This past week has been one noted, mostly, by some of the existing minor league players making debuts with the big league club. Tsuyoshi Wada, Kyle Hendricks, and Arismendy Alcantara all made their ML debuts this week in Cincinnati. Alcantara got the call when Darwin Barney went on paternity leave and has been an instant spark plug, scoring the winning runs in both Thursday’s and Friday’s games. Hendricks and Wada also showed the ability to pitch at the big league level. Alcantara could be returned to the Iowa Cubs this weekend (he gets to stay for now), just as Blake Parker, Hendricks, and Wada have been so that they are able to participate in the AAA All-Star Game, which takes place on Wednesday. It would not be a surprise, though, if any or all four were back for extended tours with the major league club after the All-Star Break.
Injuries of Note: Cael Brockmeyer (7 Day DL), C.J. Edwards (7 Day DL, Shoulder), Giuseppe Papaccio (7 Day DL), Ivan Pineyro (7 Day DL, Right Forearm Strain), Hunter Cervenka (7 Day DL), Jen-Ho Tseng (7 Day DL, Shoulder), Daniel Canela (7 Day DL), Marcos Mateo (7 Day DL, Lower Back Strain), Gerardo Concepcion (7 Day DL, Foot), Yao-Lin Wang (7 Day DL), Lars Anderson (7 Day DL), Edgar Gonzalez (7 Day DL), Jonathan Sanchez (7 Day DL), Dillon Maples (7 Day DL), Jose Arias (7 Day DL), Nathan Maldonado (60 Day DL), Brad Renner (60 Day DL), Danny Lockhart (7 Day DL), Anthony Prieto (60 Day DL), Austin Reed (60 Day DL), Jeff Lorick (7 Day DL), Julio Rodriguez (7 Day DL), Rubi Silva (7 Day DL)
Record This Season: 14-13, 2nd Place (- 2.0) NWL South
The Hawks had a strong week, led by OF prospect Jeffrey Baez. His .409/.480/.773 week was a catalyst for a 5-2 week, which included 4 HRs, 13 RBI, and 6 stolen bases. “The other Baez” is 20 and really tearing up the Northwest League. It would not be a surprise to see him head to Kane County in the near future.
Kane County Cougars
Record This season: 14-5, 1st Place (+ 1.5) MWL West; Won MWL West 1st Half Division Championship
The Cougars have been on top of the Midwest League from the get-go this season, winning their division in the first half. The second half has shown a similar dominance, with outstanding pitching all the way up and down the staff. The second half, though, has continued to be marked by the presence of first round pick, Kyle Schwarber, who is sporting an OPS of 1.121 in 18 games. Again, Schwarber is advanced for the Midwest League, so the results should be taken into the context of he should be dominating…so he is right where he should be in regard to competition level.
Record This Season: 12-7, 1st Place (—) FSL North
Albert Almora has continued his hot hitting over the course of the last week, which continues his ascent to a results level we anticipated at the start of the season. He’s risen his slash line to .274/.298/.380, which is not far off of what we could have expected for a young player for the level in a pitcher’s league. The real stories for the D-Cubs of late have been Bijan Rademacher and Dan Vogelbach, who have on-base streaks of 22 and 20 games, respectively. Rademacher has played well for much of the season, but Vogelbach has come on strong after the same slow start seen by many in the D-Cubs line-up in the first half of the season. Billy McKinney, acquired in the Samardzija deal, made his debut this week, and drove in his first D-Cub runs on Wednesday evening.
Record This Season: 12-9 2nd Place (-0.5) Southern League North
Jorge Soler made his return from the disabled list on the same day (Sunday) that Addison Russell made his Cubs’ organizational debut. Russell got off to a slow start, but as of this instant on Friday evening, he has hits in 4 of his last 5 at-bats with the Smokies, and the new best player on the team seems to be settling in nicely. Jorge Soler continues to swing a hot bat for the Smokies, hitting .405/.486/.865 on the season with Tennessee, although it’s been reduced to only 11 games with hamstring issues. Of his 15 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases (8 doubles, 3 HRs). Soler definitely looks the part of a top prospect, and has performed. The only matter in his way is health, so staying on the field will remain critical for him.
Record This Season: 49-44 1st Place (+ 0.5) PCL American North
The I-Cubs head into the break with a tentative lead in their division, which could very well change by the time many of you read this. More importantly, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant head to Minneapolis for the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday afternoon, in what many Cubs fans hope to be the first of many trips to the site of the Midsummer Classic. As they head into the break, Kris Bryant carries a .329/.400/.718 slash line with 9 HR and 23 RBI since coming from Tennessee. As far as adjustments go, his was quick and painful for PCL pitching. Javier Baez is up to .240/.305/.448 on the year, with 14 HR and 53 RBI as the first half comes to a close. The most impressive part of Baez’s adjustment in this first half has been the increase in walks, with a walk rate at a career best, 8.1%.
This week’s recap is littered with redundancies from that of last week…which is a good thing because a lot of the positives from the system have carried forward. At the moment, none of the top prospects are disappointing with their performances. With about 8 weeks left in the regular seasons, all of the teams have a chance at postseason play and they are all being led by the top prospects. In every way, as we move to the middle of July, this is exactly what could have been hoped for at the beginning of April.