2011 Minor League Wrap Up, Part 1

Now that the minor league regular season is over it seems a good time to take yet another look at the Cubs top prospects. Over the next week I’ll do just that and this time I will publish a new survey and actually post the results. I promise. First, let’s look at how the teams performed and how one non-top prospect from each team performed.

Iowa Cubs: 66-77, 13.5 GB, 4th place (last) PCL American Northern

Did you really think it would be anyone other than Bryan LaHair? The dude hit 38 home runs in 523 plate appearances. He batted .331/.405/.664, which was good for a ridiculous .443 wOBA (155 wRC+). Nobody in the PCL with more than 332 plate appearances came close to LaHair’s OPS this season. No player in the PCL with more than 450 plate appearances had an OPS over 1.000 other than LaHair’s 1.070.

Tennessee Smokies: 83-57, 1st place by 5.5 games Southern League North

The Smokies won the first half division and reached the postseason and finsihed 2nd in the 2nd half. Overall they were easily the best in their division and only Mobile won more games (84). Those were the only two teams with more than 77 wins.

28 year old catcher Blake Lalli finished his 3rd full season in Tennessee (3+ seasons overall) and has been remarkably consistent. In 2009 he posted a .793 OPS and then followed that up with a .791 OPS in 2010 and 2011.

Daytona Cubs: 76-61, 1.5 GB, 2nd place Florida State League North

The Daytona Cubs are also in the postseason thanks to a very good first half. They weren’t so good in the 2nd half, but clinched a playoff berth because they won the division in the 1st half.

Dae-Eun Rhee is now 2+ years removed from TJS and he had a pretty good season this year. The once highly touted prospect took a hit because of surgery and then post-surgery performance, but he rebounded a bit this season. Rhee is still only 22 and turns 23 in March so he’s still young. This season he threw 127.2 innings and allowed 131 hits, walked 43 and struckout 117. The days of him having above average potential as a starter are more than likely done, but it’s he’s young enough that he might surprise us a little.

Peoria Chiefs: 60-79, 22 GB, 8th place (last) Midwest League Western

In 123 games and over 500 plate appearances, Richard Jones put together a very good season for the Chiefs. The 23-year old was drafted in the 9th round in 2009 and had just been OK since. This year he hit .309/.362/.538 with 24 home runs and 36 doubles. That’s a little old for the Midwest League so we’ll see how it goes next year. Regardless of that, he had a great season.

Boise Hawks: 36-40, 8 GB, 2nd place Northwest League East

Kyler Burke turned 23 in April. He was acquired in 2007 as part of the Michael Barrett trade. He had a ton of potential as a hitter, but it never worked out so the Cubs converted him to pitcher this year. He spent much of the year in extended spring training and then when he was sent out he pitched surprisingly well. In 16 games he threw 44 innings, allowed 36 hits, only 2 home runs while walking 18 and striking out 47. He didn’t make any starts, but that doesn’t mean that much at that level. No idea what the Cubs plan for him, but I’d guess a reliever. Nobody ever questioned his arm as a right fielder. It’s nice to see him throw strikes in his first action.

AZL Cubs: 28-28, 13 GB, 3rd place Arizona Summer League East

The rookie league team finished the season poorly (2-8 in last 10), but still managed to play .500 ball. 18 year old SS Gioskar Amaya played in more games than any other AZL Cub (52). It was his first season in the US and he handled the bat extremely well. He batted .377/.417/.510. He had 11 doubles and 8 triples along with 21 stolen base attempts (13 sucessfully). 

DSL Cubs 1: 25-42, 19.5 GB, 7th place Domican Summer League

Xavier Batista is 19 years old and he’s ready to come back to the US. After a disappointing year in the AZL last year the Cubs sent him back to the DSL teams. The right-handed outfielder hit .259/.371/.472 with 10 home runs between DSL Cubs1 and DSL Cubs2. He finished 4th in the league in home runs and displayed the ability to take a walk, which is a rarity in this organization.

DSL Cubs 2: 47-25, 1st place by 8.5 games, Dominican Summer League

Jeimer Candelario was one of the Cubs big international free agent signings a year ago as they signed him for a $500,000 bonus. He’s just 17 years old and he had a terrific season. He hit .337/.443/.478. He took 50 walks in 72 games and struckout 42 times. This report from BA was from early in the season:

Jeimer Candelario, 3b, Cubs. July 2 is right around the corner, which means Baseball America’s reports on the top international prospects will start next week. Meanwhile the summer leagues in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are underway, with the majority of last year’s international signings making their debuts in those leagues. One of the early standouts has been Cubs third baseman Jeimer Candelario, a $500,000 signing out of the Dominican Republic last summer (although he was born in New York) who has come better than advertised. Candelario, 17, earned praise from scouts for his potential to hit for average and power from both sides of the plate. Even better, his approach at the plate is quite mature for his age, as he’s already drawn 12 walks in 34 plate appearances. Sure, it’s early, but he’s off to a .364/.588/.455 start and leading the DSL in OBP.

He came back to earth a bit, but he still displayed great patience and on-base skills. Carlos Penalver was the only other Latin player the Cubs signed for more money than Candelario. Penalver signed for $550,000. He had an OK season.

The 8 teams above went 421-409 overall.