I'd like to thank those who read my post last week and for the generally positive feedback I received. I will continue to do this once a week, looking at one hitter and one pitcher at each level. As noted previously, I call it prospect watch, but not all of the people I review will be "Prospects" per se. Also, I don't watch these games or listen to them either. So I've never seen/heard these guys play. I learn what I learn from following the internet.
Josh Vitters - 3B - 25 Years Old In August - 1st Round pick in 2007. Josh is someone who has had a roller coaster career. After being a first round pick in '07, Josh struggled in the Rookie league and at Boise. That began a pattern where Josh typically has struggled in his first look at a level but then done quite well the next season. The exception to that pattern has been Iowa. Josh hit 304/356/513 in '12 at Iowa leading to some MLB time late that season. Much of '13 was an injury year for Vitters, but when he did play he for Iowa, he put up 295/380/511. '14 has not been a good year at the plate for Vitters as he is hitting just 216/281/423. Josh has been hotter of late, putting up 241/313/655 over his last 10 including 4 HR in 3 days earlier in the week. Alas, the window appears to be closing on Vitters. Complicating matters for Josh is a lifetime 908 fielding percentage at 3B spanning multiple levels and parts of 7 seasons. Josh has done decently at 1B, but there is no opening there. In the OF, Vitters has put up a 927 fielding percentage as a left fielder. With no real glove, Josh has got to really rake and he's just not doing that. I'd imagine somewhere along the line for some organization Vitters will get another shot as an offensive OF/PH type. The finally complicating factor for Vitters is that as a RH he has only put up a 222/243/306 line this year against LH, so he isn't even looking like a short side platoon guy.
Kyle Hendricks - RHP - 25 Years Old after the season - 8th Round Pick out of Dartmouth in '11 by the Rangers. Acquired in the Dempster trade. Kyle had a very impressive stay in TN last year, with a 1.85 ERA across 126.1 IP (2.43 RA), earning promotion to Iowa for 6 starts at the end of last season during which he sported a 2.48 ERA (2.7 RA) and 27 K v 8 BB. So far this year, Kyle has made 7 starts with a 3.64 ERA (4.71 RA). Kyle averages exactly 6 IP per start, 43 K v 11 BB (42 IP) and has yet to allow a HR. One of the things I'm watching with Kyle is how he does facing the same team twice. Given that Kyle's stuff isn't noted to be overwhelming, he's going to learn to give different looks when he sees the same people over and over again (and even more so as advanced MLB scouting comes into play against him). Kyle has faced two teams twice this year. In the first start against those two teams, Kyle had totals of 14 IP, 10 H, 2 BB and 14K. In the second start, those numbers are 11.1 IP, 13 H, 3 BB and 14 K. So Kyle is still able to maintain his control and to get K. But he is being hit significantly harder the second time through. That will be something to watch. Given that Kyle is going to need to really be an effort and knowledge guy more than a stuff guy, I believe a full season in Iowa is probably going to be the best decision for Kyle. I'm projecting a '15 arrival date barring a significant number of injuries/trades at the MLB level. I'd look at him as 9th in line right now at the MLB for starts behind the 5 current starters plus Villanueva, Rusin and Wada.
Rubi Silva - CF/RF - 24 Years Old in June - Signed as IFA in December '10. Rubi now in his 4th season in the Cubs system, quickly rose to TN by '12, getting 20 games there after a good season in Daytona. Rubi is now into his 2nd full season at TN and if he ever was a prospect, that light may be going out some. Rubi's numbers are down so far this year hitting 272/324/392 this year after 284/310/483 last year. Rubi has shown signs of life though the last 10 days, putting up 444/500/667. Rubi hits left handed and has a positive platoon split hitting 286/336/775 against RHP. Rubi had 15 HR (9 3B) and 13 SB (7 CS), so he does have a little pop and decent speed. Rubi will need to see Iowa the last half of this year after whatever movement there is at the trade deadline if he's going to stay on the radar at all. At this point, Rubi looks like a guy who will maybe get some time as a spare OF, but no real significant playing time. Rubi does have a 978 fielding percentage across 4 seasons as a CF.
