It’s time to check in with a few Chicago Cubs prospects who have had notable performances of late – both on the good side, and the bad side. [As is frequently the case with swell prospect pieces, Sean Caray from SOI co-wrote this post.]

Good News:

Brett Jackson (23, AAA) – The Cubs’ top positional prospect, Jackson did have something of a lull before being promoted to AAA Iowa, but he’s turned it on now in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. In his last 10 games, Jackson has a 1.152 OPS. Of his 17 hits in Iowa, 9 of them have gone for extra bases. He even stroked a homer on his 23rd birthday earlier this week (which he also did on his 22nd birthday – make sure that kid is in Chicago come August 2, 2012).

Zeke DeVoss (21, Low A) – 2011 third round pick Zeke DeVoss has come out swinging (not to mention running) in his pro career. He’s managed a decent .813 OPS, and an eye popping 10 stolen bases in only 60 plate appearances. He’s seemingly having some difficulty finding a place in the field though – he’s got 6 errors already, playing mostly at second base.

Dong-Yub Kim (21, AZL) – Kim is one of a slew of Korean prospects with which the Cubs have infused their farm system (you will start to see the fruits of this infusion more and more over the next few years). The outfielder was at extended spring training to start the year, and then headed to the Arizona Summer League (“Rookie Ball”), where he stumbled out of the gate. He’s recovered to the tune of a .913 OPS in his last ten games, though. So that’s cool. Reports tell of a statuesque defensive presence.

Wilengton Cruz (20, Low A) – The Dominican fireballer was brought up from the Dominican Summer League straight to short-season A ball to see what he could do against Stateside competition, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. He currently sports a 2.57 ERA to go along with 43 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched.

Bad News:

Chris Carpenter (25, AAA) – Unfortunately, after a somewhat successful cup of coffee at the big league level, Carpenter has struggled since being sent back to the minors. In 7 appearances since being demoted, he has given up 6 earned runs has walked almost as many batters as he’s struck out. Some first-hand reports suggest he’s been working almost exclusively on his off-speed stuff, which could explain the ineffectiveness. He’s likely to be back up with the Cubs in September, but the clock is ticking: Carpenter turns 26 in December.

DJ LeMahieu (23, AAA) – LeMahieu had a miserable July, where he produced a meager .695 OPS. The infielder has yet to reach base in August. Who would have thought that sitting on the bench in Chicago instead of continuing a hot streak in AA wouldn’t have turned him into a superstar?

Junior Lake (21, AA) – Lake enjoyed an .834 OPS while playing at High A Daytona, but, since being promoted to AA Tennessee earlier this year, he’s at just .568. The kid has miles of talent, and, as a 21-year-old shortstop in AA who’s already had offensive success at the lower levels, there’s reason to believe he can pull out of the slump.

Hayden Simpson (22, AZL) – This should almost be a new category: kicking a dead horse. Simpson – the Cubs’ first round pick in 2010, who didn’t pitch last year after suffering a particularly acute case of mono – was demoted to the Arizona Summer League in July and has been roughed up for 11 earned runs in 11.2 innings pitched. Reports are that he’s still throwing his fastball in the low to mid 80s. It may be best to look away when you see Simpson’s name in the near future. I guarantee Jim Hendry and Tim Wilken are.

On the Move:

Jin-Young Kim (19, AZL) – Bonus baby Kim was demoted from short season A ball to the Arizona Summer League. Kim has actually produced worse numbers than Simpson, although he’s only 19. As the link indicates, the Cubs invested a good deal of money in the young pitcher, so he’ll hopefully figure things out.

Oliver Zapata (18, Low A) – In a corresponding (and more joyful) move, outfielder Oliver Zapata was promoted from Arizona to Low A Boise. He’s been on a tear, with an .884 OPS while in Arizona. And, again, the kid is just 18 years old.

  • John Durbin

    Im not worried about Carpenter stuggling over the last couple appearences. He was told when we was sent back to Iowa to just continue to work on his slider and changeup… Once he finds those two off speed pitches the kid is gunna be nasty.. I should know i caught him for 6 years of my life.. Go GET EM CARP!!!

    • Coldneck

      With all due respect, since CC is already 26 I’m guessing the likelihood of him finding 2 plus offspeed pitches remote at best.

