Hello, readers. Kris Bryant graduated from the Top 10 this week and so taking his place is the artist formerly known as C.J., Carl Edwards, Jr. Bryant is off to a fantastic start in his major-league career and one can only hope that other prospects have such success in the future for the Cubs. Addison Russell will also be graduating off the list soon and so we’ll soon get an even better look at the great depth of the Cubs minor league system. Now, let’s get started, shall we?
BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 5/22-5/24)
- SS Addison Russell, MLB: I will no longer be reporting major league stats for Russell, as it seems a bit unnecessary.
- OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: 3-for-13, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K
- C Kyle Schwarber, Double-A Tennessee: 2-for-8, 2 BB, 1 K; He had a bunt single yesterday, which knowing Schwarber, is the type of oddity I felt it necessary to mention here.
- OF Billy McKinney, Double-A Tennessee: 2-for-10, 0 BB, 2 K
- RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
- SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 5-for-17, 1 BB, 3 K
- 1B Dan Vogelbach, Double-A Tennessee: Oy vey. Vogelbach’s first plate appearance on Monday resulted in a double and the week appeared to be off to an exceptional start for the slugging first baseman. However, he was immediately pulled from the game, which only a few days later led to this:
ROSTER MOVES (1/2): 1B Dan Vogelbach (retro to 5/26) and RHP Michael Jensen (retro to 5/25) have been placed on the Disabled List. #Cubs
— Smokies on Radio (@SmokiesOnRadio) May 27, 2015
Get back soon, Vogs! The Tennessee lineup won’t be quite the same without you.
- 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.
- RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, High-A Myrtle Beach: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K; Tseng out-dueled Lucas Giolito Monday night and looked very impressive in a bounce-back performance from his last few rough starts. Obviously, you can’t draw any conclusions from just one start, but it’s good to see Tseng get back to form and really cool that he bested one of baseball’s best prospects.
- RHP Carl Edwards, Jr., Double-A Tennessee: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Javier Baez: Baez had what, for him, could be considered a mini-slump these last four days. He went 0-for-11 with four strikeouts, bringing his numbers down a bit and once again showing the danger of relying on small sample sizes. Do I believe that this week will derail his progress? Of course not. That would be downright silly. It’s just a good reminder that every player has good days and bad. What still remains most important is that Baez continues to make adjustments at the plate and keeps showing progress on the developmental benchmarks the organization has set out for him.
Arismendy Alcantara: Mendy had a fine week, going 5-for-10 with a double, three walks, and two stolen bases. Just as with Baez, we cannot take too much away from such a small sample. Still, it is good to see any level of success from Alcantara, whose success could very well be vital to the future of the Cubs. Mendy is an exciting player whose positional versatility could really ease the Cubs bench problems and so I still hold out hope he can make it back to the team before September.
South Bend Cubs, Low-A, Midwest League: 20-28, 8 GB of first place, seventh place in the Eastern Division
Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League: 29-15, first place in the Southern Division
Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League: 25-22, 4.5 GB of first place, second in the North Division
Iowa Cubs, Triple-A, Pacific Coast League: 23-23, 9 GB of first place, second place in the American Northern Division (tied w/Omaha Storm Chasers)
Minor League Player of the Week: Jen-Ho Tseng, 20, RHP, Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Tseng, as I mentioned above, had a fantastic start Monday night and outdueled Lucas Giolito in the process. While that last fact isn’t actually statistically significant, it’s still pretty cool. Tseng is a precision pitcher who relies on hitting his spots to produce outs, so his realistic projection will always likely be as a mid-to-back of rotation starter. Still, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and performances like this show exactly why you should be paying attention to this young righty.
Last Start (5/25): 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Next Projected Start: Monday, June 1 @ Potomac Nationals
Player to Watch: Christian Villanueva, 23, 3B, Iowa Cubs
Villanueva is an interesting prospect for a variety of reasons. Many evaluators have pegged him as the best defensive third baseman in the Cubs system, and watching him play, it’s hard to argue that point. He came to the Cubs in the 2012 trade with the Rangers that is now most remembered for bringing Kyle Hendricks in to the system. Villanueva started strong by having a breakout 2013 in which he hit .261/.317/.469 at Double-A Tennessee while flashing his signature excellent defense at the hot corner. It was something of a surprise, then, when he hit a developmental speed bump last season with a .656 OPS at Triple-A Iowa leading to his demotion back to Tennessee, where he didn’t do much better (.695 OPS). You may be aware that the Cubs bench depth has been depleted by injuries and ineffectiveness, so it’s no surprise then that Villanueva’s name has come up once more. Many have thrown their support behind the idea of calling up Christian to add some punch off the bench for the Cubs, which is justified by Villanueva’s quietly good season-to-date at Iowa (.763 OPS). I’m not sure if this is the answer to the Cubs bench woes, but he’s making his case right now, at the very least.
Tweet(s) of the Week
I am not including just one tweet this week, because the Tennessee Smokies and organization as a whole deserve a huge hand for their promotion of this catch by left fielder Jacob Hannemann. Hannemann lays out to make an insane diving grab and the Smokies responded to it by making sure it got on the radar of the national sports media, arriving this morning as the #2 Web Gem on SportsCenter. Here are just a few of the tweets from the Smokies that put the play on the radar of fans and pundits alike:
— Anthony Giansanti (@GianSanity) May 28, 2015
— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) May 28, 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. Mobile BayBears, Friday, May 29, Daddy-Daughter Date Night: I’m not a parent, so I can’t even begin to understand the appeal of this sort of thing, but I’m generally a huge fan of any chance to bond with family over baseball. There’s no better thing to instill in a child, in my humble opinion, than an intense love of baseball. If taking your daughter to this game helps with that, it is well worth it. The only information offered by the Smokies is that there will be special ticket packages for the game, but I’m sure there will be other celebrations and such planned for the kids, as there always are at minor-league games. Anyways, point is, if you have a daughter and are in that area Friday night, take her to a baseball game! Ya know, because baseball is fun and cool and sharing the sport with family just makes it that much sweeter.
Game(s) To Look Forward To
Myrtle Beach Pelicans vs. Potomac Nationals, Saturday/Sunday, May 29/30, 6:35/1:05 pm ET: I list both of these games because one of these two will feature Lucas Giolito as the starter AGAIN. Yes, the Pelicans get to face off against one of the best in the minors TWICE in the same week. That is a really unique opportunity and I’m looking forward to the rematch.
Odds and Ends
- The American Sports Network is doing a slate of 15 televised minor-league Sunday games, beginning with the Iowa Cubs @ El Paso Chihuahuas game this weekend. Then, next Sunday it is Myrtle Beach’s turn to play for a television audience. You can find more information here and here. The ASN runs on a set of networks from around the country, so if you’re looking for who’s broadcasting the game in your area, you can find that here.