Pierce Johnson - RHP - 23 Years Old this past weekend - 1st Round Pick in '12 out of Missouri State. Pierce spent about half of his season last year at Kane County and the other half at Daytona and has moved on to TN to start this season. Pierce didn't make his debut this year until 4/22 due to injury. In 4 starts since he came back, Pierce has pitched 20 IP with 13 H, 2 HR, 16 BB and 19 K. Pierce has a 4.05 ERA across those starts. However, over his last two starts Pierce has been significantly improved with 12 IP 8 H 2HR 4 BB and 13 K. It is encouraging to me that even in his first 2 starts this year Pierce was still pretty difficult to hit and but for one extremely wild start, has been able to strike hitters out at a good clip. Pierce has been allowing more air outs than ground outs this year and has allowed HR in consecutive starts so opponents are occasionally getting solid contact against him. After the slow start to the year, I would not be surprised if Pierce spends all of '14 in TN before moving on to IA next year. Pierce does appear to be on track to see Wrigley by '16 though the front office has shown willingness to move him along quicker than that when performance dictates, so it's possible he could beat that date.
Bijan Rademacher - OF - 23 Years Old in June - 13th Round Pick in '12 out of Orange Coast College. Bijan spent about half of '13 at Kane County before moving on to Daytona the last half of the year. Bijan has had a very hot start to '14 starting the season at Daytona. Bijan doesn't have anywhere near the buzz around him that OF mate Albert Almora does, but Bijan has likely caught the attention of many more people now. Bijan is sporting a 340/423/526. Bijan hits LH and his numbers are even better against RHP (391/475/594). Bijan is one of those weird prospects though in that he doesn't really hit any HR and doesn't really steal any bases. A guy like that has to really hit for a lofty average and that's just what he's done so far this year. Bijan has handled RF and LF well with 974 and 962 fielding percentages out there across 3/2 seasons. Bijan has a 11 BB to 24 K ratio across 28 games this year. Bijan has been very consistent this year as even over the last 10 days his performance has been "down" and he's still put up 294/368/500. Bijan should see some time at TN later this season if his hot start continues as he tries to exceed the expectations for his profile.
Starling Peralta - RHP - 23 Years Old until after the season - IFA in '08. Peralta has been in the system since '08 and spent 4 years in the DSL starting with his 18 year old season. Peralta has been a starter in the past, but is working as a reliever in Daytona this year. Peralta has been one of the guys who has been a bit of a key at Daytona this year because the starting pitching has largely struggled so far there. Peralta is what I like to think of as a grenade guy, going into the game to dive on a grenade to try to confine the explosion after the starter has an untimely departure. Starling had one of those outings this week, throwing 3.1 IP allowing 2H 1BB and having 6K. Unfortunately, Peralta doesn't really profile as anything more than what he's been. He's thrown 19.2 IP across 8 games, allowing 18 H, 3 HR, 6 BB and striking out 22. Daytona might be the last stop for Peralta unless there is an unexpected turn around in his results.
Will Remillard - C - 22 Years Old after the minor league system - 19th Round Pick in '13 out of Coastal Carolina. Will didn't make his debut for the Cubs until this April, but he's made the most of it since he debuted. Across the first 23 games of his MiLB career, Will has hit 367/444/519. Will has 9 BB and 12 K across those 23 games. Will has been consistent in his performance, showing a 382/432/471 line over his last 10 that is more or less in line with the full body of his work. Will's numbers are very good against RHP (he's RH) but are even better against LH with 526/591/684 across his first 19 AB (3 BB and 0 K). Will has also thrown out 33% of would be base stealers and has yet to make an error (4 PB), so his defense has been above average. KC has had a very good start to the season and Will has been a part of that. As a college draftee off to a great start, I would not be surprised to see Will get some time at Daytona later this year. As catching has been one of the weaknesses of this organization, the development of a guy like Will taken in the 19th round could be a significant event in the build of this organization.
Jose Arias - RHP - 23 Years old - '10 IFA. Jose spend two summers in the DSL and has reached one level higher each year until this year (he made 4 appearances for KC last year). This has been Jose's first season working exclusively out of the bullpen and across his first 10 appearances he's pitched 15.2 IP allowing 10 H, 9 BB and 24 K and picked up 1 save. The walk rate is a bit high, but that K rate is very impressive. Jose's ERA of 1.72 does jump to 4.02 and lose a bit of its luster when unearned runs are considered. Jose has shown a very favorable platoon split with a 1 ERA, and 15 K (4 BB) in 9 IP against RHP. One possible area of concern for Jose is that with the higher K rate, he's also allowed a much higher percentage of air outs. He's only allowed 1 HR in 15.2 IP, so it hasn't hurt him yet. It's early for him, but it looks like the move to the bullpen may make Arias a more interesting pitcher and given the way he's moved through the system in the past, I'd think it's likely that he sees some time in Daytona later in the season.