Cubs Prospects Awards and Honors: Jimenez, Contreras, Clifton
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.
The Cubs prospect awards and recognition just keep rollin on in. Consider, since the middle of May, each of Dan Vogelbach, Eloy Jimenez and Yasiel Balaguert have been named players of the week, while Chesny Young was busy winning player of the month in April.
Gratuitous, then, as it may be, a few more Cubs prospects have been recognized by various organizations. More specifically, Eloy Jimenez and Willson Contreras have been named to the (wholly symbolic) Baseball America All Prospect Team, while Jimenez and Trevor Clifton have been identified by the Cubs as the player and pitcher of the month, respectively.
On Contreras, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy is convinced that 2015 was no one-hit-wonder. After an “incredible month of May pushed his average to .335 and on-base percentage to .423, both of which ranked among the best in the Pacific Coast League at the end of May,” BA is convinced that Contreras is the real deal. We’re not quite sure when his time will come just yet, but he is clearly on the precipice of the Major Leagues.
On Jimenez, Eddy believes that Jimenez is finally delivering on the power potential many pegged him for throughout his very young career. “The 19-year-old right fielder, the No. 1 prospect on the 2013 international market, ranks among the MWL leaders for average (.330), home runs (eight), RBIs (35) and slugging (.539) through the end of May.” Jimenez might not be close to the majors, but he is quickly becoming a very well-known prospect throughout the league.
But that wasn’t the only recognition Jimenez received for his stellar play in the month of May. He was also named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month, after slashing .336/.375/.570 with 7(!) home runs and 9 doubles in the month of May as a 19-year-old in A-ball. Not bad.
Alongside Jimenez, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month is Trevor Clifton. Clifton received the distinction after a month of May that saw him go 3-1, with a 1.29 ERA in five starts. Over his 28.0 innings pitched in May, Clifton, 21, allowed just 4 earned runs on 24 hits and just 7 walks (6.3%) compared to 35 strike outs (31.3%).
But Clifton didn’t slow down after that. In his most recent start on Sunday (i.e., in June), Clifton threw six innings of four-hit, no run baseball while walking just one batter and striking out six. That start pushed his season stats to a 2.08 ERA (2.95 FIP) with a 26.4% strikeout rate and an 8.8% walk rate. Opposing batters are hitting just .221 off Clifton, and he, too, looks like he’s breaking out quite a bit.
Overall, it was a good month for the Cubs organization that continues to thrive, long after the heydays of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and the like.