It's time once again to vote for the BCB Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for April!
In case you aren't familiar with this award, each month I ask you to vote on five candidates for the best player and pitcher of the month in the Cubs minor leagues. This award isn't meant to reward who the best prospect is. That's still Javier Baez. But you can see the folly of handing an award to someone batting .172 with three home runs.
Instead, I'm asking you to vote for whoever you think had the most productive month. You can take anything you want into consideration. You could just vote for whoever had the most hits or total bases. You could take defense into consideration. You can vote for someone who maybe wasn't quite as productive as someone else, but you think they deserve the award because they were that much better than what you expected. In short, vote for whomever you want among the five candidates. If you want to write in your own candidate, put him in the comments. Your vote won't count, but your voice will be heard.
I choose one player and one pitcher from each team and one "wild card" selection. Boise gets the wild card spot starting in June.
Also, these are my rules and my award. I can break the rules whenever I feel like it. I'm also going to mention that this award pre-dates the official Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month awards. So there.
Normally I do these Player of the Month Awards as part of the Minor League Wrap, but since this is an off day and the Minor League Wrap should be full of doubleheaders today (weather permitting), I'm going to do this in two separate articles. The pitcher award article will post at 2 p.m. CT.
The candidates are:
Iowa Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara: Alcantara is a bit of a Rorschach test for Cubs fans. Do you look at his April and see his strong tools? He hit .299 (great hit tool), slugged .540 with two home runs, four triples and seven doubles (great hit for power tool) and went 7 for 7 stealing bases (great speed tool). Or do you look at the 20 strikeouts to three walks and the .315 OBP? Either way, it probably says more about you than it does about Alcantara. In any case, Alcantara's strong April leaves him on track to make the majors sometime mid-summer. Once he gets to Wrigley, I imagine we'll still be having this same discussion about Alcantara.
Tennessee Smokies third baseman Kris Bryant: Unlike Alcantara, there seems to be little debate about Bryant. The guy is just good. Except that he does strike out a lot too. But unlike Alcantara, Bryant also walks a lot. For the month of April, Bryant hit .281/.407/.539 with five home runs and 12 RBI. Bryant showed some athleticism as he stole five bases in six attempts. The one thing that didn't wow people was his defense, as the five errors he committed have renewed calls for him to move to the outfield.
Daytona Cubs second baseman Gioskar Amaya: Amaya only played 15 games this month because of a shoulder injury, so those 15 games had better be pretty good if he's going to be considered for the Player of the Month award. They were. No one could get Amaya out in April as he hit .408 with a .483 OBP. He walked eight times in 58 plate appearances and only struck out the same eight times. The one knock against him is that 19 out of his 20 hits in the month were singles and the other one was only a double, leaving him with only a .429 SLG.
Daytona Cubs right fielder Bijan Rademacher: For a team that had a lousy month, Daytona sure had some players who could hit. Rademacher played 22 games this month and had at least one hit in 18 of them. Of those four games without a hit, one was a pinch-hitting appearance and one was a 7 inning double-header. He had a 12 game hitting streak snapped on April 29. For the month of April, Rademacher hit .355 with a .437 OBP and .513 SLG. He had two home runs and six doubles.
Kane County Cougars catcher Will Remillard: Remillard only played 15 games in April as well, but that's only because he's a catcher and not because of any injury. But Remillard had some big games, including two four hit games and three three hit games. Even more amazing, this was Remillard's first month as a professional, as he missed all of last season with an injury. Remillard had a triple-slash line for the month of .373/.458/.549 with a home run and 15 RBI.
My apologies to Chris Valaika, who should also be on this list.