Photo courtesy of Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Hello, readers. Welcome to another edition of “Young Cubs,” where I make mildly entertaining jokes and give you great, obscure water cooler talk! I jest, because I know no other way. Turning away from the silliness for a moment, you may have been aware that the NCAA Baseball Tournament began this weekend. Multitudes of talent were on display, as teams from all around the country (but, let’s be honest, mostly from Texas, California, and Florida) faced off against each other in the first step on the road to Omaha. Most notably there were many major draft talents playing, some of whom are very relevant to a discussion of the Cubs upcoming ninth-overall pick in the draft. It was great to get a chance to see many of these guys in action and I’m now even more excited for the future of the Cubs, as I have no doubt that whoever the Cubs draft, they will take the place of graduating prospects such as Bryant, Soler, and Russell. That being said, away we go!
BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 5/29-5/31)
- SS Addison Russell, MLB: I will no longer be reporting major league stats for Russell or Bryant, as it seems a bit unnecessary. This will be Russell’s final time being listed in the Top 10, as he graduates from the list this week.
- OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: 1-for-12, 1 BB, 1 K
- C Kyle Schwarber, Double-A Tennessee: 6-for-10, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 1 K; Schwarber had a great weekend, the focal point of which was a monstrous performance on Saturday that saw him hit two home runs and draw a walk. Many have been calling for Schwarber to receive a much-deserved promotion to Triple-A and this weekend is only going to make those voices louder. Given the way he is dominating the Southern League, one has to wonder how long it will be before the Cubs brass decides that challenging Schwarber’s bat is more important than his potential development as a catcher.
- OF Billy McKinney, Double-A Tennessee: 5-for-12, 1 2B, 1 3B, 0 BB, 1 K
- RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
- SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 2-for-4, 1 2B, 0BB, 1 K; Rain washed away two games this weekend between South Bend and Lake County, so there’s very little to report here.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
- 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: Did Not Pitch.
- RHP Carl Edwards, Jr., Triple-A Iowa: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K; Edwards was called up to Triple-A on Friday, bringing him within a heartbeat of being in the major-league bullpen. Edwards could probably help the bullpen tomorrow, if the need arose, but I’m perfectly ok with letting him get some work in at Triple-A. His first appearance on Saturday was undeniably quite rough and so there may very well still be kinks to work out before he can reinforce a struggling major-league relief corps.
Javier Baez: Baez, after having a mini-slump this week, decided to break out of it with proper conviction. He went 6-for-13 this weekend with two doubles and a walk and continued to look good overall. I will continue to repeat that the organization likely has developmental benchmarks they want Baez to hit, but it’s getting harder and harder to justify his being in Triple-A, especially when you consider that Jonathan Herrera and Mike Baxter are on the major-league roster. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the chorus of voices calling for his promotion to reach a crescendo this week. In all honesty, I might be one of those voices, as I no longer think it is anyone’s best interest to pretend Herrera is better than Baez. I simply believe it’s time to see what this version of Javy can do in the majors.
Arismendy Alcantara: Mendy had a good weekend, going 5-for-14 with a home run and a walk, continuing his recent tear. Alcantara’s overall line is now up to .262/.329/.490 and he’s also passing the eye test these last few weeks. I have been very clear about how vital Mendy could be to the major-league club’s success, as his type of positional versatility is a rare and prized skill in the majors. If he can continue to hit like this for a bit longer, the Cubs should have no reason to keep him in Triple-A, as the major-league team has a very weak bench at present and could use someone with Mendy’s potentially valuable power, speed, and versatility combination.
South Bend Cubs, Low-A, Midwest League: 21-28, 8 GB of first place, seventh place in the Eastern Division
Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League: 31-16, first place in the Southern Division
Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League: 27-23, 3 GB of first place, second in the North Division
Iowa Cubs, Triple-A, Pacific Coast League: 25-24, 9 GB of first place, second place in the American Northern Division
Player To Watch: Mark Zagunis, 22, OF, Myrtle Beach Pelicans
I have written about Zagunis before and I honestly doubt this will be the last time. The young outfielder played in two games this weekend and had four walks between them, two in each. That brings his line up to .303/.440/.421, which is just a stellar batting line for any young player. Moreover, there are some evaluators who believe Zagunis may be able to play center field and that is owed to his surprising athleticism, which was a big part of the reason the Cubs decided to move him off of the catcher position. With Jacob Hannemann struggling mightily at Double-A to the tune of a .183/.246/.257 line, it would seem appropriate to suggest that the two players swap levels. I truly believe Zagunis is ready for a challenge and the upper minors would provide him with this. His blend of athleticism, patience, and a very good hit tool make him a strong candidate to make an impact in the majors someday.
Tweet(s) of the Week
Those of you who love the Blackhawks are going to love these tweets from Cubs organization pitchers Jasvir Rakkar and Rob Zastryzny. If you do happen to be unaware, the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 in game seven of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday in what was a dominating performance from a hockey team in the midst of a proper dynasty era. Thanks for your support, Rob and Jasvir! Let’s go, Hawks!
Hopefully by the time the Finals start Toews' playoff beard grows in a bit more #StanleyCup
— Jasvir Rakkar (@Rakkar_J27) May 31, 2015
The Blackhawks are unbelievable. Can't wait for the Finals!
— Rob Zastryzny (@RobZastryzny_8) May 31, 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.
Tennessee Smokies vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, Thursday, June 4, Clue Murder Mystery Night: I love the movie Clue and personally think it is one of the funniest movies I have ever enjoyed. Many also share this view and I hear the game is quite popular as well. Everyone loves a good “Whodunnit?” story and the Smokies are celebrating this tradition with this truly awesome promotional night. Tennessee is imploring fans to come dressed as their favorite Clue character or another favorite sleuth of theirs, so put on your best deerstalker cap because this is going to be one really mysterious and fun night at the ballpark!
Game(s) To Look Forward To
Myrtle Beach Pelicans @ Potomac Nationals, Monday, June 1, 7:05 PM ET: So, I was just a bit off when I said Giolito would probably pitch this weekend. Minor league rotations are often difficult to nail down, so it was really just an educated guess. Nevertheless, Giolito is officially slated to start Monday night’s game and I look forward to seeing if the Pelicans can rough him up for the second time in a week. The Pelicans have been a very intriguing lineup as of late, with Mark Zagunis and Jeimer Candelario sparking the offense seemingly every game, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.