Zac Leigh – Picture by Todd Johnson
Usually, the month of June involves a lot of scoreboard watching as teams try and vie for a playoff spot. We saw Myrtle Beach in a neck and neck race with Charleston and the same was true for both Tennessee and South Bend up until the last week of the first half.
But now that July is here, it is that awkward part of the year where you hope to see promotions but you’re not really sure what’s going to happen. There are several guys who North Side Bound have wanted promoted and have not been moved up. They may be later this month. But there’s also the looming specter of the draft coming up next week which will introduced close to 20 new players into the system. Room will have to be made for them once they sign.
The Cubs have also had a lot of success in signing nondrafted free agents and they are going to be very active again this year with just a 20 round draft. With the success of Matt Mervis, Ben Leeper, Tyler Santana, and Walker Powell from the last two last classes, expect to the Cubs to keep adding those kinds of players.
And on top of that, the Cubs are likely to be busy at the trade deadline.
We could be looking at adding 30-35 new players between the draft, free agency, and trades. That, basically, amounts to a whole new affiliate.
So to get away from all that stuff for a week, we’re just going to push that aside and look at who is performing right now just in the first ten days of July. We’re going to break this down by affiliate. It will just be hitters today. It’s a little too early to be looking at pitching stats for the month.
Who’s Hot? Those doing one of the of the following: hitting .285 or higher, driving in 10 runs, or cranking 3 dingers after 10 days.
Jackson Frazier, Dixon Machado, and Darius Hill
When I looked up the stats, I was really pleased to see that Darius Hill was in this list as he has been been pretty much hot all year. Frazier is also seeming to thrive in Iowa while he and Hill await their turn in Chicago.
Bryce Ball, Matt Mervis, Bryce Windham, Alexander Canario, Chase Strumpf, and Luis Vazquez
It was good to see Bryce Ball and Bryce Windham back on the hot list. Mr. Windham was very hot in May and cooled off quite a bit in June but now seems to have found his stroke again. I also like the fact that Luis Vasquez is off to a good start this month as his bat will hopefully catch up to his glove work this year or next.
Luis Verdugo, Yohendrick Pinango, Owen Caissie, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Jake Washer
Verdugo just continues to rake. Every night it seems like he goes 2-for-4 with at least one double. After a brief slump, it looks like Yohendrick is back doing well. And now that he is getting regular playing time, Jake Washer is ripping the ball again. PCA has been playing well since coming back from his bone bruise. As for Mr. Caissie…his walk off grand slam this week was amazing!
Josue Huma, Alejandro Rivero, Jacob Wetzel, Kevin Alcantara, Kevin Made, James Triantos, Ezequiel Pagan, and Juan Mora
This is pretty much the entire lineup as they are just raking. I am not surprised by most of them, but I’m really pleased to see Jacob Wetzel get off to a good start in a month. I’ve always liked his approach at the plate and his pitch recognition skills. Now it seems his swing is lining up to produce some good numbers after just 10 days. He has 3 dingers so far this month!
Hitter of the week
This is no contest. Jackson Frazier of Iowa ran away with this nod. Heading into Sunday, he had hit .429 with 3 HRs and 12 RBI on the week. Luis Verdugo surpassed him in average and only Kevin Alcantara was remotely close in RBI. The totality of his stat line increased on Sunday as he went 1-for-3 but there were no fireworks for him. Still, it was a very impressive week!
Reliever of the Week
Zac Leigh is must see MiLB TV for me. He had 3.2 big time scoreless innings with 3 Ks all the while tinkering with his slider. He’s been moving his thumb around the ball and getting different feels and shapes for it. Who knows, he might end up just throwing 2 or 3 kinds of sliders in the end. Depending on the situation and type of hitter, he could throw the shape he wants to get the hitter out. That would be cool!
Starting pitcher of the Week
Matt Dermody’s five inning scoreless stand on Saturday for Iowa earned him this week’s award. In addition, he struck out 10 batters and only allowed two hits on the night. This is actually one of the best starts by a pitcher this year! He has had a nice stretch since mid-June with a 1.54 ERA in 5 starts. In July, that drops to 0.96 and opponents are only hitting .156 against him this month.
Team of the Week
Everybody finished the week at 3-3. How odd is that?!?! So, the tiebreaker is run differential…I know!!! It is a great tiebreaker!!!
The Smokies win the award this week with a +6 run differential over Birmingham. Iowa was at +3 while South Bend was -3. Strangely enough, Myrtle Beach was only at -3 after losing one game 18-2!