Iowa Cubs – Brett Jackson is doing pretty much what you would expect Brett Jackson to do: striking out more than once per game, getting on base at a fine .354 clip, and stealing three bases this season. The thing to watch for with Jackson is not the strikeout rate – it will always be a problem for him – but the slugging percentage that current sits at just .381. A moderate boost of this and all of a sudden he is OPSing over .750, a very respectable figure. Watkins, meanwhile, has been overcoming a dismal batting average of .224 by getting on base at a .375 clip and slugging a .414, a total OPS of .789. Those numbers are acceptable, but it would be nice to see more from these two prospects in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Josh Vitters and Junior Lake have yet to resume play while Arodys Vizcaino remains in extended spring training. The team as a whole has moved into third place since last week’s minor league report, and are 4.5 games back of the Omaha Storm Chasers with a 6-11 record.
Tennessee Smokies – The Cubs are in first place! Okay, maybe that’s a stretch since the team doesn’t even don the Cubs moniker, but it is nice to see nevertheless. Outfielder Rubi Silva, a very much overlooked prospect, is mashing with a .917 OPS, while the often overrated Jae-Hoon Ha is posting a very good mark of .800. Matt Szczur entered the 2012 season ranked the 64th best prospect in baseball, just three spots shy of Javier Baez, and then had a just decent between Daytona and Tennessee. A lack of power was cited as a reason for his failure to climb the ranks better, but the young outfielder has already hit two home runs, a triple, and two doubles, while getting on base at a .358 clip, combining for a solid .795 OPS. Shortstop Arismendy Alcantara has a .827 OPS, but also eight errors (maybe he should be called up to take some of the heat off of Castro – jokes aside, it isn’t that much of a concern for a young shortstop in AA). Villanueva’s struggles continue as his OPS is just .619. Alberto Cabrera has struggled with a 4.63 ERA – which, though not completely awful, is coupled with a bad 1.37 WHIP – through his first four starts of the season.
Daytona Cubs – The offensive firepower in Daytona has carried the team so far this season, as Jorge Soler leads the team with a .976 OPS, and has had continued success since returning from the five-game suspension he had received after his bat-wielding incident. Stephen Bruno has a .904 OPS, while John Andreoli is close behind at .830. Geiger leads the league with eighteen RBIs, and Javier Baez has shown signs of coming out of his early season slump, including a 3-for-5 performance on Monday. Despite his struggles to get on base consistently, Baez has kept the power on display, currently boasting three home runs, two triples, and four doubles. Yao-Lin Wang has a 0.82 ERA as a starter/”piggyback” reliever, averaging just under four innings per appearance. Opening Day starter Ben Wells has pitches respectably, with a 4.05 ERA through four starts. Daytona is tied for fourth and sits four games out of first place in the division.
Kane County Cougars – Rock Shoulders and Wilson Conteras have OPSes of over 1.000, while Dan Vogelbach is beginning to display some power, hitting his second bomb of the season on Monday. Jeimer Candelario has performed well, while Marco Hernandez and Gioskar Amaya have struggled. After a disastrous opening day start, Pierce Johnson has regained form and has brought his ERA down to 5.11 with two solid outings afterwards. Felix Pena has an ERA of 2.60 and a WHIP of 0.98, and could be an interesting name to keep an eye on as he has worked out of both the rotation and the bullpen this season. The Cougars currently sit four-and-a-half games out of first and in fifth place after their 9-6 loss to the former Cubs’ affiliate-turned Cardinals rival, the Peoria Chiefs.