DJ Herz – Picture by Todd Johnson

Most of the prospects on North Side Bound’s top 20 prospect list have now seen two weeks action. And, as a whole, most of the hitters are off to a disappointing start. The cold weather has not helped.

The Cubs’ development structure has changed quite a bit the past couple of years since there is no short season class A league for Cubs prospects to play. That was a necessary step for many prospects in their development but going from rookie league to Low-A is a huge jump. We saw that last summer in Myrtle Beach and we’re seeing it again this year as a lot of the Cubs’ youngest hitters struggled to begin the year. Then again, this “hitting slump” is going on at most levels of the system. On Wednesday night, we began to see some hitters begin to snap out of it.

The pitching, however, has been fantastic!

First, let’s look at how the pitching portion of our Top 20 list is doing this year.

6. DJ Herz 

Let’s see…4 no hit innings last night…0.82 ERA for the season, 14 Ks in 10 innings this year. Tennessee is not far away once he gets stretched out.

8. Jordan Wicks 

So far, Wicks has made two starts totaling 7.1 IP with 8 Ks. He currently has an ERA of 3.68 and will make his next start against the Quad Cities next week. 

10. Ryan Jensen

Ryan Jensen has not looked spectacular but the results have been very good. He has a 2.57 ERA for 7 innings of work in which he has struck out 7. 

14. Caleb Kilian

To be quite frank, Kilian does not have a lot of experience above High-A. It doesn’t show though. This year, in 3 starts, he has a 1.54 ERA with 13 Ks in 11.2 innings. Last night, he went 5 solid frames on just 68 pitches. 6 innings awaits next. 

19. Kohl Franklin 

Kohl has made 2 starts but has only managed to go 2.1 innings while giving up 3 runs as he continues to shake off the rust of missing two years. The velocity is great, the pitch shapes are wonderful, the command is what needs to come back. 

20. Anderson Espinoza

He’s only gone 6.2 IP but he’s struck 11 batters while posting a 6.75 ERA. The Cubs are still being cautious with his pitch counts and innings.

Out of the hitters in North Side Bound’s top 20, only a few are off to a good start. Yohendrick Pinango (#16) is doing Yohendrick Pinango things (.325/.386/.836) while #11 Kevin Made went 2-for-2 and won Player of the Day in his first game last Sunday and has sat out the last three games. Young SS Cristian Hernandez is in EXST while Brailyn Marquez (13) and Miguel Amaya (15) are not playing. 

Prepare yourself, the hitting will be brutal. You may only want to keep one eye open for this portion of the article. 

1. Brennen Davis

After not getting a hit in his first ten ABs, Davis has been hitting like Brennen going 11-for-39 or .282 with a couple of dingers, which is not bad. The overall average looks bad but it will even out shortly if Davis continues to be consistent and patient.

SLASH LINE: .224/.328/.716

3. Kevin Alcantara 

He has looked quite good at times at the plate The swing is quite gorgeous and the results are sort of there, he just needs more men on base. Then again, he drove in 4 on Wednesday this week.

SLASH LINE: .265/.324/.706

4. Reggie Preciado

It’s been a rough start for PReciado and outright brital at the plate. Because of tech issues in Myrtle Beach, it’s hard to know the full story, but based on stats, he’s not making contact yet. 

SLASH LINE: .083/.132/.243

4. Pete Crow-Armstrong 

The more he plays, the better hey gets. And the more he plays, the more he looks like the next great Cubs prospect.

SLASH LINE: .233/.410/.943

6. James Triantos 

Like Preciado, the start was rough. But after Wednesday and Thursday, he is starting to put some things together with his average rising almost .100 points in just two days.

SLASH LINE: .178/.255/.499

9. Owen Caissie 

He’s shown flashes of potential for hitting and his knowledge of the strike zone. The problem is he is striking out too much, almost pressing, and swinging at pitches he should not be swinging

SLASH LINE: .108/.175/.310

11. Ed Howard 

On Wednesday this week, he had a two-hit night including the game winning RBI. He’s looked fine in the field and looks to have a pretty good approach but he has to put the bat on the ball more consistently. Last night he hit a bullet out of the park.

SLASH LINE: .179/.267/.523

17. Alexander Canario 

When it warms up, I have no doubts the batting average will rise with the temps. The power, though, is already on display including this mammoth shot below. 

SLASH LINE: .200/.276/.648

18. Chris Morel 

He is literally playing everywhere and loving it. The bat has been seen in spurts, but the strikeouts are back and that is a concern.

SLASH LINE: .238/.319/.771