Young Cubs: Billy the Kid, the Mending of Mendy, and the Return of the Baez Bomb

Photo courtesy of Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, readers. Welcome again to “Young Cubs!” I don’t have too much to say this time before we get started, but I do want to let you know that I won’t be on Twitter as much this week. I know, you’re all insanely disappointed, right? As it stands, this is finals week for me and as such, my schedule is a bit all over the place. I’ll try to be available on Twitter as much as possible, but don’t be surprised if I’m conspicuously absent for stretches throughout the week. Ok, enough of that. On to the update!

BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 5/1-5/3)

  1. SS Addison Russell, MLB: I will no longer be reporting major league stats for Russell or Bryant, as it seems a bit unnecessary.
  2. 3B Kris Bryant, MLB: I will no longer be reporting major league stats for Russell or Bryant, as it seems a bit unnecessary.
  3. OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
  4. C Kyle Schwarber, Double-A Tennessee: 3-10, 1 HR, 4 BB, 1 K
  5. OF Billy McKinney, High-A Myrtle Beach: 2-8, 2 HR, 0 BB, 3 K; McKinney went through some old-fashioned regression to the mean on Sunday, as he hit two home runs to help complete the sweep of the Lynchburg Hillcats. McKinney has generally hit the ball well this season in addition to showing a strong ability to get on base, but the power had been lacking. He’s never been someone with incredible raw power, but he’s always maintained enough to imagine him being able to deliver 10-15 home runs per year at the major-league level. Thus, it was good to see him get back to hitting with a bit of pop on Sunday. Hopefully, he continues to mix in some extra-base hits as he waits for a spot to open up at Double-A.
  6. RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
  7. SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 4-12, 1 3B, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 SB; The kid just keeps hitting. I continue to be impressed by Torres’s pitch recognition, patient approach, and ability to make solid contact. In addition to those aspects of his game, he is 8-for-9 on steal attempts this season, showing not only plus speed, but a high aptitude for picking his spots as a baserunner. He has some calling for him to be promoted to High-A already, which just speaks to how well he’s performed thus far. Torres is only 18 and still has a long way to go, so there’s really no rush here. Just sit back and enjoy the emergence of the next Top 100 Prospect to come out of the Cubs system.
  8. 1B Dan Vogelbach, Double-A Tennessee: 6-13, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 4 K
  9. 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.
  10. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, High-A Myrtle Beach: Didn’t pitch.

The Non-Prospects

Javier Baez: Baez had a very modest first three games back with just a few singles scattered over 14 at-bats. On Sunday, though, he busted out of his mini-slump with a vengeance, collecting three hits, including a home run and a double that just barely missed being his second homer of the day. After striking out three times on Thursday, Baez has only struck out twice in the next three games. It’s obviously a small sample, but it’s good to see Javy making consistent contact.

Arismendy Alcantara: Mendy continued to rake this weekend going 6-for-12 in three games with a home run and a triple. In doing so he extended his hitting streak to six games. These last six games have been very good for the young super-utility man and have shown that Alcantara can still hit a baseball. Sustaining this success will be key for him in the coming weeks, as he continues making adjustments in the hopes of getting called back up to the big leagues soon.

Team Updates/Standings

South Bend Cubs, Low-A, Midwest League:  13-11, two games back of first place, third place in the Eastern Division (tied w/Dayton Dragons).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League:  13-9, first place in the Southern Division.

Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League:  13-9, first place in the North Division.

