Archive for the ‘ Minor Leagues ’ Category

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/24/14

Iowa earned a big win, pitching powered Tennessee, Kane County took the series, and Boise cruised to victory Thursday. Only Mesa lost, while Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (57-48)
1st Place (+2.5)

Iowa routed New Orleans at home by a final score of 11-2 despite being outhit 14-12 by the Zephyrs.

  • LHP Eric Jokisch gave up two earned runs over 5.1 innings, fanning five in the win.
  • 2B Javier Baez (.255) finished 2-for-5 with a run, a solo homer and three RBI (66).
  • PH Josh Vitters (.205) tallied his eighth homer of the season in his only at-bat.
  • 1B Mike Olt (.400) also notched two hits, including a double (1), and knocked in three (3) in his first game since being sent to Iowa from the Chicago Cubs.

Tennessee Smokies (18-16)
1st Place (+0.5)

RHP Pierce Johnson spun six shutout frames for the Smokies en route to a 4-2 home win over the Braves to take over first place in the division.

  • In his first game with the Smokies, 1B Lars Anderson (.500) went 2-for-4 with a run, a double (1) and an RBI (1).
  • SS Addison Russell (.236) contributed the other Tennessee multihit game—his fifth such contest in 15 games since joining the Cubs organization.
  • Johnson’s effort was his second consecutive outing without allowing an earned run (11.0 IP). He managed a season-high-tying eight punch-outs over six innings, giving up no earned runs.
  • RHP Jeff Lorick (4.53) recorded the first two outs of the eighth for his ninth hold.
  • RHP Frank Batista (0.83) completed the game, earning his sixth save.

Kane County Cougars (21-11)
1st Place (+3.0)

Kane County clinched the home series win over South Bend by taking the middle game, 5-3.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.270) paced the offense with three hits, including a solo homer, and two RBI (44).
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.265), 2B Ben Carhart (.282) and CF Trey Martin (.245) tallied two singles apiece. Dunston knocked in one (26) and stole a base (13), while Carhart plated two (37).
  • LHP Michael Heesh (2.42) threw two scoreless innings for his second hold.
  • RHP James Pugliese (1.54) earned his third save with 1.1 scoreless innings.

Boise Hawks (1-1)
4th Place (-1.5)

The Hawks earned their first win of the second half, topping host Everett by a final score of 7-3.

  • 1B Danny Canela (.293) put Boise ahead with a two-run shot in the first (4 HR, 25 RBI).
  • C Justin Marra (.305) provided insurance with a two-run homer of his own in the eighth (6 HR, 26 RBI).
  • 2B David Bote (.375) recorded the lone multihit game for the Hawks, going 2-for-4 with a run.
  • LHP Sam Wilson (3-0, 3.52) offered two scoreless innings of relief for his third win of the year.

Mesa Cubs (13-12)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Mesa surrendered a 5-1 lead on the road, losing 7-6 on a walk-off single from the AZL Athletics’ Robert Martinez.

  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.313) finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk, a triple (1) and an RBI (3).
  • RF Shamil Ubiera (.250) knocked in two (11), finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.
  • Five Mesa errors contributed to three unearned runs.
  • RHP Jesus Castillo (3.52) earned his first hold despite allowing four runs (two earned) in 1.1 innings pitched.
  • LHP Andin Diaz (1-1, 1.54) suffered his first loss and first blown save, allowing two runs (one earned) in 0.2 frames.

Minor League Recap: 7/23/14

The Cubs farm teams went a perfect 5-0 Wednesday, with Boise unable to play due to rain. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (56-48)
1st Place (+2.5)

The I-Cubs broadened their first-place lead with a 13-4 home victory over New Orleans.

  • Three different I-Cubs hitters notched three RBI in 3B Kris Bryant (.313, 29 RBI), 1B Lars Anderson (.287, 19 RBI), and RF Ryan Kalish (.215, 22 RBI)
  • 2B Javier Baez (.253, 63 RBI) added two of his own.
  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee pitched six innings, giving up only one unearned run while picking up his first quality start in two starts since joining Iowa. He had nine in 16 starts with Tennessee.
  • RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (4.50) offered a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.

Tennessee Smokies (17-16)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee took the middle game of a five-game home series with Mississippi by a final score of 6-3.