      • Scarey

        It’s not really a case of developing secondary pitches. For one thing, his slider is arguably better than his fastball. He just has had trouble over his career placing it. Secondly, he’s thrown his change up quite a bit…. as a starter. Just speculation on my behalf, but I have a suspicion the Cubs see Carpenter as a candidate for the rotation next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s stretched out in the spring and they just want him to get used to throwing three pitches again.

        I’ll also add that 26 isn’t that old for a pitcher to break into the big leagues. Especially one that has had major surgeries.

        • Brett

          It’s definitely not old, but 27/28 is pretty old for more that a filler type (the time’s ticking was my line, fwiw).

      • John Durbin

        Like Scarey said… he already has those pitches not like he is trying to develope them. He just needs to work on his command a little more. He will be back in September and I dont see any reason to believe he wont be successful as he was early in the season.. When Carp is on he is pretty tough to hit. 100mph fastball with 93mph slider and a change at 89. That pretty wicked stuff. And its completely different seeing it up close than it is on TV. Its so hard to get a read on him. When he throws because of his length and arm speed it is difficult to get a read on his pitches. Its like the ball is on top of you before you can even guess if it is an off speed pitch. Trust me i had many past balls becasue i called for a slider but out of his hand i thought it was a fastball!!! and i was the one calling the pitches!

        • CubFan Paul

          agreed ..Carpenter is filthy

          when i saw his 91-93mph slider earlier this year all i could say was “holy freakin shit” ..his ‘stuff’ wows me like none other in the bullpen or on the major league staff. Although, marmol’s slider is still sweet

          and ‘reports’ of him working on his offspeed stuff explains why they sent him down & kept Ortiz in the pen over him

  • Fishin Phil

    “Reports tell of a statuesque defensive presence.”

    Thanks alot Brett, I just sprayed coffee all over my monitor.

    • Brett

      You can thank Sean for that one. That was his line.

  • CC

    It might be nice to note what positions these guys play… I don’t know a few of them, and I have a hard time differentiating all the Korean guys’ names.

    • Brett

      It’s all in there, homey. If it just says “outfield,” that’s because they rove around.

    • Scarey

      Our bad CC.

      Jackson, I’m sure you know, plays CF. Same with LeMahieu at 2B. Zeke Devoss played both 2B and CF in college, I think the Cubs are trying to decypher if he can stick at 2B. DY Kim is a very poor corner outfielder. Simpson, Cruz, and JY Kim are starting pitching prospects. Carpenter is thought of as both a starting pitcher and relief pitcher. Junior Lake is a very eratic shortstop that probably won’t stick there. Zapata has played all the outfield spots with the majority of the starts being at CF.

  • willis

    Like I said on SOI, when Carp was in Memphis this past weekend the highest the stadium gun had him was 92. Mostly was 81-87 and those pitches were not effective. Who knows what is going on but I’d guess when he comes back up in September he’ll be back to fireballing. At least I hope.

  • RY

    Whats the latest on our first round pick this year? that simpson pick will go down as one of the worst ever; thanks again asswipe hendry!

    • Brett

      Nothing to report. Probably won’t be until the deadline. I’m not too worried.

    • Scarey

      To be fair, scouting director Tim Wilken would be the person to blame for the Simpson. I empathize with the frustration you’re feeling with that pick, but Simpson is not the same pitcher he was when he was scouted and drafted. His run in with mono really took a life changing toll on him. I’d suggest having a bit of patience with him. If he’s still pitching like this next summer, that’s when I’ll start getting concerned.

      • hansman1982

        I have heard he lost at least 20 pounds and wasnt 100% even when he started pitching this year…dude had it BAD

        • TWC

          Right. Seems fair to blame Wilken for lots of things, but his #1 draft choice getting mono is pretty much out of his hands.

  • philoe beddoe

    Was it just me or did DJ LeMahieu look like a pitcher when he was up to bat…another “we’re happy for you here”,,,but I coach High School baseball, and have had a couple of kids drafted….it’s cool to talk to the scouts….like a marlins guy told me after they got Nolasco from the Cubs they were esctatic, and he also told me Rich Hill was a wuss who would never be anything…so the fella knew what he was talking about…

    anyhoo he was talking how drafting position players is a total crap shoot and(at least at that time) the Marlins look for arms, arms, and more arms….less money and picks on psotion pitching stock…Braves guy told me essentially the same thiing….so of all these hitting “prospects”….very very few will make it at all…case in point Josh Vitters, labeled as can’t miss….clock is ticking…

    • Scarey

      Vitters is only 21 though. I don’t think the clock is ticking that loud.