The Weekly: Players Return from the IL and Some Roster News


Despite raindrops falling all over the midwest US, Cubs affiliates still got several games in this week. There was a not of lot of big-time news happening, though. It was just a week of players trying to improve and grind away.

The highlights of the week when it came to hitting involved the HR. The Cubs system does not have much power hitting, but this week, there seemed to be a lot more. Delvin Zinn, who had 1 career HR before Thursday, cracked two of them Thursday night. Kevonte Mitchell cracked them on back-to-back days.

Pitching, on the other hand, had a great week. Paul Richan, Colin Rea, Javier Assad, and Tyson Miller all had excellent starts and have begun moving ahead of the pack when it comes to being Pitcher of the Morning nth. All three likely have 2 starts each before June arrives.

There was one promotion this week. Pitcher Ryan Lawlor was moved from South Bend to Myrtle Beach. Good for him! The big lefty has been used mainly in relief for the Cubs but I would not be surprised to see him do some piggyback/long relief outings with the Pelicans’ Erich Uelmen, who is set to come back to Myrtle Beach very soon.

Roster News
Adbert Alzolay had a rehab start for Myrtle Beach early in the week and found himself at Des Moines by week’s end. Neither start went particularly well. But for Alzolay, this is pretty much his spring training for 2-3 more starts.

OF Jake Hannemann is also back in Iowa. Rule 5 pick Alexander Vargas, a pitcher, debuted for Myrtle Beach. His first outing was in relief and his second game saw him throw a 5 perfect innings. My guy, reliever Sean Barry, debuted for South Bend and has been excellent so far. And Erich Uelmen went 4 innings in EXST this week and he should be in Myrtle Beach very, very soon.

And last, but not least, 2B Gioskar Amaya returned to action after 2 years of injuries. He went 1-for-3 in his return to AA Tennessee. He is no longer catching, but is back in the infield.

And in a bit of sad news, Ryan Williams was released after struggling with shoulder issues the past 2.5 years.

Weekly Roundup
Iowa – (1-5; 25-17) – It was a tough week in Des Moines as the pitching and hitting went south in a hurry. The bright spots for the week were pitcher Colin Rea and IF Robel Garcia. Rea is starting to string together good start after good start. His ERA for the year is 2.91 but it is a measly 1.74 in 4 May starts. Garcia, at least offensively, has not slowed down since getting the bump to Des Moines.
Tennessee – (4-3; 21-21) – This team is a little bit Jekyll and a little bit Mr. Hyde. The hitting has plummeted in May with only Vimael Machin and Christian Donahue playing at an All-Star level. As for pitching, Tyson Miller, Cory Abbott, and Oscar de la Cruz keep humming along. The questions should begin to rise about if any of the three will get a shot at Iowa this this summer.
Myrtle Beach – (3-4; 15-28) – Alexander Vargas’ 5 inning no hit start on Friday might be the surprise performance of the year. Vargas is just 21 and was a Rule 5 pick this winter.
South Bend – (4-2; 23-17) – Look out for South Bend! They are playing very well and their bullpen is the unsung hero of this winning stretch with 5 of the 8 having ERAs of 0.00 this month.

Short Season Start Dates
Dominican Summer League – June 3
Eugene – June 14
Arizona Rookie League – June 17

Draft News
It is now just two weeks away. More and more mock drafts are coming out and the first round looks to be getting very crowded with college bats. Some of the high school hitters are falling out of the first at a very fast rate. As a result, the Cubs can get two quality hitters in the first two rounds. However, it looks as though Seth Johnson of Campbell, a pitcher I profiled for Cubs Insider, could be available at the end of the first round. An even more intriguing option might be 3B Kody Hoese of Tulane. I have a profile of him coming up soon over at Cubs Insider as well.

Coming up
On Monday ,I’m going to release a profile update on pitcher Javier Assad. The next day,  I’m going to revisit the draft grades from 2011 through 2017. As for the rest of the week, I will let it just roll out as I have no plans.

Card of the Week

Made from a pic by Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs

Players of the Week

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Halfway Through May – Who Is Having a Good Month So Far?


One my favorite things to do on this site is put together the monthly All-Star team. I do five a year and I never know who’s going to be on one from month to month. That’s probably the biggest reason why I like it so much.

