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Hello, readers. Welcome to another edition of “Young Cubs.” The Men’s Baseball competition at the 2015 Pan-Am Games has officially come to a close, with Team USA receiving the silver medal. It was a heartbreaking extra innings loss to Canada that sealed their fate, but hey, at least Cubs’ farmhand Jasvir Rakkar got to take home the gold. That’s still pretty cool, and for Albert Almora and Rakkar, I doubt they will soon forget the experience of competing against professionals from around the globe. Well done to all, and I can’t wait for the Women’s competition to get started on Monday. With all that being said, let’s get this under way, shall we?

BP Top 10 Update (Stats for 7/17-7/19)

  1. OF Albert Almora, Double-A Tennessee: I want to take a moment to congratulate Almora and all of Team USA on their Silver Medal at the Pan-Am Games this weekend. Losing to Canada in extra innings on Sunday had to hurt, but they have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their hearts out, and sometimes baseball is just a matter of luck or timing. Congrats, Team USA, and it’ll be nice to have you back, Albert!
  2. C Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs: Schwarber only started one game at catcher this weekend for the Chicago Cubs, but he is set to start behind the plate for three of the four games in the Cincy series. This should be a great chance to get a look at his receiving skills as they presently stand.
  3. OF Billy McKinney, Double-A Tennessee: 0-for-12, 2 BB, 2 K
  4. RHP Pierce Johnson, Double-A Tennessee:2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K; Another really good outing for Johnson has me wondering how long it’ll be before he gets a promotion to Iowa. Yes, Johnson has some things still to work on, but he’s looked much better with regards to his command since returning from injury. That is a potentially big development, as that has been his major hurdle as a starting pitcher. It’s looking more and more likely that he could make an impact in a major-league rotation in the next year or so. Whether or not that will be with the Cubs is an open question, but I expect him to get a shot somewhere before long.
  5. SS Gleyber Torres, Low-A South Bend: 7-for-14, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; This kid just doesn’t quit. This latest torrid weekend stretch from quite possibly the best remaining prospect in the Cubs’ system gave him a .793 OPS, which becomes even more ridiculous when placed in the context of his being an 18-year-old playing full-season ball. I didn’t think a promotion to Myrtle Beach was likely for this season, but now, I think it’s pretty much a certainty. The Pelicans have already clinched a playoff spot from their first-half division win and so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Torres promoted to bolster the High-A Pelicans’ lineup. I just don’t think Low-A is challenging him at all.
  6. 1B Dan Vogelbach, Double-A Tennessee: 7-Day DL
  7. LHP Carson Sands, Eugene Emeralds: 0.1 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 0 BB, 1 K; Well, just, yikes. The development path for pitching prospects is fraught with peril, so no reason to overreact to one start, but this one was truly ugly for Sands.
  8. RHP Jen-Ho Tseng, High-A Myrtle Beach: Did not pitch.
  9. RHP Carl Edwards, Jr., Triple-A Iowa: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  10. RHP Duane Underwood, Jr., High-A Myrtle Beach: 7-Day DL

The Non-Prospects

Javier Baez: He’s still hurt. I am sad. That is all.

Arismendy Alcantara: 3-for-8, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB, 1 K

Team Updates/Standings

Eugene Emeralds, Short Season-A, Northwest League: 16-15, 2 GB of first place, third place in the South Division

South Bend Cubs, Low-A, Midwest League: 13-11, 2.5 GB of first place, fourth place in the Eastern Division

Myrtle Beach Pelicans, High-A, Carolina League*: 13-11, 1.5 GB of first place, second place in the Southern Division

Tennessee Smokies, Double-A, Southern League: 8-14, 9 GB of first place, third place in the Northern Division

Iowa Cubs, Triple-A, Pacific Coast League: 51-43, 9 GB of first place, second place in the American Northern Division (tied w/Omaha Storm Chasers)

*= Clinched playoff spot via first-half championship

Player To Watch: Ian Happ, 20, CF, Eugene Emeralds

Happ continued his tear on into the weekend, going 5-for-13 with three doubles and a walk over Eugene’s three weekend games. Adding to the impressiveness of this was that Happ had two of Eugene’s three hits in Friday night’s game. He raised his OPS to .898 and, while maybe not as instantly successful as Schwarber or Kris Bryant, has still looked the part of a very polished, high-upside bat. I haven’t really had a chance to see him in action in center field, but with a promotion to South Bend likely to come any day now, I should get a good look sooner rather than later. The value of a bat like Happ’s being able to play a passable center field cannot be overstated, and I like to think that if Schwarber has been able to make himself into a catcher that Happ should be able to do the same with center field.

Tweet(s) of the Weekend

He really has not yet given up. Anthony Giansanti knows that he may just be a utility man in the Cubs’ minor league system, but he still thinks Ronda Rousey will come to a game one of these days. I mean, why not? Baseball is fun. Even a world-class athlete like Rousey can take a day off of her undoubtedly intense training regimen to come see some Iowa Cubs baseball. No? Stop crushing my dreams, readers. You can’t predict baseball, after all. Not even with regards to who’ll be in attendance at a game. You just never know.

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. Birmingham Barons, Monday & Tuesday, July 20th & 21st, Sharknado Night & Sharknado 2 Night: These ridiculously silly movies have captured the interest and attention of the public in an inexplicable way, as well as having provided Cubs fans with some of the better Jeff Samardzija (“Shark”) memes in existence in his time with the franchise. Make your way to Smokies Park to celebrate them, because they’re absurd, and we all could use a little bit of weird in our lives.

Game(s) To Look Forward To

Iowa Cubs vs. Round Rock Express, Monday-Wednesday, July 20th-23rd, 7:08 PM ET:  Joey Gallo is coming to Des Moines and he’s coming by way of the Express train! Ok, ok, that was a really bad joke. I just can’t help it. I’m prone to very bad puns, as you may have noticed from many of my headlines. Anyways, it’s always fun when a Cubs’ affiliate faces off against one of the best the minors has to offer, and Gallo is one of those players. He has prodigious power, but also a great deal of swing and miss, very much akin to Javier Baez. He performed well enough in his stint in the majors this season, but the 43 percent K-rate was definitely cause for concern. He has to bring that number down, obviously, in order to stick in the majors and it should be interesting to see if the Iowa Cubs’ hurlers can exploit his whiff tendencies, especially pitchers of high-prospect status like Carl Edwards, Jr.

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