Cubs’ prospects report: Alcantara, Bryant, Black, Edwards

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The Cubs have scuffled to an 8-16 record through Sunday, including suffering three losses in which they were tied or winning entering the eighth inning.  They endured four more losses in games in which they squandered leads. Nevertheless, some nice stories are taking root in the Cubs’ farm system.  Several prospects, including some of baseball’s top ones, are continuing to excel even as they have been promoted to higher levels in the Cubs’ system this season.

We feature some of those Cubs’ prospects today.

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Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ first-round selection in the 2013 draft, appears to be on an unstoppable track to Wrigley Field.  Bryant, 22, ranked the ninth best minor league prospect by Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2014 season, is plying his trade for AA Tennessee of the Southern League after splitting last year between the Arizona Rookie League Cubs, Boise of the Short-Season Northwest League and Daytona of the Advanced A Florida State League.

Through Sunday’s action, he was batting .300 with five home runs (tied for first in the league), 11 RBI, fifteen walks (tied for fifth), seven doubles (tied for fifth) a .434 OBP (fifth), and a .575 slugging percentage (third).

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Through 245 plate appearances in his minor league career, he was averaging .327 with a .411 OPB and a gaudy .654 slugging percentage to go with 14 homers, 43 RBI and 21 doubles.  He also won Arizona Fall League MVP honors following the 2013 season.

2b Arismendy Alcantara, rated the 83rd best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, was promoted to AAA Iowa after a breakout year with Tennessee in 2013, and he is exhibiting no drop-off.  In 88 plate appearances though Saturday, the switch-hitting shortstop, 22, was hitting .301 with two home runs, a league leading four triples, seven doubles, 15 RBI and six stolen bases without being caught.  His slugging percentage was a robust .554.

Last season, Alcantara hit .271 for Tennessee with 15 home runs (tenth best in the league), 36 doubles (2nd), 69 RBI (seventh), 31 stolen bases in 37 attempts (3rd) and 69 runs (tenth).

If Alcantara maintains his high level of performance for Iowa, a promotion to the Cubs could happen by this fall.

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RHP Corey Black, 22, is off to a superb start at Tennessee, with the exception of some control issues, after pitching nicely for Daytona following his acquisition from the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano last July.  For Tennessee, Black has made four appearances (three starts) covering 17 innings and has allowed only seven hits and one home one.  On the downside, he has walked 12, but he has fanned 16.  His ERA of 2.65 and WHIP of 1.118 are solid.

In five starts for Daytona after joining the Cubs’ organization last season, Black threw 25 innings, allowing 22 hits, three home runs and ten walks, while striking out 28.  His ERA and WHIP were both higher at 2.88 and 1.280, respectively, than this year’s.

Black has a potentially devastating arsenal, with a four-seam fastball that can reach the high 90’s, a two-seam fastball that registers in the low 90’s, a curveball, a slider and a changeup.

RHP C.J. Edwards, 22 and ranked the 81st best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, was recently placed on the disabled list for Tennessee after suffering from shoulder fatigue that is expected to keep him out about one month but is not considered serious.  Edwards was acquired in the trade that sent pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers last July.

Before going on the disabled list, Edwards made four starts for Tennessee in which he tossed 20.2 innings and yielded 14 hits, one home run and eight walks.  He fanned 20.  His ERA was 2.61 and WHIP 1.065.

Last season was en epic success for Edwards pitching for both the Rangers’ Advanced A affiliate and Daytona after he was acquired by the Cubs.  In 24 starts, he produced an 8-2 record with a 1.86 ERA and microscopic WHIP of 1.006.  In 116.1 innings, he allowed only 76 hits, including just one home one.  He gave up 41 walks and produced 155 strikeouts.

Edwards sports a four-seam fastball that ranges in velocity from 88 to 95 MPH and also a big curveball and a fading changeup.

LHP Andrew McKirahan, 24, has excelled at every level where he has been assigned since being acquired in the 21st round of the 2011 draft.  At Daytona this season, he has appeared in six games covering 8.1 innings and allowed nine hits, one walk and no home ones while fanning nine.  His ERA is 1.08 and WHIP 1.200.

Last season while recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery performed in 2012, he appeared for the Arizona League Cubs, Boise and A Kane County.  In 21 games spanning 29 innings, he produced an ERA of 2.79 and WHIP of 1.034.  He walked nine, allowed 21 hits (no home runs) and fanned 37.  In fact, McKirahan has allowed only one home one in 64 career innings.

The tall lefty’s fastball registers between 94 and 96 MPH and accompanies a curveball and cutter.

Hopefully these Cubs’ prospects can continue to excel in the more competitive leagues to which they have been promoted.

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