Today, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans announced a very exciting set of promotions coming from the South Bend Cubs:
— MyrtleBeachPelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) September 2, 2015
After playing with South Bend all season long, both Gleyber Torres and Jeffrey Baez will make their debut at High-A, joining the Myrtle Beach Pelicans for the remainder of the season – including an already-booked trip to the playoffs. Had the duo not been promoted, their season would have ended on Monday – the SB Cubs’ final game – so this will extend their season a bit longer and provide a good challenge/test to round out the year. More importantly, both players will get some competitive playoff experience, which is something this front office has expressed as a valued component of player development.
Jeffrey Baez, 21, has spent time across all three outfield positions, this year for South Bend. Rounding out his season with a .284/.324/.427 (117 wRC+) slash line over 403 PA, Baez didn’t walk much (5.5%), but kept his strikeout rate quite low (16.6% – a dramatic drop from previous years). Additionally, Baez was able to swipe 34 bags in 44 attempts (77.2% success rate), showcasing his multiple tools and added versatility. In the BN Top 40 Mid-Season update, Luke placed Baez at number 34 overall, highlighting how much stronger his second half had been than his first. We’ll see if Baez can keep his newfound low strikeout rate in place as he climbs the ladder, and if his baserunning ability and power keep up, too.
Gleyber Torres is one of the best prospects in the Cubs’ system. At just 18 years old, a promotion to High-A is quite a statement, even if it is for just a short stretch. The Cubs could have easily allowed Torres to finish out his strong year at South Bend – a level at which he was already quite young – with the chance to start the season at High-A next year (which, in and of itself, would have been extremely impressive). Instead, they promoted him now, during a playoff stretch, to see him face his toughest competition yet in a setting where the players are indeed trying to win (although we know that minor leaguers are often just working on things, I tend to believe that the goal during the playoffs is to win at any cost, even at that level).
Over his 514 PAs at South Bend this year, Torres has slashed .293/.353/.386 (116 wRC+) with a healthy walk rate (8.4%) and a reasonable strikeout rate (21.0%), to go along with 22 stolen bases in 35 attempts (62% success rate). Speed, then, isn’t exactly Torres’ calling card, but he is, by all reports, plenty quick, and provides very solid defense from the shortstop position.
In the BN Top 40 Mid-Season update, Torres came in at number 3 overall, which was a surprise to me (I would have had him at the top). As Luke noted, that said more about Billy McKinney and Wilson Contreras than it said about Torres’ abilities.
Gleyber Torres is an extremely talented young player, who will likely continue to rise very rapidly through the Cubs still strong minor league system. It’s going to be fun to see him, and Baez, and the many Myrtle Beach prospects, make a run in the playoffs.