Cubs Central’s Xmas Wish List

By Todd Johnson

What to wish for…
This year‘s Christmas Wish List is pretty easy to point out, but hard to get. Depending on the prospect, there is a lot to take in and analyze and the list could change come Tuesday. This year‘s list has been split into two parts, a major-league level and a minor-league level.

MLB Level

Javy 70 2018 STFor Javy– I am pretty sure that Javy wants someone playing next to him that’s a capable defender. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shortstop or second baseman, but the Cubs are going to need to figure out just exactly who is going to play beside him. If the Cubs could get that done by the 25th, that would be great.

For Joe Maddon — Certainty would be a good thing but unless the Cubs win the World Series, there are no finite things to wish. Considering his coaching staff is turning over for the second year in a row, Joe needs his team to get off to a hot start and stay that way all year.

For Theo – I am pretty sure he wants a bullpen guy, a bench guy, some financial breathing room, and someone named Bryce Harper…oh, and another World Series. That’s all. It is not too much to ask.

For MiLB Prospects
Health – There are several prospects who probably want to start the year healthy after struggling through injuries the past couple of years. Topping the list are Adbert Alzolay, Ryan Williams, Carlos Sepulveda, and even Oscar de la Cruz, once he comes out of his PED suspension.

Fulfill Potential – There a lot of Cub prospects who just have never really lit the spark to fulfill their potential. DJ Wilson is one guy who I would like to see put everything together on offense. Defensively, he is MLB ready now. Erling Moreno and Wladimir Galindo are two other guys who could be special if everything clicks for them. And the same holds true for Kevonte Mitchell. Kevonte’s just an amazing athlete who could be so powerful.

Filiere 15 2018 sbA Good Start – It’s always a big change going from the warm environment of Arizona to the cold Midwest League in April. It is usually a little harder for hitters, but several guys could use a good start like Austin Filiere, Austin Upshaw, Eddy Martinez, Chesny Young, and Tyler Alamo.

A Shot – I would love to see several guys just get a shot in Chicago this year. Mark Zagunis is a guy who can contribute in some form or fashion, even as a pinch-hitter and fifth outfielder. I’d like to see Trevor Clifton make a spot start in Chicago just to see what it would be like.

Confidence – Here’s to Jose Albertos figuring things out to get back on track in 2019!

Good as Advertised

For me, I hope last year’s draft class is as good as advertised when they reach full season baseball next spring. I’m excited to see what they can do in South Bend, especially Cole Roederer, Brennen Davis, Riley Thompson, and two guys who will debut as Cubs, Jake Reindl and Josh Sawyer.



Position Breakdown Series: Third Base Depth Took a Huge Hit in 2018

By Todd Johnson

Third basemen in the Cubs’ system struggled mightily in terms of performance/production in 2018. While Jason Vosler hit an organizational leading 23 HRs with 93 RBI, it was rough elsewhere. Injuries and adjustments looked to be the order of the day.

A year ago, I thought Wladimir Galindo would have a breakout year at Myrtle Beach if he could just stay healthy. He struggled with nagging injuries again. At #2, Jason Vosler surprised everyone again as he hit 20+ HRs for the second straight year. He was traded to the Padres in November. Things did not go well at all for last year’s #3 pick Jesse Hodges at AA. Down at South Bend, Austin Filiere, who was in the #4 slot, was an up and down guy in his first full year in the system. A 140 game grind takes some adjusting.

Now with 2019 in sight, the position looks to be in flux from the recent power hitter stereotype into guys who can get on base. In addition, the Cubs have a lot of versatility in the lower parts of the system. As a result, what we may think of as a traditional 3B also plays some 2B, maybe some 1B, and the occasional OF or SS. Very few players just play 3B anymore.

When it comes to ranking the corner men after the Vosler trade for 2019, it’s a bit of a struggle.

1. In the long run, 2018 draftee Luke Reynolds might be best suited to 1B. But for now, the former Southern Mississippi product is listed at 3B. Reynolds has a lefty hitting profile and approach that could surpass Vosler’s production in the next two years. At Eugene in 2018, he put up a wRC+ of 127. It will be interesting to see just exactly where he begins 2019. It could be South Bend or it might be Myrtle Beach. However, he will be 24 when the 2019 season starts, which gives Myrtle Beach the edge. Once that is settled, it will be interesting to see how much 3B he actually ends up playing.

