The most eventful week of the minor league season brought the return of Javier Baez from the disabled list, the debut of Pierce Johnson with the Smokes at Double A, and Corey Black taking another no-hitter to his pitch limit. Albert Almora and Kris Bryant both brought six game hitting streaks into Thursday night.
C.J. Edwards also had a recent setback with his shoulder and will undergo an MRI exam on Friday:
Top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards met with Cubs doctor and is scheduled to get an MRI tomorrow: http://t.co/LVRo5nm3Cm
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) April 25, 2014
Kane County has cooled off some after a fast first couple of weeks. 2012 second round pick Duane Underwood made a start on April 19, working five shutout innings at Daytona (CIN). To this point, he’s allowed one earned in eight innings of work this season, putting his ERA at 1.13. 2012 first round compensatory pick Paul Blackburn pitched against Beloit (OAK) on Tuesday night, working 5.1 innings of one run ball. Catcher Will Remillard, a 19th round pick in last June’s amateur draft, had a 4-4, 3 RBI game on Wednesday in a 10-4 win over Beloit.
Record This Week: 3-2, Record This Season: 5-14
The story around the D-Cubs this week was that Albert Almora has been in High A for three weeks, had 70 at-bats, and hasn’t yet taken a walk. Not sure how big a deal that is when he is riding a six game hitting streak and has worked his average up to .271, though. Almora’s approach has been lauded by just about everyone who’s seen him, including yours truly, so the lack of walks is definitely a flukey type thing that just happens. The only reason it stands out now is because it is the beginning of the season, so a zero in the walks column looks a little funny. Gioskar Amaya saw himself go 6-9 over Tuesday and Wednesday night, with six runs scored, and at the moment he has a .500/.536/.542 line…so eat your heart out, Emilio Bonifacio.
Record This Week: 3-3; Record This Season: 10-10
Tennessee continues to be the focus of the farm system, as they have the biggest share of the big time prospects. Pierce Johnson made his debut on Tuesday with four inning, three earned run performance. Much of the damage was concentrated around the beginning and end of his outing, so when the nerves wore off before his arm wore down in his first start, he was pretty good. We should expect big things from Johnson going forward. The guy who was not pretty good was Corey Black…because he was really good. Black worked six hitless innings on Wednesday afternoon at Birmingham (CWS) after being spotted eight runs in the top of the first inning from his offense. That makes the second time (April 11 vs Chattanooga) early on that Black has not allowed a hit in an outing before reaching his pitch limit. Kris Bryant is also making himself right at home in the Southern League, bringing his line to .303/.432/.561, adding a home run and five RBIs over the last week, while building a six game hit streak of his own. If this continues, we should be seeing Bryant move on to Iowa around the middle of the season, as he is well on his way to “dominating the level.”
Record This Week: 2-3; Record This Season: 10-9
Javier Baez made his return to the lineup on Sunday as the DH, going 0-4 with three strike outs. He made his way back to the field on Monday and Tuesday, with a combined 3-8, driving in three on Tuesday vs Round Rock (TEX). His .184/.244/.421 suggests that the first few weeks of the Triple A season hasn’t been kind to the top prospect, but with health and consistent playing time, there is no cause for alarm, yet. At this point, Baez is still adjusting to the step up in competition. After a good start, Josh Vitters is slumping hard, going 2-17 this week. If there is any positive to that, he has only struck out three times, though. Arismendy Alcantara hit his first two home runs this week to go with three stolen bases in the series against Round Rock. Alcantara has been one of the bright spots for the I-Cubs of late, and is making his case early on to be the first prospect earning a call-up to Chicago this summer.
* Major League Affiliations in parenthesis after opposing MiLB teams*