Chicago Cubs: Top 10 Prospects for the Month of June
It is time to explore the Cubs top prospects for the month of June. This is based on pre-rankings as well as their performance so far this season. Last month, the rankings went as followed:
10. Rubi Silva, OF
9. Trey McNutt, RHP
8. Josh Vitters, 3B
7. Matt Szczur, OF
6. Travis Wood, LHP
5. Austin Kirk, LHP
4. Welington Castillo, C
3. Brett Jackson, OF
2. Rafael Dolis, RHP
1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
A lot can happen in a month, so let's see where our top prospects shake out for the month ahead.
10. Tony Zych, Daytona Cubs
Last Month: Not Rated
2012 stats: 3-3 W-L, 3.23 ERA, 5 SV, 25 K, 5 BB, 1.11 WHIP, 23 games.
Right-handed reliever Tony Zych, taken out of Louisville in 2011, brings a hard fastball to the table that consistently sits in the mid-90s, along with a decent slider that the Cubs hope can become a knee-buckling pitch.
The Cubs had their eye on the Illinois native for a while, so you can imagine the mainstays from the Hendry tenure have their eyes on this kid. He has not been absolutely dominant, but he has displayed good command for the most part.
The closer spot in Chicago is far from a foregone conclusion.
9. Kevin Rhoderick, Tennessee Smokies
Last Month: Not Rated
2012 stats: 1-2 W-L, 0.73 ERA, 23 K, 12 BB, 7 SV, 0.97 WHIP, 19 games.
Rhoderick, 23, has had a great professional career since joining the organization in 2011. He combined to go 9-0 W-L between Single-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee with a 3.03 ERA in 52 games.
His numbers this year show a significant improvement and it is possible he will get a chance to close at the higher level.
8. Austin Kirk, Daytona Cubs
Last Month: Fifth (minus-three)
2012 stats: 2-1 W-L, 2.72 ERA, 44 K, 18 BB, 1.15 WHIP, 11 starts
Former third-round draft pick Austin Kirk is quietly having a nice season in Single-A and should be tested in Double-A this season. This is his first season at Daytona and his best season professionally since joining the Cubs in 2009.
7. Matt Szczur, Daytona Cubs
Last Month: Seventh
2012 stats: .267 AVG, 1 HR, 13 RBI, .359 OBP, 32 K, 24 BB, 19 SB in 48 games
Even though Szczur finds himself on the disabled list, he holds his ground on this monthly list for his good eye at the dish and quick feet on the base paths.
He has not played a game in June, but before going on the DL he was hitting .306 with six runs scored and four RBI in the previous 10 games.
6. Josh Vitters, Iowa Cubs
Last Month: Eighth (plus-two)
2012 stats: .268 AVG, 9 HR, 32 RBI, .316 OBP, .464 SLG, 37 K, 13 BB in 58 games.
For his first stint in Triple-A, Vitters is doing a fairly good job holding his own. After a strong May, Vitters is not off to the hottest start in June but he has showed that he can hit and he will get the rest of 2012 to put it together in Iowa.
He likely will begin 2013 in Iowa again, but there remains an opportunity for him to take over at third base if Ian Stewart cannot turn it around in the second half.
5. Trey McNutt, Tennessee Smokies
Last Month: Ninth (plus-four)
Season stats: 4-4 W-L, 2.35 ERA, 27 K, 22 BB, 1.26 WHIP in 11 games
McNutt is having a decent year in Double-A with the only thing holding him back is his innings. He has only completed six innings in one start this season, so he may be best suited as a reliever long-term.
He needs to improve him command and perhaps stretch himself later into games. Until then he is a below-average starter at the next level.
He has good secondary pitches but they won't develop if he can't stay in games and face batters more than once an outing.
4. Brett Jackson, Iowa Cubs
Last Month: Third (minus-one)
2012 stats: .265 AVG,8 HR, 25 RBI, 12 SB, .341 OBP, 80 K, 26 BB in 60 games
Brett Jackson loses a step to two new additions on the list, but he is also putting together a fairly good season. He is the league leader in strikeouts, which is alarming, and this is his second stint in Triple-A so you would think it would improve.
The Cubs must be thinking if he can strike out less and get on base more, he could be an All-Star caliber player. Makes sense when you think about it. He would steal more bases, see more pitches giving him more opportunities to hit and hone his talents.
He needs some more seasoning but may get an opportunity come September to showcase himself for the future.
3. Javier Baez, Peoria Chiefs
Last Month: NR
2012 stats: .273 AVG, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB, .360 OBP, .477 SLG, 14 K, 3 BB in 12 games (44 at-bats)
The Cubs first-round draft pick in 2011 left extended spring training and is getting an early start with Peoria. Many expected him to join Boise like he did briefly last season, but coming to Single-A Peoria gives the brass up in Chicago an opportunity to watch him closely and play with a slightly more advanced talent pool.
2. Junior Lake, Tennessee Smokies
Last Month: NR
2012 stats: .297 AVG, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .354 OBP, 29 K, 11 BB, 3 SB in 29 games
Lake joined Tennessee later on in the season but he is off to a promising start after struggling with the Smokies last season. At 22, he will likely get a chance at Triple-A before the season ends.
He is said to have better skills in the field than Starlin Castro, which sets up the possibility that Castro will move to third base, or second, depending on the future of Josh Vitters, to make way for Lake if he keeps progressing.
1. Anthony Rizzo, Iowa Cubs
Last Month: First
2012 stats: .363 AVG, 20 HR, 53 RBI, 42 K, 20 BB, .424 OBP in 58 games.
Anthony Rizzo remains in a holding pattern in Iowa but continues to absolutely maul the ball. It is getting to the point where teams are going to stop pitching to him, which is certainly not what the Cubs want to see happen.
He is having a better season and has already matched his 2011 minors numbers in half the at-bats.