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major award leg lamp trophyThe Bryant family is going to need a mantle as long as a runway to handle all these awards.

Kris Bryant was, unsurprisingly, named the Cubs player of the month for June after hitting .354/.447/.781 with eleven home runs and seventeen walks between Tennessee and Iowa. He also put on a show in the Double A All-Star Home Run derby and struck out six times while I was in town to watch him (not that I’m bitter or anything…). In short, he had the sort of very terrific Bryant-esque month we’ve come to expect from Kris Bryant.

But winning his third straight Player of the Month in July will not be so easy. Many of the Cubs best hitting prospects got off to slow starts this year, but it seems like they are nearly all hitting now. Bryant’s own teammate Javier Baez has opened July with an .848 OPS and has looked more patient than ever at the plate lately. Baez’s double play partner Arismendy Alcantara has been doing just about everything right at the plate in recent weeks, and he should be a challenger in July.

Jorge Soler is healthy in Tennessee, and when he is healthy he often looks like the best pure hitter in the system. New Cub farmhand Addison Russell had a .939 OPS in the Texas League before joining the Smokies. If he picks up where he left off, he could threaten for the Bryant Award.

Dan Vogelbach erupted for a .982 OPS and fourteen extra base hits last month, and is slugging .618 over his last ten game. His teammate, Albert Almora, has also been productive lately and is off to a great start for the month in Daytona.

Down in Kane County Kyle Schwarber probably could have claimed the honor from Bryant in June had he played the whole month, and if he can maintain his 1.140 Low A OPS through the month of July he will be a strong contender to take the throne. Provided he can hold off Jacob Hannemann, who lost to Bryant in June despite stealing thirteen bases and OPSing a .915, that is.

And those are just the obvious contenders. The race for Player of the Month in July is likely to be much closer than it has been in any other month this season, and that means we are all in for an exciting month.

At the end of the day, though, Bryant remains the favorite. Of all the Cubs excellent minor league hitters, he remains the best of the bunch. Barring an injury I suspect he’ll pick up his third straight Player of the Month about four weeks from now.

Scores From The Weekend

Iowa
Friday – The Cubs were winning a shutout until the eighth inning, but they wound up with a 4-3 loss.
Saturday – An early lead did not last as the Cubs lost 3-2.
Sunday – Iowa took the lead in the eighth and held on for a 5-4 win.

Tennessee
Friday – The Smokies were shutout 6-0.
Saturday – Tennessee surrendered a huge fourth inning and never got it back. They lost 13-3.
Sunday – On Sunday the Smokies put together a big fourth inning of their own on their way to a 9-1 win.

Daytona
Friday – Have I reminded you lately that it is the rainy season in Florida? This one was washed out.
Saturday – When they got to play, the Cubs won 4-2.
Sunday – The Cubs were rained out for the second time in three games.

Kane County
Friday – The Cougars found just enough offense in this 2-1 win.
Saturday – Pitching carried the day in this 4-0 win.
Sunday – But on Sunday the winning streak came to end. In fourteen innings Kane County lost 2-1.

Boise Hawks
Friday – Boise led for much of the game, but lost it late 7-1.
Saturday – Multiple big innings carried the Hawks to a 15-3 win.
Sunday – The Hawks got back to .500 with this 10-5 win.