  • 2B Stephen Bruno (.278, 30 RBI) and 3B Christian Villanueva (.263, 15 RBI) both went 2-for-5 with two RBI each. Bruno tallied his fourth triple, and Villanueva tacked on his seventh double.
  • RHP Eduardo Figueroa earned his first win in his ninth start, limiting the opponent to fewer than two runs for the sixth time this year He gave up one earned run over five innings.
  • Figueroa was followed by RHP P.J. Francescon (4.00), who tossed two hitless frames to earn his third hold, and RHP Zach Cates (1.80), who recorded his first save with one scoreless inning.

Daytona Cubs (19-12)
1st Place (+2.5)

Daytona jumped ahead with a four-run second and never looked back, besting host Palm Beach, 6-2.

  • LHP Rob Zastryzny pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win.
  • Scoring started with a leadoff homer from 1B Dan Vogelbach (.272), one of his two round-trippers in his third career multi-homer game.
  • CF Billy McKinney (.286) hit in his sixth straight game (and 11th of his last 12) with his first triple since joining the Cubs organization.
  • RHP Justin Amlung (4.86) spun three innings for his first save, allowing two runs and fanning five.

Kane County Cougars (20-11)
1st Place (+3.0)

Kane County scored five runs on 11 hits to defeat South Bend at home, 5-2.

  • RHP Duane Underwood picked up the win, giving up two earned runs over five innings while striking out seven.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.316) recorded his second consecutive three-hit game, finishing with two RBI (6).
  • DH Cael Brockmeyer (.320) doubled twice for the first time this season.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) knocked in his 19th and 20th runs in 29 games since joining the Cougars.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (3.86) threw three scoreless innings for his second hold.
  • RHP Jose Arias (2.14) earned his third save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Mesa Cubs (13-11)
3rd Place (-2.0)

RHP C.J. Edwards returned from the disabled list to contribute to Mesa’s 10-0 win at the AZL Rangers. The shutout marked Mesa’s second such win of the season.

  • Edwards pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two.
  • Seven Mesa hitters had two hits apiece, including two doubles from C Erick Castillo (.235, 3 2B).
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.231, 1 2B), 1B Roney Alcala (.216, 1 2B), and LF Ricardo Marcano (.229, 5 2B) each knocked a double. With Castillo’s two two-baggers, Mesa had five in total.
  • LHP Jose Paulino (1-2, 7.64) contributed four shutout innings of relief for his first win.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/22/14

Pitching powered Iowa, Tennessee won in walk-off fashion, and Mesa fought back to claim a victory Tuesday. Daytona and Boise both lost, while Kane County had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (55-48)
1st Place (+1.5)

RHP Dallas Beeler spun seven shutout innings in his fifth consecutive quality start, as the I-Cubs blanked visiting New Orleans 1-0.

  • CF Matt Szczur (.246) scored the game’s only run on a bases-loaded walk with SS Chris Valaika (.289, 48 RBI) batting.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.49) and RHP Blake Parker (1.29) completed the shutout with a perfect inning each. Rosscup earned his eighth hold, and Parker earned his league-leading 21st save.

Tennessee Smokies (16-16)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Tennessee beat the Mississippi Braves 8-7 with a walk-off ground-rule double from CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) in the 10th inning.

  • 1B Charles Cutler (.333) had three hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI (34).
  • C Luis Flores (.231) and PH Dustin Geiger (.224) each added homers of their own.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.415) went 2-for-4 with a run and his 22nd RBI before being promoted to Iowa after the game.
  • RHP Frank Batista (2-0, 0.89) tossed two scoreless frames to earn the win in relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-12)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona managed three runs on 10 hits, falling to host Palm Beach, 9-3.

  • RHP Juan Paniagua suffered the loss in his first start since joining Daytona from Kane County.
  • CF Albert Almora (.283) went 2-for-3 with a run, a solo homer (7) and three RBI (50). After the game, he was promoted to Tennessee.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.278) went 3-for-4 with a run, his ninth double and his third stolen base.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.283) extended his hitting streak to five with his fourth multihit game in his last eight. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double.