Today marks the 16th of May. While it’s technically halfway through the month, it’s a pretty good point in time to take a look at who has been producing at a high-level in the Cubs system this month. It’s not that the results were shocking, but I remember doing something similar a month ago and that monthly team turned up totally different than at the mid point. Only 13 players from that team made the final monthly team.

But if I was to make the All-Star team today, there would not be many of the Cubs’ top prospects on the list. There would be a few, but not as many as you would normally think. In fact there are only be two from the top 10.

Heading into today, Wynton Bernard, Donnie Dewees, and Philip Evans of Iowa were the top three hitters in the system for the month of May. Outfielder Jimmy Herron is right with them and most surprising is Jhonny Bettencourt of Myrtle Beach.

However the one I’m most excited to see on this list is none other than Cole Roederer of South Bend. It’s two weeks, mind you, but he’s quietly going about his business at South Bend and improving week by week. When I got to see him play 10 days ago, I really liked the smoothness of his swing and just exactly how hard he squares up the ball. The ball doesn’t always fall in, but sometimes that’s the game.

Also making the position player squad were Christian Donahue and Vimael Machin of Tennessee. Aramis Ademan also made the mid-month team with fellow Pelicans Teddy Payne and Kevonte Mitchell, who could be finally figuring it out. Joining Roederer from South Bend are infielder Levi Jordan and catcher Rafelin Lorenzo. Second baseman Andy Weber is coming on strong as he went 8/11 over last weekend and through Tuesday. His average for the month is .325.

When it comes to pitching, I’d have a tough time picking just six starters. Normally, the prerequisite to even make the team is an ERA under 3.00. Currently, there are 12 starting pitchers who meet that standard. I would be hard-pressed to leave some of them off the team if I had to make a choice.

Iowa – Colin Rea
Tennessee – Tyson Miller, Oscar de la Cruz, Cory Abbott
Myrtle Beach – Javier Assad, Alex Lange, Luis Lugo, and Paul Richan
South Bend – Faustino Carrera, Derek Casey, Riley Thompson, Brailyn Marquez

When it comes to relievers, it’s pretty clear cut who is in the running to make this squad. The issue is that seven guys at South Bend have an ERA of 0.00 as of the 15th. They’ve just been dominant out of the bullpen. Some of that will shake out over the next two weeks as well.

Relievers So Far: James Norwood, Craig Brooks, Manny Rodriquez, and half of South Bend’s bullpen (Ethan Roberts, Peyton Remy, Jeff Passantino, Ryan Lawlor, and Sean Barry).

And if you’re looking for a team of the month, Iowa (9-5)  is just been blistering their opponents in the Pacific Coast League all month before a 4 game losing streak this week. South Bend is on a roll lately and Myrtle Beach is playing .500 ball. Tennessee seems to have slipped a bit in their pursuit of excellence  

When the real All-Star Team comes out on June 1, I hope to see many of the prospects listed above still on the team.

The Friday 6 Pack Is Back – Random Thoughts About Non-Draft Stuff

By Todd Johnson

Over the past two weeks, I wrote about the draft so much that I was a little burned out, even on the word. So what do I do on my first off day from writing in a while? That’s right, I go on the radio and talk about it. And tonight, I am talking with Sean Holland of Cubs Insider and Cubs Den on his podcast about it even more. Then….I am done. I swear!

So, today I wanted to write some random things down as June is usually a month of change in baseball in the majors and minors. Without anymore babbling, here are six things that have been coursing through my brain the past few days.

Vimael Machin – Courtesy of the Tennessee Smokies

1. I originally wanted to do a full-fledged profile about Vimael Machin. Machin is currently killing it since his promotion to AA Tennessee. In 18 games for the Smokies, the somewhat organizational journeyman is hitting .375 with OBP near .500 in 19 games. Machin, drafted in 2015 from VCU after a messianic CWS run, has bounced around the system the past three years. His identity as a prospect vs. a journeyman was questioned as he moved around freely playing everywhere from Eugene to Iowa. He finally got a steady gig at South Bend in the spring of 2017 and hit .320 in the first half. Machin was then promoted to Myrtle Beach shortly after the All-Star Break. At Myrtle Beach, his walk rate was astounding in spite of his bat. Now at AA, Machin’s bat has returned and he is still walking more than he strikes out, a trait the Cubs covet. Keep an eye on Vimael the rest of this month. He’s looking like a future utility piece as he can play all four infield positions.

