The Chicago Cubs today announced their minor league player honors for August, and if you’ve been following along over the past month, neither name should be a surprise to you.
From the Cubs’ release:
“The Chicago Cubs today named Single-A Eugene outfielder Nelson Velazquez and Single-A Myrtle Beach right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott the organization’s minor league player and pitcher of the month for August, respectively.
Velazquez, 19, batted .290 (29-for-100) with seven doubles, two triples, five homers, 14 RBI and seven stolen bases in his final 28 games of the regular season beginning August 1. He drew 12 walks contributing to a .388 OBP during that span, while posting a .550 slugging mark and .938 OPS. He finished the regular season on a nine-game hitting streak, batting .395 (15-for-38) with four doubles and four homers, including a multi-homer game in the regular season finale, September 3 at Boise.
In his second professional season, Velazquez batted .231 (87-for-376) with 19 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 40 RBI in 103 games between Single-A South Bend and Eugene. The Emeralds clinched a postseason berth and face Hillsboro tonight in game two of a best-of-three series.
A fifth round pick of the Cubs in the 2017 Draft, Velazquez graduated from P.J. Education High School in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Also named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month in August of last season, he has batted .233 (113-for-486) with 24 doubles, four triples, 19 homers and 57 RBI in 135 games over two seasons.
Abbott, 22, went 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA (2 ER/27.0 IP) in five August starts with Myrtle Beach, striking out 29 batters while walking 10. He limited opposing hitters to a .188 average (18-for-96) and surrendered just one homer. His 0.67 ERA led all Cubs pitchers in the month and ranked tops in the Carolina League. He closed the season on a 19.0-inning scoreless streak, including three-straight scoreless outings to finish the season.
In his first full professional season, the right-hander went 8-6 with a 2.50 ERA (32 ER/115.0 IP) in 22 starts between South Bend and Myrtle Beach. He went 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA (13 ER/47.1 IP) in nine starts to begin the season with South Bend, and earned Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month honors in May. He was promoted to Myrtle Beach in early June and went 4-5 with a 2.53 ERA (19 ER/67.2 IP) in 13 starts.
A second-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Loyola Marymount University (Calif.), Abbott made five starts last season with Single-A Eugene in his first pro action, posting a 3.86 ERA (6 ER/14.0 IP). Overall, he has gone 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA (38 ER/129.0 IP) in 27 minor league starts.”
Velazquez heating up at the end of the season is always a nice sign for a teenage bat who is still developing. From a scouting perspective, it’s clear the Cubs really believe in him, as they challenged the 19-year-old initially with a full-season assignment so he could get games in before the short-season leagues began.
Ranked 11th in the midseason top 40 update by Luke, Velazquez figures to begin next year at South Bend, with a good chance of an in-season promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach if he’s checking off his developmental boxes.
Cory Abbott ranked 23rd on that list, and he continues to produce at a very high level in his first full professional season. Abbott, who turns 23 later this month, split his season between Low-A and High-A, with excellent results and peripherals at both stops. Although he struggled a bit in his first three starts after the promotion to High-A, he finished by ripping off a 1.65 ERA over his final 10 starts. He may well need the challenge of AA to open next season.
Congrats to both prospects, who are part of an improving Cubs system!