2. He’s still my guy, but Wladimir Galindo had nagging injuries again in 2018. Luckily, it was not a broken leg, so he was able to gain experience with 403 ABs. He put together a nice run in June when he hit .290 in 26 games with 1 dinger and 11 RBI and an OPS of .753. I’d like to see more months like that because that is who I think he really is. The guy who hit .194 in the second half. I do not know him and I do not want to, either. I like the guy who can go gap-to-gap and occasionally drive the ball over the fence.  

3. Austin Filiere looked like he was going to have a monster year after a terrific April where he hit .310 with a .403 OBP. And then May hit where he played 31 games. That’s a lot of baseball for any MiLB hitter. The effect showed in June where his average plummeted to .207 for the month which also included making a swing adjustment. He rebounded some in the second half to hit .256 in July and .267 in August . I still like Austin as a hitter. As long as he stays within himself, that will be the key going forward. Also, he seemed to thrive when he batted third, he hit over .300 with an OBP of .388. If there is one thing to like about Filiere’s first full year, is that he drew walks at a 10.2% rate, regardless of his average. That’s not bad. I am looking forward to see how he adjusts to that initial season and what changes he worked on this winter.  

4. Fidel Mejia tore it up at the plate in Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League. In just 50 games, he hit .324/.389/.410. Not bad for  a kid listed at 5’11” and 160 lbs. He is in play for Eugene for 2019.

The Sleeper: As for Jake Slaughter, he’s grown quite a bit since the Cubs drafted him out of high school two years ago. He went to LSU and the Cubs took him again last summer and signed the 6’3” 200 lb.  3B. He looks to have been working out quite a bit. After a very rough July at Eugene, Slaughter hit .263 with 1 HR and 11 RBI in 22 games in August. He looked much improved. Hopefully, those last 6 weeks in which he hit over .270 can act as a springboard for him in 2019. He will definitely have a lot of competition to find a place to play at South Bend come the spring.

2019 Comebacks – Can Some Top Prospects Rebound from a Poor 2018?

By Todd Johnson

Prospect comebacks are common in minor league baseball. They happen all the time, but not for everyone. Success at one level does not guarantee a prospect’s success at the next. In some cases, injuries can derail a career and sometimes poor performance will do the trick more often than not. In 2018, several prospects at Myrtle Beach and Tennessee struggled mightily. For some of them, this was their first difficulty in pro ball. For others, it was their second year at the level. That can come across as very disconcerting.

Scott Kornberg, the Myrtle Beach announcer, and I have discussed several times which level is the hardest test for a prospect. Scott went with high A and I went with AA. For the prospects in this post, Scott and I are both correct.

Myrtle Beach
The Carolina League has always been known as a pitcher’s league. The wind tends  to blow in from left most days in Myrtle Beach. It’s no wonder that many hitters struggled this year as Pelicans.

The Troubled: Aramis Ademan, Wladimir Galindo, Kevonte MItchell, DJ Wilson, and many more.

Most of these prospects should repeat Myrtle Beach. Wilson might be the only exception as he is seeing extra time in the Arizona Fall League. His performance in October and November might decide his 2019 fate more than his 2018 season in which he missed almost two months.

Ademan, who is 19, should repeat this level, too. While his defense is quite good and getting better, his bat lacks the ability to spray the ball and control the strike zone. The former #1 prospect in the post-Eloy era only hit .209 on the year. His walk rate of 8.4% is very low and his K rate of 21.2% are not balanced enough. No wonder his OBP was only .294 and his wRC+ was a low 66.

The one player whose performance surprised me most was Wladimir Galindo’s. In the past, I often referred to Wladimir as “my guy.” He began 2018 in style and was just getting going when the injury bug struck again after missing 2/3 of 2017 with a broken ankle. He did return this year after a month and struggled to get it going. Wladimir struck out an inconceivable 28.3% while only walking 7%. Add in 29 errors on defense and you have a year he’d like to forget.

Repeating would not be the worst thing for either prospect. Adjustments have to made, but both players are relatively young (19 and 21) and are still considered valuable prospects within the organization. If both can learn to control the strike zone and layoff some pitches out of the zone, their comeback chances would be greatly improved.

Trevor Clifton and Jason Vosler are two prospects who had poor 2017 seasons at Tennessee. Both took the offseason to got their heads right, worked on their craft, and then they earned promotions to AAA by July 1. It can be done.

