandon Hughes, 2B Jared Young, P Brandon King, and closer Brian Glowicki. There might even be a few more.
By Todd Johnson
The six pack moved to Saturday this week to make room for some end of the month stuff. Now that May is done, it is time to look forward to June. The first half of the minor league season ends in two weeks while the major league season just begins to crank into gear.
Here are 6 things I am going to look forward to in June.
1. Starting Pitching
When I think of the troubles of the Cubs first third of the season, starting pitching stands out to me. Yes, it’s true, the hitting needs to improve, but when you’re giving up 5-6 runs a game, that is hard to overcome. I think handling this issue has to be done in a very deft manner. I say that because you have to balance winning this season and winning beyond this season. I am OK with Lester, Arrieta, and Hendricks. I am not a fan of John Lackey. While Eddie Butler has caught my eye, he is more an answer to the second question than the first. Where does that leave the Cubs? Do they need to go out and get two starters for this season? Do they need to get just one for this season and the postseason? Or, do they just think about acquiring long term starters who they hope will work out for just this year? Hopefully, we will have the answer in less than four weeks.
I have never been one to be big on speculating trades. While I am sure one is coming for a pitcher, I am pretty sure that the Cubs are going to be rely on their own prospects to fill position player roles. But here’s the thing – if Theo and Jed see a player they think can help them win the championship, they are going to go out and get that player regardless of whether he is a pitcher or a position player. Keep that in the back of your mind.
3. Trey Martin/Dylan Cease
I really like Trey Martin. I think he is an underrated prospect, maybe the most underrated in the Cubs system. He is an outstanding defender who covers as much ground as anyone in all of baseball in the outfield. As a hitter, while his growth has been slow, he has improved at every level. He got off to a sizzling start at Tennessee in April before a hamstring injury sidelined him after 8 games. He should be back this week and be a key cog in helping Tennessee get to the first half title. I hope to see Dylan Cease very soon, too. It’s been about 10 days since his ankle injury and I am ready for him to come back and anchor the staff at South Bend as they try to capture a spot in the postseason.
4. Eugene and Mesa
While the Dominican Summer League begins today, Eugene and Mesa are less than two weeks away. I love the late-night action that Eugene provides as usually they’re the only game going past 9 o’clock central. I am also looking forward to watching the Mexican connection of Jose Albertos, Javier Assad, and Jesus Camargo pitching for the Emeralds. In addition, I am excited about seeing Joe Martarano debut as a full-time Cub. And, throw in one of my favorite prospects, Delvin Zinn, who should be ready to go after an injury in extended spring training. Then there’s Miguel Amaya and Aramis Ademan, two 2015 international free agents, who will be making their stateside debuts. It should be an exciting beginning as Eugene tries to capture back-to-back championships.
5. The Draft
There are nine days to go. On Monday I’ll have a post about some risers and fallers. There will be six more names for you to know. I will have wall-to-wall coverage for you each day of the draft. After the draft is complete, I will, with the help of @WesSaver, have when each draftee signs.
6. Cubs Still in Play for IFA Despite Penalties
Ben Badler of Baseball America published an article this week that talked about how the Cubs are in on another top young player from Mexico, pitcher Florencio Serrano. The Cubs can only spend $300,000 max for a signing bonus this year. But because a portion of a bonus for a Mexican player goes to the team, the Cubs can technically spend a little bit more than their limit. A few weeks ago the Cubs were also said to be in the running Luis Verdugo, a young Mexican shortstop.
Check back tomorrow morning for “The Weekly.” I’ll have a recap of 2/3 of the Cubs/Cards series, some news on the DSL, and our players of the week!
By Todd Johnson
The days of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber tearing up the minors with gigantic home runs are gone. That power has not been replaced. Still, there are a few Cubs prospects who have the potential for power. Most notable on the horizon are Ian Happ., Eloy Jimenez, Yasiel Balaguert, and Jeimer Candelario. They could, at any time, drive the ball over the fence. However, there other prospects who have the potential to do so, yet they have not done so with any regularity. Here are six prospects who could become the next power Cubs prospect.
6’4” 195 pounds
Somewhat hobbled by an injury this year, Rose only has 6 HRs in 95 ABs this year. However, a low average has kept him down in the past. Since returning from his injury, he’s been on a nice 10 game tear hitting .314 with 2 HRs. He has the potential to do very well. Last August, he had 7 HRs at South Bend. He has great balance with his feet during his swing, I think he just needs to be a little more selective as a hitter and look for certain pitches in certain zones to maximize his power potential.
