James Triantos picture taken by Rich Biesterfeld
Thanks for coming back to our preseason extravaganza at North Side Bound. Over the past week all four writers predicted who they thought would lead statistical categories in hitting, starting pitching, and relieving. Now, we shift gears to some more predictions as we take a look at who we think will be the hitter of the year, the starting pitcher of the year, and the reliever of the year in the system.
One thing to keep in mind for all three of these awards is that the player we pick is someone who’s going to have to remain in the system for most of the year. It can’t be somebody who’s called up in June or July, but someone called up in September could still win the award. Let’s see who each writer picked to win the hitter of the year.
Last Year’s Winner – Brennen Davis
Jimmy Nelligan – It’s going to be hard not to choose one of the teenagers at Myrtle Beach for Cubs hitter of the year, and for me personally, it would be very difficult to select anyone other than Kevin Alcántara. Like with a lot of the teenagers in Myrtle we don’t have much stats to go from, but Kevin Alcantara did have an OPS over 1.000 in the Arizona Complex league, and I love everything about his game. He’s a tall, athletic outfielder who could hit for a lot of power when he adds more muscle to his frame. He has a patient approach that will get him on base often, and with all the incredible bats in Myrtle Beach he will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.
Greg Zumach – In our hitter stat predictions, I listed Owen Caissie as leading the organization in OPS, home runs, and wRC+. I can’t go back on that and I think it’ll be a huge reason ONKC takes home the Hitter of the Year award. Caissie’s swing is geared towards power, but he’s an intelligent guy who understands swing planes (how to adjust your swing to attack pitches in different zones) and the nuances of hitting. I’ll say that mighty Caissie finishes with a .298 average, with 27 home runs, a 0.922 OPS, and a 156 wRC+.
Greg Huss – I made this pick over on the Growing Cubs Podcast and I’m not backing off now. I think we are gonna see a huge year from Chase Strumpf. We know he can get on base by drawing walks as well as anyone in the system, and we’ve seen glimpses of both the hit tool and the oppo power we’ve been waiting on. This will be the year he shows them off consistently and it’ll happen in Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. We’ve been sleeping on the third baseman for a while now. This year, I think he’ll prove why we were wrong to do so.
Todd Johnson – Every choice over the next four days is going to be extremely difficult. There’s just so much depth in the system now that it’s hard to pick one player. With Brennen Davis probably in Chicago by the middle of the year, the Cubs are going to have a new top hitting prospect. This year, that should be James Triantos. Whether it will be is a different story. Triantos has that mix of hitting for average and power as well as having the ability to spray the ball all over the ballpark. How much power is he going to have this year in Myrtle Beach is going to be the big question. Hopefully, I will get to see him at some point in July and August if he gets promoted to South Bend. For that to happen, he’s going to have to rake early and often.