It’s always interesting to look back on players’ careers, especially ones that have garnered a lot of attention as prospects. Sometimes a player fulfills the promise he showed in the minors and in some cases there are players that are not able to be successful on the biggest stage.
Looking back at the list of players that the Cubs named its Minor League Player and Pitcher over the last 24 years, there were two Rookies of the Year, the winning pitcher in Game 163 and several players that were dealt to either add pitching to the big league rotation or one of the best first basemen in franchise history.
3B Kris Bryant and RHP Jen-Ho Tseng were the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year for last season.
In 138 games between Tennessee and Iowa, Kris Bryant hit .325/.438/.661 with 34 doubles, one triple, 324 extra bases and 43 home runs with 110 RBI for a 1.098 OPS.
Bryant led the minor leagues in home runs (43), extra basehits (78), total bases (324), slugging percentage (.661) and OPS (1.098) and finished second in the minors with a .438 OBP.
In the second half, Tseng was 3-1 in 11 games, nine starts, with a 2.35 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. Tseng allowed 36 hits with eight walks and 42 strikeouts in 65 innings. And in four appearances, three starts, in August, Tseng surrendered 11 hits in 24 innings with four walks and 14 strikeouts.
Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year 1990-2014
- Player of the Year – Chadd Blasko
- Player of the Year – Hee-Seop Choi
- Player of the Year – Nic Jackson
- Player of the Year – Ben Christensen
- Player of the Year – Corey Patterson
- Player of the Year – Brian McNichol
- Player of the Year – Kerry Wood
- Player of the Year – Brooks Kieschnick
- Player of the Year – Scott Bullett
- Player of the Year – Eddie Zambrano
- Player of the Year – Steve Trachsel
- Player of the Year – Pedro Castellano
- Player of the Year – Gary Scott
Kerry Wood was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1998 and is easily the most well-known player that was awarded with a Minor League Player of the Year Award. Wood was 10-2 in 22 starts for the Daytona Cubs (High-A) in 1996 with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. In 114 1/3 innings, Wood gave up 72 hits with 136 strikeouts and 70 walks.
Geovany Soto took home the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2008. Soto had his breakout season offensively in 2007 and rode a .353/.424/.652 line to the majors and performed well in the post-season that year. Soto hit 31 doubles, three triples and 26 home runs for a 1.076 OPS in 110 games for Iowa in 2007.
Steve Trachsel pitched Game 163 against the Giants in 1998 and had two stints with the Cubs over his 16-year big league career. ‘The Human Rain Delay’ was 61-72 in 191 games, 190 starts, for the Cubs with a 4.41 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 4.76 FIP. In 1992, Trachsel posted a 13-8 record for the Double-A Charlotte Knights with a 3.06 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Trachsel completed 191 innings and surrendered 180 hits with 35 walks and 135 strikeouts.
As is often the case good minor league players can be turned into pieces that help the big league roster. While one cliché has been overused and not really accurate, prospects are currency and can often be used to improve the Major League roster. So while some players don’t reach projections, as long as the development continues in the minor leagues, those players have value.
Jim Hendry turned Hee-Seop Choi into Derrek Lee after Choi batted .287/.406/.513 in 135 games for Triple-A Iowa in 2002. Choi hit 24 doubles and 26 home runs for a .919 OPS.
During his seven years with the Cubs, Derrek Lee hit .298/.378/.524 with 239 doubles, 10 triples, 179 home runs and a .903 OPS in 924 games.
Renyel Pinto was the third pitcher in the trade with the Marlins, along with Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco that landed Juan Pierre with the Cubs for the 2006 season. When Pierre signed with the Dodgers following the 2006 season, the Cubs used the sandwich pick for losing Pierre to draft Josh Donaldson.
The Cubs packaged Eric Patterson and Sean Gallagher, plus Josh Donaldson and Matt Murton, in the same trade with the A’s to acquire Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin in 2008. Kevin Hart, who was the PTBNL in the Freddie Bynum deal with the Orioles, was sent to the Pirates, along with Josh Harrison and Jose Ascanio, in the deal that netted the Cubs two lefties in Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow in 2009. Both Brandon Guyer and Chris Archer were traded to the Rays for Matt Garza and Zac Rosscup in 2011. And the Cubs acquired Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards from the Rangers for Matt Garza.
It’s an honor for a young player to be recognized by his organization for a tremendous season. And the benefit to his club can often be measured by wins at big league level in one way or another.