It’s hard to believe that the baseball season is already one month old and that means it’s time for you to vote for the best performers over the past month in the minor leagues.
For those of you who have just tuned in or for those who just need a reminder, I pick one player from each of the minor league affiliates whom I think performed the best over the previous month. For the first two months until Eugene starts to play, I add in another “wild card” candidate so you’ll have five players to choose from. Then you vote for whichever one you think had the best month. You can pick whatever criteria you want, but I ask that you base your vote solely on what the player did over the previous month. This is an award for production, not for the player’s prospect ranking.
Tomorrow we’ll vote for the pitchers. The winner of the vote for Player of the Month will be announced in tomorrow night’s Minor League Wrap. You have until about an hour before that publishes to vote.
Earlier in the month, I asked if a player who had exhausted their rookie eligibility should be eligible for this award. In particular, I was asking about Dixon Machado, who at the time was head and shoulders above every other Iowa Cubs player. Since that time, Machado got cold and a different player got hot. The numbers between the two players were close enough that I went with the other player. But I’ve decided that I’m going to decide eligibility on a case-by-case basis. An up-and-down player like Machado will likely be eligible, although he’s a real borderline case since he spent the entire 2017 season in the majors. Someone like Ian Happ or Addison Russell who have a couple of full seasons in the majors probably won’t be.
With that having been said, the candidates are:
Iowa Cubs outfielder Donnie Dewees
Welcome back to the Cubs organization, Donnie Dewees. Dewees was the Cubs’ 2nd-round pick in 2015, but they traded him to the Royals for Alec Mills after the 2016 season. This March, the Royals traded Dewees back to the Cubs.
Dewees was on on-base machine for the month of April, especially in the second half of the month. Dewees hit .293/.464/.488 with a triple and two home runs over 17 games. In 56 trips to the plate in April, Dewees walked 11 times and was hit three times. He only struck out five times. Dewees scored 13 runs in 17 games while driving in eight.
The only real downside is that Dewees was 0 for 2 stealing bases on the month. I’d be surprised if there were any other months in Dewees’ career when he had more home runs than steals.
Tennessee Smokies infielder Robel Garcia
There’s a story on Garcia out there and I have a feeling we’re going to hear it very soon. The Indians signed Garcia out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and he spent four seasons in their system but never got higher than low-A. On his 21st birthday in 2014, the Indians released him.
Somehow, Garcia then ended up playing for Bologna in the Italian professional league. He also somehow got eligibility to play for Team Italy and he’s been representing the Azzurri in European tournaments over the past few years. The Italian National Team traveled to Arizona this past October to take on some teams of minor league prospects in the instructional league. The Cubs liked what they saw of him there and they signed him to a minor league deal.
It certainly looks like a smart move. Garcia has easily been the best position player on the Smokies this year. He’s only played 14 games, mostly at third base, but he leads the Smokies in doubles, home runs and RBI. In 58 trips to the plate, Garcia is hitting .346/.414/.731 with five doubles and five home runs. He has 19 RBI and has scored nine times in those 14 games.
We’ve heard of players leaving North America and playing in Japan or Korea and coming back and having major league careers. Someone reaching the majors after leaving for Italy would be a first.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans shortstop Aramis Ademan
Oh what a difference a season makes. Ademan spent all of last year with the Pelicans and without a doubt, he was the biggest disappointment in the Cubs system in 2018. Yes, he had been promoted aggressively to High-A, but the most disturbing thing was that he was actually getting worse as the season went on.
Ademan never had a month in 2018 anything like his April of 2019. Ademan played 18 games (he missed a week when he went on paternity leave) and he hit .276/.426/.500. In 2018, Ademan had three home runs all season with the Pelicans. He hit two homers in April of 2019 alone, along with two doubles and two triples. He scored six runs and drove in 12.
Ademan has also provided good defense at shortstop throughout the month.
South Bend Cubs infielder Delvin Zinn
Zinn is also repeating a level, but he wasn’t bad in South Bend last year, hitting .286 over 59 games. Zinn won’t be in South Bend long if he keeps hitting like he hit in the month of April.
Zinn played 17 games in April and hit .346/.424/.464 with four doubles and a triple. He’s also stolen five bases in five attempts. Zinn scored 11 times and drove home five.
Zinn has mostly played second base this year, but he also has a few games at third and one at short.
South Bend Cubs outfielder Nelson Velazquez
Velazquez played for South Bend last May and he was so bad he got sent down to Eugene when their season started. The good news is that Velazquez is not failing his Midwest League test the second time around.
Velazquez played 31 games for South Bend last year. He’s played 21 for them so far this year. Last year he had 21 hits with the South Bend Cubs. This year he already has 27.
Velazquez put up a triple-slash line of .338/.361/.450 over the first month. He hit seven doubles and one triple. He’s unfortunately still looking for his first Midwest League home run, but something weird is going on in South Bend as the team as a whole only has five home runs this season and no one has more than one. Velazquez has also stolen three bases in five attempts.
Velazquez has scored 13 times and has six RBI.
Who should be the BCB Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Month for April?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Donnie Dewees
Tennessee Smokies Robel Garcia
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Aramis Ademan
South Bend Cubs Delvin Zinn
South Bend Cubs Nelson Velazquez