The lack of hitting in the Cubs system to this point in the season is a little disconcerting. Then again, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Over the past two summers, the Cubs have drafted mostly pitchers. Position players, specifically those with college college experience, have been few and far between in the top rounds. As a result, the Cubs do not have any elite hitting prospect dominating the system.
Some of the major prospects are struggling as well. Aramis Ademan is below .230 at Myrtle Beach. Nelson Velazquez is hovering around .200 while Mark Zagunis and David Bote were shuttling back and forth between Iowa and Chicago. DJ Wilson has been injured most of the spring. Then again, Jhonny Pereda (one of my breakout candidates) and Jeffrey Baez haven’t stopped hitting all season.
There are some others looking to get back on track as well, so let’s have a quick look at five hitters who’re starting to put it together here in May.
1. Chesny Young seems to have found his stroke again. After hitting only .183 in April, he more closely resembles the hitter that came to close to leading three leagues in hitting. In May so far, Young is hitting .333 with a .400 OBP. His average was up and down every month last season, but perhaps he can maintain some consistency at AAA Iowa over the course of this summer. As young has gotten back to who he is, I-Cubs manager Marty Pevey has moved him into the two-hole in the lineup.
2. Charcer Burks had a horrible April as well, but has been destroying the baseball to the tune of .344 with a .429 OBP and a .953 OPS this month. He has also been spotted playing more center than usual. Last year, he got off to a great start and sputtered in the second half, so his goal moving forward is the same as Young’s.
3. Yasiel Balaguert is a notoriously slow starter, but he tends to turn it on in the second half. This year, however, he is not waiting until it warms up to get hot himself. He’s hitting .297 this month with two home runs and 11 RBI. In addition, he was named the player of the day twice just this week. He’s only walked twice this month, so that’s something to work on, but the burly 1B/OF can get hot for weeks at a time. It is good to see him go off so early.
4. Zack Short is just ripping it this month. In 15 games, he’s hit four homers and driven in 12 runs while hitting .277 with an OBP of .413 and an OPS of .966. He’s never been one to hit for that high an average in his pro career, but the homers and OBP have always been outstanding and are consistent with past numbers. After an April in which he hit just .183, he looks to be back on track and he should be moving up several prospect lists if he continues to maintain his performance.
5. Tyler Alamo has been a terror at first base for Myrtle Beach, raking it to the tune of a .326 average with three home runs in May. He has a .979 OPS that shows how well he is seeing and driving the ball. It seems like Alamo has been around forever, but he is only 23 (deja vu line of 2018) and I don’t know how much longer he will remain a Pelican. There’s not a lot left for him to prove in the Carolina League.
When the second half arrives, look for Fernando Kelli, Luis Hidalgo, Luis Vazquez, Luis Diaz, Alexander Guerra, and Jonathan Sierra to heat up for Eugene starting on June 15. Wow, that’s less than a month away. This is only the preface of the story of who can get it done at the plate this summer, not to mention what hitters the Cubs take in the first few rounds of next month’s draft.