This is the big one. The award for the Cubs minor league position player who had the best 2019 season.
I’ve picked one player from each of the Cubs’ top five affiliates. I tried to pick someone who played a fair amount for each team but it’s hard sometimes. When you’re having as good a season as these five players had, you tend to get promoted quickly. This was especially a problem with Eugene. But I feel confident that one of these players deserves to be the BCB Cubs Minor League Player of the Year.
So now it’s your turn to vote. Vote for whichever player you think had the best season. Base it on whichever criteria you want, but be sure to vote on production and not the player’s status as a prospect. For one, injuries kept both Nico Hoerner and Brennen Davis from making the vote. It’s still a good list.
The winner will be announced in Thursday’s Minor League Playoff Wrap. We’ll also have a Minor League Pitcher of the Year award to vote on tomorrow.
If you’re reading on Apple News or Google AMP, you need to go to a web browser to vote.
Clicking on the player’s name will take you to his milb.com page for more information.
With that said, here are this month’s nominees:
Iowa Cubs/Tennessee Smokies 2B/3B/LF Robel Garcia
I imagine that everyone has heard Garcia’s story by now, but I do want to stress how it is absolutely unprecedented for a player to out of organized baseball for five seasons, end up playing in the Italian league and then make it to the majors in your first season back in organized baseball. No one has ever done that before. No one’s even done anything close to that before. Playing in Japan or Korea? Sure. But those leagues don’t take anyone who isn’t of at least Triple-A quality in the first place. Italy is the last-chance hotel.
The switch-hitting Garcia started the season in Double-A Tennessee and I don’t know whether it says more about Garcia or the Smokies that he ended up tied for the team lead in home runs with six, despite being promoted to Triple-A Iowa on May 9. Despite the late start and a three-week stint in the majors, Garcia finished second on the I-Cubs in home runs with 21.
I’m not counting Garcia’s major league numbers, but between Triple-A and Double-A, Garcia hit .284/.369/.586 with 21 home runs in 98 games. Garcia had 78 RBI and he scored 63 times. Strikeouts are a problem for Garcia, as he struck out 120 times. He was much, much better against right-handers than left-handers, which, if you’re going to have a platoon split, is the one you want to have.
Tennessee Smokies/Iowa Cubs infielder Vimael Machin
Machin has been overlooked by many since he was taken in the 10th round out of Virginia Commonwealth in 2015. But Machin has been a quietly productive player every year but 2018, when he slumped badly and any talk of him being a legitimate prospect went away. But it’s time to start re-considering Machin, because his combination of defensive versatility and left-handed on-base skills could make him a solid MLB bench player.
Machin spent most of the season in Double-A Tennessee. He got a brief promotion in April to Iowa to fill in for injured player and then got promoted back to Iowa to fill in for all the major league September call-ups and hopefully win a PCL title for the I-Cubs.
With most of these numbers being produced in Double-A without the benefit of the rabbit major-league ball that the Triple-A players were using, Machin hit .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs. Six of those were hit for the Smokies, tying him with Garcia for the team lead. Over 129 games, Machin walked 69 times and only struck out 62, which is the first time in his career that he’s walked more than he’s struck out. Machin had 65 RBI, scored 55 times and stole eight bases in ten attempts.
To point out his versatility, the Smokies let Machin play every defensive position on August 30. They didn’t let him pitch, though. He actually has two innings of pitching as a professional, but none since South Bend in 2017.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans catcher Miguel Amaya
Amaya was impressive in pretty much every facet of his game in 2019 except for batting average. Defensively, Amaya looks more and more confident behind the plate and pitchers seem to love throwing to him. His arm strength is slightly above-average (I’d give it a 55 on the 20-80 scale) and he threw out 35% of runners trying to steal on him in 2019. At the plate, he combines impressive power with patience and the ability to draw a walk.
Playing the entire season at High-A Myrtle Beach, the 20-year-old Panamanian hit .235/.351/.402 with 24 doubles and 11 home runs over 99 games. Amaya had 57 RBI and he scored 50 runs. He struck out 69 times and walked 55 times.
For the second straight season, Amaya was the Cubs representative in the Futures Game.
South Bend shortstop Andy Weber
Weber may not be the sexiest player on a prospect-laden South Bend roster, but he’s been consistently good since the Cubs took him out of Virginia in the fifth round in 2018. And he proved that he has a future in the game with a strong 2019 season for the playoff-bound South Bend Cubs.
The left-handed hitting Weber played 127 games for South Bend and hit .275/.338/.400. Weber was second in the Midwest League with 36 doubles and tied for second in triples with eight. Weber also hit three home runs and stole five bases in five attempts. Weber scored 65 times and drove in 59. Weber does have a lot of swing-and-miss in his bat with 110 strikeouts to go with 43 walks.
Eugene Emeralds/South Bend Cubs/Cubs 1 outfielder Nelson Maldonado
The Cubs took Maldonado out of the University of Florida in the 21st round of the draft just past June. As a four-year starter who played for the 2017 College World Series champions, Maldonado was expected to produce right away in the lower levels of the minors. I just don’t think many expected that he would be this good right out of the gate.
Maldonado only played 15 games for Eugene, but in that time he hit .414/.470/.534. That, combined with his experience at a major college program, made a promotion to South Bend a no-brainer. But the Midwest League did not provide that much more of a challenge for Maldonado, where he hit .311/.348/.409 in 33 games.
When you combine the three levels that Maldonado played in his first professional season, he hit .332/.378/.456 with 6 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs over 56 games. Maldonado had 37 RBI and scored 36 times. He was even 4 for 5 in stealing bases.
Who is the BCB Cubs Minor League Player of the Year?
This poll is closed
Iowa Cubs Robel Garcia
Tennessee Smokies Vimael Machin
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Miguel Amaya
South Bend Cubs Andy Weber
Eugene Emeralds Nelson Maldonado