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Chicago Cubs Prospect Bullets: McNutt, Jackson, Simpson, Vitters, Whitenack, Szczur

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects
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How about a bullets post on some of the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs’ system? If the big league team isn’t keeping you excited (and it’s not), at least there are some reasons to be excited when looking around the farm.

  • Top pitching prospect Trey McNutt has shaken off some early blister issues and is putting together another dominant season. He’s got a 2.34 ERA and a 1.183 WHIP in 32.2 innings. He’s only struck out 22, which is quite a ways off from his career K/9 number, but the Ks have been increasing as his blister problem subsides. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto recently got a look at McNutt while rehabbing in Tennessee and said, “[McNutt] was throwing the ball really good, hitting his spots really good. I have a feeling he’s pretty close, he’s gonna be [in the big leagues] soon.”
  • Top positional prospect Brett Jackson finally returned to action yesterday at AA after missing almost three weeks with a jacked-up pinky, which is a relief. He went 0-4 with three Ks, though, so that part kind of sucked.

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  • The Cubs’ number one pick last year, pitcher Hayden Simpson, has had a tough start to his professional career. He missed all post-Draft baseball last year with mono, and he hasn’t looked particularly good this year for A-ball Peoria, with reports that his velocity is five or more MPH short of the alleged mid-90s he sported when the Cubs drafted him. More concerning? Farm director Oneri Fleita has ordered that radar guns be removed from the ballparks when Simpson starts.
  • Another former first round pick, AA Tennessee infielder Josh Vitters has had a poor 2011 season (OPS is just .713), but seems to have been snakebitten by some bad BABIP luck. He’s not striking out, which is a good start. And Fleita is optimistic. “[Vitters is] another guy at times who has gotten himself out [on pitches]out of the strike zone. He gets himself out. But the series I saw at Chattanooga, he made them throw him strikes. He hit the ball to right field. When he does that, he’s a tough out.” He’s still just 21, folks.
  • Pitching prospect Robert Whitenack, who came out of nowhere to tear up High A and AA early this season (reportedly, he’s added a few MPH to his fastball and some crispness to his breaking stuff), was placed on the disabled list with the dreaded “strained elbow.” He hasn’t been sent to Chicago for more evaluation, though, so it may not be as serious as it sounds.
  • Matt Szczur, whom the Cubs paid big bucks to sign away from a professional football career in the offseason, is starting to pick up a lot of buzz in scouting communities. A fast, athletic outfielder, Szczur has a .343/.409/.460 line at Peoria with 13 steals against just one caught stealing.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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