In our continuing efforts to keep BCB readers up-to-date with the state of the Cubs minor league system, dmlichte and I have decided to award those players who did a little something extra with the BCB Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month awards.
These awards are sure to be coveted by excellent minor league stars. Once we get the plaques made up, I'm sure they will hang with pride in the den of some parent of a Cub minor league star.
These awards are given mostly for a player's performance at one of the Cubs farm teams for a given month. I won't say prospect status doesn't play a role, but we won't be giving any awards that say anything like "Sure, Donnie Veal got shelled in April, but he was working on his curve and by the end of the month made some great strides." We're not scouts.
So away we go! (All stats for April only)
Iowa Cubs Player of the Month
.322 BA 4 HR 25 RBI .374 OBP .552 SLUG
Hoffpauir is an organizational warrior. He's been in the Cub farm system since 2002 when he was drafted out of Lamar University. This is his third season in Des Moines and he's already 27, so he really isn't a prospect of any note.
But Hoffpauir seems to be putting it all together this season and he now looks like a major league hitter. His path the the majors in Chicago is blocked by Derek Lee at first and while the I-Cubs have been experimenting with him in left field, there isn't any opening for him in Chicago there either.
Hoffpauir reminds me of another former Cub farmhand, Ross Gload. Sometimes guys like that get a break and they get nice little careers on major league benches. Sometimes they don't and fade away into obscurity. Other times they become stars in Japan. We can all hope Hoffpauir gets his chance to play on one side of the Pacific or another.
Iowa Cubs Pitcher of the Month
2-1 4.05 ERA 30 K 11 BB
No real good choices here as Marmol was cruising in the PCL in his first three starts, allowing only 3 earned runs in 16.1 innings. Then came his next two starts against Nashville and he got battered around.
Still, there isn't really a good second option (Les Walrond? Are you kidding?) and both of his bad starts came against Nashville, who is a pretty good AAA team So Marmol gets the nod here with the hope that the last two starts were an aberration, not a trend.
Tennessee Smokies Player of the Month
.316 4 HR 16 RBI .338 OBP .566 SLUG 4 SB
April has actually been a frustrating month for Fox as a prospect, because this month it became clear that his future is not behind the plate. This certainly cuts into his future major league value.
However, freed from the responsibilities of catching, Fox responded with a big month with the bat. He led the Smokies in home runs, RBI and was even tied for the team lead in stolen bases! Fox has been compared to Craig Wilson, Ryan Garko and Matt LeCroy. Fox certainly looks for all the world like a major league hitting prospect, but like those three guys mentioned, it may always be a problem figuring out where he's going to play in the field.
Tennessee Smokies Pitcher of the Month
3-0 0.33 ERA 22 K 5 BB
On a team with heralded pitching prospects like Donnie Veal and Sean Gallagher, Holliman was the dominant prospect for the Smokies in April.
Holliman was a third round pick out of Ole Miss in 2005. He didn't pitch for the Cubs in 2005 and was assigned to Daytona last season where he was only decent. Holliman was on the prospect radar before this season, but barely. John Sickels gave him an "others of note" mention in the off-season.
But so far in April, he has been absolutely dominating. Holliman started the season by going 26 innings without giving up an earned run. He finally gave up an earned run in his 27th and final inning of April.
If Holliman can have a May even half as good as his April, expect him to go rocketing up the Cubs prospect charts very soon.
Daytona Cubs Player of the Month
.329 1 HR 14 RBI .367 OBP .507 SLUG 5 SB 8 2B
In accepting this award, Colvin would like to invite all the BCB posters who were angry with his selection last June to have a hot steaming cup of shut up. Adding to his prospect status is the fact that he's been able to stay in center field so far in High A. His double and stolen base totals indicate that his speed is for real.
Colvin seems to be on the fast track, as he skipped low A altogether. I would expect him to be playing in Tennessee sometime in July. From there, we can start making some guesses as to when we can expect his arrival in Chicago. A Soriano, Pie and Colvin outfield sounds good to me.
Just remember Colvin come June. Tim Wilken seems to know what he's doing.
Daytona Cubs Pitcher of the Month
0-1 2.45 ERA 11 K 10 BB
Samardzija has been much discussed around here, so I won't add much more. He hasn't pitched that great in April, but he does lead the Daytona Cubs in ERA and there isn't really another good choice here. I am getting the sense that he's working on developing his off-speed pitches in Daytona, which may be why he isn't missing many bats and is walking more than he should. Aren't there any Florida Cub fans around here who can go check him out and see what he's throwing?
Beyond his ERA, the good news on Samardzija is that he's only given up one home run in 25.2 innings.
Peoria Chiefs Player of the Month
.235 3 HR 11 RBI .291 OBP .431 SLUG
If you've been reading the minor league wrap/round-ups, you know the Peoria Chiefs aren't hitting. It's probably not an exaggeration to say that Ryne Sandberg could shake off a decade of retirement and out hit anyone on this team. Heck, I think Frank Robinson could probably out hit anyone on this team for April.
Believe it or not, Wellington Castillo's .722 OPS leads the team. As a catcher he only plays in every other Chiefs game, so those three home runs are actually pretty impressive as they were hit in only 51 ABs. His K/BB ratio is almost 4 to 1, so strike zone judgment is an issue. But the word I'm getting is that he's a plus defender behind the plate, so that's a big plus in his favor. He's a long way from the major leagues, but with Jake Fox moving to first, he's probably the #1 catching prospect in the organization right now.
Peoria Chiefs Pitcher of the Month
0-0 0.00 ERA 12 K 4 BB 8 Saves
Rocky Roquet checked into his room
only to find Gideon's bible
Hard to argue with that ERA in 10.2 innings. I'm never very high on guys who are being groomed as relievers in low-A, but Roquet is pitching well enough for me to make an exception.
Roquet was an un-drafted free agent out of Cal Poly SLO last season, and I saw him pitch in Boise last summer. Last summer I wrote on BCB:The final pitcher, Rocky Roquet, just threw heat and struck out two and got a popup in one inning. He's a 23 year old undrafted free agent so he's a longshot, but he was the most impressive Hawk pitcher of the evening.
So far in April, the same only more so. Roquet is starting to make me a believer.
Rocky had come equipped with a "gun"
to strike out the bats of his rival