Last week, I announced their pitching awards for the Cubs rookie league teams in the Dominican. This week, it is the hitters’ turn as regular season play wrapped up on Tuesday in the DSL as the Blue team finished 17-37 and the Red squad at 24–28. When it comes to hitting, the Red team seemed to produce more runs in the first half of the season, while the Blue team seemed to struggle all year long. In terms of guys tearing it up at the plate, they were just not that many.

Heading into the year, it was thought that this was gonna be the summer up Derniche Valdez, the Cubs top international free agent signing from last January. And he did not have that good of a summer. He only played in 35 games. Although, he did hit six home runs and drove in 20, his consistency at the plate was lacking and he did not walk that much. Still, his talent level/potential has not changed.

Hitter of the Year

Three weeks ago at the beginning of August, this award look to be all wrapped up. Joan Delgado was hitting for a combination of power and average. He had been selected to play in the DSL All-Star game and things looked to be cooking. And then a slump happened. He still wound up leading both teams in RBI with 27, but his average dipped to .274. His wRC plus was only at 108, but he also lead both teams in doubles and by wide a margin, and he also finished second for both teams in slugging at .465. That’s going to get him this year’s Hitter of the Year.

To start the year, infielder, Angel Cepeda got off to a hot start, and then cooled a little bit in July only to turn it on in August. He wound up leading both teams in several statistical categories. Cepeda lead both teams with a 135 wRC+ and then he had an on base percentage of .427, and an OPS of .858, both of which lead both teams. He walked at 15.4% rate, and his strikeout rate was under 30. The problem was Cepeda only played in 30 games. Had he played in more games, some of his individual stats would’ve likely rival those of Delgado. Therefore, he’s going to get the runner up for this year. Still, a very successful initial campaign.

By the Numbers

Here are some of the individual stat leaders for both teams that were not led by either Delgado or Cepeda.

Average – Outfielder Edward Vargas was the only player on both teams to hit above .300 as he came in at .307 followed by Cepeda and then Delgado.

Stolen bases – Andrws Cruz ran away with this one with 24. In second place was Erbin Jacque with 19 and then it drops all the way to 11 with Darlin De Leon.

Home Runs – This was all Derniche Valdez at six. Delgado was next with four.

Triples – Edwards Vargas lead both teams with five.

BB% – Andres Bonolis came in at 22.1%. That’s amazing at this level!

Overall, it was a year in which the best way to describe it would be a bit underwhelming.

However, here’s key thing to take away – none of these numbers are prerequisites for success at the next level. Just because a player does well in the Dominican does not mean they’ll do well in Mesa, but it helps to get to Mesa. Still, this is a long process, and it was the first year for many of these players as most were just 17 or 18. 

When it comes to 2024, all eyes are going to be on what Fernando Cruz does at the plate. Part of me wonders whether there is a chance that he could skip the Dominican and go straight to Mesa. I would probably put those chances at less than 10%. Still, there is a chance.

In the end, I am really looking forward to seeing, a lot of the players mentioned above get a crack in the states next summer and we will see how they respond along with other players like Ramon Eriandys, Alexey Lumpuy, Albert Gutierrez, and Daniel Benschop, to name a few.