2. Promotions – When the 25-30 players from the “you-know-what” sign, several players will be moving to make room. A few pitchers already have gone up a level along with Machin. Next should be Jared Young from South Bend. He’s killing it right now. Over his last 10, he’s hitting .343 with 3 HRs and 10 RBI. For the year, he’s at .291. The problem is the promotions for position players will be scarce as the system is a little log jammed, especially at Catcher.

3. International Free Agency (IFA) – The Cubs are considered to be the favorites to sign pitcher Richard Gallardo, ranked as the #5 international player by MLB Pipeline. The Cubs should be able to sign some pretty good talent this year after two years of penalties. Now, a hard cap is in place for all teams. However, teams can trade bonus pool money. It would not surprise me to see the Cubs trade some prospects for some IFA money. If they do, the Cubs could easily outdo their talent haul from this week’s “event I refuse to call by its name.”

4. The Bullpen/Starter Conundrum in Chicago – While watching the game yesterday, I saw Joe Maddon trot out Cishek, Duensing, Wilson, Strop, and Morrow (not in that order) to seal the victory. It’s a scene I’ve witnessed far too often this year. A starter doesn’t make out of the fifth or into the sixth and the bullpen is used for the rest of the game. If this continues, there will be no bullpen left. I checked how many games these guys already pitched in and everyone was over 25 with 103 left. At the rate they are going, the five aforementioned guys will make between 70-75 appearances in the regular season. They will be gassed for the postseason. The starters have to go longer so the bullpen can pitch less.

As for help, Dillon Maples has been much better of late the past three weeks. He has not allowed a run over his last six games. Also, now that Dakota Mekkes is just a phone call away, expect that call to come to Chicago sometime later this summer.

5. The Art of a Deal – The Cubs, more than likely, are not going to be making a big deal this summer unless it’s for a bullpen arm or a bench player. There’s not going to be a big name guy coming to town. I just don’t see Theo giving up what’s left of the system this year. This is pretty much the team as it is. Help, if needed, is more than likely to come from Iowa.

6. Ryan Williams – He is getting very close to returning to playing in a game that matters. Yesterday, he threw 67 pitches in extended spring training. He’s one of my favorite Cubs to watch pitch. He’s such a bulldog out there. Still, he’s missed the past two plus years with shoulder issues. I was wondering if he was ever going to return. He’s not quite ready, but we could see him rehabbing up through the system in July. That would be a great sight to see. 

I will be back tomorrow with a preview of Trevor Clifton’s AAA debut. On Sunday, “The Weekly” looks ahead at Theo’s latest interview and the last week of the first half of the MiLB season. And a peak at the Eugene and Mesa rosters is coming next week as they begin play a week from today.

 

The Midweek: Day 3 of the Draft Coming Up, Promotions, Machin is Cranking, and Morfa Emerging

By Todd Johnson

Today’s going to be a hectic day. Starting around 11 Central, Day 3 of the MLB draft begins. If you go online to MLB.com, it’s like listening to a giant conference call because that’s exactly what it is. There is no time between picks and it is sometimes hard to keep up. I will be live blogging starting around 11 and, at some point, I will need to take a break as the day wears on. I hope to see a surprise or two today in the draft.

Around the System
Unfortunately, the minor league system does not shut down while the draft takes place. Tennessee and Myrtle Beach are playing well right now and both are closing in on playoff spots with 12 games to go. Tennessee is three games back of arch-rival Chattanooga while Myrtle Beach is 4.5 games back of Winston-Salem. South Bend has won three in a row and it’s two games below .500, also with 12 games left. But they are 9 games back.

The big story this week has been the parade of pitching prospects moving up and down the system. Southern League All-Stars Trevor Clifton and Dakota Mekkes are now at AAA Iowa. That is pretty exciting. It is pretty cool that both of them are one step away from realizing their dreams. I will hopefully be traveling out to Iowa some point in the next two weeks. Most likely, Monday or Tuesday next week.

In addition, Matt Swarmer heads from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee along with reliever Jordan Minch who now gives Tennessee their first left-handed on the roster this season. Pitcher Cory Abbott takes off his South Bend uniform and will put on Myrtle Beach Pelicans jersey for a while. I cannot wait to see how he does in a pitcher’s park.

Even though he was promoted a few weeks ago to AA Tennessee, infielder Vimael Machin has been on fire since arriving in Kodak. In 16 games as a Smokie, he’s hitting at .432 clip. I will have a profile of him in the next few days. I also have one ready to go on Trevor Clifton.

