With the first two months of the Minor League season nearly in the books, let’s take a look back at a few of the Cubs top prospects. Before the season started, I compiled a list of 10 Prospects to Watch. How have those players performed so far this season? For this article, I’m going to look at both the highs and lows of the players on the pre-season list and how they have performed. First off, I am going to withhold judgment on Josh Vitters due to injury. Vitters has been hurt and has not had too much playing time after an impressive start to the season. Also, due to his suspension, Robert Hernandez has yet to pitch.
The biggest disappointment so far has been Josh Donaldson. It was his defense that was suspect last season, not his bat, but things have changed this year. He is walking much less than he did a year ago at short-season Boise and his slugging percentage is also down.
Donaldson’s numbers are horrible at the plate .192/.256/.311 and he is currently 5 for his last 39 with only one extra base hit. On the plus side, his strikeout numbers have stayed consistent and not ballooned. His defense has improved and he still features a canon for an arm behind the plate, throwing out over 41% of would be base stealers (19/46). He needs to get on a hot streak in order for him to gain some confidence at the plate. I still think he will develop into a solid catcher but he needs to starting making more contact.
The biggest surprise has been James Adduci, who was not in my initial top ten list. He has made great strides this season and has improved his plate discipline. All he has done since coming over from the Marlins’ organization is hit the baseball. This season Adduci’s line is…. .326/.411/.406 and though he is not crushing the ball, he could make a suitable outfielder in the same vein as Reed Johnson. I don’t know how much he has risen in the eyes of the organization….but I do know that it is always a plus to have good players in your system as trade fodder.
The biggest disappointment so far this season has been Jeff Samardzija. His season started off great. The Shark put together an amazing game against Clayton Kershaw, but he has hit hard times since then.
In his last 3 starts his numbers are awful, 19 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 7 strikeouts. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road and he can regain his early season stuff. Samardzija needs to start showing consistency in order for him to live up to his $10 million dollar Major League contract. Maybe he will be moved to the bullpen where his 2-pitch arsenal will be better used. If not he needs to gain command and improve his other pitches if he wants to remain a starter.
The biggest surprise for me has been Dae-Eun Rhee. Unfortunately, he got hurt in late April and has not pitched since. We will have to wait and see when this injury gets resolved. I do not believe he will need surgery because he seemed to have great pitching mechanics, especially for a teenager. Before his last outing Rhee’s ERA was under 1 and I believe he got hurt during that start. I’m eager to see him pitch again this season. I’m hoping his absence to the Peoria Chiefs rotation is just the result of the Cubs being cautious with their prized arm.
Overall, the Cubs’ minor league system has not made the strides over the first two months I was hoping for. Sean Gallagher has been decent for their big league club but that meant a demotion for Rich Hill. Tyler Colvin is batting around .230 but has improved his plate discipline and has nearly as many walks this year as last season. Donald Veal has shown improvement with his control problems and must work on his consistency. If Veal keeps improving, maybe there is a trip to Iowa in his future later this season. Jose Ceda is still inconsistent and is making strides as a starter rather than a reliever.