Boise Hawks (0-1)
T-3rd Place (-1.0)

Everett AquaSox pitching shut down Hawks hitters, allowing just three hits, as Boise lost in Everett, 6-0.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.267), C Mark Zagunis (.341) and LF Charles White (.200) recorded Boise’s three hits, all singles. Jeffrey Baez was later called up to Daytona.
  • Hawks hitters recorded five walks, including two each from Zagunis and 2B Chesny Young (.354).

Mesa Cubs (12-11)
3rd Place (-2.5)

Mesa returned to action with a 7-6 comeback win over the visiting AZL Dodgers. The Cubs entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 6-1 and won on a walk-off RBI double from RF Eloy Jimenez (.286).

  • Jimenez paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with a solo homer to tie the game in the eighth and the walk-off double, bringing him to eight RBI on the season.
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.286), 1B Roney Alcala (.188) and 3B Adonis Paula (.222) each added two hits.
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-1, 6.52) surrendered four earned runs over three frames of relief to earn his second win.


ESPN’s Law says the Cubs have baseball’s top farm system


Jorge Soler is one of the many reasons the Cubs have the top farm system in the game, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (Photo by Stephen Green)

ESPN insider Keith Law unveiled his midseason top five farm systems Tuesday, and, based off his prospect rankings from earlier this month, the baseball world shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the list. The organization has three prospects in the top eight of Law’s individual rankings in Kris Bryant (No. 1), Addison Russell (No. 4) and Javier Baez (No. 8). And Cuban import Jorge Soler checks in at No. 38.

Along with that quartet, Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson have all generated buzz and graced various prospect lists in the past year. But the farm system goes even deeper than that.

Here’s some of what Law had to say about the Cubs system:

I know Cubs fans have heard this before, but just wait ’til next year, because this club is going to get good in a hurry, at least on the run-scoring side of the ledger. The system already had the minors’ best collection of high-end bats, and it added several more during the past seven weeks, including the fourth-best prospect in the minors in shortstop Addison Russell, who came over with promising left fielder Billy McKinney in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Athletics.

The Cubs also added catcher/left fielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a pick I think was an overdraft in part due to doubts he will stick at either position, but he has raked so far in limited at-bats, mostly against younger competition. They used the savings on Schwarber’s bonus to grab several high-upside high school arms later in the draft, including right-hander Dylan Cease, whose elbow ligament injury might require Tommy John surgery but who was seen as a top-15 pick talent before his injury. Cease has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and at times a plus breaking ball.

Most of the successful arms in the system this year have been pitchers at low-Class A Kane County, particularly undersized Taiwanese right-hander Tseng Jen-Ho and 2012 draftee Paul Blackburn, which means the Cubs probably won’t get the starting pitching help they need from their system in the next year or two. Fortunately for them and their fans, they have the bats to trade to acquire pitching from outside the organization.

Rounding out Law’s top five were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Pirates.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/21/14

Daytona’s offense was dominant Monday, while Boise won despite only four hits. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County couldn’t get it done, and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (54-48)
1st Place (+0.5)

Iowa couldn’t overcome an early four-run deficit, falling at home against New Orleans, 5-4.

  • 2B Javier Baez (.251) extended his hitting streak to 15 games (.306/19-for-62), going 1-for-4.
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.277) went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
  • In his first Triple-A rehab appearance, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (9.00) allowed a run on two hits in the eighth inning.

Tennessee Smokies (15-16)
3rd Place (-2.0)

Tennessee’s three runs in the bottom of the ninth weren’t enough, as they fell to Mississippi, 4-3.

  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) went 1-for-5 with a three-run homer in the ninth inning.
  • LF/RF Jonathan Mota (.243) posted his second-straight three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a run.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.410) recorded his seventh multihit game, going 2-for-3.
  • RHP Tony Zych (4.63) struck out three hitters in two scoreless innings of relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-11)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona recorded 11 hits in a 9-6 victory over host Palm Beach.

  • 3B Jordan Hankins (.254) went 1-for-3 with a fourth-inning, three-run blast.
  • LF Rock Shoulders (.222) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI (51).
  • RHP Michael Jensen (5-4, 2.56) earned the win, and RHP Starling Peralta (3.72) picked up the save.

Kane County Cougars (19-11)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County managed just five hits in a 3-1 loss at Great Lakes.

