Brett Jackson, Gerardo Concepcion: Who's Hot, Who's Not Top Prospects Part 4
There's some new faces emerging as we cross over into May and have the fourth installment of Who's Hot, Who's Not Among Cubs top prospects.
Brett Jackson has opened the month of May on a tear, and changes at the top in Chicago are telling to what is in store this season for some of the teams top prospects.
Without further adieu, your prospects...
On His Way to Chicago: Adrian Cardenas
For the early Theo-haters, one of the Cubs late offseason acquisitions is getting the call to Chicago and could easily take some time away from Darwin Barney and Ian Stewart in the near future.
His name is Adrian Cardenas, and he was plucked away from the Athletics organization after being designated for assignment. He is hitting .319 in Triple-A with 2 home runs and 11 walks to five strikeouts.
With Barney playing well, Cardenas will have to explode on the scene to be considered for the starting job. Still, his play in Triple-A warranted a call up and he will get his chance.
HOT: Brett Jackson
After finishing April with a .236 average, 2 HR, and a .343 OBP, Jackson has turned it around hitting .348 in his past six games with one home run and three extra-base hits.
What's holding him back most is his strikeout total. He has struck out at least once in each of the past ten games that he has started, and is second in the league in strikeouts with 37.
He is now hitting a mediocre .254 but it is nice to see that he is raising his average.
With the Cubs considering shifting LaHair to the outfield to make room for Anthony Rizzo at first base, it only gives the Cubs more time with Brett Jackson. He will be 24 in August and could realistically begin the 2013 season in Triple-A to allow time for the cluttered outfield situation to work itself out.
HOT: Junior Lake
One of the Cubs' most exciting young prospects has joined Double-A Tennessee and is off to a good start, going 2-for-4 in his first game. His two hits were a double and a triple, by the way.
The Cubs would like to see him hold a stronger average than in years past, which could lead to more opportunities to steal bases and score runs. He stole 38 bases last season. Lake is very similar to Castro in build and raw power, but has yet to find consistent contact.
Either way, it is nice to see him getting back to action.
HOT: Frank Batista
Frank Batista was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month after converting 5-of-5 saves in Double-A and receiving a call up to Triple-A too.
Batista, 23, owns a 4.76 ERA through 5.2 innings of work, but he didn't surrender a run until his fourth appearance in Triple-A, when he gave up three runs on three walks, in true Marmol fashion.
Those were his first three walks of the season so look for him to bounce back in his next outing. The reason he is included in this list is because he may soon be up in the Cubs bullpen if someone goes down.
NOT: Gerardo Concepcion
Gerardo Concepcion is adjusting to American baseball and a new life in the States, and its showing in Single-A Daytona. The Cuban defector, 20, is 0-3 with a 18.90 ERA and has given up 19 runs (14 earned).
He last pitched May 5th, but last just an inning and gave up seven runs, two earned. In his last two starts, Concepcion has gone just 1.2 innings and is 0-2, obviously.
It appears the Cubs rushed Concepcion, who is not fully acclimated yet. The Cubs may be forced to send him to extended spring training with him ultimately returning to Low-A Boise or in a summer developmental league if he does not turn it around.
NOT: Josh Vitters
The only reason I keep featuring Vitters on this list is because this is a "prospect watch" type article. He really is not playing that well, but it is intriguing because it is his first time in Triple-A.
Vitters raised his average to finish April at .261, but is hitting just .190 in seven games in May and has struck out seven times.
Vitters is still struggling at the Triple-A level but there is no reason to think he will be sent to Double-A anytime soon. He is lacking in the power department but it is still early and not immediate cause for concern.
It would be nice to see Vitters get hot for a few weeks to see how he can work Triple-A pitching—a veritable hodgepodge of former MLB pitchers, veterans with ML experience and prospects.
Until then, we will be waiting.
NOT: Dave Sappelt
Dave Sappelt is a starting outfielder with the Iowa Cubs. He came over in the Sean Marshall deal that also netted the Cubs Travis Wood.
Sappelt, 25, hit .313 in 74 games with 7 home runs and a .377 OBP in Triple-A Louisville, but hit just .243 in 38 games with 0 home runs with the Reds in 2011.
The Cubs think highly of him as a potential reserve outfielder, so look for him to heat up in May or else he will truly be considered only organizational depth.
Anthony Rizzo Watch
Anthony Rizzo continues to play very well for the Iowa Cubs.
He is hitting .355 with a .413 OBP, 7 HR, and 25 RBI in 29 games this season. His average has dropped to relatively normal levels after hitting an impressive .314 with 6 RBI in his past ten games.
Bryan LaHair continues to play well, and the Cubs have started considering what the lineup would look like with Rizzo in it. The tell tale sign to me will be whether or not we see LaHair getting a few starts in the outfield this month in preparation for his arrival.
It is possible the Cubs will wait until June-July to give Rizzo up to 200+ at-bats