MLR Pre-Draft Edition: Part 1


With the draft just a couple of weeks away, the Cubs farm system is about to get an influx of new talent. A lot of the newly drafted players will go straight to the Short-Season A Boise Hawks, who start playing in June, and other will funnel into the Cubs spring training compound in Arizona to participate in the Rookie League. The Cubs already have some players in Arizona waiting for Boise to begin play, and some of these players along with some newly drafted players will (and indeed already have) be filtering into the Cubs Low-A franchise in Peoria. That will start a chain reaction (and, again, already has) that will bump up other players across the system.

For this week’s Minor League Report, in addition to the usual summary of the previous week’s games and quick check on some of the players, I am going to try to identify some of the of the prospects who are likely to be promoted within the system in the near future. That extra section made this week’s report extra long, so broke it up and will be posting the A-level clubs this morning, and the upper level clubs this evening. And so, here are the Minor League Reports for Peoria and Daytona for the week ending May 23.

Peoria Chiefs (24-19) Midwest League (Low A) Western: 2nd place
The Western Division of the Midwest League is staying very competitive, but the Peoria Chiefs are hanging in there. They remain in a tie for second place, but despite a 4 game winning streak, they were not able to make up much ground. This week they try to complete a sweep of Clinton on Monday, and then welcome in Wisconsin for a four game set.

Rubi Silva was called up to Daytona this week, and taking his place in Peoria is lefty outfielder Kyung-Min Na. In his first six games with the Chiefs, Na is hitting .368. A smallish guy, Na’s game is going to depend more on his average and speed than his power. So far his strikeouts are much more frequent than I would like (6 in 19 at bats), I’ll give this kid a chance to adjust to the Midwest League before I get too worried. On the hill, Peoria’s pitching has continued to excel and is a big reason why the Chiefs are starting to make a push for first place.

Topping the potential call up list for Peoria would be 1B Greg Rohan. He spent some time in Daytona last season, and I think he would be back there already were he not blocked by Justin Bour (Daytona) and Rebel Ridling (Tennessee). I think Matt Szczur would have been sent to Daytona had he not missed about two weeks in the middle of May. On the pitching end, lefty Austin Kirk has hitters hitting just .180 against him and he is averaging nearly a strikeout an inning. He has been as dominant as any starter in the Cubs system this season.

Daytona Cubs (32-12) Florida State League (High A) North: 1st place
And off they go again. The Daytona Cubs, who own one of the best records in all of minor league baseball, have won five in a row, seven of their last eight, and are finally starting to put some distance between themselves and their rest of their division. This particular winning streak is all the more impressive because they are doing it without two of their best hitters, Nelson Perez and Jae-Hoon Ha, both of whom join former ace Robert Whitenack in Tennessee. The Cubs have just started on an eight game home stand against St. Lucie and Bradenton, and the possibility certainly exists for that winning streak to grow much, much longer.

With Ha and Nelson promoted away, Daytona’s offense has turned into the Junior Lake – Justin Bour – Evan Crawford show. Rubi Silva hasn’t matched his Peoria numbers quite yet, but he has collected a hit in six of his seven games with Daytona. As good as Daytona has been playing, they actually have the potential to play much better. Matt Cerda has been in a bit of a slump lately, Logan Watkins hasn’t found his bat yet this season, and Michael Burgess is currently mired in the worst year of his professional career. If those three guys get hot… and I think all of them are better than what we are seeing right now… Daytona could dominate the rest of the season.

Looking over the roster for likely promotions, Justin Bour stands out. He is slugging .699 off right handers. If that doesn’t get your attention, better check your pulse. Bour is having without a doubt his best year as a professional. With Rohan eyeing a promotion from Peoria and Ridling make a case to move to Iowa, I think Bour could be on his way north. Crawford is in his second season at Daytona, and he should move up just as soon as the Cubs can find room for him. Lake, in a similar situation, should not be too far behind.