The Cubs' minor league system is playing better than expected in 2012. Let's take a look at guys who are healthy and making their way up the pipeline toward Chicago.
There's been a lot of focus on the usual suspects—Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson—but some of the team's best prospects are just getting started and are off to good starts.
This list won't focus on every top prospect, but noteworthy ones who are playing well. If you like my prospect posts, check out my profile or take a look at the Cubs' top 10 prospects for the month of July.
Josh Vitters is hitting .303 in 98 games with 15 home runs, 59 RBI and a .353 OBP. He is having his best professional season and it could not be coming at a better time as the Cubs have a hole at third base.
While his numbers are good, he needs to show more patience at the plate. In terms of his fielding, he has said it himself that he feels more comfortable than last year—which is encouraging despite having 20 errors this season.
Either way, the Cubs would be foolish not to give Vitters a taste of Chicago during the 2012 season.
To the untrained eye, Jae-Hoon Ha's selection to the Futures Game may have come as a surprise. His numbers have not been all too impressive, and several young prospects could have been deserving of the recognition.
However, Ha's play has not gone unnoticed by the Cubs brass and he could quietly climb his way to Chicago before some of the Cubs' most touted prospects.
The 21-year-old Ha is hitting .269 with four home runs, 33 RBI and nine stolen bases in 93 games this season. He has scored 53 runs, owns a .337 OBP and is hitting .368 in his last 10 games.
He is currently in Double-A and will likely finish the season there before playing in the Arizona Fall League or a winter league.
In 74 games at High-A Daytona, outfielder Matt Szczur has finally been putting it together, hitting .290 with two home runs, 31 RBI and 33 stolen bases.
Szczur had struggled all season, hitting only .267 before the All-Star break. Since the break, he has been hitting .333 in 96 at-bats and an impressive .368 in his last 10 games.
Szczur will definitely get a look in Double-A if he keeps up his strong play. At 23 years old, the Cubs should feel the need to press him a bit. There is no reason he should start the season fresh in Double-A.
Getting a little taste is always a good thing.
Javier Baez is making a statement with the Peoria Chiefs, hitting .326 with 10 home runs, 24 RBI and 19 stolen bases in just 47 games.
In the month of July, he's been hitting .358 with six home runs, with the only real concern being poor plate discipline.
He has struck out 40 times to just seven walks. That could become a problem down the road, but so far he is so dominant that it does not even matter.
Take his early success as a sign of good things to come.
After an atrocious stint with the Daytona Cubs, former first-round pick Hayden Simpson has settled down with the Boise Hawks and is finally showing some signs of a quality pitcher.
Who knows what the case really is with Simpson, but it is nice to see his numbers reflect something similar of a high draft pick.
In eight appearances with the Hawks, Simpson is 1-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 24 strikeouts to 14 walks. It would be nice to see him get his control down, but at least he is getting outs.
In case you missed it, left-handed slugger Dan Vogelbach joined Low-A Boise today, leaving behind the AZL Cubs hopefully for the last time.
After hitting .324 with seven home runs and a .391 OBP in 24 games, Vogelbach received the call and will likely finish the season with Boise.
Jorge Soler got his professional career in the States under way and launched his first career home run, a rope to left field.
Soler will hopefully grow into his big frame and develop a real power stroke. In the meantime, enjoy his first home run, courtesy of Cubs Den.
In his first professional game, Almora blasted a home run for his first and only hit of the night. It was a great way to start his career, especially since Almora was reportedly contemplating going to college over signing with the Cubs.
He made the right decision, and he will be awarded with an extra month or so of professional playing time, plus fall or winter league play.
Above is his first Cubs' home run from Monday night.