The Cubs’ typically top two (ranked) prospects – Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ – are both on the shelf with various (though not too serious) injuries. In their place, however, two other top prospects – Jeimer Candelario and Dylan Cease have stepped up their performance and demanded our attention.
And both are now being recognized by the Cubs:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 5, 2017
Indeed, Iowa Cubs infielder Jeimer Candelario and South Bend Cubs pitcher Dylan Cease have been named the Chicago Cubs player and pitcher for the month of April! Well done, guys.
Candelario, as you may recall, exploded onto the national radar last Spring Training, when he knocked the baseball all around Arizona. Then, after a big 2016 season (.333/.417/.542) and a taste of the Majors, expectations were quite high for 2017. Naturally, the corner infielder hasn’t disappointed: .333/.443/.679 (192 wRC+) through 24 games at Iowa. And it’s not just the results that are good, either. His 14.4% walk rate is brilliant and his 23.7% strikeout rate is low enough for a hitter with a .346 ISO. He’s BABIPing like crazy (.426), but that’s probably at least in part because he’s over-matching the Triple-A pitchers (and defense).
Luke ranked Candelario as the Cubs’ second best prospect right now, and sees him as a “future middle of the order hitter.”
That the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month is Dylan Cease should be music to your ears. The Cubs (and we) have been singing Cease’s “potential,” for years, despite the fact that he’s only just recently been healthy enough to actually stay on the field and perform with some consistency. Consistency and success, that is.
Through his first five starts of the season (23.2 IP), Cease has racked up a 1.90 ERA, with a 2.80 FIP underneath the hood. But it’s this next part that’ll make you be confusingly excited. He’s gotten those results despite the fact that he’s walked 15.6% of the batters he’s faced. And if you’re wondering how a guy keeps a 2.80 FIP with that high of a walk rate, your instincts are right: it would take an utterly ridiculous strikeout rate … oh … he has a 38.5% strikeout rate as a starter? Okie dokie.
Luke ranked Cease as the Cubs’ 3rd best prospect in his most recent update to the BN Top 40, which, again, comes before Ian Happ in a relatively unforeseen order. And here’s what he had to say at the time:
Cease is the best pitching prospect to be drafted by the Cubs in a long, long time. He has a very long way to go, but this is a guy with front of the rotation potential. The biggest risk is his surgically repaired right arm. Hopefully he can handle the workload of a starter, but even if he can’t, I think he’ll have an excellent shot at becoming a dominant closer.
The fact that the Cubs have recognized two of the top three prospects in the BN Top 40 as the best for the month of April is good news for the state of the guys you’d most expect/hope to be doing well. I’m not sure where all of these guys will fit in, but I sure am excited to see that the next wave of the Cubs farm system is looking more and more like a tsunami everyday.