The Chicago Cubs agreed with the Kane County Cougars to become the major league affiliate for the Low-A baseball club during the offseason. With that, fans of the Chicago Cubs would be given a chance to see some of the best and brightest talent in the organization a short drive outside of Chicago.
On July 7, I got the chance to head to Geneva to see a Kane County game against the Quad City River Bandits. Quad City, Houston Astros affiliate, sports the best record in the Midwest League’s second half, and is the temporary home for 2012 number one overall pick Carlos Correa. In a string of bad luck, Correa was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day.
With Correa grabbing pine, I was able to focus 98% of my attention on Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora. The other 2% was used on Dan Vogelbach, a portly first baseman with pop in his bat. Almora was the designated hitter for the day, and Vogelbach manned first.
From the moment Almora stepped in the box, you knew the kid could hit. Besides his .353 batting average, Almora read the starting pitcher for Q.C. like a book. His swing for the majority of his at-bats was effortless. His bat will lack the power of other young talent, but it appears as if his plate discipline could lead to a role as a speed/on-base player in the future. Take away a failed guess at a fastball in the 9th that lead to a pop-out, and Almora was on base. His final stat line included three hits, one walk, and two runs scored.
Vogelbach entered the game hitting .285 with 13 home runs. The power will play on his climb through the Cubs’ system, but man is he a liability in the field. His range is mediocre at first, and for one batter in the top of the 9th, he played right field. A routine fly ball turned in to an epic battle for Dan, leading to a dropped easy out. It is tough to see him maturing as a player with his lack of range and spotty defense. He can pick the ball on bad throws, but watching him stretch for the ball was less than desirable.
Going forward, it is safe to expect Almora to get the call to High-A Daytona. Javier Baez was just promoted from Daytona to Double-A Tennessee, so his spot could be Almora’s. He would join currently injured Jorge Soler, who had a cup of coffee with Kane County.
Vogelbach may get a sniff at High A, but do not hold your breath for this season.
The Chicago Cubs first round, second overall pick Kris Bryant could be with the Cougars some time in August if he decides to sign a deal with the club. That would give local fans yet another reason to head to a game. Go see Almora before he gets his deserved promotion. If you miss out…
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