It’s August, which means we’re in the final month of the minor league season already. It also means that it is time to vote for the Minor League Player of the Month for July.
Just in case you are new to this, the process is simple. I pick one candidate from each of the top five Cubs minor league affiliates. You vote for one. You can vote for anyone you want for whatever reason you want, as long as you base your vote on what the player did in the month of July. This isn’t a ranking of the top prospects in the system. It’s just an acknowledgement of which minor leaguers played the best in the past month.
Clicking on the player’s name will take you to their milb.com page.
We will have a separate vote for the Pitcher of the Month starting tomorrow. I will announce the winner of the Player of the Month award in tomorrow night’s Wrap.
With that said, the nominees are:
Iowa Cubs outfielder John Andreoli:
Andreoli was hoping to build off a strong end to 2016 and a big performance for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic to try to earn his first major league callup. But instead, Andreoli struggled for the first three months of the season. But Andreoli started to play like his old self in July. For the month, Andreoli hit .329/.400/.576 with six doubles, three triples and three home runs in 22 games. As the I-Cubs leadoff hitter, Andreoli scored 24 runs and stole five bases.
Tennessee Smokies catcher Ian Rice:
Ian Rice can hit. He may not be able to stick behind the plate, but he’s got one of the best bats still in the Cubs minor league system. In July, Rice hit .250 in 76 at-bats, which doesn’t sound so great. But he walked 18 times in July, giving him a .394 OBP. On top of that, he only struck out 16 times and he hit five home runs, giving him a .474 SLG. Rice had 12 RBI in July and he scored 11 times.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans infielder Vimael Machin:
Machin is the ultimate utility man. He’s played all four infield positions and left field so far this season. He even pitched an inning and two-thirds. Last season, Machin started his season in Iowa in June. Not because the Cubs thought the 2015 10th-round draft pick was ready for Triple-A, but rather because they thought he was mature enough to fill in a vacancy in Des Moines and then accept a demotion all the way down to Eugene when the I-Cubs got healthy.
But this is about July 2017. Machin started the month in South Bend and hit .400/.431/.636 in the first 12 games with four home runs. Unsurprisingly, that earned him a promotion to the Pelicans. But he didn’t cool off much in Myrtle Beach, hitting .328/.359/.426 with one home run, hit in his first High-A plate appearance. Overall for the month, Machin hit .362/.387/.550 with 25 RBI in 28 games.
South Bend Cubs outfielder Luis Ayala:
The athletic, 21-year-old Venezuelan has alternated good and bad months for South Bend this summer. After a poor April, Ayala bounced back with a strong May, only to see his season go backwards in June. But Ayala had his best month of the season in July, hitting .366/.418/.521 with one home run and six steals in seven attempts. Ayala has also played all three outfield positions this summer, but he’s primarily a center fielder.
Eugene Emeralds shortstop Aramis Ademan:
Ademan got promoted to South Bend on the last day of the month, although he did not arrive in time to play in the Midwest league. Ademan was promoted partly because a spot opened because of the trade of Isaac Paredes, but also because he hit .320/.391/.495 with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs in 103 at-bats. Ademan also stole seven bases in eleven attempts. The 18-year-old is considered a promising glove at shortstop who should be able to stick at the position if he matures as expected.
Who is the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs John Andreoli
Tennessee Smokies Ian Rice
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Vimael Machin
South Bend Cubs Luis Ayala
Eugene Emeralds Aramis Ademan