The Troubled: Eddy Martinez, Charcer Burks

If Charcer Burks returns to Tennessee in 2019, it will be his third straight season in AA. He had a roller coaster of a 2018 season. Check out his BA/OBP splits
April – .169/.286
May – .296/.395
June – .200/.319
July – .283/.381
August – .173/.232

He was the very model of inconsistency. The thing is, that statline is not too far off of 2017, either. I like to watch Charcer play as he has a mixture of power and speed. However, he needs to be a stable hitter rather than a streaky one.

When it comes to Eddy Martinez, now 23, it is hard to know what is going on inside his head. I thought his decent second half in 2017 would bleed over to success in 2018. It just didn’t happen. Eddy just barely scratched a .300+ OBP  once and that was in July. For the year, he hit .221 with a .276 OBP, easily underwhelming numbers. Martinez has all the physical tools to be a star but somehow cannot transfer his skill set into the game.

Bouncing back from a poor season is easier said than done. If everybody could do it, the majors would have a lot more players knocking on the door. With that in mind, adjustments will have to made and the players will have to buy into changes. The younger the prospect, the better chance those adjustments will stick.

The Weekly – A Rough Week for the Affiliates, but Some Prospects Shine

By Todd Johnson

It was a brutal week for the Cubs’ minor-league system. There were two days in which it did not have a starting pitcher do well enough to get a pitcher of the day award. I wound up going with two relievers each day instead. Three of the four affiliates are under .500. Only Tennessee is exactly at .500. Meanwhile, Iowa has only won two games the last two weeks.

In spite of that, there were several positives this week as Myrtle Beach seems to to have awoken from its early-season slump. Tyson Miller had a great start for the Pelicans earlier in the week going 7 innings with 7 Ks. Meanwhile in Iowa, Adbert Alzolay made his third start of the year and it was a dominant one going 7 innings with just 1 hit and 6 Ks. Then, last night, Adbert struggled. He only made it through 4.2 innings and threw 92 pitches in that time giving up 3 runs on 8 hits. And then there was Oscar de la Cruz who struck out ten last night while Matt Swarmer had another masterful performance going 6.2 IP with 7 Ks.

Some hitters seem to be waking up as well. David Bote is hitting close to .500 since his return from Chicago. Wladimir Galindo is finally getting back on track after his post-DL stint slump. Yasiel Balaguert seems to have a had a good week for Tennessee (7 for his last 18) and Connor Myers is hitting the best he’s ever done in his two years as a Cub. He’s at .282 for Myrtle Beach. Andruw Monasterio is also coming back (6 for his last 14) after a little slump in late April. And Zack Short snapped out of his slump a bit with 2 home runs the other night and 2 more RBI last night.

Reliever Bailey Clark was promoted to Myrtle Beach this past week and his debut week was very good going 5.2 innings in 2 appearances this week. He gave up a run but he struck out 9. Dakota Mekkes is just shutting teams down when he pitches. He still has some issues with walks, but Mekkes should be in Iowa soon.

While there is no team with the record above .500 right now, I would not get too hung up on the affiliates’ win/loss record in the minors. It may seem depressing, but the real focus should be on player development. The Cubs have a lot of starting pitchers that are moving their way up through the system, along with some relievers, who could help to big league club in the short term. Their development, to me, is going to be the key storyline for the month of May. Dillon Maples, along with Alzolay, are near ready. Maples was averaging over 20 Ks per nine innings pitched until he threw a scoreless ninth last night without any Ks. That is odd for him.

As for the hitters, the Cubs may not have any “elite” hitters, but they do have several who are worth paying attention to and to watch improve. Aramis Ademan and Miguel Amaya are two possible elite prospects and I am beginning to grow on Monasterio, who is only 20, and at high A, and doing well (.319). I really like watching Austin Filiere and Jared Young and their approaches to an at-bat for South Bend. Last night, Young went 3 for 5 with his third home HR in 13 games to go along with 3 RBI on the night. Filiere also cranked out his second of the year.

On Thursday, the Cubs announced their minor league players of the month. Like me, the Cubs selected Jeffrey Baez as the hitter of the month while the Cubs took Matt Swarmer, who I profiled earlier this week, as the pitcher of the month with a ridiculous 26/3 K/BB ratio in April. Last night, Swarmer improved that to 33/3 or 11 to 1. Wow!

Also, reliever Chad Hockin underwent TJS this week and is out for the next year. Best wishes to him. He was one of my favorite kids to talk to last year in South Bend.

