Cubs prospect update

Jordan Miller takes a look at nine Cubs prospects that caught his eye early in the season and how they’re doing now.

Now that Minor League baseball is a little over half over, I thought it would be a good idea to take another look at nine prospects that caught my eye earlier in the season. Many prospects have been putting up good numbers throughout the season, and it just goes to show how much depth is in the organization.

Daniel Vogelbach—Vogelbach has been doing some great things as a 22 year old in the Southern League. He currently ranks 3rd in the Southern League with a .410 OBP. His slash line for the year is .284/.410/.431. The big lefty spent time on the DL with a hamstring issue, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been an issue as of late. Vogelbach took another honor recently by being named to the US team for the Pan Am games that are held July 10-19. The lack of home runs is kind of puzzling for Vogelbach who has tremendous raw power but it hasn’t translated to games this year, as he’s only hit 5 HRs on the season. Part of this is due to his line drive approach and his ability to take walks. Personally I would like to see him sell out a little more at the plate for some more power. I think this will bring him much more value. He is currently blocked by Anthony Rizzo in Chicago and I don’t think a change of position is going to happen, so we could see the Cubs trading him before the deadline, or possibly in the off-season.

Gleyber Torres- Torres has turned himself into a legitimate Top 50 prospect in the game with his breakout season in South Bend. The 18 year has been having an unbelievable season with South Bend considering his age in the Midwest League. I have been really impressed with his willingness and ability to hit the ball the other way. He is 3.4 years younger than the average MWL player and has a line of .314/.386/.411 with 15 doubles, 2 homeruns, and 44 RBI in 317 plate appearances. His .314 batting average places him 7th in the MWL while his .386 OBP ranks 8th, not bad for an 18 year old in his first full season league stint.

Stephen Bruno- Bruno has been flying under the radar for most of the season. Northsiders Report’s #28 ranked prospect, Bruno put up a huge stat line for the month of June in which he slashed, .355/.395/.461. The 5’9 righty has played primarily at 2nd base on the season, but has played every position except Catcher and 1st base in his pro career. On the season he is hitting .273/.338/.354 as a 24 year old in AA. Bruno has a good approach at the plate and has good bat to ball skills and has only struck out 34 times in 224 plate appearances on the season. I think Bruno could be a solid bench player in the future with good on base skills and the ability to play multiple positions.

Cael Brockmeyer- Brockmeyer has been rewarded for his great start to the season by being promoted not just once but twice. The 6’5 catcher was named to the Midwest League All-Star team and hit .274/.356/.414 for South Bend this year. Brockmeyer was then promoted to Myrtle Beach and played 4 games their before being promoted to Tennessee where he currently resides. In his 3 games with Tennessee he has 3 hits, 1 HR, and 3 RBI in 9 ABs. I am going to be very interested to see how Brockmeyer continues to progress at the AA level. Being 1.6 years older than the average player in the Midwest League it’s hard to see how much value Brockmeyer’s bat actually held. But in Tennessee this will be a good test to get a picture of what kind of player he is.

Duane Underwood- Underwood has had a fantastic season, that is the good news. The bad news? He is currently on the DL with an elbow injury. The Cubs however don’t plan to shut him down after an MRI showed inflammation but no structural damage. Before the injury Underwood was looking like a mid-rotation type pitcher. He has a plus fastball and also shows a plus curveball. On the season Underwood is 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 64.1 IP with 42 Ks and 20 BBs. What’s puzzling is his lack of strikeouts with his great stuff. Part of the reason is he’s attacking hitters with his fastball mostly. Another reason is that he has trouble locating his “out” pitches outside of the zone. All in all it has been an impressive year for the 20 year old and I hope his rehab goes smoothly so we can see him pitch again before the end of the year.

Bijan Rademacher- Rademacher has had an interesting season so far although his average and slugging percentage is down his OBP is right on pace with his career average. Currently he is hitting .238/.353/.351, that is quite the difference between his average and OBP which suggests to me he is putting together good ABs and running into some bad luck when putting the ball in play. He currently has more walks (33) than strikeouts (32) in the 185 ABs. His power numbers have been disappointing this season with only 3 HRs and 8 doubles. Although he isn’t a home run he does possess some gap power. He has a great arm in RF and profiles as a 4th or 5th outfield option in the future.

Jeremy Null- Null has allowed 4 walks this year! Let me repeat that Jeremy Null has allowed 4 walks this year! Null has great command and was rewarded with a great start to his season with South Bend by receiving a promotion to Myrtle Beach. With South Bend he tossed 65.2 innings giving up 68 hits and striking out 55 batters. He was 6-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 12 starts. In 2 starts with Myrtle Beach he has gone 11 IP, 12 H, 0 BB, and 7 K with a 4.91 ERA. One of the crazier stats is that in the 65.2 IP with South Bend he gave up 2 HRs and in the 11 IP with Myrtle Beach he has already given up 3 HRs. Null has good run on his fastball and sits around 90 MPH on the pitch, but with his 6’7 frame the ball seems to get on the hitters much sooner. In my eyes Null looks like he has a chance as a back of the rotation type pitcher.

Willson Contreras- You know, I’ve been expecting Willson Contreras to take a step back and slow down as the season continued, but it just hasn’t happened. For the month of June the Southern League All Star was on fire hitting .373/.422/.475 while striking out only 5 times in 64 PAs. The athletic catcher is hitting .329/.397/.494 as a 23 year old in AA. His .329 batting average ranks 3rd in the Southern League while his .397 OBP ranks 6th. Contreras also ranks 6th in the Southern League with his .494 slugging percentage. I think the most impressive thing about Contreras this year is that he has only struck out 34 times in 272 PAs while drawing 24 BBs. Contreras is positioning himself as a future big league backup catcher.

Daniel Lockhart- Lockhart has had a rough year to this point of the season. The 22 year old Second Baseman is hitting .236/.282/.319. He was drafted in the 10th round in 2011 and is the son of former Major Leaguer Keith Lockhart. Lockhart will never show much power but he does have a decent line drive swing. Right now he is looking like an organizational player but I’m not willing to write him off just yet.

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