Let’s take a look at some bits from around the Cubs’ MiLB system …
- Baseball America continued their “Best Tools” series, checking in at Triple-A, and a couple of Iowa Cubs made the list. Matt Szczur and Javier Baez were ranked as the best baserunner and top infield arm, respectively, in the Pacific Coast League. Neither ranking is particularly surprising, but both are especially good to see. Baez may soon be up with the Chicago Cubs, providing late inning defensive replacements, and Szczur may do the same as a pinch runner down the stretch. Whether or not one or both of these players have bigger roles set in their future, their ability to help out in supporting roles this September (and, hopefully, October) is unquestioned.
- Down in High-A, BA pegs a bunch of Cubs prospects as top toolers, with Jeimer Candelario getting a couple defensive nods, Mark Zagunis getting best strike zone judgment, Jacob Rogers getting best glove at first, and manager Mark Johnson getting some love, too.
- The Cubs No. 30 prospect, right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams, threw back to back scoreless appearances, crediting much of his success to Miguel Montero. Montero, who was rehabbing a thumb injury in AA Tennessee, caught Williams’ six inning, three hit shutout on August 5. Wilson later said that throwing to Montero helped out and was a nice learning opportunity. Williams then carried that success over into Monday night’s start, this time throwing to recently popular catching prospect Willson Contreras. Williams later said that he had a great groove going with Contreras, and shook him off just once or twice throughout the six inning start. It’s easy to forget how impactful a catcher’s game calling ability can impact a start, but it is something important to remember.
- John Moore of Minor League Ball called 18-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres the “most impressive prospect I’ve [he’s] seen all year in the Midwest League.” Praising his defensive ability at short, Moore notes that Torres made everything looks smooth and easy and that he has a strong arm that profiles well at short. While Moore believes Torres still has work to be done with the bat, he believes that Torres is a guy with the potential for all five tools to be average, above average or even plus.
- Pierce Johnson, one of the Cubs’ 2012 supplemental round picks, has credited some of his recent success at AA to Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, whom Johnson worked with and learned from during Spring Training, 2015. Arrieta returns the compliment, by acknowledging Johnson’s strong work ethic and approach. Arrieta goes further to say that Johnson reminds him a lot of his younger self (yes, please). Over 61.2 innings at AA Tennessee, Johnson has a 1.61 ERA (3.64 FIP) with a 19.8 K% and a 9.3 BB%.
- Baseball Prospectus took a look at all of the prospects in the Frederick Keys vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans series last week, to grade out and review all of the players involved. The report is meant to “take a more detailed look at the process of evaluating talent, and hopefully provide a greater understanding of what a minor league roster really looks like [outside of the big name/high profile talent].” Interesting stuff.
- Stan Croussett (BP Wrigleyville) and Kelsie Heneghan (Milb.com) take a look at the hottest new Cub prospect, catcher Willson Contreras. I recently highlighted Contreras, as well, after he won the Southern League Player of the Week award, in late July. If you’re not getting the picture, Contreras is clearly a guy to keep your eye on. I, for one, am anxious to see where Luke will place him in the Bleacher Nation Top 40.
- After missing several weeks (presumably with the shoulder issue that first took him out of the lineup), Eloy Jimenez is finally back in action with the Eugene Emeralds.
- Earlier this morning, Luke caught up on the latest action in the Cubs’ system, and reminded folks of how good Billy McKinney is.
- Jeimer Candelario staying hot at AA with a homer to right (his AA line through 22 games is up to .300/.345/.500):