So we're one day late on this because of my recent travels, but it's time to vote for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month for June. As always, the rules haven't changed from the previous month, except there is a new category. With Eugene having started play in short-season A ball, the five nominees all come from each of the five affiliates and there is no longer a "wild card." So you have to have been the best on your team in June, as judged by me, to get nominated.
As always, you're free to vote for whoever you like, but this is an award based on production, not prospect status. You can use whatever criteria you like, but it has to have happened in the month of June. And yes, the week Kyle Schwarber spent in the majors cost him a nomination. I think he'll survive.
The pitchers are tomorrow. Voting will stay open until I publish the Minor League Wrap the next day and the winner will be announced then.
With that said, the nominees are:
Iowa Cubs third baseman Christian Villanueva:
Villanueva started playing some first base this past month in order to increase his versatility and, presumably, to give the Cubs an option if anything happened to Anthony Rizzo. He looked a little shaky there at times, but it hasn't affected his approach at the plate. For the month of June, Villanueva hit five home runs and drove in a whopping 21 runs in just 25 games. That gave him a final slash line of .266/.327/.521. Villanueva even stole two bases in June (in three attempts) after not having a stolen base all season up to that point.
Tennessee Smokies second baseman Stephen Bruno:
I've often said that Stephen Bruno doesn't do anything but hit. Last year was a bit of a struggle as he was coming back from Tommy John surgery and he "only" hit .276 in his first crack at Double-A. But he's starting to find his groove again this season, thanks in part to a .355/.395/.461 slash line in the month of June. He also started driving the ball last month as he had five doubles and one home run.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans outfielder Mark Zagunis:
Zagunis has been impressive since the Cubs drafted him in the third round out of Virginia Tech last summer. But last month he started to drive the ball for some power on top of his already-impressive on-base skills. Zagunis had 31 hits last month and 11 of them (six doubles, one triple and four home runs) went for extra-bases. That gave him a .326/.448/.537 line for the month. He also started to play center field a lot more after having been almost strictly a right fielder before then. Zagunis also stole four bases, although since it was in eight attempts I'm not sure he should get a lot of credit for that.
South Bend Cubs outfielder Rashad Crawford:
It takes a lot to take Gleyber Torres' nomination away from him, and Torres had another typical Torres month of batting .300. But Crawford had a breakout month out of the leadoff position, batting .339/.391/.468 while stealing seven bases without getting caught once. Crawford also had a strong month defensively in center field with a few catches that made the highlight reels.
Eugene Emeralds outfielder Ian Happ:
The Cubs outfielder had a big month in June, getting drafted in the first round out of Cincinnati, signing for a $3 million bonus and then reporting to Eugene to start his professional career. Happ played 12 games for the Ems and hit .262/.396/.524 with three home runs and ten RBI and 11 runs scored. He walked ten times as compared to his 12 strikeouts. Happ stole four bases in four attempts. There had been a lot of talk about Happ becoming a second basemen as a professional and the Cubs may yet play him there next season, but so far, he's been in center field for the Emeralds.