The Chicago Cubs Minor League system is alive and well!
Among my favorite things to do as a human who writes about the Cubs is to acknowledge the breakout performances throughout the Cubs’ farm system.
Quite often, I find myself focusing too heavily on the big name, familiar faced-players (not necessarily a bad thing – after all, they become “those guys” for a reason), while ignoring great performances that are otherwise slapping us in the face.
Chesny Young is a good example of the latter.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve personally written, tweeted and discussed more about guys named Albert Almora and Willson Contreras than any other Cubs prospect. And, although they are both doing really, really well right now, they aren’t the only ones. Indeed, Tennessee Smokies infielder Chesny Young was just named the Southern League Player of the Month for April! And I’m here to give him some love.
Over 22 games (82 plate appearances) in April, Young, 23, slashed .402/.505/.524 with a walk rate (16.2%) that was greater than his strikeout rate (7.1%). His 33 hits(!) led the league and included two home runs and two doubles; he also stole eleven bases in just thirteen tries. His defense at second base was also impressive throughout the month, as he committed just one error while converting 19 double plays.
Young has never been much of a slugger (.066 ISO in 2015), and he probably won’t be long-term, but the power is coming around a bit so far this season. In his now over 100 plate appearance sample size, Young has upped his isolated power to .109 – which, while not enormous, is much improved over his career rate – and that has led him to an excellent .478 SLG. As a middle infielder with good base running abilities and a good glove, that offensive production is far more than enough.
For his part, Luke ranked Young 22nd overall on the Pre-Season Bleacher Nation Top 40, tucked nicely between solid prospects Bijan Rademacher and Rob Zastryzny. At the time, Luke was pleased with Young, but was hoping he’d develop some power and speed in the future (he was right):
Young is a hitter, and he is really good at hitting. He might be the best pure hitter in the organization. Unfortunately, he has one home run in 755 career professional plate appearances, and only 24 stolen bases. A hitter he is, but not a slugger or a speedster.
Well, Young must read Bleacher Nation or Luke must be a genius, because his areas of greatest improvement came in the form of power and stolen bases. The Cubs have done a fantastic job at isolating each individual player’s strengths and weakness and targeting specific areas and ways to improve (Almora – focusing on making good contact, not just regular contact; Contreras – game calling and receiving skills behind the plate).
So where will Young go next? Let’s let Luke answer that once again:
I think he will go to Tennessee, if not to start the year than fairly quickly, and I suspect he will have little trouble with Double A pitching. A late season promotion to Iowa isn’t out of the question. His bat is already advanced, so the Cubs will likely let him hit his way up the ladder as fast as he can. If all goes well he could be ready for a major league call up by midsummer next year.
Congrats, Chesny. Now go do it again!