It continues to amaze me just how much depth there is in the Cubs Minor League System. In this segment I’m taking a look at some of the depth in the system with ten players who have caught my eye early in the season. I should note the extremely small sample size with all these players. It is not a good idea to make any determinations about Minor League Players with only a handful of games played. Saying that it is still fun to look at the early season numbers. These are the players I’m going to be watching a little closer throughout the season to see if the adjustments and improvements in their games are sustained during the season.
Daniel Vogelbach has always been able to hit, but what he is doing right now at the plate is absolutely ridiculous. It’s tough to argue that there is anyone hotter in the system than him. In 9 games he is hitting .484/.579/.613 for the Tennessee Smokies. He is also showing his great approach at the plate by only striking out 3 times in 31 ABs, while also drawing 7 walks. Vogelbach is essentially blocked at the Major League level by Anthony Rizzo and his inability to field any other position besides first base doesn’t do him any favors. A solid season from Vogelbach could help increase his trade value and help land the Cubs a frontline starter in the future. The left-hander slugged his first homer on Monday night and was named Southern League Player of the Week.??
Gleyber Torres is the youngest player in the Midwest League and is more than just holding his own in the league. The 18-year-old shortstop is getting on base at a .395 clip while hitting for a .278 average. It is great to see that he has almost as many walks as strikeouts, with 7 BBs and 8 Ks. Torres adds to the glut of SS prospects in the system and is steadily progressing his way through the system.
Stephen Bruno has always been a personal favorite under the radar prospect of mine. He can and has played every position besides pitcher and catcher in his Minor League career. He has a good approach at the plate and can just flat out hit. The 24 year old is hitting .385/.429/.462 for the AA Tennessee Smokies through 9 games. I can see Bruno being a super utility guy at the major league level with the ability to come off the bench and put quality ABs together.
Cael Brockmeyer has been a doubles machine through the first ten games of the season for South Bend, collecting 6 in 36 ABs. Brockmeyer stands at 6’5 235 but spends most of his time crouching behind the plate. I have to admit he’s never been a player in the organization that has caught my eye before but his hot start makes it almost impossible not to take notice. He is hitting .444/.524/.694. The 23-year-old needs to continue to work on his catching skills to continue to progress through the Cubs system.
Duane Underwood Is this going to be the year Underwood puts all his potential together and turn into a front of the rotation type starter? Well the 20-year-old has come out of the gates on fire. In tw starts one of which he flirted with a no-hitter, he has pitched 11 innings giving up 6 hits, 3 walks, and striking out 9 batters. He has held opponents to a .162 average while posting a 0.82 ERA for Myrtle Beach. This hot start looks especially promising coming off his best season as a pro in 2014 with Kane County where he posted 100.2 innings with a 2.50 ERA and 84 Ks. Underwood has always had some of the best pure stuff in the system with a mid-90’s fastball combined with a plus curveball. It’s finally looking like the preparation and consistency are catching up to the talent.
Bijan Rademacher is another one of my personal favorite prospects. He has done nothing but hit since he was drafted in 2012 in the 13th round. In his minor league career he’s batting .284/.355/.414. The lefty is off to a good start with Tennessee putting together quality ABs and has a slash line of .281/.410/.344 so far. He already has 7 walks on the season while only striking out 6 times. Rademacher has gap power and has 2 doubles and 5 RBI on the season. He has a strong arm in RF and looks to be a quality 4th outfield option in the future.
Jeremy Null I honestly don’t know too much about Null coming into the season, but his torrid start is going to make me get to know him real quick. He is a 6’7 RHP who was drafted in the 15th round last year out of Western Carolina. In two starts this season he has pitched 11 innings. He has good command of his pitches and has yet to issue a walk while striking out 13 batters for South Bend this year. Null pitches next on Wednesday and you can bet I will be tuning into MiLB.tv to get a closer look at him.
Ivan Pineyro Acquired from the Nationals in 2013 for Scott Hairston, Pineyro has gotten off to a good start for the Tennessee Smokies. The 23-year-old RHP has a 2.70 ERA in 10 IP this season. Pineyro has also struck out 7 hitter while only giving up 5 hits and 3 walks this season. Pineyro is looking to have a strong season to get back on the prospect radar after an injury allowed him to only throw 60 innings last year.
Willson Contreras The 22-year-old catcher has been steadily climbing the ranks in the system and finds himself playing for the Tennessee Smokies this season. Contreras has gotten off to a great start hitting .444/.474/.667. Although the 18 ABs is an extremely small sample size it’s still nice to see players get off to nice starts at the plate.
Daniel Lockhart The son of former Atlanta Braves second baseman Keith Lockhart has gotten off to a good start for Myrtle Beach. Lockhart was drafted in the 10th round in 2011 and is hitting .375/.407/.542. The left handed hitter has only struck out twice in 24 ABs while also hitting 2 doubles, a triple, and walking twice.