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) went 1-for-4 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.265) went 3-for-4 with his second double of the campaign.
  • RHPs Zak Hermans (3.60) and Michael Wagner (3.19) combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (22-16)
T-1st Place (–)

Boise defeated visiting Salem-Keizer, 7-6, despite being outhit, 13-4.

  • DH Justin Marra (.318) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, solo blast.
  • PH/C Dan Canela (.304) went 1-for-3 with a double (9) and a game-high three RBI (23).
  • LHP Sam Wilson (2-0, 4.05) earned the win, and RHP David Garner (4.15) picked up the save.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/20/14

Tennessee snapped a small losing streak, and Daytona piled on the hits to pick up a victory Sunday in a full slate of minor league action. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league games:

Iowa Cubs (54-47)
1st Place (+1.5)

Iowa had its three-game winning streak snapped, falling 4-3 in 12 innings at Round Rock.

  • LHP Chris Rusin pitched seven innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out five.
  • SS Javier Baez (.252) extended his hitting streak to 14 games (.310/18-for-58), going 3-for-6.
  • DH Chris Valaika (.291) and 1B Lars Anderson (.278) each had two hits.
  • RHPs Armando Rivero (1.29) and Arodys Vizcaino (13.50) combined to toss three scoreless innings.

Tennessee Smokies (15-15)
T-2nd Place (-1.0)

Tennessee snapped a two-game skid with a 10-3 win at Huntsville.

  • SS Addison Russell (.262) went 2-for-4 with two homers (including a fifth-inning grand slam) and a career-high six RBI (8).
  • Rehabbing 2B Emilio Bonifacio (.250) went 4-for-5 with a run scored.
  • RHP P.J. Francescon (9-5, 4.15) allowed a run in 2.1 innings of relief to earn the win.

Daytona Cubs (17-11)
1st Place (+0.5)

Daytona recorded 15 hits in a 9-1 victory at Palm Beach.

  • RHP Felix Pena picked up the win, going seven strong, giving up one earned run and striking out sevenl.
  • CF Albert Almora (.281) went 4-for-5 with two runs scored.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.350), SS Marco Hernandez (.285) and 1B Rock Shoulders (.215) all had two hits apiece.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.275) went 1-for-5 with a double (2) and a game-high three RBI (13).

Kane County Cougars (19-10)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County dropped its second-straight contest, falling 9-5 at Great Lakes.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.269) went 2-for-3 with a first-inning, two-run homer.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.315) went 2-for-4 with a double (7) and one RBI (29).
  • LHP Michael Heesch (2.66) struck out six hitters in 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (21-16)
2nd Place (-1.0)

Boise recorded just three hits in a 6-1 loss against visiting Salem-Keizer.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.273) and SS Jason Vosler (.340) each had a hit.
  • 1B Dan Canela (.303) went 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI (20).
  • RHP Ryan Williams (0.00) struck out three hitters over two scoreless innings of relief.

Mesa Cubs (11-11)
3rd Place (-3.0)

The Mesa Cubs fell by a score of 8-2 at home against the AZL Angels.

  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.263) and SS Bryant Flete (.298) had two hits apiece.
  • 2B Andrew Ely (.348) went 0-for-4 but picked up his third RBI of the season.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/17/14

A vast majority of the Cubs’ top prospects put on a show in their respective minor league games Thursday, despite the six clubs going a combined 3-3. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County all were winners while Daytona, Boise and Mesa were all on the losing end. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (52-46)
1st Place (+0.5)

Iowa recorded its eighth shutout of the season, beating host Round Rock, 7-0.

  • Dallas Beeler pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out four to pick up his sixth win of the season.
  • 2B Javier Baez (.244) made his first start of the season at second and went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and three RBI (58).
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.337) went 3-for-5 with a second-inning, solo home run.
  • CF Matt Szczur (.244), RF Brett Jackson (.214) and SS Chris Valaika (.291) had multi-hit games.
  • RHP’s Marcus Hatley (3.00) and Armando Rivero (1.50) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

Tennessee Smokies (14-13)
T-1st Place (–)

Tennessee held host Huntsville to just four hits in a 4-1 victory.