Down in the Dominican, the two teams have played 3 games. Outfielder Carlos Morfa is stealing all the thunder hitting 3 HRs, 2 of them yesterday, while hitting close to .600. His OPS is 2.199!!! Be wary of DSL stats, but this is an interesting story to follow as Morfa needs to builds up a larger sample size of data. This is about the only thing I can find about Morfa and it is his prospect video from the DPL. First thing you notice in the video. He’s just 17.

Meanwhile, on Cubs Central, the draft is hogging the website for just one more day. After today, I will have a new top 21 list tomorrow and then I think I might take a day off from writing as it feels like it’s becoming a full-time job the past three days.

Right now, I’m going to go for a walk. It’s a little brisk here in northern Illinois as it got down into the 40s last night. The cool air ought to wake me up and get me ready for 30 new Cubs to be selected starting in less than 3 hours.

The Weekly: May Flying By, A Few Promotions, and “The Jinx”

By Todd Johnson

It’s been a rough week in the minors. There were a lot of rainouts and doubleheaders in addition to night games followed by early morning affairs. It was enough to make a prospect’s head spin. As a result, the Cubs’ system did not have a good week.

As May comes to a close, the pitching that was dominating hitters in April took a downward turn as the weather warmed up. In April, the Cubs had eight starting pitchers with ERAs under three and several of those eight had ERAs under two. With just 11 days to go in May, the Cubs only have three pitchers with an ERA under 3.00 for just this month. They are Keegan Thompson at 2.65, Michael Rucker at 2.81, and Alec Mills at 2.89.

There have been plenty of outstanding starts by many pitchers just this week. Last night, Cory Abbott struck out 11 for South Bend while Thomas Hatch threw a 7 inning complete game shutout for Tennessee. Earlier in the week, Erich Uelmen went six shutout innings for South Bend as well, while Duncan Robinson tossed six innings of one run ball. There’s some great stuff happening on the mound. Maintaining that high level of success is easier said than done. We will see if more can get below that 3.00 threshold to make it onto the May All-Star Team.

As for hitting, one would think it would be improving as the weather warmed up. It has a little bit. In April, six Cub position players hit above .300 for the month and Jeffrey Baez posted a .411 average for the span. In May, those numbers increased to eight guys hitting over .300 lead by Tyler Alamo at .366. David Bote hit over .500 for Iowa but that was before his call-up 12 days ago. As a result, he doesn’t have enough at-bats to qualify (3.1 ABs per game). Still, Bote has been extremely impressive at AAA at .455 in just 33 ABs. If you include his 17 MLB plate appearances, he’s at 22 for 52 or .423.

Promotions and Releases
Reliever Ryan McNeil debuted for Tennessee this week. The 2012 draft pick missed most of the year down in extended spring training. However, McNeil’s debut saw the release of long time prospect James Pugliese. Drafted in 2011, Pugliese filled a variety of roles at Kane County, Myrtle Beach, and Tennessee. Hopefully he can catch on with another system in a relief role.

Infielders Vimael Machin and Yeiler Peguero were also promoted from Myrtle Beach and South Bend, respectively. Their promotion saw the release of long time shortstop Carlos Penalver. Penalver was known more for his defense but had trouble hitting at the plate at Kane County, Myrtle Beach, and Tennessee. Good luck to him in his MLB pursuit.

The Jinx
On Twitter, I have been known to tweet out live pitching stats during a game. Well, for about 3-4 days in a row, as soon as I tweeted something out, that pitcher then got knocked around the next inning. It happened to both relievers and starters. I am sure they were just coincidences, but it makes you wonder. Follow the thread on this tweet to see what happened with Dakota Mekkes.

Coming Up Next Week on Cubs Central
On Monday, I’m going to slap a grade on the 2017 draft class. It will be their first one. As for the rest of the week, I am going to let the action dictate the content. I don’t have anything planned for “The Midweek” or The Six Pack.” Although, I do have some thoughts banging around my brain. Maybe you will see a “10 Things I Think” post or a “Prospect Stock Watch.” You could even see an affiliate update.

After Memorial Day, I will be doing some phone interviews with a few Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I always look forward to talking to the players and reporting back on their career paths and stories. I don’t have a definite list of who I’m going to interview, but Pelicans announcer Scott Kornberg and I talked about a few players that fans might want to know more about.

With the MLB draft just two weeks away, I’ll be pouring through some mock drafts and rankings this week. Right now, there’s not a lot of consensus on where players will be falling after the first few pics.

