Week of 8/4-8/10
In the wake of the Javier Baez call-up, the overall focus of the Cubs fanbase has shifted not-so-slightly towards the big-league ballclub. If you're reading my writing, you're one of the hardcore fans for whom this matters but is not a world-changer - there are plenty more fun prospects coming soon.
For the rest of the fandom, though, the arrival of Baez symbolizes the beginning of the end of the Cubs rebuilding project, the first of the household-name prospects to end up at Wrigley. This is really big for public perception of the rebuild process.
Unfortunately for those obsessed with the minors, this also means changes in the perception of the Cubs' system. Absent the prospect with the highest upside, the farm is not quite as strong as it was a week ago. Does this matter? Not really, no; organizational strength is and has always been the endgame. Just keep in mind that all discussions of the Cubs farm from here on out don't take Javier Baez into account.
It's Not Like Iowa Cares Anyway
It's not often you can take a top-10 prospect out of a AAA lineup without seeing any changes in production, but there are some special hitters remaining in Des Moines. Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler combined for 16 hits, 4 HR, 4 doubles, and a 15/13 K/BB split in 54 PA's and Mike Olt continued to look like an ancient version of himself, hitting .360/.429/.920 with 4 HR last week.
The pitchers didn't seem to fear the loss of Baez's bat, either. Dan Straily struck out 9 and walked none in 6 innings last week. Not to be outdone, Eric Jokisch continued to dismantle PCL lineups, throwing 14 2/3 innings while striking out 12, walking none, and giving up just two earned runs.
More Three/Four/Fives Than Rotation Spots
In addition to Straily and Jokisch, who both have legitimate shots at being 5th starters in Chicago, the Cubs system boasts a number of mid-to-back-end starting prospects gunning for those spots.
CJ Edwards returned from injury recently and has looked healthy, which is all anyone could really ask from him at this point. He's probably slipped behind Jen-Ho Tseng as the best pitching prospect in the system, but if he can finish the season strong he'll remain in the conversation.
Pierce Johnson, who struggled quite a bit after he initially returned from his hamstring injury earlier this season, has been lights-out as of late. Last week he threw 6 innings of 8-strikeout, 1-hit ball, and continued to get his walk rate under control, handing out only 2 free passes in the outing. His BB/9 is at 5.4 on the season, but has been a respectable 3.0 over his last 18 innings.
Lower in the system, Rob Zastryzny threw two good starts in the last week and Duane Underwood continued his late-season assault on the MWL, striking out 8 and walking just 1 in 6 2/3 innings of work.
No one's going to confuse this group for a bunch of top-of-the-rotation starters (and there's only one #3 in Edwards), but this kind of pitching depth has been sorely lacking over the past few seasons.
Players of The Week
This week, Addison Russell hit .389/.476/.500, which was somehow not enough to land in the three most impressive weeks. Jorge Soler hit two bombs and doubled three times, and he also didn't land in the top three.
Instead, we see a familiar face in Kris Bryant sandwiched between two lesser prospects, Rock Shoulders and Mike Olt. Shoulders has a ton of raw power, but his lack of a position and inability to make contact is probably going to prevent him from reaching the majors. If he does max out, though, he could be a fun high-walk, high-power, very-high-strikeout kind of guy off a bench or in a DH spot.
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Filed under: Minor League News