Original plans called for an all-pitcher Minor League Report this week after last week’s report featuring just position players. However, one of the benefits in writing for a site like World Series Dreaming is flexibility, and some recent events have convinced me to make a change of plans.
Chicago Cubs (MLB) – Starlin Castro had a four-hit game on Saturday, as did David DeJesus, but despite eight hits from your top two hitters in the batting order, neither got an RBI and the Cubs failed collectively to knock either one of them in. Another big-time prospect, the biggest the Cubs have had since Starlin Castro, is set to make his Chicago Cubs debut on Tuesday, the second game of a home series against the New York Mets.
Iowa Cubs (AAA) – Fans in Des Moines, Iowa knew that their last chance to see Anthony Rizzo was coming, and big crowds turned out at Principal Park over the weekend. Rizzo has had two hitless games in a row, but was a home run shy of the cycle earlier in the week. Rizzo tentatively has finished his AAA Pacific Coast League season – given that he still may be in the lineup Monday – with a .345 batting average, a .408 on-base percentage, 48 runs, 18 doubles, two triples, 23 home runs, 62 RBIs, and an outstanding 1.110 OPS. Those are impressive numbers at any level, even after the hitter-friendly nature of the PCL is accounted for. Brett Jackson, who isn’t having the season many expected, although he holds a solid .844 OPS, has homered in three straight games, and now has 14 stolen bases. Jackson’s contact ability has been the primary concern, as he has just a .260 average with 105 strikeouts already (!), but he also is more than capable of drawing a walk, as his OBP of .342 is eighty-two points higher than his aforementioned batting average. Jackson’s power has also been good, with his sixteen doubles and nine triples in addition to his eleven homers. At first glance, Josh Vitters appears to be having a much better season than Jackson with an average of .287 being 27 points higher than Jackson’s, but Vitters hasn’t gotten on base as much or hit for as much power as Jackson, leading to a much lower OPS of just .817 this season. However, one should not expect Vitters, who ranks outside of the Cubs upper echelon on the top prospect rankings, to be at the same level as Jackson. Nevertheless, Vitters has definitely re-emerged as a legitimate prospect and is still just 21, well under the average age of a player in AAA (Jackson and Rizzo, both just 22, are also young for the level).
Tennessee Smokies (AA) – Smokies Center Fielder Jae-Hoon Ha has been named to the 2012 All-Star Futures Game, representing the World Team. Junior Lake has been off-and-on as of late, as four of his last eight games have seen multiple hits from the young shortstop, but he has been held hitless three times in the same stretch. It is interesting to note that Tennessee giving Lake the green light on the base paths hasn’t exactly worked out, as although he has eight steals this year, he also has been caught seven times already.
Daytona Cubs (A+) – It has seemed like forever ago since I could report on Matt Szczur on the field in Daytona, but the Center Fielder was finally taken off the disabled list on Friday. In his first game back, Szczur went 1-for-3 with 2 walks. Szczur went 1-for-3 again in his second game back, adding a walk, a stolen base, and a run, but also striking out two times. Szczur has DH’ed in both games since coming back suggesting that he may not be fully recovered just yet, but just getting back into the offensive game is a major step forward for the Baseball America Top 100 Prospect.
Peoria Chiefs (A-) – Javier Baez has slowed down as of late, but that isn’t saying much given how well he was playing before this stretch. In his last ten games, Baez is batting just .286, bringing his overall average down to .289. “Just” is used very loosely here, as it is only bad by his standards, and his .390 OBP over the same stretch proves that he is capable of walking quite a bit, and he now has a .379 mark on the season. Baez has four homers in just 21 games with Peoria.
Boise Chiefs (SS-A) – Boise has yet to finish their Sunday contest versus the Eugene Emeralds, but are currently leading 8-5. Jeimer Candelario, the Cubs best third base prospect besides Josh Vitters, has been extremely impressive in his first ten games in the United States, after having played last season in the Dominican Summer League. Candelario hit his fourth home run of the season on Sunday. Shawon Dunston Jr. hit his first minor league home run in the same game.
AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs1, DSL Cubs2 (Rookie) – Still early in the Arizona and Dominican Summer League seasons, a lot is left to be learned about these rookie-level clubs. Mesa, or officially the AZL Cubs, is 3-1 and second place in the Arizona League Eastern Division, just a half-game back of the Phoenix Athletics, and have won two straight games. The DSL Cubs1 and DSL Cubs2 both have 8-11 records. The DSL Cubs1 sit four games behind the DSL Diamondbacks and DSL Reds for first in the Dominican Summer League Boca Chica Baseball City Division, but are in sixth place and just a half-game ahead of the DSL Padres for last place in the eight team division division. The DSL Cubs2 have a firmer lead ahead of the last place team in the Dominican Summer League Boca Chica Southern Division, with a six game lead over the DSL Diamondbacks/Reds (yes, a different club then the two teams tied for first in the DSL Cubs1’s division, a co-op team), but they are also six games behind the DSL Yankees1 for first and sit in seventh place in the eight team division.