Starlin Castro is in a rut. He has been caught stealing in his last 3 attempts. Other than that, he's been an absolute beast. Here are the numbers on Castro and some of the other Cubs prospects:
I'm expanding the list to 10...oh, make that 11, players to watch...
Starlin Castro- AA: .426 average, .705 Slugging pct., and an 1.160 OPS. It's early but those numbers are incredible. It didn't seem possible that Castro could continue to improve on the numbers from his hot start, but he has. The question now is how long before he gets the call.
Robinson Chirinos- AA: I'm no longer putting him in the sleeper category. This guy is going to be a major league catcher. Right now, Piniella seems to have a bit of a mancrush on Koyie Hill, so Chirinos is stuck until someone gets hurt. But for now he has passed Chris Robinson, Welington Castillo, and Steve Clevenger on the Cubs catching depth chart. His numbers are nearly as good as Castro's: .341 Avg., 4 homeruns, .396 OBP, .707 Slugging, and a 1.103 OPS.
Brandon Guyer- AA: He has joined Hak Ju Lee and Logan Watkins as legitimate leadoff prospects in the Cubs system. He looks to be translating his great athleticism into useable baseball skills. He is hitting .314 with 11 walks, giving him an OBP of .453. He also has 7 steals in 7 attempts.
Brett Jackson- High A: He's hitting .302 and he's walked 14 times for a .436 OBP. His strikeout rate is still about about 1 in every 6 ABs. All good. The bad? Still just 2 extra base hits. Jackson is supposed to be a power hitter, but working on his contact skills continues to have a negative effect on his slugging, which is at a paltry .396.
Josh Vitters- High A: He's at .279 with 6 doubles and 2 HRs, giving him a slugging pct. of .456. Better than his bad start but he still has a ways to go. He has walked 4 times in 68 ABs, which for him can be considered an improvement - but it's still inadequate. A mediocre start for Vitters, but I look for him to continue improving.
Keep your eye on:
Brandon Snyder, AAA. He's a former first round pick of the Cleveland Indians. They gave up on him early and the Cubs snatched him up. They really like this kid and over the past 2 years, he has begun to pay some dividends. He's athletic, has an arm that'll play in RF, and some good power. He's at .339 with 3 Hrs, and a .990 OPS. While Sam Fuld is the name we all knowm, he is no longer even starting at AAA. Jim Adducci is also struggling. If something happens to an outfielder, Snyder is positioning himself to get the call.
Matt Spencer- High A: Injured at the beginning of the year, Spencer has come out swinging. He's hitting .375 with 2 2Bs and a HR. That gives him a slugging pct. of .583 and an OPS of .958. Acquired with Jeff Gray in the Jake Fox deal, Spencer is in the mold of Brett Jackson, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Colvin and Brandon Snyder. All of them are the kinds of athletic, toolsy outfielders that scouting director Tim Wilken covets.
Andrew Cashner- AA: Has not pitched since last week, so nothing new to update there. He isn't hurt. There's just been some rainouts in Tennessee.
Jay Jackson - AAA: He's 2-1, with a 2.00 ERA. Importantly for him, he's only walked 3 and given up in 9 hits in 18 innings while striking out 12. I'd like the strikeout ratio to come up but, overall, I'll take it.
Keep your eye on:
Dae Un Rhee- High A: Could join Cashner and Jackson as top of the rotation type starters if he can bounce back from his injury. He got off to a slow start but in his last start he gave just 1 hit in 6 innings.
Trey McNutt- Low A: Considered a poor man's Andrew Cashner, McNutt has been dominating low A ball hitters with a 1.29 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings. He probably won't be in low A ball much longer.