Another week, and another Chicago Cubs prospects wins player of the week honors in his league. When you consider how many teams there are, this really is a special thing, even if Cubs prospects in recent years have made it seem like second nature.
Actually, strike that – it’s another week, and there are two Cubs prospects winning player of the week honors, and they’re teammates:
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) April 25, 2016
Utility infielder and contact specialist Chesny Young has been the subject of a great deal of discussion around here over the past year or so, with the obvious ability to barrel a baseball unlikely 95% of other minor leaguers. But the question has always been whether he’d be able to barrel it with enough authority for his offensive ability to carry him to the big leagues. So far so good at AA, eh? (You could totally read that like eh eh eh if you wanted and were weird. And if you were that special kind of weird, you probably said eh eh eh, and then started singing Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella.’ No? Just me? Alrighty. Moving on.)
In the early going (74 plate appearances), Young’s numbers are just crazy: .344/.459/.475, 16.2% BB rate, 6.8% K rate (no, I didn’t accidentally transpose those numbers), and a .131 ISO. If he could keep up that last number, then I’d have absolutely no doubt he’s a future big leaguer in some capacity. The rub, of course, is that it’s pretty much double where he was last year. We’ll see. But the early returns on his season so far are super encouraging.
As for the pitcher side of the award, Paul Blackburn certainly had a great week, not allowing an earned run in 15 innings of work. In his case, the peripherals are much less encouraging, but that’s pretty much been his story throughout the minors: not a lot of Ks, not a lot of BBs, tons of groundballs, and good results.
I don’t think you look at Blackburn, 22, as a future middle-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues, but, as we’ve seen, command/control guys who get tons of groundballs can have a role in the big leagues at the back of the rotation or in middle relief. You’d like to see Blackburn missing more bats (purely as a sign of quality stuff), but we’ll see how his season at AA shakes out. He’s progressed through the system steadily since being a supplemental first round pick in the current front office’s first draft.