This Week’s Records
Iowa 2-3 (13-26)
Tennessee 3-4 (22-20)
Myrtle Beach 3-2 (17-24)
South Bend 3-5 (17-23)

Players of the Week

Things I Wrote for Other Sites
BP Wrigleyville
Nelson Velazquez

Cubs Insider
Brendon Little

Baseball Card of the Week

A Few Website Changes
As a website, Cubs Central has never been static. I do make changes on what I hope are improvements from time to time. This week I removed the Prospect Pictures and Video Page that was filled with images I took myself. They are now placed in albums on the Facebook page. In addition, I am in the process of uploading any videos I took to my YouTube account (that could take awhile). I am hoping it just makes for a cleaner experience and as it created a lot more memory on the server.

The Weekly – Bote Promoted and Several Other Prospects Off to Good Starts

By Todd Johnson

Congratulations to David Bote who made his MLB debut last night in Colorado. Bote batted eighth and played third base. He went 1 for 3 with a double.

Here he is through the years at every level in the minors.

  

His story is a story of perseverance. Revisit his Leveling Up post from this winter.

Back to the Minors…

Now that the weather seems to have cleared, there’s a lot more baseball being played especially in the Midwest and the Pacific Coast Leagues. Cub prospects are beginning to get in grooves and improve their stock in the organization. It’s been fun watching most of the teams play and see how they are progressing. It is only April, but there are a few players who are all already worth watching and keeping an eye on.

Who To Watch for at Each Affiliate
Iowa – 2-4 on the week, overall 4-10
Mark Zagunis seems to be the only bat that was hot this week. Bijan Rademacher, who leads Iowa in batting average, missed a few games. As for the pitching, Adbert Alzolay made his first start and dazzled in a two-hitter. Otherwise, Rob Zastryzny, Michael Roth, and Randy Rosario have all been outstanding out of the pen. I’m really happy that Zastryzny seems to have righted the ship and is off to a good beginning – no runs in 8.2 IP with 8 Ks.

Tennessee – 5-1 on the week, overall 8-7
The Smokies are turning into my “go-to” team every day, mainly because every team in the Southern League has MiLB.TV. Still, there’s a lot here to watch. The starting pitching of Trevor Clifton, Michael Rucker, Duncan Robinson, Thomas Hatch, and now Oscar de la Cruz are all pitching well. Both Clifton and de la Cruz did not allow a run in their first starts of the week. Outfielders Trey Martin and Jeffrey Baez lead the team in average. Zack Short is making an impact at the plate despite an average just above .200 because his OBP is almost .400. As for the bullpen, Dakota Mekkes has yet to give up a run, even though he is still walking almost a batter an inning. If he could eliminate his walks, he could be in Iowa before June.

Myrtle Beach– 3-4 on the week, overall 5-12
It has been just a horrible, horrible start for the Pelicans. All three facets of the game have not been working. However, there have been a couple of bright spots. Kevonte Mitchell, who is now injured, had been outstanding at the plate (.306).  Andruw Monasterio is having the quietest season of any Cub prospect as he keeps his average over .300. On the mound, Alex Lange was impressive in his first two starts and Keegan Thompson showed signs of massive improvement this week as he went 5 innings with no runs and 4 Ks. Another glimmer of hope took place this week as Bryan Hudson had an excellent start this week going 5 IP with 7 Ks and only allowing 1 run. Jhon Romero and Tyler Peyton are both throwing great out of the pen along with Wyatt Short, who has yet to allow a run in 4 appearances. That effort is reminiscent of when Short did not allow a run the entire season at Eugene in 2016.

South Bend – 1-4 on the week, overall 7-6
The Cubs have been up-and-down. They got off to a good start at 6-2 and their bats hit a rough patch. At the same time, the young Cubs are struggling to field the ball properly and make plays in the infield. Meanwhile, Jared Young (who just went on the DL), Austin Filiere, and  Yeiler Peguero have been impressive at the plate. Javier Assad, Bailey Clark, Rollie Lacy, Tyler Thomas and Cory Abbott are all starting to round in shape. If Jose Albertos can get his fastball command down, this team could really take off. The bullpen has been lights out and rarely surrenders a run.

Players of the Week

There were a lot of performances to pick from this week, especially starting pitching. 

