With all the hubbub surrounding Theo Epstein’s defection to Chicago, I almost completely failed to realize that the Arizona Fall League is now well underway. Never fear, though… today the AFL will receive it’s due.
The Cubs have eight farmhands representing the Mesa Solar Sox in Arizona this year. They include pitchers Jeff Beliveau, Chris Carpenter, Andrew Cashner, Marcus Hatley and Trey McNutt as well as infielders Junior Lake, DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters. There are some familiar names, and a few not-so-familiar. I, for one, had never heard of Marcus Hatley in my life. And I try to be up on my Cub prospects. So, let’s give these boys a look-see:
Jeff Beliveau: Jeff, an 18th round selection from the 2008 draft, worked his way to the Solar Sox by putting up some sparkling stats between high-A and AA in the 2011 season. Seriously. In 74.1 innings, his ERA was a microscopic 1.57. He struck out 89 batters and walked just 19. You’ve got my attention, Mr. Beliveau. Beliveau. That’s fun to say, isn’t it? Beliveau, Beliveau, Beliveau.
Jeff hasn’t pitched for Mesa yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Chris Carpenter: Chris was the star of a Farm Boy Files posting here at The FBB about a year ago. He also got a shot in Chicago this season, pitching 9.2 innings and allowing three earned runs. He has been solid for the Solar Sox so far, logging a 2.70 ERA in five appearances. He has also struck out 10 to only one walk in his 6.2 innings. Keep it up, Chris!
Andrew Cashner: Cash is basically in Mesa for a sort of rehab stint. He is limited to relief appearances of two or fewer innings. He’s made three thus far, all one-inning deals and allowed two runs. Baby steps, Cash, baby steps…
Marcus Hatley: As I mentioned already, I’d never heard of Marcus until Saturday. Yet he has, apparently, been in the Cubs system since 2006. I am sorry, Marcus. I am better than that.
He missed some time between 09-10 due to Tommy John surgery, but came back strong in 2011 (which, I assume, is how he earned himself a berth in the prestigious AFL.) He bounded from low-A Peoria, to high-A Daytona, all the way to AA Tennessee this year, performing very well as a reliever at each stop. In 59.2 total innings, he registered a 3.32 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 11 saves.
Marcus has had a rougher go of it this fall (it should be noted that the AFL is notoriously hitter-friendly) putting up an unsightly 17.05 ERA in 6.1 IP. He’s allowed at least one earned run in each of his five appearances.
He’s got time to bounce back, however. And now that I know he exists, I will be cheering Marcus on all the way.
Trey McNutt: You probably already know that Kenneth Trey McNutt is regarded as the #1 pitching prospect in the Cubs system, but did you know that his real first name was Kenneth? I’m betting not. I only do because I covered him earlier this year. His name has been swirling about in the Boston compensation-talk rumors, but the Cubs won’t be letting go of the kid any time soon.
Trey’s numbers with Mesa thus far won’t blow you away (4.05 ERA in 6.2 IP, 1 K, 4 BB) but he appears to be working on a pretty sweet beard. So, there’s that.
Junior Lake: Junior has put up a great showing in his first 13 games as a Solar Sock. The young, toolsy short stop is batting .340/.407/.979 with four home runs, 11 RBI, and 13 runs scored. Add in his 10 stolen bases and you can definitely say that Lake is making a splash (pun totally intended.) He has done more than enough to move well up on my personal “watch” list.
DJ LeMahieu: You know DJ. He’s wore the Cubbie blue already (he’s the skinny one.) He’s batting .286 in Mesa, with a .375 OBP in 14 games. He has driven in 11 runs, and also scored 11. He may be figuring heavily into the Cubs plans in 2012, whether anyone likes it or not.
Josh Vitters: Joshy V. may finally be proving why he is perenially atop the list of Cubs top prospects. He is currently sitting at 4th in the AFL’s top batters with a .375 average. He’s knocked in 10 runs with two homers and three doubles, also recording six runs, four walks and two stolen bases in 11 games.