Szczur and Vogelbach saw promotions, as Almora and Soler made their professional debuts. This week, I will discuss how top prospects have performed to date compare to their expectations.
Iowa Cubs – Jackson’s overall OPS matches expectations, as a 22 year old posting a .819 in AAA. However, the way he has accumulated it is worrisome as the top prospect coming into the season has 150 strikeouts to his name, a big red flag for major league success. But fourty-six extra-base hits and twenty-four stolen bases are indicative of how he can make the best of the hits he has been getting and how he can turn a walk into a runner in scoring position. Is there anything negative to say about Josh Vitters? Many had written the 22 year old off completely, but he has re-emerged as a legitimate prospect. With a .302 average, .861 OPS, and fourt-eight extra-base hits, with improved defense, Vitters may just be the Cubs 2013 Opening Day third baseman.
Tennessee Smokies – Jae-Hoon Ha suffered a bitter injury in a collision with the wall in Jacksonville, leading to the promotion of Matthew Szczur to AA. In just two games, Szczur is batting .125, but after a terrible start to the 2012 campaign, Szczur turned it around in Daytona, (hopefully) graduating from the level with a .295 average, .801 OPS, and twenty-five extra-base hits this season to go along with thirty-eight steals.
Daytona Cubs – After the Szczur promotion, Daytona is devoid of top-of-the-rankings talent, much like Tennessee had been.
Peoria Chiefs – I had expected 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez to have a good year in his first full pro season. Instead, he started about a month late after being held in extended spring training, and is absolutely raking low-A pitching. In just fifty-two games, Baez has a .333 average, .987 OPS, twenty-four extra-base hits, and nineteen steals. Part of me expects a promotion to Daytona soon, while the other part of me hopes he is still there in September when the nearby Kane County Cougars host the Chiefs.
Boise Hawks – Jeimer Candelario has had a good first season in the states, with a .283 average, .761 OPS, and ten extra-base hits in fourty-two games, but more was expected of him. New teammate Daniel Vogelbach has raged through rookie and short-season A pitching, with a combined .331 average, 1.049 OPS, and twenty-four extra-base hits in thirty games.
AZL Cubs – Albert Almora and Jorge Soler both debuted in the past week, and have put up just modest numbers so far. Highlights include a home run, two doubles, and a steal for Almora, and two homers, a double, and two steals for Soler. Look for these two to surge through the minor together in the next few years, with Soler potentially moving slightly faster as he is out of options in 2015.