With the season about a quarter of the way in, now is the most suitable time to check up on the early season progression of some of the Cubs Top Prospects.
Josh Vitters has played in just fourteen games as he battles through injuries, but he has made the most of the time he has gotten. Vitters is batting to a line of .280/.333/.440 with just two errors at third base in fourteen games, in addition to two home runs and two doubles. A bit less encouraging is Brett Jackson, who has an OPS of just .733 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Surprisingly, someone else on Iowa has struck out more times than him, as Logan Watkins has thirty-eight strikeouts to Jackson’s thirty-one. Watkins gets a little more leniency, however, for he has a .365 on-base percentage.
In Tennessee, Jae-Hoon Ha is off to a good start, with an OPS of .811 and playing solid defense despite being limited to just twenty-five games so far. Matt Szczur has regained some of his stock, posting a .357 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot and stealing thirteen bases, but still lacks any form of power, which is the only thing holding him back. Arismendy Alcantara has shown flashes of greatness, but has struggled mightily defensively, committing fourteen errors already. With ten doubles and five home runs, his power is not in question. Christian Villanueva has not been great by any means – his OPS is just .742 – and he has been shaky defensively, normally his strong spot, with nine errors, but with three home runs and thirteen doubles, he has shown nice power. Rubi Silva has performed very well, with eight doubles, four triples, and seven home runs with good defense, but with an on-base percentage of just .285, he has a glaring hole in his game that needs to be fixed. Ronald Torreyes is off to a very slow start through thirty-two games, but coming off injury, it is not time to panic. Alberto Cabrera has pitched to a 3.69 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, respectable but not great numbers.
So far in Daytona, Jorge Soler has outperformed Javier Baez, with a .295/.363/.519 line including six long balls (the same number of home runs as Baez), while Baez’s OBP of just .298 has held him back in what has still been a good season, just not one you expect from one of baseball’s top prospects. Baez also has nineteen errors and forty-seven strikeouts, meaning that there are still facets of his game that need to be fine-tuned, and perhaps indications that he could stick at shortstop long-term were misguided. The starting pitching as a whole has been poor for Daytona, with no pitcher than has started more than five games having an ERA below 4.13.
The big news out of Kane County recently is the imminent call-up of top prospect outfielder Albert Almora from post-injury extended spring training. Dan Vogelbach came into the season as the biggest bat to watch on the team, with Jeimer Candelario also getting attention as a potential top-hundred prospect from ESPN’s Keith Law. However, while Vogelbach hasn’t been bad, and neither has Candelario, a different bat has stolen the show recently. Rock Shoulders has posted a .296/.385/.559 line, good for a .944 OPS, including a Midwest League-leading ten home runs. Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez have had underwhelming performances. Meanwhile, Dillon Maples was recently recalled from extended spring training and has begun to form a formidable 1-2 punch with Pierce Johnson, though the ERAs have yet to indicate their full potential (4.50 and 3.32, respectively).
The VSL Cubs are off to a two-game winning streak in their inaugural season, but are still last place in the five-team Venezuelan Summer League.