It’s time to vote again for the BCB Minor League Player of the Month for May! I’m a few days late on this because of some personal stuff going on at the end of the past week and because I thought it would get lost against the Cardinals series over the weekend. But better late than never, and here’s your chance to honor the best minor league performances in the Cubs system.
If you don’t remember the rules from April, I nominate five minor league players, one from each team plus one more, and you vote for whichever one you think had the best month. You can vote on whatever criteria you want, but you have to base it on something the player did in the month of May. Clicking on a player’s name takes you to his milb.com page.
You’ll get a chance to vote for the Minor League Pitcher of the Month tomorrow. The winner will be announced in Tuesday night’s Minor League Wrap, so vote before then.
There were a lot of good candidates this month and it pained me to cut it down to only five. I could have taken four out of Iowa alone. (If only they could pitch!) But the five nominees for May are:
Iowa Cubs catcher Victor Caratini:
Caratini was on fire in May, hitting .366 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI in 24 games. He also walked five times, doubled six times and hit one triple to give him a .398 OBP and a .573 SLG for the month. He did this all despite missing most of the series in Memphis with a minor injury. Caratini may need to work on his throwing, but everything else indicates that he’s close to major-league ready.
Iowa Cubs left fielder Mark Zagunis:
Zagunis would be a favorite ten years ago at the height of the Moneyball craze, but just because trends have changed doesn’t mean Zagunis isn’t still a very good ballplayer. Zagunis made the vote because he had a .435 OBP in May and he had eight doubles and three home runs. (His batting average was .286, if you care. He walked 19 times.) Zagunis draws a lot of comparisons to that other Moneyball darling, Kevin Youkilis. If I recall correctly, Youkilis had a pretty good career.
Tennessee Smokies catcher Ian Rice:
Rice can hit. Even if most scouts seem to think his future lies at first base rather than behind the plate, he can hit enough to provide value there. In the month of May, Rice hit .273 with six home runs and 21 RBI in 26 games. Rice walked ten time, enough to give him a .364 OBP and his three doubles, one triple and the six homers put his slugging at a terrific .571. Rice struggled to hit for power in April (zero home runs) so this month was a sign that he’s back on track. I don’t like to make the comparison to Daniel Vogelbach because they are more dissimilar than they are similar, but like Vogy, he could end up as a great hitter who will never take Anthony Rizzo’s job. But like Vogelbach, if he continues to hit, someone is going to want him. Plus, remaining behind the plate isn’t an impossibility for Rice, just an improbability.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans outfielder Eloy Jimenez:
Eloy could end up being a special player. Jimenez didn’t even play a game this season before May 14, but in the 17 games he did play in this month he hit .286 with three home runs in just 42 at-bats. He walked more than he struck out (10 to 7, although two of the walks were intentional. That’s still more walks than strikeouts), which gave him a .434 on-base percentage. His slugging percentage was .500. He’s already homered again in June and everything points to Jimenez being one of the top ten prospects in baseball by the end of the year.
South Bend Cubs outfielder Luis Ayala:
No, he’s not the old reliever who pitched for the Expos and Nationals, among other teams. This 21-year-old Venezuelan bats left-handed and has some pop and some speed. In 26 games in May, Ayala had 26 hits, good enough for a .302 batting average. Ayala also walked ten times for a .384 OBP. He had eight doubles, two triples and two home runs, which gave him a terrific for the Midwest League .512 slugging percentage. Ayala even stole five bases in May, although fairness forces me to say that it was in nine attempts.
Who is the BCB Minor League Player of the Month for May?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Victor Caratini
Iowa Cubs Mark Zagunis
Tennessee Smokies Ian Rice
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Eloy Jimenez
South Bend Cubs Luis Ayala