Following stellar months, the Chicago Cubs named infielder Vimael Machin and relief pitcher Craig Brooks as their respective minor leaguers of the month.
Unless you follow the Chicago Cubs and the inner workings of their system, chances are Vimael Machin and Craig Brooks are two names who remain relatively unknown to you. Despite the repeated rankings that show the club’s farm system near the bottom of the league, there is still talent here.
Machin recently received his call to Triple-A Iowa after posting impressive numbers at Double-A Tennessee over the first part of the season. Brooks, meanwhile, has been performing at another level for Tennessee and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Making the chance count
Machin was originally drafted way back in 2011 by the San Diego Padres in the 29th round. Deciding instead to attend college, Machin arrived to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He played three seasons at VCU before the Cubs selected him in the 10th round of the 2015 June Amateur Draft.
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Within his first two years in the organization, Machin worked his way up to Triple-A. His first stint lasted 14 games as he slashed .278/.480/.278 with an impressive .384 wOBA and 132 wRC+. The past two seasons have seen Machin work his way back to Triple-A.
Through his first 10 games, Machin is slashing a strong .316/.435/.421 with a .386 wOBA and 125 wRC+. During the month of May, Machin produced at an otherworldly level. The 27 game sample size saw Machin slash .369/.440/.534 with a .974 OPS, an 11.2 percent walk rate, and a video game level 2.6 percent strikeout rate. In that span, Machin also posted a 186 wRC+.
Brooks is also a product of the 2015 June Amateur Draft. His road has been up and down since Chicago drafted him in the seventh round that year. Last season Brooks worked his way up to Triple-A, where he struggled. This season is a whole new ballgame, however.
The month of May was exceptional for Brooks. In the seven games he appeared, Brooks faced 45 batters and allowed just one run. He walked only five and posted 21 strikeouts. Over the month Brooks also recorded three saves and posted a 0.82 ERA. On the season Brooks is carrying a 0.76 ERA with a 39.2 percent strikeout rate.
What does the future hold?
With the recent addition of reliever Craig Kimbrel, it is safe to say the likelihood of Brooks seeing even a remote chance this season is slim. The Cubs have deployed a mix of many different relievers this season yet that should change with Kimbrel now helping lead the pen.
As far as Machin goes, there is an outside chance he could see an opportunity. Namely, if Daniel Descalso continues to struggle. Over his last ten ballgames, Descalso is just 2-for-23 with a 30.4 percent strikeout rate and a 55 wRC+. Since Machin fills the same role of Descalso, who is to say the team couldn’t opt to find out what they have in Machin?