This Week’s Records
Iowa (2-5, 6-21)
Tennessee (4-3, 14-14)
Myrtle Beach (4-2, 12-17)
South Bend (1-5, 10-15)

Extended Spring Training
The Cubs keep adding to their international free agent class. While most of the signees will play in the Dominican this summer, there are a few who could debut in Mesa including shortstops Luis Verdugo and Fabian Pertuz along with pitchers Florencio Serrano and Raidel Orta. Nelson Velazquez and Fernando Kelli are hitting well according the box scores from Arizona Phil. They begin regular season play in about 6 weeks in Eugene.

Players of the Week

What’s Ahead on Cubs Central
Tomorrow, I am going to take a look at the Draft that will be held four weeks from Monday. At some point, I will also profile the development of Brendon Little, Tyson Miller, and Andruw Monasterio  this week. The Midweek Report returns this week and I am not sure what it will be about.

Things I Wrote for Other Sites This Week
Cubs Insider

Matt Swarmer
Some April Awards

Baseball Card of the Week
Photo by Rikk Carlson

The Weekly – An Interesting Opening Week of Rain, Snow, Miscues, and New Cards

By Todd Johnson

I was all set to have a big shindig of a post for the first weekend of the minor-league baseball season. However, the weather seems to have taken the wind right out of those plans. First, South Bend had its Tuesday exhibition at home canceled along with Friday night’s contest at West Michigan. Tennessee got rained out on Friday night, but they did finish it last night in Mississippi with a doubleheader. The Iowa Cubs did not play Friday night nor are they playing today because of cold and snow. Then again, Iowa played a doubleheader on opening day. And Myrtle Beach was rained out last night.

As a result, it was as weird an opening week I can remember.

On opening day on Thursday, all four affiliates got games in. Iowa split a doubleheader with Oklahoma City while Tennessee lost to Mississippi. Myrtle Beach lost to Frederick, and South Bend rounded out with their loss to West Michigan. Going 1-4 on opening day is not conducive to having good feelings.

There were a couple of common themes to play across all levels on opening day.

There were a lot of defensive miscues and errors and a lot of baserunners that were left stranded. It was tough to watch at times. Add in fly balls that landed in between several players or a grounder that two players just watched go between them because they each thought the other would get it. Nobody got an error but the pitcher gets charged with an earned run. Those are mental errors that need to get worked out quickly. I am willing to chalk it up to first night jitters and just working the kinks out.

Saturday night was a different story.

All three affiliates played in frigid weather. Temps at game time ranged from the low 30s in Iowa and South Bend to 41 in Pearl, Mississippi for the Smokies’ double bill.

The first game I watched was South Bend. Pitchers Javier Assad, Rollie Lacy and Manuel Rodriguez looked great in shutting out West Michigan. Lacy had hitters flailing at changeups and curves as he struck out 7 in 3 IP. In Tennessee, the Smokies won the suspended game from Friday behind 4 innings of no run ball from Zach Hedges and Trent Giambrone’s 2 for 3 with 2 RBI game. The Smokies lost the nightcap, a 7 inning affair, 7-5. Thomas Hatch gave up 3 runs in his 4 innings on 77 pitches but struck out 6. When he left, the Smokies were up 4-3. For the day, Trent Giambrone had 4 RBI for Tennessee.

Iowa also got a great start from Luke Farrell who threw 5 and 2/3 scoreless and struck out 6. However, after a night of scoreless ball, each team scored 3 runs in the tenth thanks in part to the new extra inning rules. Oklahoma City won it 6-5 after scoring 3 more runs in the 11th. While the new rule of starting the tenth with a runner on second did make it exciting, it also came across as a bit ridiculous especially since it didn’t help end the game any sooner.

Coming Up Next Week

The Annual Preview of a Preview for Eugene comes out on Monday and that’s all I have planned for the week. I am going to let the baseball do most of the talking every day. It will be nice to write about what does happen rather than what could/should happen.

Players of the Week

Originally, I had planned on doing selecting a hitter, starting pitcher, reliever, and team of the week. Due to all the inclement weather, that’s not gonna happen. Rather, here is who got the players of the day on Thursday Friday and Saturday this week.

Thursday the 5th – Brandon Hughes, Jen-Ho Tseng, Casey Bloomquist

Friday the 6th – Wladimir Galindo, Tyler Peyton

Saturday the 7th – Trent Giambrone, Javier Assad, Rollie Lacy

Baseball Card of the Week

And the first “Card of the Week” in the minor-league season goes to none other than Larry Kave of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans for his shot of Wladimir Galindo that I put into a 2007 frame. This morning, I will be uploading several cards using a variety of templates. Check the April Facebook album later today and throughout the week.

