The Chicago Cubs announced that their Minor League player and pitcher for the month of August are Rookie League outfielder Nelson Velazquez and Eugene Emeralds righty Jose Albertos.
You should be pretty thrilled by this picks, as both players are young up-and-comers in the Cubs system, and it’s always nice when they stand out.
You may not be as familiar with Velazquez, 18, because he was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round earlier this summer, and has played only at the Rookie League level ever since. During his 32 games there (126 plate appearances), Velazquez has slashed .236/.333/.536 with an 11.9% walk rate, a 31.0% strikeout rate, and a .300 ISO (yep, that’s a Cub alright).
In the month of August, of course, his slash line looks even better: .278/.400/.620 (166 wRC+), and his “I’m a Cub” numbers also improve: 15.8% walk rate, 29.5% strikeout rate, .342 ISO. Those are some tasty peripherals, my friends. At just 18 years old without much to go off of at the time, Velazquez did not sneak into Luke’s Mid-Season Top 40 Prospects Update, but I suspect that he can shoot up rather quickly if he keeps up this sort of production. Good luck, dude. And congrats!
You should, however, know the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the month, Jose Albertos, because he was Luke’s number one prospect when everyone was reranked after the trade deadline. This season, Albertos, also just 18, made a couple of starts at the Rookie League level, before being promoted to short-season Low-A Eugene. There, he made 8 starts and had a great deal of success: 2.86 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 3.38 xFIP. His walk rate was a bit high (9.5%), but he made up for it with a stellar 28.4 K%. He was also able to maintain a brilliant 55.8% ground ball rate while at Low-A, which is an extremely good sign, considering the home run environment at the Major League level today.
Also a really good sign? His 26.9% infield fly ball rate. I’m not quite sure that sort of extreme rate is repeatable at the higher levels, but we have learned that pitchers who cause a lot of infield pop-ups tend to have a lot of success. Weak contact is awesome.
In the month of August, Albertos made five starts and flashed even better stats across the board: 1.96 ERA, 2.25 FIP, with better control (7.5 BB%) and even more strikeouts (32.3 K%). Opposing batters hit just .165 off Albertos, despite a .255 BABIP and low-minors defense. In just about every way you could possibly hope, Albertos has looked like the real deal and worthy of his spot atop the Cubs prospect rankings.
You can read more about each prospect’s season and why they were worthy of the honor via the Cubs:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 5, 2017