When analyzing the Cubs minor league system in April, one could take a broad view and wonder why some top prospects played so poorly. Gleyber Torres was almost non-existent, Billy McKinney struggled coming back from a knee injury, Duane Underwood was only on Tennessee’s roster for one day, Jeimer Candelario barely hit .200, and Oscar De La Cruz has yet to pitch while nursing a sore elbow at extended spring training. You’ve also got Justin Steele posting an ERA over 9 after a month in South Bend.
Conversely, April was also a month that saw Albert Almora display all his talents at the plate and in the field while Pierce Johnson struck out 17 in 12 innings and Dan Vogelbach drove in 16 runs.
Things are hopeful for May. Right now, though, rain is playing havoc with the schedule. I am looking for big things this month from Trevor Clifton and Carlos Sepulveda. It should be fun across the system as the temperatures get warmer and the arms and bats heat up as well.
Here are some highlighted performances from April, in A to Z fashion.
Adbert Alzolay was a stud in April. He can pinpoint his fastball, just waiting for his secondaries to match.
Bryan Hudson is going to be worth the wait. Hopefully he’ll show why in South Bend in late May.
Chesny Young is just dominating at AA. By mid June, look out Iowa.
Duane Underwood is back and he was just fine in start #1.
Eloy Martinez is not quite there yet. Still, two walk-off hits, .284, 12 RBIs, and 1 HR.
Felix Pena transitioned pretty easily to a reliever. A 0.82 ERA is pretty good!
Gleyber Torres can’t be kept down all year, his approach is too good.
Higgins, as in PJ. The kid has a lot of hits and he will keep on having a lot of them. The kid can rake.
Ian Happ was more than anyone could hope for – a switch-hitting second baseman with power.
Jake Stinnett looks like a second round pick this year. He had a 2.55 ERA with 14 Ks and a 0.79 WHIP in April.
K‘s – Rob Zastryzny led the Smokies with 22 in April. Jimenez struck out 25 times. Yikes!
Losses – Iowa has the most because of some suspect starting pitching. It should stabilize in May.
Myrtle Beach has the pitching, they need some hitting.
New month – I think Eddy Julio Martinez will improve greatly in May, including walking more than once.
Outstanding describes Gerardo Concepcion – 12.1 innings, 0 runs, 10 K’s.
Paul Blackburn had a 0.29 ERA for the month…the month!!!
Quiet – All of a sudden I looked up and Daniel Spingola’s average was over .400.
Ryan Kellogg had his moments at times. An ERA under 3.00 is a good start to his career.
Spencer Patton has put his himself first in line when a reliever is needed in Chicago.
Taylor Davis can hit really well. He might be the second-best-hitting catcher the Cubs have in the minors.
Unbelievable describes how Donnie Dewees can disrupt a game. He’s a triples machine.
Victor Caratini is starting to turn it on. He’s hitting .294 over his last ten.
Willson Contreras is proving last year was no fluke. His .359 average is doing all the talking.
X-rays – Thankfully, none of the top prospects’ X-rays have been bad.
Yasiel Balaguert could be the best-hitting 1B in the system once he learns to hit a curve. I love his .295 avg with 2 HR’s and 17 RBI in April.
Zach Hedges had a 2.16 ERA for the month and was spectacular in doing so. He is the most improved player in the system this year.
Pitcher of the month – Paul Blackburn – Tennessee – 0.29 ERA in 5 starts
Hitter of the month – Chesny Young – Tennessee – .402 avg, .505 OBP, 10 SBs
Reliever of the month – Spencer Patton – Iowa – 9 IP, 16 Ks
Most Improved Player – Zach Hedges – Myrtle Beach – 2.15 ERA, 17 Ks in 25 IP
Surprise Player – Daniel Spingola – South Bend – .402 avg in 17 games.
Picks to Click in May – Eddy Martinez – South Bend; Jake Stinnett – Myrtle Beach
Next Call-up – Albert Almora – Iowa – He’s doing it all in style
First Promoted – Donnie Dewees – South Bend – I think he’s ready for high A Myrtle Beach.
Dylan Cease Prediction – To South Bend by May 27. I don’t think he will be challenged much if he goes to Eugene in June. When it warms in May, he can go to South Bend, get challenged, and work on his curve and changeup.