Two very deserving honorees from the Cubs’ farm system for June, with outfielder Michael Hermosillo and reliever Ben Leeper getting player and pitcher of the month nods, respectively.
Hermosillo, 26, missed the early part of the season and didn’t make his debut until June 4, but he’s absolutely raked since then, hitting .341/.457/.565 with a 175 wRC+. A minor league free agent signing in the offseason, Hermosillo was a long-time Angels prospect who reached that Triple-A/MLB wall and never quite broke through in limited opportunities. But as a guy who had reached Triple-A so quickly and has pretty much always hit well there, he was definitely a guy you were already on alert as a possible get-him-over-the-hump type. As we’ve discussed, the Cubs need wins like that.
If he keeps this up, it’s reasonable to guess that he’s going to get some big league time soon, and depending on what happens this month, he might even be a guy who comes up and gets regular starts in August and September to see what the Cubs really have.
Leeper, 24, you probably already know reasonably well from Bryan’s hyping, as the 2020 undrafted pitcher has rocketed up the system in his professional debut. He’s already the best reliever at Triple-A Iowa – which is saying a lot, given how good that bullpen has been – and sports a big-league-caliber upper-90s fastball with cutting action, and a wipeout slider. After immediately being sent to Double-A for his debut (and putting up a 1.26 ERA over 14.1 innings, with a 37.3% K rate and 6.8% BB rate), Leeper got the call to Triple-A and just won’t stop. He’s posted a 0.79 ERA over 11.1 innings, with a 45.0%(!) K rate and a 12.5% BB rate. Oh, and he hasn’t given up a hit yet. Not a single hit. No big deal.
It’s TBD whether Leeper will come up to the big league team this year given the depth in the bullpen and at Triple-A (the question is mostly whether you really want to push for this year, and/or whether you want to have to use a 40-man spot all offseason on him). But the fact that he’s already in the picture just a half-season into his pro career after not being drafted last year? What a scouting and development win for the Cubs, and what a helluva great bit of work from Leeper.
The full Cubs announcement:
The Chicago Cubs today named Triple-A Iowa outfielder Michael Hermosillo as the organization’s minor league player of the month for June, while Iowa right-handed pitcher Ben Leeper was named the club’s minor league pitcher of the month.
Hermosillo, 26, hit .324 (24-for-74) with five doubles, four homers and 15 RBI in 22 games in June, and is batting .333 (29-for-87) with seven doubles, four homers and 18 RBI in 24 games for Iowa this season. The right-handed hitter is batting .419 (13-for-31) with four home runs vs. left-handed pitching, seeing time at all three outfield spots. Hermosillo collected hits in eight of nine games from June 9-17, batting .480 (12-for-25) with two homers and nine RBI during that stretch, including a season-high four RBI game, June 9 vs. Columbus.
Selected in the 28th round of the 2013 draft by the Angels, Hermosillo signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on November 12, 2020. Hermosillo owns a .267 (499-for-1,867) average with 49 homers and 238 RBI in 511 career minor league games and has hit .188 (19-for-101) with one homer and six RBI in 56 career major league games with the Angels from 2018-20.
Leeper, 24, went 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA (2 ER/13.2 IP), with five walks, 26 strikeouts and one save in 10 outings between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa in the month of June, holding the opponent to a .089 batting average (4-for-45) and a .285 OPS. He is 2-2 with a 1.09 ERA (3 ER/24.2 IP) and one save in 18 relief appearances this season. The righthander has held opponents to a .106 average (9-for-54) and did not allow a hit (0-for-31) in eight appearances for Tennessee before being promoted to Iowa on June 8.
Leeper singed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent, July 21, 2020, after pitching four seasons for Oklahoma State University. The Bedford, Tex., native made his professional debut this season.