Some Cubs prospect notes to dig into this morning, as the minor league season heads toward its conclusion later this month …
⇒ The Chicago Cubs have named their Player and Pitcher of the Month for August down on the farm, and it’s a couple very deserving guys who have taken themselves from “yeah, maybe an interesting guy” before the season to “crystal clear top 30 prospect” at this point. From the Cubs release:
Velazquez, 22, batted .325 (25-for-77) with seven doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 22 RBI, a .402 on-base percentage, a .714 slugging mark and a 1.117 OPS in 22 games between South Bend (two games) and Tennessee (20 games). He was promoted to Tennessee, August 3, and in eight contests from August 6-13, hit .387 (12-for-31) with 10 extra-base hits, 10 RBI and a 1.489 OPS.
The six-foot right-handed hitting Velazquez is batting .272 (93-for-342) with 51 runs, 21 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 66 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 92 games between South Bend and Tennessee. He is hitting .328 (22-for-67) against left-handed pitching and .296 (32-for-108) with runners in scoring position.
Selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of the PJ Education School in Puerto Rico, Velazquez has hit .259 (287-for-1,108) with 62 doubles, 10 triples, 43 home runs and 162 RBI in 305 career minor league games. In 2019, he played 78 games between the Rookie League Cubs and South Bend and batted .288 (81-for-281) with 17 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 39 RBI.
Bain, 23, posted a 2.96 ERA (8 ER/24.1 IP) in five August starts with South Bend, walking eight and striking out 27 while holding opponents to a .172 average (15-for-87), a .258 on-base percentage and a .568 OPS. He opened the month with 9.2 shutout innings spanning two starts, August 5 vs. Peoria and August 11 at Fort Wayne, allowing three hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts.
Bain this season 4-8 with a 5.36 ERA (51 ER/85.2 IP) in 20 starts for South Bend, walking 46 and striking out 102, good for an average of 10.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in January of this year after pitching for Independent League Utica in 2019.
⇒ Cubs outfield prospect Jordan Nwogu got some love from MLB Pipeline for his huge week:
OF: Jordan Nwogu, Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Low-A) (Cubs No. 26) – .556/.619/.889, 6 G, 10-for-18, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 SB
The Cubs grabbed Nwogu in the third round out of Michigan last year because of his impressive raw power and good speed. This first full season hasn’t gone fully to plan, but the former Wolverine showed last week why his skillset can be tantalizing. That was specifically on display Saturday when he went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs at home against Lynchburg. Those four hits set a new career high. Nwogu is hitting .251/.354/.406 with 10 homers and 15 steals in 83 games at Low-A this season.
⇒ Bryan dug in on the many recent promotions, if you missed it.
⇒ The Cubs’ second rounder is getting a lot of attention lately:
The Cubs became enamored with James Triantos in the pre-draft process.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) September 2, 2021
⇒ Triantos, 18, was originally going to be a 2022 draft-eligible player, but reclassified to get into this year’s draft (and notably had a private workout with the Cubs, who later gave him a well-above-slot bonus to sign out of the second round (I’m just saying it’s clear they loved him from the jump)). From Mooney’s piece:
“A lot’s been said about the hit tool,” Cubs vice president of scouting Dan Kantrovitz said. “The quality of contact, how loud the contact is, just how advanced his awareness of the strike zone is at a young age. It’s at a level where he should dominate.
“But to the extent that he did—where there are so few swings and misses and so much quality contact that he was making—it really stood out.”
The Cubs are keeping an open mind about Triantos’ defensive position, hoping to develop his versatility around the infield and perhaps the outfield and capitalize on his athleticism. This is someone who can dunk a basketball and do Ozzie Smith-style back flips.
Triantos’ rise culminated in a spectacular performance in a Virginia state championship game, where he almost threw a perfect game and hit the go-ahead home run in front of a crowd that included Kantrovitz and longtime Cubs area scout Billy Swoope.
⇒ Triantos is hitting .290/.347/.464 (110 wRC+, 16.0% K rate) in his ACL debut, though it’s a much more impressive .323/.382/.516 (133, 11.8%) after his first two games.
⇒ Todd Johnson looked at early sleeper possibilities for next year, and there are a ton of names we haven’t yet become all that familiar with. Pedro Ramirez – the youngster in the DSL who is hitting as well as anyone – stands out as a guy to watch next year, but there are a couple other DSL names mentioned, including outfielders Anderson Surriel and Raino Coran.
⇒ The Smokies missed a week of action because of COVID, but Brennen Davis came right back out of it with another dinger:
Brennen Davis dinger!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 5, 2021
Of qualified AA hitters, only 16 of them are 21 or younger.
Brennen Davis is one of them and has the highest wRC+ (145) of the 16.
His wRC+ ranks 5th in the class without an age filter.
— Steven (@GoCubs49) September 7, 2021
⇒ Don’t forget about this guy when talking about undrafted free agent signing success stories:
He’s also just a really humble person who Cubs fans are going to love. The org made a lot of poor decisions in terms of development, but they’ve really corrected a lot of that over the last few years. Kobos is part of that new trend.
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) September 6, 2021
⇒ I love this stat so much:
Percentage of 2021 plate appearances against an older pitcher:
Brennen Davis: 100%
Yohendrick Pinango: 99%
Kevin Made: 99%
Ed Howard: 98%
Christopher Morel: 97%
Alexander Canario: 88%
Chase Strumpf: 88%
Nelson Velazquez: 86%
— Greg Huss (@OutOfTheVines) September 5, 2021