Arizona Cubs
Friday – They scored early and often in route to a 7-1 win.
Saturday – The Cubs had Saturday off.
Sunday – The Cubs lost on the road to the Rangers by a final of 7-5.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Javier Baez and Kris Bryant each homered on Friday, and then on Sunday they both homered again. Bryant finished the weekend with 8 Iowa homers, and Baez with 13.
  • [Iowa] Arismendy Alcantara had his hitting streak end on Friday, but he rebounded for a single and 2 walks on Saturday and a 2 hit performance on Sunday that included a double.
  • [Iowa] Eric Jokisch struck out 7 over 7 scoreless innings on Friday. He allowed just 2 hits and walked no one.
  • [Tennessee] Jorge Soler returned to the Smokies lineup for Sunday’s game and picked up pretty much were he left off. He homered (his first), struck out once, and finished 2 for 5.
  • [Tennessee] Addison Russell made his Tennessee debut on Sunday and struck out twice in an 0 for 5 effort. Through 19 games total this season he has just 16 strikeouts to go with 10 walks.
  • [Tennessee] Corey Black threw 88 pitches over 6 innings on Sunday, and gave up just one run on 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out 6. Andrew McKirahan and Frank Batista completed the game.
  • [Tennessee] Dae-Eun Rhee pitched well for some stretches on Friday. Over 6 innings and 75 pitches he gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks while striking out a pair.
  • [Tennessee] In total the Smokies pounded out 16 hits on Sunday, but the Soler homer was one of just three extra base knocks. The other two were doubles off the bat of Dustin Geiger, who finished 3 for 5.
  • [Daytona] Nathan Dorris allowed a single hit in 6 shutout innings, walking 4 and striking out the same. It was the second straight shutout performance for Dorris.
  • [Daytona] Albert Almora led the Cubs with 3 more hits on Saturday, including his 17th double.
  • [Daytona] Bijan Rademacher homered for the 4th time. Dan Vogelbach‘s hit was his 20th double. Vogelbach also walked twice.
  • [Kane County] Juan Paniagua (6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K) and Michael Wagner (3 IP, 3 H, 3 K) combined for all the pitching duties in Friday’s win.
  • [Kane County] Duane Underwood pitched a very good game on Saturday. Over 6 innings he allowed just 3 hits while striking out 6. Jose Arias and Michael Heesch completed the shutout.
  • [Kane County] Tyler Skulina started Sunday’s game with 6 innings of 6 hit, 1 run ball. He struck out 3. Jen-Ho Tseng pitched the next 5.0 innings and allowed nothing but a single hit while striking out 3 of his own. James Pugliese followed with 2 more scoreless frames.
  • [Kane County] Shawon Dunston started every game this weekend and finished with a double, 4 hits, 3 walks, and no strikeouts. He has played a lot in July so far, and to date it has resulted in an OPS of 1.112.
  • [Boise] Trevor Graham struck out 8 over 5 innings on Saturday, and allowed just 2 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks in the process.
  • [Boise] Josh Conway pitched 3 hitless innings to start the game on Friday. He walked 2 and struck out no one. Greyfer Eregua pitched 2 flawless innings of relief in that same game.
  • [Boise] Jeffrey Baez came out of the weekend with his 6th home run, 3 more steals (he has 12), and 5 hits. He is currently one of the hottest hitters in the organization.
  • [Boise] Rashad Crawford also kept his hitting streak alive as he added 6 more over these three games.
  • [Boise] With 4 more hits this weekend, Mark Zagunis continues to have hit safely in literally every game he has played for Boise. Through 8 games his line is .414/.553/.517 with 7 walks and 5 strikeouts. Only 2 extra base hits, though.
  • [Arizona] Kyuji Fujikawa made his first appearance of the year on Sunday. He struck out one in a hitless first inning.
  • [Arizona] Jefferson Meija also turned in a nice performance on Sunday. Over 3 innings he allowed a run on 4 hits and no walks while striking out 3.
  • [Arizona] In Friday’s game, Pedro Araujo walked one and struck out 4 over 2 hitless innings of relief.
  • [Arizona] Gleyber Torres went 0 for 5 on Sunday, but in Friday’s game he finished 2 for 4 with a walk.
  • [Arizona] Eloy Jimenez doubled, tripled, and finished the weekend with 3 hits.
  • [Arizona] Tyler Alamo doubled and finished Sunday’s game 2 for 4.

Other News

  • The relief appearance by Jen-Ho Tseng this weekend was his first of the season. It may have been a one game thing, but it is also possible he is being transitioned into a relief role for the rest of the year. This is pretty common in the low minors as a strategy to limit innings and has absolutely nothing to do with the Cubs’ opinion of his long term future (if, in fact, that is what is happening).
  • Kyle Hendricks was lifted after two innings on Sunday, presumably for a major league reassignment. He had thrown 31 pitches and allowed a run on three hits while striking out four.
  • Why, yes, I did just tip that Bryant will be on top of the mid-season re-ranking of the Bleacher Nation Top 40. You’ll have to wait on the remaining thirty nine positions, though. I’m working on that now, but I don’t have a firm ETA. It should be soon, though, and before I go to Tennessee for sure.
  • And speaking of that trip to Tennessee, I’ll be there to watch the Smokies on Thursday July 31 and Friday August 1. That Friday game features fireworks after the game, and the Smokies put on a good fireworks show. If you’re in the area, make plans to come out to watch Soler and Russell play, see some fireworks, and meet some of your fellow Bleacher Nation community.
  • Even though we have The Big One in the books, there is still the potential for a lot of Trade Deadline drama. And if we can raise about $6,000 more, we can enjoy that drama while watching Brett wear awesome hats and talk to his cats. I do these things routinely, so I suppose that if we raise another $6,000 Brett will become as cool as me. And the entire pile of proceeds will go to support Make A Wish of Illinois. A thousand thanks to those who have already contributed.

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