This is going to be a bit of something I told Kenny I wasn’t going to do – a prospect ranking. But fear not, people who shake their heads at lists like these in much the same way I do, this is not strictly a ranking of who I feel was the best MWL prospect in order! Instead, this is going to be a hybrid of who I enjoyed watching play the game the most, … Continue reading →
Midwest League fans saw an impressive crop of talent come through the league in 2013, with future stars like Byron Buxton and Robert Stephenson ripping the league to shreds. Unfortunately, I saw neither of those guys! I saw a fairly large group of MWL ballplayers come through Kane County and Beloit, but unfortunately missed on a few of the bigger names, and as such this list will only touch on those I saw live. Also, … Continue reading →
Dillon Maples has been somewhat of an enigma since signing with the Cubs for $2.5 million in the 2011 draft. His age and injuries prevented him from throwing but a handful of innings in 2011 and 2012, and yet he was ranked amongst the top ten prospects in the Cubs system by both John Sickels and Jason Parks based on his enormous upside. Cubs fans have been waiting for a glimpse of him for years, … Continue reading →
Pierce Johnson will make his first start for the High-A Daytona Cubs Monday after a well-deserved promotion. Johnson was tearing through Midwest League lineups with a lively 91-93 mph fastball and a power curveball that most hitters at the level couldn’t touch. In 69 2/3 MWL innings, Johnson posted a 3.10 ERA while striking out 25% of batters faced and only walking 7.4%. If you toss out his disastrous first outing, his ERA was a … Continue reading →
Early in April, John Arguello of Cubs Den starting talking about an unheralded Kane County pitcher by the name of Michael Heesch. I must admit that I could not recall hearing that name before John had mentioned him, but the surprising reports had me actively seeking out starts of his in the box scores. As far as I could tell, Heesch had fairly mediocre stuff given his age, but decided there had to be more … Continue reading →
It’s been two full months of baseball for the Kane County Cougars, about enough time to start forming real opinions on the players I have seen. One of the easiest things to judge, at least for me so far, is whether a player is over matched at the plate. A high K% isn’t the only sign of this – a player who is consistently making weak contact is likely having a lot of trouble picking … Continue reading →
I got to lay eyes on the Cubs’ 2012 1st round draft pick and top-3 organizational prospect Albert Almora for the first time this weekend in a four game series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Almora had started the season on the shelf with a broken hamate bone, delaying the arrival of one of the biggest draws at Kane County this season and raising concerns over how he would hit after sustaining a wrist injury. … Continue reading →
This is video from Blake Snell‘s start on May 1, 2013. Snell worked 90-92 (topped out at 94) with his fastball. The two-seam fastball had good arm-side run, and the 94 mph fastball was likely a four-seamer. Snell’s changeup sat low-80s, and was extremely effective, especially against left handed batters. Usually changeups are less effective against same-handed batters, but Kane County’s left-handed batters had significant trouble making contact with it. Snell’s breaking ball is a work in progress, but it flashed plus at least once, while sitting in the 75-77 range. All Snell’s pitches have the potential to be plus offerings down the road.
Snell’s final line wasn’t pretty (3 1/3 IP, 5 hits, 3 BB, 5 Ks, and no earned runs (3 unearned runs did score)), but I was very impressed with his stuff. His command was spotty all night, but the raw stuff kept hitters from making solid contact. Interestingly, he appeared to not totally trust his stuff, as he nibbled at the corners for most of the game rather than going right after hitters. Snell’s raw stuff is very advanced for the Midwest League, and I have trouble seeing the MWL feasting on him if he were more direct in his approach.
I really liked what I saw out of Snell, and hope that he is able to find his command soon. If he pitches near me again I will absolutely make the trek to see him.
I almost wrote this report a week and a half ago when Daniel Vogelbach was hitting .328/.369/.397, and I’m glad I waited. While Vogelbach was hitting the ball hard, his approach had left a lot to be desired. But, as I’m sure most of you have heard, Dan Vogelbach is absolutely killing the baseball recently, and he has moved his season line up to .309/.346/.479. The weather has gotten warmer, the rainouts have mostly ended, … Continue reading →
I don’t know what I should have expected. I was excited when I heard that Michael Ynoa was in the Midwest League this season, and when I found out he’d be pitching in Beloit this past Tuesday I just had to go out and see him. The stories that were thrown around when Ynoa signed for a record $4.25 million in 2008 were unbelievable – scouts who’d seen him and the writers who had the … Continue reading →