6’4” 245 pounds
The former Boise State Linebacker is now playing baseball full-time. He will likely be assigned to Eugene this summer. He has been playing some outfield in extended spring versus 1st and 3rd where he played before. Originally drafted by the Phillies and then by the Cubs in 2014, he last played for the Cubs in 2015 where he only played 18 games ut hit .305. In high school, Martarano was known for his hitting skills before committing to Boise State to play football. A broken leg has changed his career plans. Football is out and baseball is in now. His bat has been drawing rave reviews from Arizona Phil in his EXST game reports.
6’4” 185 pounds
He has been up and down this year. At one point, he had a nice ten game run with 3 mammoth home runs. The next two games saw him go 0-11 with 6 Ks. He is seeing the ball well. When he is on, he is very selective and does well. When he is in a rut, he is not.
The first thing I used to notice about Jason Vosler when he was at South Bend was that he did not use batting gloves. In 2017, he is now at AA Tennessee. The first thing I noticed is gloves are now present. What Vosler does do well is barrell up the ball. He hit 10 HRs between South Bend and Myrtle Beach in 2015 and only 3 between Myrtle and Tennessee in 2016. This year, the 23-year-old 3B has 7 HRs and 23 RBIS while hitting a robust .310 with a robust .421 OBP. I enjoy watching him hit as he is quick to the ball and uses all fields.
Rice is now at AA Tennessee and has punishing the baseball the last two weeks. In that span, he has 4 HRs and his average has gone .237 with a .338 OBP to .310 with a .421 OBP. Last year, he was second in HRs in the system with 15 to Yasiel Balaguert’s 19. I thought Rice could hit 20 in the mountains of Tennessee versus Myrtle Beach, a noted pitcher’s park.
I have yet to see Cruz hit live or on TV. Currently, he is the position player I want to see most in 2017. That will come to end soon. He will either be in South Bend soon or when Eugene starts its season in the middle of June. The 2016 7th round pick out of Bethune-Cookman has been held back a bit to work on his defense. Last year, he played in 40 games after being drafted and hit 2 dingers in 40 games while hitting .238 with a .370 OBP. The left-handed swinging Cruz has been tearing it up in EXST. I think his bat might be better than we think. The question, though, will his defense hold him back in spite of his bat? I cannot wait for June to get here just to see him.
With two picks, basically, in the first round, the Cubs have the opportunity to add a special bat or two. They are not going to get a Kris Bryant or Kyle Schwarber type of bat, but they can get a player who has the potential for power. This year’s draft is big on pitching and shortstops at the top of the draft. There are only a few power bats, most from the college ranks, available.
By Todd Johnson
An interesting thing began developing about two years ago. People began realizing that this Cubs team was very good. That if the Cubs didn’t win today, there was still a good chance they could win tomorrow. They began to level out their emotions and to take things in stride. I think this year, with a World Series ring In tow, Cubs fans are a lot more relaxed about the regular season. In fact, they are extremely confident and are looking forward to the postseason. One close loss in April does not seem so damning anymore.
It was a pretty busy week in the Cubs’ universe as they raised four banners on Monday night and on Wednesday, the players got their rings. Both nights were very emotional and I think the Cubs put on two very classy ceremonies. I shed a few tears when Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins got their rings. I even shed a few more when they announced that Ernie and Ron’s rings would be stored in the Cubs archives for all to see. In fact, I am welling up now just thinking about it.
With the arrival of Brian Duensing back from the DL, a decision will have to be made in the next few days about Tommy La Stella and/or Matt Szczur as Carl Edwards will likely be back from bereavement leave early next week. Odds are La Stella will head down to AAA Iowa.
It should be a good week for Cubs’ hitting as they play Milwaukee Monday through Wednesday. Thursday, they are off and then head to Cincinnati for the weekend where the Cubs tend to hit very well. Let’s hope the bats begin to wake up some more.
Around the System
Iowa: 2-5; 5-5 overall -third place
The young Cubs had a good week as Ian Happ, Victor Caratini, and Jeimer Candelario continued to punish baseballs in the Pacific Coast League. Alec Mills and Eddie Butler were both outstanding in each of their outings this week.
