Full season minor league baseball is a week old already, with all four of the Cubs teams kicking off. And before the painted lines could dry, it seems as though Kris Bryant is being called to Chicago.
On another note, Javier Baez is still away from the Iowa Cubs, as he attends to the untimely and unexpected passing of his sister, Noely. There is still no word on when he will return, which could be in the next few days. Only Baez knows for sure, and he will (rightfully) take all of the time he needs.
Logan Watkins (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Torn Achilles Tendon), Will Remillard (60 Day DL, Out for Season, Tommy John Surgery), Pierce Johnson (Extended Spring Training, Lat Strain), Rob Zastryzny (7 Day DL), Erick Castillo (7 Day DL), Michael Heesch (7 Day DL), Andrew Ely (7 Day DL), Trevor Graham (7 Day DL), Tyler Ihrig (7 Day DL), Tim Saunders (7 Day DL), Yasiel Balaguert (7 Day DL)
South Bend Cubs: 3-4, 5th Place Midwest League Eastern Division
The newest Midwest League affiliate of the Cubs enters the second week of the season riding two particularly hot players. Cael Brockmeyer finished the week with a .409/.500/.818 first week, with a home run and 5 RBI. Small sample size or not, a week with a .500 on-base is outstanding and very difficult to do at any level. Gleyber Torres also had a very nice week with a .286/.355/.321, adding 2 stolen bases and 4 RBI. At just 18 years old, Torres is worth watching in full season ball. He is young for this point, but early on doesn’t appear bothered by more advanced competition.
Ryan Williams has appeared twice (1 start), giving up only 2 hits and 1 earned in 8 innings to this point. Like Brockmeyer, the sample size is microscopic because of the very limited amount of action to this point, but Williams has set the pace on the pitching staff early on. Jake Stinnett has made two starts. The first was strong and the second…not so much. Overall, he’s thrown 7.1, allowing 6 earned. 5 of those came in his second start, where he only worked 2.1 innings and walked 7.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans: 3-3, 2nd Place Carolina League Southern Division
Mark Zagunis, the catcher/ outfielder, has gotten off to a strong start on this young season, working a .286/.400/.333, and leading the team early on in walks with 4. He has a knack for reaching first base, as only 1 of his 6 hits has gone for extra bases. Billy McKinney, who was so good for Daytona last year, has had a slow first week, hitting .154/.313/.154. While the batting average and slugging percentage leave something to be desired, he has only struck out once and is taking his walks. His slow start is very much due to some BABIP bad luck, and he should have some positive regression, as he’s only played 4 games thus far.
On the mound, it’s been more of the same from the group that led Kane County last year. Jonathan Martinez, Paul Blackburn, Jen-Ho Tseng, and Duane Underwood all had strong opening weeks, picking up right where they left off when they were hoisting a Midwest League Championship trophy.
Tennessee Smokies: 3-2, 2nd Place Southern League North
When he was promoted to Tennessee last summer, Albert Almora walked twice in 36 games. In the first week this year, he’s already taken 3. His .261/.346/.348 is a good start, as he’s continued to show his contact stroke, striking out only twice and hitting 2 doubles in the early going. It’s a good start for a player still about 4 years younger than the Southern League average age. Kyle Schwarber does not appear to be bothered at all by the advance to AA, with a .333/.467/.750 with 1 HR, 3 walks, and only 3 strike outs in his first 4 games. While he works to improve behind the plate, it is positive to see that it is not impacting his ability with the bat.
Corey Black and C.J. Edwards are forming a makeshift platoon early in the season. In games that Black starts, Edwards will relieve in. Both had solid first outings, with Black surrendering 1 earned in 5 innings. Edwards have up 1 earned in 2.1. Both are working Thursday night for the second time. Black gave up 2 in the first before working 3 scoreless frames. Edwards labored through a seventh inning, allowing 2 earned before settling down and finishing with 1 1/3 innings pitched..
Iowa Cubs: 4-3, 3rd Place Pacific Coast League American Northern Division
Kevin Brown, Mike Baxter, and Jonathan Mota have all had really good starts and it would be a shame not to mention them. They’re playing well. With that said, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are the story. Before Thursday’s game(s), Bryant was at .333/.379/.625 with 2 HRs, 7 RBI and he added a 3-R HR to it. Addison Russell had a 3 hit game on Thursday, bumping his batting average to .355 from .296. It was also notable because he started at second base, presumably to prepare for a possible call-up at some point this summer. As this is being written, Jesse Rogers is reporting that the Cubs are calling up Kris Bryant on Friday to take the place of Mike Olt, who is going on the disabled list.
Breaking. Source: Kris Bryant to be called up by Cubs on Friday. Story coming at http://t.co/iRRtXbR1Vj
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 17, 2015
Bryant will take Mike Olt’s place on the roster. Olt going on the DL, according to a source.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 17, 2015
The pitching staff is full of players who have been on the major league roster. The “new guy”, James Russell threw 2 scoreless before earning a save on Thursday night. Blake Parker has allowed 1 in 3.1 innings, and Zac Rosscup worked 2 scoreless before being called up to Chicago. In the rotation, Donn Roach has set the pace with 11.1 innings, allowing 4 earned and only walking 1.