Archive for the ‘ Vine Line ’ Category

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.

1970s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 7/22/14-7/31/14

PEARL_JAM-CONCERT-071913-017

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam playing at Wrigley Field in 2013. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Starting Tuesday, July 22, the Cubs welcome the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies to town for a 1970s-themed celebration at historic Wrigley Field. Fans can relive the decade of decadence along with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Rick Sutcliffe, Pat Fitzgerald, ESPN’s Mike & Mike, and many more.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines during the 10-game set.

1970s Homestand Recap, July 22-31

Tuesday, July 22, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch: Brad Guzan, USA World Cup team and Chicago native
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Mark Grant, San Diego Padres broadcaster and Chicago native
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 23, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 24, Chicago Cubs vs. San Diego Padres, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by StubHub (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Harry Kane of English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, July 25, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Jack Brickhouse Bobblehead with audio chip presented by Advocate Health Care (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Brickhouse, widow of legendary broadcaster Jack Brickhouse
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, July 26, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Ernie Banks Replica Statue presented by Budweiser (first 10,000 adults 21+)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Rick Sutcliffe, former Cubs pitcher
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, July 27, Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1978 road uniform
  • Promotion: ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball presented by Gonnella Baking Co. (first 5,000 children)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern University Head Football Coach
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, July 28, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Northwestern Football Magnet Schedule
  • Special Event: Girl Scout Night
  • First pitch: NPR’s Scott Simon
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, July 29, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Mobile Device Power Bank presented by The Private Bank (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic
  • Seventh-inning stretch: ESPN’s Colin Cowherd
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, July 30, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by Benjamin Moore (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Pete LaCock, former Cubs first baseman/outfielder from the 1970s
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Bill Madlock, former Cubs third baseman from the 1970s
  • Broadcast: CSN+, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, July 31, Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies, 1:20 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Fitz & The Tantrums
  • Broadcast: CSN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

Cubs set to host a 10-game, 1970s-themed homestand

Brickhouse

The Cubs kick off their first homestand of the second half with 10-games against the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies at Wrigley Field from July 22-31. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1970s as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.

This homestand’s special event is Cubs Girl Scout Night on Monday, July 28. The team has worked with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to host the special event for Girl Scouts, family and friends, with attendees receiving a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout patch. In addition, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 27, the Cubs will wear a popular throwback, light blue road uniform from 1978 to honor the Cubs of the late ’70s. The Cardinals will participate as well by wearing 1978-inspired throwback uniforms.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect unique promotional items at various games of the homestand, beginning with a special Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine for the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over on July 22. On July 24, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs T-shirt. On July 25, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jack Brickhouse bobblehead with an audio chip of Brickhouse calling Ernie Banks 500th home run. On July 26, the first 10,000 adults will receive an Ernie Banks replica statue. The first 5,000 children on Sunday, July 27, will receive a ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball. The following evening, 5,000 fans will receive a Northwestern football magnet schedule when they depart the ballpark, while attendees of the Cubs’ annual Girl Scout Night will receive a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout Patch. On July 29, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Mobile Device Power Bank, and the first 10,000 fans in the ballpark July 30, will receive a Cubs T-shirt.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1970s homestand features a Kraft Breaded Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with herb-breaded chicken breast, house-made marinara sauce and melted Kraft Provolone Cheese, served on a toasted hoagie roll. Fans can also try the Classic Tuna Melt homestand special, which includes Levy Restaurants’ signature tuna salad served on toasted rye bread with aged Kraft Cheddar Cheese and sliced tomatoes.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1970s Pulled Pork Dog, a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, barbeque sauce and coleslaw. The Pulled Pork Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Cooperstown Iced Tea, made with Captain Morgan’s Ready-to-Drink Long Island Iced Tea Mix. The cocktail is a variation on Long Island Iced Tea, which surged to popularity during the ’70s.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted noteworthy baseball and non-baseball events during the 1970s, including Ernie Banks’ 500th home run and the Chicago Bears’ last game at Wrigley Field.

In 1970, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks connected for his 500th home run off Pat Jarvis to help beat the Braves, 4-3. He would end his career with a franchise-record 512 home runs.

Seven months later, in the Bears last game at Wrigley Field, Jack Concannon passed for four touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-17 victory over the rival Green Bay Packers.

On a frigid day in April 1972, Cubs rookie Burt Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth career start to beat the Phillies, 4-0. He was the first National League rookie in 60 years to throw a no-hitter. Five months later, Milt Pappas nearly threw a perfect game, as he retired the first 26 Padres batters. He ended up walking Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth on a questionable ball-four call, but he retired the next batter to complete the impressive no-hitter and beat San Diego, 8-0.

On May 14, 1976, Dave Kingman of the New York Mets hit the longest home run in Wrigley Field history, driving the ball more than 500 feet. The ball traveled down Kenmore Avenue.

On July 28, 1977, the Cubs and Reds combined to tie the National League record for most home runs in a single game with 11. The Cubs beat the Reds, 16-15, in a 13-inning classic.

Tickets for the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Rizzo earns NL Player of the Week honors

Rizzo_POWeek

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

July has been pretty good to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. For starters, fans voted the 24-year-old into his first career All-Star Game earlier this month. Then, despite getting swept by Arizona over the weekend, he was named the NL Player of the Week for the period ending July 20.

Over the three-game set, Rizzo hit three home runs, tallied 14 total bases and recorded a 1.273 slugging percentage to go along with four RBI and five runs scored. On the season, he’s hitting .281/.384/.522 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and is tied with the Marlins Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead in homers with 23, already matching his career high.

The Cubs are off Monday before resuming action Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

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.

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 2000s—Carlos Zambrano

Carlos_Zambrano

(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the final installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, we look at the eccentric and exciting Carlos Zambrano. Though it might come as a surprise to some to see Big Z on the list, he had very solid numbers throughout the 2000s.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson
1950 – Ernie Banks
1960s – Ron Santo
1970s – Rick Reuschel
1980s – Ryne Sandberg
1990s – Mark Grace

2000s – Carlos Zambrano, 26.5 WAR

Seasons: 2001-09
W-L: 105-68
G-GS: 259-238
IP: 1,549.0
K: 1,324
K/9: 7.70
ERA: 3.51

Say what you will about Carlos Zambrano’s time on the North Side. Sure, some of his most memorable moments in a Cubs uniform occurred inside the dugout, including a scuffle with teammate Michael Barrett in 2007 and a few notable run-ins with the beleaguered Gatorade dispenser.

But at the beginning of Big Z’s career, he was an animal on the bump as well. The hard-throwing Venezuelan made his debut in August 2001 and became a workhorse soon after, logging five consecutive seasons with 200-plus innings from 2003-07. During that time, he made three All-Star teams, finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times, led the NL in wins in 2006 and earned MVP votes in 2004.

The right-hander was the only NL pitcher to win 13 or more games each year from 2003-08, and he served as the Cubs’ Opening Day starter from 2005-10.

Zambrano’s finest effort in a Cubs uniform came on Sept. 14, 2008, when he tossed the club’s first no-hitter in 36 years, striking out 10 batters and walking one in 110 pitches against the Astros. By the end of the 2000s, his numbers had slipped dramatically, and he was out of the game at age 31.

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

Bryant_Baez

(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

KrisBryant_Futures

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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