Tennessee: 2-5; 4-6 overall – fourth place
It was a rough week, especially for the bullpen which seems to be falling apart early. The only bright spot was an 8 run ninth-inning as the Smokies came from 7 down to defeat the Mississippi Braves. David Bote and Trey Martin continue to hit well. Trevor Clifton is having “that one big inning issue” again this year, but at least they have only been 2 and 3 runs. Otherwise, he hasn’t given up a run in 8 of his 10 IP.
Myrtle Beach: 3-4; 5-4 overall – fourth place
The Pelicans seem to have trouble getting a lot of runs. The pitching seems to be the strength of this team. Oscar de la Cruz had 10 Ks in 9.2 innings of work this week. Thomas Hatch looked very good except for one inning and Justin Steele looks to be pitching like Justin Steele of 2015.
South Bend: 5-2; 5-5 – fifth place
After being frozen the first three games, the bats started to come around quickly. Isaac Paredes, Yeiler Peguero, and Wladimir Galindo all broke out in a big way this week. The pitching, meanwhile, continues to be otherworldly led by Dylan Cease, Manny Rondon, and my new favorite pitcher, who is the breakout pitcher of the year so far, Tyson Miller.
Extended Spring Training
EXST began this week as the Cubs played two intrasquad games and one game against the Angels.. Bryan Hudson threw six scoreless innings with 10 ground ball outs and 6 Ks. Here is Arizona Phil’s take:
“The 6’8 Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick – Alton HS – Alton, IL) was an absolute ground-ball machine, mixing an 87-89 MPH sinker, a plus-curve, and an occasional change-up to keep the A’s hitters off-balance and constantly beating pitches into the ground. He also threw 70% strikes and averaged only 11.5 pitches-per-inning. Hudson’s outing was simply one of the best performances by a starting pitcher in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game I have ever witnessed (and I have seen many good ones over the last 40 years).”
That’s pretty high praise.
Michael Cruz, his bat, and approach look to be no match at either Mesa or Eugene. I cannot wait to see him play in the next couple of months.
Yesterday, Joe Martarano return to playing minor-league baseball. It is been two years and a horrific knee injury since we last saw Martarano. He will play some first base, some third-base, and even somehow outfield this summer, most likely for Eugene. To shake off the rust, He belted a triple in his first game back.
Card of the Week
Made from a photo by Larry Kave
Players of the Week
Back on June 3, I predicted some prospects who I thought might be breakout prospects in the Cubs’ minor system. Most of the names in that article were going to be assigned to either short season Eugene or Rookie League in Arizona. I didn’t do too badly on coming up with some breakout names, but as the case is every year, there are always prospects that are always unpredictable. No one saw Chesny Young as capable of hitting right off the bat last year nor did anyone predict that Kevonte Mitchell would excel.
From the Eugene Emeralds, Oscar De La Cruz, Austyn Willis, Ho-Young Son, and Frandy Delarosa were mentioned as names that could breakout. Willis did not make it to Eugene. Instead, he was assigned to Arizona. At Arizona, Dylan Cease, Erling Moreno, Carlos Sepulveda, and Wladimir Galindo were names mentioned in the article as possible breakouts.
In Eugene, De La Cruz and Delarosa, are in fact, having excellent seasons so far. Delarosa is hitting .310 with 6 SBs and he leads the team in RBIs with 14 while hitting 7 doubles. De La Cruz has a 1.64 ERA and in his last start struck out nine in six innings. Son is scuffling at the plate hitting .214.
In Arizona, Dylan Cease has been dazzling. He has made three short starts and four total appearances with a 1.04 ERA. Moreno made 2 appearances in the first week and has not been seen on the mound since. Sepulveda is currently hitting .226 and struggles at the plate. Galindo, on the other hand, has been ripping the cover off the ball. While he does not have a home run yet, he has an OPS of 960 thanks to 6 doubles and 2 triples. He is hitting .373 and he’s only 18. Willis has 3 starts and has pitched well in one and struggled (not poorly) in the other two and currently has an ERA of 4.76.
So far, it seems we are batting a little over .500 on selecting our breakout prospects. It is still early in the season. There are seven weeks of baseball left for them which is a lot of time to figure some things out.
In the meantime, the big names we mentioned in the article are doing well. Sands, Steele, and Jimenez are all having good seasons although Jimenez has been sidelined with a hamstring issue for the past week. Out of the top prospects, Steele has been the most dazzling so far. His tight curveball has helped him to 3-0 record with a 1.23 ERA and 27 Ks in 22 innings. Sands has been pretty good, too. He has a 3.15 ERA to go along with an excellent 1.00 WHIP. “The Summer of Eloy” was looking good before the injury as he was hitting .302 with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs.
