Journeymen of Tomorrow: Week 6 Prospect Watch

Sorry it's late, and sorry about Week 5. I'd say it won't happen again, but with Leah on the warpath, I'd probably be lying.

AAA

Brett Jackson 2: Des Moines Nights has been incrementally better than he was two weeks ago. His peripherals are still bad (8.7%, 28.3% BB/K) and his BABIP is still .358, but he's good for a .259/.341/.432 slash which is league average for the PCL. He still has basically no chance at sticking as a starter in the outfield with his toolkit.

Logan Watkins has kept up an impressive walk rate (18.5%), something he's always been able to do but never to this degree. His ISO keeps climbing as he ages, as does his K rate (23.3%). The strikeout rate is not nearly as concerning as it normally would be given Watkins' apparently affinity for working deep in counts, but I would still not like to see it climb much higher. At .237/.384/.407 in AAA, he's got a wRC+ of 111, but his line is too unique given his low rate of balls in play that I don't put a tremendous stock in it. dmick89 is of the opinion that he'd be called up before Vitters at this point, and given his utility I'm not sure I disagree (though I think the Cubs think higher of Watkins at this point than Vitters and would want him to play every day).

Josh Vitters only has 44 PA on the year, and they haven't been particularly productive (.225/.295/.400). His balls haven't fallen in for hits and his peripherals are actually quite decent so far this year. Give me another 100 PA before I can tell you for sure how he's doing.

Nick Struck has had a terrible year this season, and he'd be in critical danger of being demoted to AA if the other starters hadn't been just as putrid as he's been. He just isn't getting strikeouts and he's giving up home runs at a rate unlike any he's had in his career. He's the owner of a 6.85 ERA and a 5.99 FIP, and in 5 starts he's only reached the 6th inning once.

AA

Ronald Torreyes has 103 PA so far this year, so we can start to glean a little information from his start. He's been wonderful so far, with a 14/6 BB/SO ratio and a .288/.408/.375 line. His power is down a bit from previous years, but other than that he's been as good as advertised if not better. The Marshall trade keeps looking like it was a very good one.

Arismendy Alcantara has been rather frustrating this seaons. His walks have actually gone up this year (as have his strikeouts), but his BABIP has dipped precipitously (to a still-normal .292). His speed is still there, as is his power, so the question really is whether or not his .292 (and not his ~.340) BABIP is the new normal. If so, and it is more likely than not, Alcantara really takes a hit in prospect status, ESPECIALLY if he can't stick at SS, which is a legitimate question.

Christian Villanueva continues to disappoint with his bat. He's stuck at .239/.308/.350 with relatively unchanged peripherals. He may just be outmatched, like many fringe-100 prospects are at AA. 

Matt Szczur has resumed his power outage, now with a .287/.365/.372 line on the season. His ISO sits at the lowest it's ever been at any point in his career.

Jae-Hoon Ha has been injured for a little bit, but before he left he had a .305/.408/.402 line. He hasn't had any power at all this year, but not only kept the plate discipline from last season but expanded upon it. I guess you're third tour of duty in AA will do that for you.

Kyle Hendricks was a player I was bullish on last year and so far I've been rewarded. He had a rough start to the year, but has turned it on lately. His ERA (2.63) and FIP (2.56) aren't far apart, and he's been unlucky if anything to start the season. He's not going to blow anyone away with his stuff but he could end up at the back of a rotation without too much trouble. He should find himself in AAA before the year is out. 

Until Tony Zych can strike out more batters than he walks, I'm no longer putting him on the list.

A+

Javier Baez has struggled at A+ for 229 PA now (over 2 seasons). The time to worry a little is fast approaching. This year, his BB/SO ratio is 5/42, and that 42 is good for a 29.4% rate. An awesome .244 ISO still puts him at 107 wRC+ for the season but it's so clearly unsustainable that I don't care how good his power is, he'll never put the ball in play.

It's time to hitch our wagons to the Jorge Soler hype-train. Like Baez, he has an elite ISO at A+. Unlike Baez, he has some plate discipline. He has an 11.2% walk rate and a 15.0% K rate, both pretty good. That's lead to a .290/.374/.559 line which is good for 7th in the FSL in terms of wOBA (.410). Only one player above him is 21 or younger, the 20-year old Miguel Sano (who also is the only player in the league that has more power than he does and is likely the only larger prospect). I'd love to see the Cubs FO promote him to AA.

Stephen Bruno has been banged up. He still sits at an unsustainable .362/.436/.478, in 78 PA. 

Zeke DeVoss flashed power earlier this year but hasn't followed up on it. His ISO is back to .124 and with it his line has eroded to .200/.375/.324. He just isn't a great prospect anymore, though I like surprises.

Ben Wells has been exquisitely mediocre.

Starling Peralta has to be injured or something. He's been absolutely disgustingly bad so far. 

A

Dillon Maples made his triumphant return to the game of baseball last week! I look forward to seeing him not be injured if at all possible. 

Pierce Johnson has been quite good so far. His ERA is 3.77 but his FIP is 2.47, and he's been all sorts of unlucky both with BABIP and strand rates. I'd like to seem him go deeper in starts but he has to be on a pitch count or something.

Gioskar Amaya has been the most disappointing Cubs prospect of the year. His line is now at .228/.258/.317, and he's backslid in every conceivable way. 

Jeimer Candelario sits at a .229/.352/.331 line so far. He's still young, but at that pace he'll probably end up repeating A ball. The plate discipline is there but his balls aren't falling in for hits. I couldn't tell you why because MILB.tv doesn't show games in A ball, yet.

Marco Hernandez needs to hit a lot more than he has this year. He's repeating A ball and doing as bad if not worse this year than last. It's going to be game over really quickly, and I'm dropping him from the prospect lists pretty soon. 

Dan Vogelbach's strength is finally, finally returning. He's at .288/.366/.448 on the year, with a 11.7% walk rate and a 12.4% K rate. His ISO is .160; still far away from what we'd expect, but it's been climbing rapidly. It would not surprise me if he ended the season with a line something like .310/.400/.540, which would be more than adequate given his struggles at the end of the year.

Rock Shoulders has a sweet name, and by POPULAR DEMAND I've included him here. He's also earned it, pretty much. He plays in the outfield which was a concern previously; it definitely makes him slightly more intriguing a prospect. He's crushed A-ball to the tune of .317/.400/.585, good for a wOBA of .441 (171 wRC+). At 21, you're really hoping that he gets promoted with some regularity; he's done a level a year which is more than fine for now. He needs to watch his strikeouts, but his patience at the plate has some to do with that (12.1% walks, 24.3% strikeouts).

Performance of the Week

Zach Rosscup had 3 appearances last week. In those appearances, he pitched 5.1 innings, allowed 2 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 7. On the season, his ERA is 1.08 in 16.2 innings pitched, with a SO/BB ratio of 25/5.

Prospect Performance of the Week

It's easy to give it to Jorge Soler here, so I will. Over the past 10, he's hit .314/.405/.771 with 3 HR, 1 3B, and 5 2B.

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