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

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.

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


Spring Training Notes: MiLB Teams Get Some Action In and Rosters Begin to Take Shape

By Todd Johnson

Getting Some Action In
While the major league players have just 10 days left in camp, the Cubs minor-league prospects are just now getting in the swing of it after 10 days as there season does not begin until April 5. Games started being played this week out in Mesa and the surrounding areas like Scottsdale in Yuma. Two key highlights of the week were four perfect innings from Jen-Ho Tseng and three scoreless from Jose Paulino. In addition, both Zack Short and Wladimir Galindo each cranked out home runs. And according to Arizona Phil, the source for all the Cubs minor-league news this spring, outfielder Eddy Martinez is off to a really strong start.

In the major league camp, the Cubs cut the roster down to 37. One of those cuts was World Series champion Justin Grimm. The writing has been on the wall for a little bit since he actually wound up going to arbitration against the Cubs. As a result, Grimm’s contract was not guaranteed this year. I don’t think the Cubs are going to try and re-sign him to a lesser deal. On Thursday this week, I wrote about who could possibly be the last reliever standing. Grimm’s cut narrows it down to Eddie Butler and what looks to be dark horses in Anthony Bass and Justin Hancock. Not quite sure how that is going to play out over the next 10 days but there are only 3 non roster invitees left in Bass, Kyle Ryan, and the hard throwing Hancock, who pitched at Tennessee and Iowa last year.

Roster Fluidity
With just 37 players left on the major league roster, minor league rosters are starting to take shape. They are far from final, though. For example, Iowa currently has 37 players on its roster along with four players on rehab. Let’s say that 7 out of the 10 nine roster invitees get signed to minor-league deals for 2018, that puts the roster at 44. Close to 15 of those players are going to have to either be moved down to Tennessee or cut. That will start a chain reaction to adjust the rosters for opening day of the minor league season. However, that’s not going to happen for another two weeks. I imagine rosters will be released on April 1 or 2 for most of the minor-league clubs.

A New Toy
My wife and I broke down and used some of our income tax refund to buy a new camera. We got a Canon EOS T6 with 3 additional lenses to zoom in. She wants to use it for the birds in the backyard and I want it for baseball…imagine that! I cannot wait to take some pics with it next month.

On a Personal Note…
My busy season at school officially ended on Thursday night when my academic team won the conference tournament!!! It was a pretty sweet victory and I have a mostly young team that loses just two seniors, but my leading scorer this year was a sophomore. I also had three underclassmen in the starting lineup every night. It was fun to watch them grow by leaps and bounds.

As a result, I have all kinds of free time now. I began flushing out the affiliate previews a little bit more this week and I also had time to write two articles. One was for Cubs Insider on the recent minor-league pace of play changes and the other was for BP Wrigleyville on which minor league affiliate to watch this spring.

My Annual Fantasy Team
I used to play in a lot of fantasy baseball leagues. Now, I have it narrowed down to one. It’s the same ten team league I have been playing in for years and we held our live draft yesterday. I think my team looks decent, although I am one starting pitcher short. Here is who I have:
C – Salvador Perez, Welington Castillo
IF – Votto, Altuve, DeJong, Moustakas, Starlin Castro, Chapman
OF – Judge, Reddick, Hoskins, Austin Hays, Marwin Gonzalez,
U – Logan Morrison
Bench – Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Acuna, and Nick Senzel
SP – Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, McCullers, Arrieta, Taijuan Walker
RP – Wade Davis, Edwin Diaz, Sean Doolittle, and Brandon Kintzler (I will be replacing him with a starting pitcher in the next week)
Bullpen – Walker Buehler, Zach Britton

I like my team better for the summer than I do for April as I took some risks in adding a lot of future rookies on the bench and drafting Britton, who is currently injured.

Coming Up Next Week
The final article in the “Leveling Up” series comes out on Wednesday. Outfielder Brandon Hughes, who should be at South Bend in 2018, has his possible future profiled about what kind of player he’s going to be.

After that, I don’t have anything planned for two more weeks until MiLB opening week+. Nothing is pre-written as most of the off-season is. So, I’m just gonna go with the flow of what is happening for about 10 days. It should be a lot of fun for a change. And I will probably make some cards … just like this jem.

Baseball Card of the Week

Made from a photo by Jen Nevius