Who are the Surprises We Did Not Foresee?
Usually most breakout prospects occur at the lower levels of the system as players come in. Most high school and juco draftees enter the system in rookie league while college draftees enter at short season or low A. Prior to the article, Ryan Williams, Jeremy Null, and Gleyber Torres broke onto the scene in a big way. Williams then skipped high A and was promoted to Tennessee where he has been amazing there as well. Null is at Myrtle Beach while Torres is still at South Bend mainly because he is still only 18. This season is seeing excellent years from Yasiel Balaguert, Kevin Encarnacion, Charcer Burks, and Rashad Crawford. Zach Hedges has been a pleasant surprise, especially since June 1.
But this summer, there are several names who have shot onto the scene at Eugene and Arizona. Keep in mind, they have only been playing for a month and their seasons are not quite half over.
Breakouts at Eugene
Tyler Alamo’s bat has been a huge eye opener. The C/1B is hitting .327 (which leads the Emeralds) and he is third in runs with 11 despite not playing every day. He has some defensive issues but that is what this level is for. It is nice to see things begin to work out for the 2013 draftee.
On a roster with over 20 pitchers, it is hard to get noticed. Greyfer Eregua has been doing that in long relief. He has been piggybacking starts for college starters Ryan Kellog and Kyle Twomey who are limited to two innings after already pitching a full season. Eregua’s 2.04 ERA is buoyed by the fact that he struck out 24 in 17+ innings. Kellogg and Twomey might be names you hear more about next year at South Bend in their first full year in the organization without pitching limits. Both have been excellent in their two inning starts this summer. Look for Preston Morrison and Scott Effross to join them as starters very soon.
Breakouts at Arizona
Boise State linebacker Joe Martarano is getting better every week. The more he plays, the more it looks like the Cubs got a steal in the 2014 draft. Currently he is hitting .315 and leads the team in RBIs with 12.
Robert Garcia is announcing his arrival this year. The switch hitting outfielder is hitting .340 at the top of the order with an OBP of .400. He has two SBs and is second on the team in runs.
Alex Bautista, a recent draftee is off to great start, too. He is up to .280 and is fourth on the team in runs after arriving a week after the season started.
Pitcher Tanner Griggs has been outstanding in a relief role and has yet to allow a run in 6 and 1/3 innings.
Converted pitcher Mark Malave might be the most unlikely pitcher convert but he has been outstanding as well showing a fastball in the low 90s. Malave is pretty good sized at 6’3” and pitching might be his thing.
Another surprise breakout also blew my predictions of any players from the Dominican Summer League team coming over this year. Pedro Silverio has been excellent in his short tenure in Arizona. In his two starts, he has pitched a total of nine innings and has a 2.00 ERA as a starter. He is drawing rave reviews for his poise on the mound. He turned 21 two weeks ago and is 6’2” and throws in the upper 80s and low 90s.
One prospect who his drawing raves for his skill set (not so much for his stats) is SS Andruw Monasterio. The 18 year old Venezuelan is hitting .268 with 3 SBs. However, he is showing off what he can in other ways. John Arguello raves about him:
I just liked his skills and athleticism from the moment I saw him, the way he flows through the ball at SS, his good speed, and the surprising pop in his bat. There is some quickness and surprising strength in those wrists and there is every chance for him to mature and get stronger.
Just beginning to see
Some other prospects are just beginning to arrive. This year’s 4th round pick, Darryl Wilson, arrived with a splash this week by getting a pinch hit two run double. He then flashed his speed the next night in the field and on the base paths. He is 2 for 5 so far.
The other high profile high school pick, Bryan Hudson, has been around for two weeks and can be seen playing bat boy, shagging flies, and doing other assorted things. It is not known when the big lefty will see the mound.
It is still early in the year for Arizona and Eugene and some prospects, mainly drafted ones, are just getting to Arizona. It should be interesting to see what they do the rest of the summer and if anyone of them just explodes and has an outstanding season!
Next weekend we will have an update on how this year’s draft picks are doing. Some draftees have a month in, like Ian Happ, and others just saw their first action like Wilson. There are still a few picks unsigned that might sign. It appears Jake Kezler is heading back to Indiana. John Cresto has not signed and it looks like PJ Higgins will sign very soon. The deadline is Friday the 17th.
The pictures for the cards of Cease, Martarano, and Monasterio were taken by John Arguello and his wife. They can be found here.