  • RHP Corey Black fanned eight batters over six innings, giving up one earned run to grab the win.
  • SS Addison Russell (.229) went 2-for-4 with a fourth-inning, solo home run.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.415) went 1-for-2 with two walks and a sixth-inning, two-run blast.
  • 3B Christian Villanueva (.274) went 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning, solo home run.
  • 2B Emilio Bonifacio (.000) went 0-for-4 in his second game as part of a big league rehab assignment.
  • RHP Frank Batista (0.98) tossed a scoreless ninth frame for his fifth save of the campaign.

Daytona Cubs (15-10)
T-1st Place (–)

Daytona dropped its second-straight game, falling at home against Fort Myers, 7-5.

  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.274) went 2-for-3 with a ninth-inning, two-run homer.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.333) went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.290) and 3B Jordan Hankins (.255) each had a hit and one RBI.

Kane County Cougars (18-8)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning to defeat host Lansing, 3-0.

  • RHP Duane Underwood pitched six scoreless innings, striking out three.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.264) went 3-for-5 with a game-high two RBI (38).
  • DH Ben Carhart (.282), C Will Remillard (.291) and LF Trey Martin (.239) all had two hits apiece.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (2-2, 4.17) tossed three scoreless innings of relief to earn his second victory.

Boise Hawks (19-15)
2nd Place (-1.0)

Boise had its four-game winning streak snapped, falling to visiting Spokane, 12-5.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.282) went 1-for-5 to extend his Northwest League-leading hitting streak to 20 games (.356/31-for-87). His season average has risen from .164 to .282 over the course of the streak.
  • SS Jason Vosler (.325) went 3-for-4 with one RBI (7).
  • C Mark Zagunis (.352), 3B Jesse Hodges (.260) and DH Justin Marra (.320) had two hits apiece.

Mesa Cubs (10-9)
3rd Place (-1.5)

  • RF Eloy Jimenez (.262) went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • 1B Roney Alcala (.095) and 2B Ho-young Son (.235) each had one hit.
  • RHP Jose Arias (0.82) struck out four hitters over three scoreless innings of relief.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/16/14

Only Boise was able to muster a win on Wednesday, scoring five runs late in the game. Tennessee, Daytona and Kane County all fell, while Iowa and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Tennessee Smokies (13-13)
T-1st Place (–)

RHP Matt Loosen allowed six earned runs over four innings as the Smokies fell to host Huntsville, 6-4.

  • Rehabbing IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio started in center field, going 0-for-4 from the leadoff spot.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.217) went 2-for-3 with three RBI (32).
  • 1B Charles Cutler added two hits, walked and scored two runs in his sixth multihit game in 12 July contests.
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (4.57) and RHP Zach Cates (2.00) combined for four scoreless frames of relief.

Daytona Cubs (15-9)
T-1st Place (–)

Daytona managed one run on seven hits off Fort Myers pitching. The visiting Miracle won 5-1.

  • RF Billy McKinney (.313) recorded his second-straight multihit game, which included his first double since joining Daytona.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.255) went 1-for-4 and knocked in the lone Daytona run, his 11th RBI of the 2014 campaign.

Kane County Cougars (17-8)
1st Place (+1.0)

Kane County fell behind 8-0 to host Lansing, eventually losing by a final score of 8-4.

  • Kane County managed seven singles from seven different hitters. Each of the four runs was knocked in by a different player: C Ben Carhart (.278, 35 RBI), DH Cael Brockmeyer (.291, 23 RBI), SS Carlos Penalver (.220, 30 RBI) and RF Shawon Dunston (.247, 22 RBI).
  • The team hit 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.
  • RHP Zak Hermans (3.91) provided two scoreless frames of relief. Nine of his 12 relief outings have been for more than three outs.

Boise Hawks (19-14)
2nd Place (-1.0)

Boise tallied two runs in the seventh and five in the eighth to win at home, 8-4, over Spokane.

  • OF Jeffrey Baez (.285) went 1-for-5 with a run, a double (6) and an RBI (28), extending his Northwest League-leading hitting streak to 19 games (.366/30-for-82). His season average has risen from .164 to .285 over the course of the streak.
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.328) recorded his second-straight multihit game, going 2-for-5 with two RBI (20) and a stolen base (8).
  • C Justin Marra (.312) also notched multiple hits, including his team-leading 12th double of the year.
  • DH Calvin Graves (.273) finished 1-for-4 with two runs and two RBI (3). He has hit safely in each of his three games with an at-bat since joining Boise.
  • LHP Tommy Thorpe (1-0, 0.00) delivered two hitless frames of relief for his first professional win.
  • RHP David Garner (2.38) followed with a hitless ninth to earn his second save.

