Photo courtesy of Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Hello, everyone. It occurred to me that I didn’t take the proper time on Friday to introduce this piece. Welcome to “Young Cubs,” the official minor-league system update of BP Wrigleyville! This update runs twice a week, once on Monday and again on Friday to be able to provide you the most well-rounded and interesting coverage I possibly can. Each edition will update you on how the BP Top 10 prospects are doing, the best upcoming giveaways/promotional nights in the system, the best tweets from minor league players, a player to watch, and more. The basic format will not change, although there will be minor differences from time to time. One example is that the Friday edition will have a minor league player of the week, while the Monday edition will generally not. Also, the “Odds & Ends section” will be on a need-be basis. I love being able to interact with readers in the comments and on Twitter, so if you ever have a question, comment, concern, suggestion, or just want to talk baseball, drop me a line. I like to think I’m generally pretty friendly and hope to get a strong reader/commenter culture going here in the update. With that being said, on we go!
BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 4/24-4/26)
- SS Addison Russell, MLB: Russell has struggled a bit at the MLB level thus far, but at the age of 21, that is to be expected. I would caution patience with the talented youngster as he continues to make adjustments and get used to the difficulty of the MLB game. Stats: 1-9, 1 2B, 0 BB, 6 K
- 3B Kris Bryant, MLB: 2-8, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
- OF Jorge Soler, MLB: 0-9, 0 BB, 5 K
- OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: 4-7, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 SB
- C Kyle Schwarber, Double-A Tennessee: 2-8, 1 2B, 0 BB, 2 K
- OF Billy McKinney, High-A Myrtle Beach: McKinney tends to get overlooked, since he was acquired in the same trade that brought over Russell. This would be a mistake, as the 20-year-old is already making waves in the minors. He has a good OF glove and an advanced hit tool, with only modest power. He really should be in Double-A, as he’s fast approaching 600 High-A PAs. However, the Cubs have a minor-league logjam in the OF, so he’s in Myrtle Beach for now. Don’t be surprised to see the Cubs maneuver him to Tennessee somehow in the next few weeks. Stats: 2-10, 2 BB, 2 K
- RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
- SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 4-8, 4 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
- 1B Dan Vogelbach, AA Tennessee: I know I discussed him at length on Friday, but I am going to keep mentioning him until he gives me a reason not to. Saturday’s game saw Vogs continue to rake, as he went 3-3 with a HR and two walks. Yes, it’s only in 67 PAs, but if we get to 100 and he’s still putting up close to these numbers, we’ll have to have a serious conversation about a promotion to Triple-A for him. Stats: 4-7, 1 HR, 2 BB, 2 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: 9-9, three games back of first place, fourth place in the Eastern Division (tied w/Dayton Dragons)
Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League: 9-7, first place in the Southern Division
Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League: 10-5, first place in the North Division
Iowa Cubs, Triple-A, Pacific Coast League: 7-9, 6 GB of first place, third place in the American Northern Division
Player To Watch: Cael Brockmeyer, 23, C, South Bend Cubs
As Theo and Jed began revamping the Cubs minor-league system, one of the strongest points of consensus among evaluators was that the system lacked catching talent. The organization set to addressing this issue by drafting a slew of intriguing catching prospects and converting position players such as Gioskar Amaya to the position. Brockmeyer has quickly become one of the standouts of the Cubs group of minor league catchers. He has an advanced bat for the level, which may be owed to being old for the level he is at. However, his receiving skills have also come in for praise and the organization had many good things to say about the young catcher in spring training. It may be a while yet before we see Brockmeyer get close to Chicago, but it’s not hard to imagine him becoming a solid backup catcher two or three years down the road.
Tweet(s) of the Weekend
Duane Underwood is possibly the most exciting pitching prospect in the Cubs system. It turns out that his Twitter game is also strong, as he dropped this wisdom on us this weekend. Underwood explores the quintessential nature of pain in such a way as to make us all question what we previously thought to be true. I applaud him for opening our eyes to that which we must know and such insights should serve him well as he moves ever closer to the major leagues.
Stubbing your toe is definitely top ten pains of all time #papercutssucktoo
— Duane Underwood (@dlunderwood94) April 26, 2015
Best Promotion of the Upcoming Week
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.
Iowa Cubs vs. Oklahoma City Dodgers, Thursday, April 30, Kris Bryant Jersey Shirt Night (First 1,000 fans): Given the audience I’m writing for, I doubt I really have to explain this one. No, he’s not with Iowa anymore, but if you’re in the area and can spare the time, this is a great chance to get a jersey of the future Rookie of the Year, MVP, and Hall of Famer (maybe in that order). Maybe you can even take it to Wrigley and get it signed some time!
Game(s) To Look Forward To
Tennessee Smokies vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, Monday-Wednesday, April 27-29, 7:05 PM ET Monday & Tuesday, 12:05 PM ET Wednesday: When you go to see the Smokies, you already get to see a rare collection of talent with Schwarber, Almora, Vogelbach, and C.J. Edwards. This series gives you a chance to see even more top-flight talent as the Lookouts are loaded with top prospects from the deep Twins minor-league system. The Lookouts boast three of BPs top 50 prospects with Miguel Sano (no. 12), Jose Berrios (no. 48), and, of course, the no. 1 overall prospect Byron Buxton. Berrios is set to pitch for the Lookouts on Monday night, which should be an excellent chance to see a potential ace-quality pitcher. Don’t miss this series. All three games are slated to be available on milb.tv and audio streams will be available online for free. Enjoy.
Odds & Ends
- Those who saw the hit count for the South Bend Cubs 9-2 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps were probably more than a bit confused. How did South Bend manage to score nine runs on only three hits? Well, nine walks, a HBP, and four Fort Wayne errors may have had something to do with it. That’s a unique way to win, but hey, a win is a win. Well done, South Bend.
- If you want interesting bits about the South Bend Cubs, I strongly suggest following Mike Monaco on Twitter. Here is just a sample of his very informative and interesting tweets:
Here’s your nightly @SBCubs starting pitching update… Last 8 starts by the SPs: 42.2 IP, 3ER, 36K, 11BB 0.63 ERA
— Mike Monaco (@MikeMonaco_) April 24, 2015
Cael Brockmeyer’s offensive rankings in the Midwest League: pic.twitter.com/HwXH3wXbjn
— Mike Monaco (@MikeMonaco_) April 24, 2015