The Cubs are on their way to improving their record to a slightly-less bad but still very bad 12-20, a winning percentage of 0.375. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo have been producing as of late, including fine performances on Monday in which Castro found a way to get on base four times and Rizzo clubbed two doubles and hit a home run as of the 8th inning.
Iowa Cubs – Josh Vitters has returned to action this past week and has made an immediate impact, working on a streak of two straight days with home runs, one in game one of Sunday’s double header and another in Monday’s matinee. In just five games this season, all coming in May with the exception of an early April pinch hit appearance, Vitters has produced to a slash line of .353/.389/.706. A big deal should not be made of his monster success in limited action, for the sample size simply isn’t that large, but it is definitely better than getting off to a poor start. Brett Jackson has gone to the disabled list, joining Junior Lake as young position players on Iowa’s 7-day disabled list. Logan Watkins, meanwhile, has remained healthy, and continues to produce despite his relatively low batting average of .268. In his last ten games, Watkins has been outperforming his season-long totals, as good as those have been, by batting .324, hitting three triples and two doubles, and walking more times than striking out (ten walks vs. nine strikeouts). Iowa lost a major part of their lineup when Ryan Sweeney was recalled to Chicago on Monday along with Rafael Dolis.
Tennessee Smokies – Matt Szczur started off the 2013 campaign on a tear, suddenly regaining some of his lost prospect stock. Since then, his plans have worked out less accordingly, with an on-base percentage of just .286 to go along with an even lower .189 slugging percentage, good for an OPS of .475. Much in the same way as the early success of Josh Vitters should not be overhyped, it is also true that this small sample size in Szczur’s season very well could be the beginning of a trend, it also could be the effect of over-analyzing a small sample size and it may be completely forgotten about by this time next week. One of Tennessee’s other top prospects, Arismendy Alcantara, isn’t doing any better with an OBP of just .171, only two extra base hits, and an even worse OPS of .377 over the same stretch. Christian Villanueva has been faltering as well, while Ronald Torreyes has found success in his first season at the AA level, with an .829 OPS over his last ten games increasing his season total to .808. Trey McNutt has worked exclusively at of the bullpen this season after his conversion last season, pitching in ten games to a 4.73 ERA and walking more batters than he’s struck out (7 BB vs. 6 SO).
Daytona Cubs – Jorge Soler scored both of Daytona’s runs in their 6-2 loss to the St. Lucie Mets on Monday, a performance in which he hit both a triple and a home run in four at bats. Recently, Soler has not been hitting for average – just .222 in his last ten games – or getting on base particularly frequently (.317), but has been succeeding greatly in the slugging category with an even .500 mark and homering in two of his last three games. Baez has only batted .263 over the same stretch, with a below-average OBP of .326, but has matched Soler’s slugging numbers, also .500 over his last ten games with two homers during the stretch. Ben Wells was pushed aggressively to Advanced-A Daytona, but has proven the move to be a good one so far as he’s been more than up to to the challenge with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.5 SO/BB ratio to warrant his 3-1 record. Yao-Lin Wang has been even better with a 2.19 ERA this season while striking out three times as many opponents as he has walked, while holding opposing hitters to a .196 batting average.
Kane County Cougars – Jeimer Candelario has been struggling as of late, hitting just .156 and slugging .250 in his last ten games with very little power on display. Miraculously, Candelario has yet to hit either a triple or a home run this season, but has walked twenty-two times to supplement the lack of power production. Dan Vogelbach has blasted three home runs, knocked in eleven runs, and has produced to a monstrous OPS of 1.117 and slugging .667 alone. Pierce Johnson has found success in recent starts, recovering from his opening day performance in which he allowed five earned runs in just over two innings. Since then, Johnson has gone at least five innings in all four successive starts and did not allow a single run in two of them, bringing his season ERA down to 2.92.
Short-season Updates – The Boise Hawks will open there season at the Eugene Emeralds on June 14th, giving draft picks the opportunity to sign deals and get into action sooner. The AZL Cubs will take on the AZ Angels in Mesa on June 20th, and the Venezuelan Summer League in which the VSL Cubs take part has yet to release a schedule. The DSL Cubs host the DSL Yankees on June 1st and will be placed into the Boca Chica South Division for the upcoming season.
Draft Watch – Reports had circulated that the Cubs were likely to select either Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray with the second overall pick, but recently Kris Bryant has found his name in the mix as well. Bryant is likely a long-term first baseman, and may not be as good of a fit for the Cubs organization as would a power-throwing arm such as those of Appel of Gray.