1000 Words: Bryant and Baez, Friendly Foes


(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

During Sunday’s MLB Futures Game, which pits the top international prospects with the best American talents, Cubs prospect Javier Baez ripped a home run in the sixth inning to put the World Team ahead. As the Puerto Rican-born shortstop rounded rounded third, his Iowa Cubs teammate Kris Bryant (representing the U.S. Team) applauded his efforts. Baez finished 1-for-2 with the homer, while Bryant went 0-for-3 with a walk.

After a slow start to the season, Baez has picked up the pace. He wrapped up the first half hitting .240/.305/.449 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 14 homers at Triple-A Iowa. In 92 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season, Bryant is hitting .346/.444/.701 with 31 homers and 81 RBI.



ESPN’s Law names Bryant top MiLB prospect


Kris Bryant is now seen by many as the top prospect in baseball. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

A year ago, Kris Bryant hadn’t even made his rookie ball debut. Fast forward to now, and the Cubs farmhand is viewed by many as the top prospect in the game. ESPN Insider Keith Law recently unveiled his midseason Top 50 MLB Prospects list, and he put the Triple-A third baseman squarely at the top. Joining Bryant on the list are three other Cubs prospects, including two more in the top eight overall. Below are excerpts from the list on the top Cubs prospects:

1. Kris Bryant, 3B | Chicago Cubs

Age: 22 | Current Level: AAA (Iowa)

Preseason Ranking: 15

While there are players in the minors who offer higher ceilings — notably the next two guys on this list — Bryant is so close to major-league ready that his value at this moment is at least as high as that of Buxton, who’s playing now but has been hurt most of the year, or Correa, who’s out at least until the Fall League. Bryant has power, he’s capable at third base, and his eye and approach continue to improve. Even if he’s just a .260-.270 hitter — probably a pessimistic forecast — he’ll still be a MVP-caliber bat who hits 30-40 homers and gets on base at a solid clip.

4. Addison Russell, SS | Chicago Cubs

Age: 20Current Level: AA (Tennessee)

Preseason Ranking: 3

Russell will be the best prospect to change hands this season, going from the Oakland Athletics, who took him with the 11th overall pick in 2012, to the Cubs in the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s. A torn hamstring robbed Russell of most of April and May, but he’s healthy now and hasn’t lost anything at the plate or in the field. He has outstanding hands and plenty of arm for shortstop, which makes up for slightly limited range. His footwork has improved over the last year, so I don’t really doubt that he can stay at the position. Those great hands also serve him well at the plate, helping him to accelerate his bat quickly and get good loft in his finish to create line-drive power. I see a high-average hitter with a strong OBP and 10-15 homers — maybe even a few more —  who plays above-average defense at shortstop.

8. Javier Baez, SS | Chicago Cubs

Age: 21 Current Level: AAA (Iowa)

Preseason Ranking: 7

Baez still has the minors’ best bat speed, with great wrist and forearm strength that translates into huge all-fields power, which you saw in his homer in the Futures Game off a hanging breaking ball. He’s still rough around the edges at short, agile enough to play but lacking the finesse or the focus to do so at a major league level. That same Futures Game performance also saw him lollygagging on a groundball to short and delivering a lazy throw when he needed to fire one over to first base. Makeup may be the biggest concern here. Otherwise, Baez has the raw ability to become a 35-40 homer guy at second or third base.

28. Jorge Soler, RF | Chicago Cubs

Age: 22Current Level: AA (Tennessee)

Preseason Ranking: 26

Soler is a monster if he can just stay on the field. He has electric bat speed, plus-plus raw power and the athleticism and arm to play an above-average or better right field. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since signing in 2012, and in the 15 games he’s managed to play in Double-A this year, he’s hit .400/.456/.880 with 14 extra-base hits in 57 at-bats (tiny sample size caveat applies), indicative of his crazy strength. While he’s been injured too often for me to rank him higher, he has the raw offensive ability to be a top 10 prospect if he gets the at-bats to work on his recognition of offspeed stuff.



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