While the lockout raged across most headlines this week, minor league baseball continued on. Minor league news began this week when the Cubs signed Locke Saint John to a minor league deal. The former Tigers and Rangers reliever doesn’t have a lot of major league experience, but he does have a lot of minor league success. The Cubs also re-signed catcher PJ Higgins and pitcher Jonathan Holder on Thursday. On Saturday, the Cubs inked Stephen Gonsalves. It was also announced that the major league portion of the rule five draft was canceled, but the minor league portion will continue as scheduled for Thursday this next week.
While major league players have been locked out of team facilities and communication between the players and the Cubs coaching staff has been cut, the minor leaguers are operating in a business as usual format. However, players recently added to the 40-man like Nelson Velasquez and Ethan Robert‘s are pretty much in the wrong place at the wrong time. As part of the union, they cannot do anything until the lockout ends. So if this lockout stretches into the next season, Roberts and Velasquez are out of luck and cannot play in the minors along with other prospects that are on the 40-man like Christopher Morel, Brailyn Marquez, Miguel Amaya, Alexander Canario, Anderson Espinoza, and Alexander Vizcaino.
Take of the Week
Baseball America released their top 10 Cubs prospects list on Monday. One of the things that we really didn’t talk about on Monday was one feature of the prospect list and that was their best tool selection. Usually, I don’t nitpick these compendiums too much. They are usually pretty close to my views and there’s not a lot of wiggle room to argue here or there. I’m changing my mind about that this year.
This year, I got a few bones to pick!
Best Power Hitter – Yohendrick Pinango, Owen Caissie
I’m wondering if this was a typographical mistake as both guys were listed as best power hitter in two separate lines. I’m wondering if Pinango was best “pure” hitter and then they had Caissie as the best power hitter. Anyway, I would roll with Nelson Velasquez as the best power hitter in the system. The fact that he hit 29 home runs between South Bend, Tennessee, and the Mesa Solar Sox is easy to dispel any other contenders. While I do love me some Owen Caissie, he’s a long way from fulfilling his power potential.
Best Strike Zone Discipline – Miguel Amaya
This is a tough call as I really like two players who don’t necessarily walk at a high rate, but know the zone extremely well. Andy Weber is one and Bryce Windham is the other. For those two guys, their future is a matter of putting the bat on the ball rather than swinging and missing it. Although, neither of them really strike out at a high rate either.
Best Athlete – Brennen Davis
Don’t get me wrong, I love Brennen Davis. However Jordan Nwogu is such a freak athlete. Alexander Canario is no slouch either. And once we see Parker Chavers and Pete Crow-Armstrong run around the outfield in 2022, this category will go to a whole other level.
Best Fastball – Ryan Jensen
While Jensen has a very nice fastball, Brailyn Marquez has a better one. And Cayne Ueckert. And Ben Leeper. And Zac Leigh.
Best Curveball – Riley Thompson
If Thompson and pitched in 2021, his curve probably would’ve been taken to new heights. Instead, Max Bain’s been really sharp and his curveball over the course of the last four months has become a plus out-pitch. I also really like what I still see from Jeremiah Estrada. Watching Estrada throw a curve never gets old.
Best Defensive Infielder – Ed Howard
Luis Vazquez is just amazing at shortstop. His size and range is unparalleled in the system. Howard is going to be very good whether he plays at short or at second, but Vazquez is like a panther out there.
Dinger of the Week
Guess who is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and still hitting dingers? This was his 30th on the year.
Card of the Week
As most of you know, I like to make a baseball cards from the past of current Cubs prospects. During the off-season, pictures coming out are kind of slow. But every once in a while, a pic comes through that I haven’t seen and such was the case this week as I saw this nice snapshot of Darius Hill by the Tennessee Smokies and I put it in a 1964 frame. If you’d like to see more of my homemade cards, click here for a series of links to each individual folder.
The Coolest News of the Week
It was cool to see Kristin Call named general manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans this week. Congrats to her! I met Kristin at the Cubs Convention a few times when I was helping/watching Evan Altman interview Pelican players like Dillon Maples, Justin Steele, and Mark Zagunis. She is sharp as a tack, has a great sense of humor, and really has a way dealing with the players that I really respect.
Coming up next week on North Side Bound
Tomorrow will see our third round table discussion. This time we’re talking about guys who could who could contribute in Chicago next year that are not on the top 30 MLB Pipeline Prospect List. It was a pretty fun discussion! On Tuesday, I’ll have my profile and to do list of Sir Owen Caissie and just exactly what he needs to do next season to improve. On Thursday, the minor league rule five draft will still take place and we will have who all the Cubs picked up and who all the Cubs lost. On Friday, I’ll take a look at catchers in the system and we will see just exactly how the Miguel Amaya surgery is going to impact the system in 2022.
Jam of the Week
After watching “Get Back,” I am still in a Beatles-like mood.
This past week on North Side Bound