BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 4/20-4/23)
- SS Addison Russell, MLB: Everyone expected Kris Bryant to be up soon, but most were talking about Russell coming up mid-summer, possibly in May if he got off to a good enough start. Well, two infield injuries later and with Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara both needing more work at Triple-A, the Cubs decided that they could not hope to contend with Jonathan Herrera as an everyday starter. Thus, Russell’s timetable got moved up to, “NOW.” Russell has 60-grade hit and power tools and a really nice glove as well. He may take a bit of time to adjust to second base, and will be challenged as the youngest player in the NL, but he should be a huge boon to a team in desperate need of a competent everyday second baseman.
- 3B Kris Bryant, MLB: Not much more needs to be said about this man. He is amazing and I’m tempted to suggest that he’s already in the upper echelon of major-league third basemen after only a week in the bigs. Oh, and he now has a start in center field under his belt, proving there’s truly nothing he cannot do.
- OF Jorge Soler, MLB: I might not always go into detail about three of the top 10, but Soler is getting understandably, but unfairly, overlooked by many fans and much of the media. The Bryant and Russell frenzy makes sense, but you shouldn’t let it distract from the fact that Soler is doing incredible things for a rookie as well.
- OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: 3-for-16, 2 BB, 1 K
- C Kyle Schwarber, Double-A Tennessee: 9-for-19, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K
- OF Billy McKinney, High-A Myrtle Beach: 7-for-18, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K
- RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
- SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 4-for-15, 0 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
- 1B Dan Vogelbach, AA Tennessee: 5-for-16, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 0 K
- LHP Carson Sands, Extended Spring Training: Extended spring training stats are difficult to come by, but if you’re interested, Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter does some great work covering the team out of Mesa.
South Bend Cubs, Low-A, Midwest League: 7-8, 4 GB of first place, fifth place in the Eastern Division
Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League: 9-4, first place in the Southern Division
Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League: 7-5, first place in the North Division
Iowa Cubs,Triple-A, Pacific Coast League: 6-8, 5.5 GB of first place, third place in the American Northern Division
With Soler, Bryant, and Russell all looking to graduate from the top prospects list, it has become a guessing game to see who outside of Schwarber will break out this season and rise through the rankings. Vogelbach has been a name to watch ever since his pro debut in 2011, given that he’s done nothing but hit from that point on. To say that he is beefy is making something of an understatement. His stature has most evaluators believing that he is unlikely to stick at any position—even first base—full-time in the majors. It is his thunderous bat and advanced plate approach that carry him, though, and that make him a valuable player. If he can continue to hit the ball the way he has the first few weeks of the minor-league season, he should see a swift promotion to Triple-A Iowa and will become a hot name in trade talks. He could be valuable to an AL team that could use him as a DH as soon as later this summer.
Stats (4/20-4/23): 5-for-16, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 0 K
Player To Watch- Jeremy Null, 21, RHP, South Bend Cubs
The early minor-league season oftentimes yields some nice surprises, and among the best for the Cubs system this season is Jeremy Null. The 21-year-old righty was the 15th-round selection of the Cubs last year out of Western Carolina. He had slipped in the draft due to concerns about dipping velocity throughout his junior season, so the Cubs took a flyer on him, and the thought was that he would probably go back to school for his senior season with a chance to improve his draft stock. Instead, he surprised by signing with the Cubs and now, in his first full pro season, is starting for Low-A South Bend. His velocity has gotten back up into the low 90s and he locates all his pitches quite well, as he has no walks yet through three starts. While it is still unclear what Null could become, a poor man’s Doug Fister would not be out of the question. He should move up to Myrtle Beach soon, at which point we’ll start to get a better picture of him as a pitcher.
Last Start (4/22): 6 IP, 3 H, 4K, 0 BB, 0 ER
Next Projected Start: April 29, 12 PM ET @ West Michigan Whitecaps (DET)
Tweet(s) of the Week
If you’re not following Cubs minor league utility man and org guy Anthony Giansanti on Twitter, you should be. The man is consistently hilarious and is great at interacting with fans. He deserves a chance to play in the majors someday, if only for the tweets it would be likely to inspire from him. Don’t be surprised if he’s featured here quite often, as he may very well be the wittiest Cubs minor leaguer.
"When I get a house I'm finna get a tall toilet cuz whenever I go the bathroom, my feet be fallin' asleep" -My Roommate @CEdwardsSBS
— Anthony Giansanti (@GianSanity) April 22, 2015
Is it too soon to nickname the Bryant and Russell tandem? How about The Brussel Sprout Boys? The Brussel Sprout Sluggers? #Help
— Anthony Giansanti (@GianSanity) April 21, 2015
Best Promotion of the Upcoming Weekend
If you’ve ever been to a minor-league baseball game, you’re likely aware that the teams have some great promotions. They are sometimes fun, sometimes silly, sometimes downright bonkers, and they ultimately are a large part of what make the minor-league experience so much fun. Here, I will highlight an upcoming promotion that stands out to me.
Tennessee Smokies vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, Sunday, April 26, Halfway to Halloween Night: I love this idea, because it embraces the very “Why not?” nature of minor-league baseball promotions. The idea of someone in the offices of the Smokies just saying, “Why don’t we give kids a reason to run around in costumes?” is a wonderful thought. This is minor=league absurdity at its near-best.
Game(s) To Look Forward To
Myrtle Beach Pelicans v. Winston-Salem Dash, Friday-Saturday, April 25-26, 7:05 PM ET (Both): These games are must-see milb.tv because of who is pitching for the Pelicans. Duane Underwood has possibly the most upside of any Cubs pitching prospect and is pitching on Friday, while Paul Blackburn, who has less upside, but a higher floor, takes the bump on Saturday. Both are prospects to watch this season, as they look to assert their place in the future of the Cubs franchise.