There are only two months left in the minor league season. In June, however, three teams were in playoff races with only Myrtle Beach actually qualifying. Eugene, the Dominican Summer League, and the Arizona Rookie League all began play. There was a lot to keep track including several promotions from Iowa to Chicago.
One-word June summary: Ouch
This team needs some starting pitching. They ranked 14th out of 16 Pacific Coast League teams in team ERA. Starter Zach Hedges joined Iowa two weeks ago, but they need one more arm in the rotation and maybe one or two in the pen.
Key hitting prospect: Bijan Rademacher – He is next. After hitting over .360 in June, he is primed for a crack at Chicago. It helps that he can play all three outfield spots and has one of the best arms in the system. He should be named the Cubs Minor League Hitter of the Month.
Key pitching prospect: Jack Leathersich – After missing a year and a half, he looks to be in shape and ready to help out at the MLB level. In six June appearances, he has a 0.75 ERA in June and struck out 22 in 12 IP while opponents only hit .154 against him.
One-word June summary: Close
This team had a nice stretch in May and then fell apart in June during a playoff push, but they will be fine. I wonder how long Charcer Burks and Jason Vosler stay at this level. They have been outstanding hitters, along with Ian Rice and David Bote. But the key to their season is the bullpen.
If Ryan McNeil gets it figured out, look out. Daury Torrez and James Pugliese have given up nothing in front of him all year and David Garner was having a good June. Dillon Maples and his MLB-ready curveball have been excellent so far.
Eloy Jimenez is coming…it is not a question of if, but when. He is being pitched around quite a bit in the Carolina League. I don’t expect this promotion to take long, though. When he does come, his bat will really change the lineup for those in front of and behind him, especially Vosler.
Key pitching prospect: Trevor Clifton – Just 22, Clifton has moved up a level a year. He had a good April and May and slumped a little in June, but should be back to normal after the break. He has been a stud in July and August the past two summers.
Key hitting prospect: Jimenez – He better be.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
One-word June summary: Yes!
They won 20 out of 24 to close out the first half and win the title in the Southern Division of the Carolina League. All parts of the team clicked to make it happen – starting pitching, hitting, defense, and the bullpen. In the second half, Manager Buddy Bailey will surely have some roles to figure out as some players head to Tennessee and others come in from South Bend and the draft. Adbert Alzolay made a case to be promoted as he went deep into games most every night. It should be interesting to see who is on this roster come the first of August.
Key hitting prospect – Trent Giambrone – He is coming on strong. After barely hitting .220 in the first half, he hit .316 in June with 6 dingers.
Key pitching prospect – Thomas Hatch – He gave up 3 earned runs all month and looks to have his command and control back. He will be named the Cubs minor league Pitcher of the Month later this week.
South Bend Cubs
One-word June summary: Young
They were blowing the doors of teams in May and then they hit a wall. They’re a very young team but they can hit. I think several college picks could arrive to help a depleted bullpen. Remember the name Brandon Hughes, an outfielder from Michigan State.
Key hitting prospect: Isaac Paredes – He hit over .300 for June. It took a while, but I think he is beginning to live up to the faith the Cubs brass showed in having the 18-year-old skipping Eugene.
Key pitching prospect: Dylan Cease – He really needs innings and developing efficiency is the key to him strengthening that arm. Right now, he has 47.1 IP and has about 13-14 starts left. Hopefully, he can get over 100 IP in this year. That would be great.
One Word June Summary: Streaky
They started off 0-2 and did not look like they could hit a lick, but then won seven in a row and now sit calmly in first place at 10-6. Top international youngsters abound on the roster. Miguel Amaya showed he’s the best catcher in the system by throwing out seven base runners in the first six games.
Key hitting prospect: Joe Martarano – He hit over .360 in June. The former Boise State linebacker has an excellent eye at the plate as he approached a .450 OBP.
Key pitching prospect: Javier Assad – He was brilliant in his third start, striking out nine. He uses a three-pitch mix to baffle hitters and has a 2.45 ERA in three starts.
Stay tuned for more as the second half gets going in earnest.