It's time once again to vote for the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month! In case you're new to this, every month I nominate one player from each of the top five Cubs minor league affiliates and you chose which one should be the Minor League Player of the Month. You can vote for whichever candidate you want, but this is an award for performance, not for prospect status. Vote for whom you think had the best month. Use whatever criteria you want, but make sure it happened in July.
The polls will stay open until about a half hour before the end of the final minor league game tomorrow and I'll announce the winner in tomorrow night's Minor League Wrap. There will be a vote on the Pitcher of the Month tomorrow.
With all that said, the candidates are:
Iowa Cubs third baseman Mike Olt: It's been a frustrating season for Olt, who was hoping to be showing off his talents in Chicago and not Des Moines. But after missing a good two months with a wrist injury, Olt returned to Iowa on a rehab assignment in mid-June. When the assignment ended after 30 days, he was sent down to the minors,
But after a slow start in June and to the month of July, Olt cranked it up just after the All-Star break. Starting with a two-run double on a nationally televised game to beat the Redbirds, Olt hit .392 with three home runs after the break. His line for the entire month was .302/.378/.512 with four home runs and 14 RBI in 24 games.
Tennessee Smokies catcher Willson Contreras: No one has raised their prospect status this season more than Contreras, a converted third baseman who only started catching in 2012. Contreras had a fabulous month in July. In 28 games, Contreras hit .290/.418/.440 with one home run, eight doubles and 14 RBI. Contreras walked 22 times in July and struck out only 14 times. Behind the plate, he's OK. Actually, he's pretty good for someone who has only been catching for a short time. He's raw and makes mistakes, but that's why he's in Double-A. He should be able to stay behind the plate and be at least an average defensive catcher at a higher level.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans infielder Chesny Young: Who else? Chesny reached base in 25 out of 27 games in the month. Young did have a lot of one walk or one hit games in that 43-game on-base streak. But he had a strong month, hitting .333/.383/.441 with 29 singles, five doubles, two triples and a home run. He scored 23 runs.
Young leads the Carolina League in hitting with a .338 average. Second place is the Keys' Bradley Zimmer, who is hitting .308.
South Bend Cubs outfielder Jeffrey Baez: Baez came into the month of July having only one home run to his name this season. He hit six in 24 games in July. With the injury to Javier, it was nice to see someone keeping the #baezbomb tradition alive. The final line on Baez was .333/.347/.573 with nine steals and 15 RBI. He scored 19 runs.
Eugene Emeralds/South Bend Cubs outfielder Ian Happ: What happens when you're the best player on the Emeralds? You get promoted to South Bend, naturally. Happ played 17 games in Eugene and six in South Bend and combined for a line of .291/.396/.442 with one home runs and 16 runs scored. He also stole five bases in five attempts.