We've seen a number of promotions among the Cubs top pitching prospects already this season. None have gotten the call to the big leagues as yet, but the talent is now beginning to accumulate in the mid-levels of the Cubs system and there are also a few that are now knocking on the door in Iowa.
Cory Abbott and Bailey Clark received call ups to Myrtle Beach after dominating Midwest League batters and have remained solid at their new level of competition. To make room with the Pelicans Matt Swarmer was summoned to Tennessee. The 24-year old was simply too advanced with his combination of command and newly found velocity. Trevor Clifton and Dakota Mekkes have both made their way to Iowa.
Clifton has recovered from a dreadful 2nd half of 2017, and is posting solid baseball card numbers, but he has now become an extreme fly ball pitcher that is seemingly benefiting from some luck keeping the ball in the ballpark. He has not managed to miss bats or generate grounders like he did with Myrtle Beach in 2016. I still believe his ultimate role is in the bullpen where his stuff should play up a bit so I am not overly concerned. The same goes for Duane Underwood, Jr. and Michael Rucker.
Outside of Abbott, Clark, Swarmer and Mekkes, the best performances in the system have been turned in by Alex Lange, Keegan Thompson, Rollie Lacy, and Erich Uelmen. Lange and Uelmen have both strung together long consecutive scoreless streaks. Lacy threw a combined no-hitter and Thompson tossed seven perfect innings earlier this month. Expect all four to receive promotions by the end of the season.
There has been little concern on the injury front. The issues facing Jose Albertos are seemingly mechanical and mental as his stuff still looks crisp when he is in control of it. Brendon Little is currently out with an undisclosed injury, but it did not appear to be arm related. Bailey Clark has missed a few starts but is expected back soon. This will of course represent the final stats for Adbert Alzolay this season. The team is shutting him down for the rest of the year due to a lat injury. There is a possibility he returns to the mound in time to compete in the Arizona Fall League to make up some of the lost time. The injury is not overly serious but after Alzolay was delayed out of spring training due to an ankle injury he had only just gotten fully stretched out before suffering the lat strain and the team wants to be cautious with their top prospect.
It is great to see Craig Brooks begin to harness his control and pitch with much more consistency this year. He was rewarded with a Southern League All-Star berth. The Cubs have begun to receive a much needed boost from the left handers in their system. Randy Rosario may be doing it with smoke and mirrors, but he has been doing the same thing since the start of spring training so we seem to be reaching the point where we may need to concede he is simply a statistical anomaly, but it bears keeping in mind that a regression is coming. An early season mechanical tweak has allowed Jordan Minch to take off. A move to the bullpen has given Manuel Rondon and Jose Paulino a jump start. Wyatt Short has continued to miss bats and generate ground balls at a high rate.
We've discussed the breakout season for Miguel Amaya quite a bit already, but I would caution folks that his BABIP, HR/FB both indicate a regression is coming, and so does the fact that he has become a pronounced pull hitter as the season has progressed. Without an adjustment, I wouldn't count on him continuing at the same pace in the 2nd half. David Bote and Victor Caratini can both hit. But we knew that. It is a good sign to see Bote consistently tapping into his power now. He has taken over the organizational HR lead. The short season leagues have just kicked off so we will now begin getting a glimpse at most of the Cubs best hitting prospects. An important thing to note in the chart below is not just how young the Cubs position player prospects are but also how young they are for their leagues. We shouldn't expect eye popping numbers from any of these players outside Bote and Caratini.
Some good, some bad with the rest of the hitters. Jared Young and Jhonny Pereda have broken out and have put themselves on the map as legitimate prospects. The rest of the players below have shown spurts of excellent play but many have also suffered through prolonged slumps as well.