Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

NSR gives you a daily dose of prospects

An update on Cubs prospects Mark Zagunis, Paul Blackburn, Jake Stinnett, P.J. Higgins and Jonathan Sierra.

Here’s the latest installment of Prospect Updates and I’ve started adding players from the Dominican Summer League.

Iowa-OF Mark Zagunis

Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans

A catcher at Virginia Tech, the Cubs moved the New Jersey native to the outfield and he’s sailed through the Cubs system with an impressive .402 on-base percentage in over 1,000 plate appearances. After spending his first full season at Myrtle Beach (.271/.406/.412, 115 G, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 80 BB, 86 K), the Cubs third-round pick in 2014 started this season in Tennessee but his AA career only lasted 51 games before getting promoted to Iowa. Zagunis hit .302/.408/.453 with 4 HR and 24 RBI and earned a promotion to AAA on June 8. In a month at Iowa, the right-handed hitting 23-year-old is batting .275/.351/.496 in 35 games with 4 HR and 16 RBI but is facing his biggest challenge at the plate with 16 BB and 30 K..

Tennessee-RHP Paul Blackburn

Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Tale of two seasons. The Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April was impressive over his first nine starts for Tennessee, going 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA and a .202 BAA. Blackburn’s next seven starts have been a different story, with a 5.70 ERA and a .309 BAA over 36.1 innings. Blackburn pitches to contact and had some good luck early with a .232 BABIP first nine games and .356 the last seven. The former compensation pick in 2012 (56 overall) is Rule 5 eligible at the end of the season of the Cubs will need to either add him to the 40-man or risk losing the right-hander.

Myrtle Beach-RHP Jake Stinnett

Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Cubs second-round pick in 2014 out of Maryland is still learning the art of pitching after only one year as a starter and just over 200 college innings. Stinnett is 7-3 with a 4.23 ERA and gone at least five innings in each of his 14 starts, logging 83 innings and recording 71 strikeouts. The 24-year-old tossed a career-high eight innings on June 26 vs. Carolina and was selected as a Carolina League All-Star.

South Bend-C P.J. Higgins

After spending his first pro season roaming the infield for Mesa and Eugene, the Cubs 12th round pick out of Old Dominion was fitted for catching gear during the off-season. The 23-year-old has been solid behind the plate handling South Bend’s six-man rotation with 53 starts while throwing out 22-of-68 runners. Higgins has been an on-base machine as he ranks fifth in the MWL with a .390 OBP, hitting .280 with 20 doubles, 47 walks and 41 strikeouts.

DSL Cubs 1—OF Jonathan Sierra

The Cubs paid $2.5 million for the outfielder’s services as they liked his sweet powerful swing and ability to hit the ball to all fields. The 6-foot-4 Sierra made his U.S. debut at fall instructs and was back in Mesa for extended spring training. The 17-year-old has yet to catch fire at the plate (.231/.375/.654, 0 HR) but has shown some idea at the plate with 20 walks vs. 19 strikeouts in over 100 at-bats.


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