Iowa Cubs,Triple-A, Pacific Coast League:  10-13, seven and a half games back of first place, third place in the American Northern Division

Player to Watch: Ivan Pineyro, 23, RHP, Tennessee Smokies

Pineyro was acquired in 2013 from the Nationals in return for Scott Hairston in one of the forgotten trades of the Epstein/Hoyer era. Thus, it’s not all that surprising that he often gets glossed over in discussion about the Cubs pitching prospects. He is definitely someone to keep your eye on, though. Injuries limited him to 11 starts in 2014 and the results (4.85 FIP, 4.25 BB/9) were not encouraging. However, the reports on his performance in the AFL were very good, as he posted his highest K/9 numbers as a professional. The results so far this season have been mixed, but on Sunday he went seven innings, giving up only five hits and no runs while not issuing any walks. He’s now had three starts this season where he’s totaled zero free passes, which is a good sign. If he can continue to show the excellent control he flashed in High-A and the AFL, he could still profile as a back of rotation starter.

Tweet(s) of the Weekend

I don’t care much for boxing and I did not watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout on Saturday. I do, however, have very strong opinions about domestic violence. You won’t often see me use this space to state my cultural/political opinions, but domestic violence is an awful crime and has played a very large role in sports discussion this last year. Floyd Mayweather has, I would say deservedly, become a lightning rod for this issue as he has a long history of beating women and has many times shown his inability to perceive his actions as being wrong. Many of the Cubs minor leaguers tweeted out about the fight this weekend, but I found Anthony Giansanti’s tweets to be the ones that most thoughtfully dealt with the issue of domestic violence and its impact on the narrative of the boxing match. I don’t necessarily agree with his dismissal of domestic violeance as “antics,” but he at least seems to grasp that Mayweather should not be celebrated as a human being, but rather as the historically good boxer he is and has been.

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, oftentimes 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.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans vs. Salem Red Sox, Tuesday, May 5, “Cinco de Milo”: This stood out to me because, while many teams are promoting Cinco de Mayo, Myrtle Beach is calling theirs “Cinco de Milo.” Weird, right? Well, their President/GM’s name is Andy Milovich. Yes, it’s a terrible pun and I have no clue what Myrtle Beach is going for with this promotion. The only information given is that fans will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Milovich, which isn’t much to go on. Still, it sounds quirky enough to be interesting. Oh, and there’s $2 craft beer from 6-8, so that’s a bonus.

Game(s) To Look Forward To

Myrtle Beach Pelicans @ Lynchburg Hillcats, Monday, May 4, 6:30 PM ET & South Bend Cubs vs. Great Lakes Loons, Tuesday, May 5, 7:05 PM ET:  Jen-Ho Tseng and Jeremy Null are the respective starters in these two games and their starts have become must-watch There really isn’t any other explanation needed, but you can certainly find interesting prospects on both opposing teams, just nobody who pops out at you immediately. Tseng and Null are both exciting pitching prospects and I feel they are reason enough to look forward to any game at this point.

Odds & Ends

  • The Cubs claimed RHP Anthony Varvaro off of waivers this weekend and designated lefty Joe Ortiz for assignment to make room for Varvaro on the 40-man. Varvaro has had some success the last few years for the Braves, but the Red Sox decided he was expendable and let him go. I bring him up because he is likely to have roster implications, since he has no options remaining. If you want to know more about him, our own Rian Watt did an excellent piece on him yesterday.
  • Justin Grimm is joining Triple-A Iowa to begin a rehab assignment. This is really great news, as the big-league club needs bullpen reinforcements and Grimm could now be back in a week or two. In the meantime, if you’re going to be near Des Moines this next week, it’s a great time to go see the powerful right-hander make some appearances before he heads back to Chicago.
  • It’s still some months off, but the Myrtle Beach Pelicans announced this weekend that they would be holding an Animal House Appreciation Night and Toga Party at Pelicans Ballpark on Thursday, August 27th. If you’re like me, you acknowledge Animal House to be one of the funniest movies ever made and think this is an excellent idea. It’s fun, celebrates a cultural touchstone, and is just sufficiently weird enough to be a minor-league promotion. I love it.
  • Tyler Skulina is a very good prospect who has had a rough go of it thus far, so it was good to see him strike out eight in six innings for Myrtle Beach on Sunday. He still has tons of potential, so if he can put together more performances like this, he’ll be right back on everyone’s radar in short order.



Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username