Things I Wrote for Other Sites This Week
BP Wrigleyville
Latin Infusion Coming North – The Pitchers

Cubs Insider
Austin Filiere
Lefty Shortage
Adbert’s First Start

Coming Up Next Week
I’m going to start a new feature for Wednesdays called “The Mid Weekly.” It will sum up MiLB action for Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. I am still checking out draft stuff on the side, but I won’t return with a “Draft Prep” post until May 7. Several mock drafts came out in the past two weeks. Players are all over the place – there’s not a lot of consensus.

Baseball Card of the Week
I made a lot of new baseball cards you can see in an album over on the Facebook account. I am closing in on 130 cards made just this April. I have a problem…I think…Yes, I do.

Made from a photo by Dylan Heuer

The 7 Series Finale: Odds and Ends from the System

By Todd Johnson

Today’s post concludes the 7 Series. While I cannot include every prospect in every affiliate review, I can add an extra post that discusses 7 players I think will take off in 2018. Some names will be very familiar. Others may not be household names as Cubs prospects. Many of their seasons were truncated because of either injury or just being drafted.

Austin Upshaw – His time at South Bend was brief but impactful. He ended the season in a hail of batted balls as he hit .290 in 52 games at South Bend. The 13th round pick out of Kennesaw State was my favorite in-person interview of the year and I really like what he can do at the plate. He shows a solid knowledge of the strike zone. While he only hit 2 HRs for South Bend, I would not be surprised to see those numbers increase as he moves up the system. He played 1B, 2B, and 3B, but his bat is best suited to 2B. He should be at Myrtle Beach to begin next year.

Scott Effross – Since being drafted out of Indiana in 2015, his career has been steady but slow going. This year, however, Effross displayed some potential in spurts. In both relief and starting roles, he grew into something of a possible piece for the future. His ERA dropped every month as his control increased. In the second half, he had 44 Ks in 20.1 IP with a 2.03 ERA. He will begin 2018 at AA Tennessee

Vimael Machin – Now 24, Machin went from what appeared to be an organizational guy into a legitimate prospect. He can play all 4 infield positions and he can definitely handle a stick. He did it at both South Bend and Myrtle Beach this season. For the season, he hit .303 with 11 HRs and an OBP of .360 while displaying a knack for key hits. He should begin 2018 at Tennessee.

Bailey Clark – At times in 2017, he was magical. And at other times, he was frustrating to watch. The 2016 draft pick finished up his degree at Duke in the offseason and arrived late in spring training. As a result, he was playing catch up, especially when it came to conditioning. I expect that he will be much better in 2018, especially if he comes to camp in great shape. He did strike out 44 in 44.2 IP at Eugene in 2017 but he also walked 28 leading to an unsustainable 1.63 WHIP. As the season went on, he got better. In 3 August starts at Eugene, he had a 1.69 ERA before he was promoted and thrown into a pennant race at South Bend. If all goes well this offseason, you should see him throwing 95-ish from the get go in the spring.

Erick Leal – In 2016, the 6’3 righty had an outstanding season at Myrtle Beach. He had a 3.23 ERA in 19 games for the Pelicans. His fastball was sitting 91-93 most nights and he threw strikes. I was saddened to hear last spring that he would miss all of 2017 due to injury.  I don’t know if he will be limited in 2018, but he is still only 22 despite being around for what seems like forever. I like forward to seeing what his role will be in 2018 coming off a missing year.

Jared Young – I really like his approach at the plate. At 6’2”, he’s a bit huge for a second baseman, but that’s OK. Even we hit .131 in July, his approach was excellent, balls were just not dropping. In August, he hit .323 with a .371 OBP that is more indicative of his eye at the plate. He should start at South Bend to begin the year. I would like to see him get some work in at 1B in addition to his normal second.

Wladimir Galindo – He’s just 20. And at that age, he is one of the top 3 power hitters in the Cubs MiLB system and maybe my favorite hitter. This past year, he played at South Bend and displayed an ability to hit for average that he had not shown before. A broken ankle/leg ended his season early. Before it ended after 44 games, he was hitting .290 with 4 HRs and a .350 OBP. He will be 21 when 2018 begins and he should be at Myrtle Beach. What I look forward to most is seeing if he stays healthy what kind of numbers he can put up in a full season.

BonusErling Moreno – For the first time in his short Cubs career, he was relatively healthy and finished a season on an active roster. I am not worried about his stats right now just his ability to get in innings and throw his plus curve for strikes.