Chicago Cubs - Yes, this is called the “Minor League Report”, but the youth already in the majors is just as important, or often more, than what still lurks in the farm system. The Cubs extended first baseman Anthony Rizzo six seasons by signing him to a seven year contract that overrode his deal in place for 2013 and includes options that could keep Rizzo under control through 2021. Rizzo is currently batting .277 with nine home runs, ten doubles, and a .875 OPS. The Cubs now have Castro, Rizzo, and Soler signed long-term and could try to sign both Samardzija and Garza to extensions as well. Oh, and most importantly, the Cubs have more wins than the White Sox right now. The team remains in fifth place with a 16-22 record.
Iowa Cubs - At 13-21, the Iowa Cubs sit in third place in the Pacific Coast League’s American Conference North Division, five games behind the Memphis Redbirds and Omaha Storm Chasers. Brett Jackson continues to be Brett Jackson, as his OBP of .341 is eighty-two points higher than his batting average. Despite batting just .259, Jackson has a very respectable OPS of .773, though it would be nice to see more from the young outfielder who was once ranked among the top forty prospects in baseball. Josh Vitters has played in just eleven games, and has an OBP of just .295 with just three extra base hits. The small sample size issue comes into play, and one can expect Vitters to exceed the results of last season’s AAA campaign in which he batted .304 with seventeen home runs and a .869 OPS. Logan Watkins has shown great plate discipline and could be in line to eventually replace Darwin Barney, although he likely isn’t a long-term solution at second base. Watkins has a .384 OBP despite a batting average of just .237, a difference of one-hundred and forty-seven points. Arodys Vizcaino and Junior Lake have yet to make their Iowa debuts after facing injuries.
Tennessee Smokies - Matt Szczur’s batting average and on-base percentages are more than respectable (.287 and .365, respectively); however, his slugging percentage of just .372 has dropped his OPS to just .737, which is underwhelming. Meanwhile, Rubi Silva is getting on base at just a .280 clip, but his slugging percentage is a very good .520, accounting for most of the weight of his .800 OPS. Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva are both posting OPS’s of under .700.
Daytona Cubs - Jorge Soler has brought his batting average up to .290, and his OPS is sitting at a great mark of .933 with a .374 OBP and a .559 slugging percentage. Javier Baez, meanwhile, has only been good, but not great. His fourteen errors aside, Baez’s OPS is just .768, dragged down primarily by his .280 on-base percentage. Having walked just five teams as opposed to forty-two strikeouts, Baez’s problems are coming with discipline and it is something he will need to turn around soon to continue to his skyrocketing up the prospect rankings from last season. Ben Wells is currently 3-2 with a 4.06 ERA through his first seven starts in Advanced-A.
Kane County Cougars - Rock Shoulders is twenty-two and in Low-A ball, but where he plays is out of his control. While in Kane County, Shoulders has been highly successful, batting .310 with an OBP in the vicinity of .400 and posting an OPS of .967, not to mention his eight home runs. Listed as a first baseman, Shoulders has seen some recent time in the outfield as well. Vogelbach is posting a .819 OPS – which is still very good, not question about it – but for a player whose value comes entirely from his offensive prowess, he needs to do even better, as weird as it sounds for a player with a .369 OBP and a .450 slugging to go along with five home runs. Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez both have OPS marks below .600, and Jeimer Candelario is at just .685 although he seems to be starting to hear up. Pierce Johnson continues his progression towards the mean, as his ERA is now just 3.89.
VSL Cubs - The new Cubs affiliate in Venezuela lost their first game in team history on Monday by a score of 22-11 to the VSL Rays. First baseman Delbis Arcila hit the first home run in team history and knocked in three while striking out just as many times. Left fielder Arnaldo Calero went three for four with a double, two runs, and a pair of RBIs, while also drawing a walk, good for a 1.800 OPS. The club committed six errors, and only Alberto Diaz, who didn’t allow a run, got out of the game with an ERA under 13.50. Manuel Fuentes holds the team low (or high, technically) with a 54.00 ERA. The squad has Tuesday off before playing at the VSL Phillies at 11AM local on Wednesday.
Draft - It still seems likely that the Cubs will select either Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray with the second overall pick, but third baseman Kris Bryant has recently been discussed as possibly being the first overall pick and has been described as having a “special” bat, and could make the Cubs decision interesting.