Chicago Cubs prospects: 3 up, on fast track to Wrigley

This Chicago Cubs prospects piece comes from Jeremi Harris. The following three Cubs prospects have excelled with each promotion through the Cubs’ system and can probably smell the Wrigley Field hot dogs.
Kyle Hendricks:   Right-handed pitcher Hendricks, 24 in December, was acquired in the Ryan Dempster deal in July of 2012.  An Ivy League Dartmouth product, Hendricks, according to scouting reports, is a cerebral pitcher with a full arsenal that includes a two and four seam fastball, a curveball and changeup.  His fastball has been clocked as high as 94 MPH but generally sits in the high 80’s and low 90’s.  His effectiveness, though, can be traced to his ability to repeat the same delivery for each of his pitches.  Hendricks started the season at Tennessee, where he was exceptional.  In 21 starts covering 126.1 innings, he compiled a record of 10-3 with an ERA of 1.85.  He allowed 107 hits and only 26 walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.053.  His hits and walks allowed per nine innings were 7.6 and 1.9, respectively, and his strikeouts permitted per nine innings was 7.2.  His strikeouts to walk ratio was an exceptional 3.88.
Hendricks was recently promoted to Iowa, and there has been no slippage in his performance at the higher level.  In four starts covering 26 innings, he has compiled a record of 2-0 and a 2.42 ERA.  He has yielded 23 hits and five walks, leading to a WHIP of 1.077 and hits and walks allowed per nine innings of 8.0 and 1.7, respectively.  His strikeouts generated per nine innings of 7.6 and strikeouts to walk ratio of 4.40 have both improved.  Hendricks could force his way into the competition for a spot in the back end of the Cubs’ rotation next Spring.
Kris Bryant:  The third overall selection in the 2013 draft, the 6’5 right-handed hitting third baseman has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Cubs’ system since debuting on July 21.  After two games for the Arizona Rookie League Cubs, Bryant was promoted to Boise of the short-season Northwest League.  In eighteen games and 77 plate appearances for the Hawks, Bryant hit .354 and slugged .692 with an OPB (On-Base-Percentage) of .416.  Of his 23 hits, eight were doubles, one was a triple, and four were home runs.  He walked eight times and drove in sixteen runs.  He was promoted past Kane County of the Midwest League to Daytona on August 12, and he has not shown Florida State League Pitchers any more leniency.
In 40 plate appearances and ten games for Daytona through Sunday, Bryant was batting .368 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBI.  His .400 OBP and .684 slugging percentage were both comparable with his numbers at Boise.
Bryant, 22 in January, will finish his first minor league season with less than 200 plate appearances.  There has been intense discussion among Cubs’ fans of Bryant breaking with the parent club in 2014.  We believe his earliest arrival at Wrigley Field will not occur until midseason given the recent precedent against position players with Bryant’s limited number of minor league experience reaching the major leagues.
Javier Baez:  of all the Cubs prospects, he appears to be on a faster track to Wrigley Field than right-handed hitting shortstop Baez, 21 in December.  A first round selection in 2011, Baez spent the majority of 2012 with Peoria.  In 57 games and 235 plate appearances, Baez batted .333 and slugged .596 and had an OPB of .383.  He walloped twelve home runs, ten doubles and five triples and drove in 33.  He also stole 20 bases in 23 attempts.  Baez started 2013 with Daytona, where in 76 games and 327 plate appearances he batted .274, slugged .535 and produced an OPB of .338.  He hit seventeen home runs, nineteen doubles and four triples, drove in 57 runs and stole twelve bases in fourteen attempts.  On July 5, Baez was promoted to Tennessee, and his best production has occurred there over a 46-game stretch covering 206 plate appearances through Sunday.  He was hitting .302 with seventeen home runs, fourteen doubles, 44 RBI and eight stolen bases in ten attempts.  His OBP is .357 and slugging percentage a career-high .647.
It appears that Cubs’ management is steadfast that Baez will not debut with the parent club this year but will give him an opportunity to break with the team, or make his debut at some point, in 2014.  Baez, according to reports, will work at multiple defensive positions this offseason given Starlin Castro’s presence at shortstop for the Cubs.  If the Cubs remain committed to Castro–and hopefully 2013 proves to be an anomalous slump season for him–then the Cubs will have to make every accommodation necessary to find a position for Baez, their consensus top prospect.
Update:  In last night’s Tennessee Smokies’ victory, Baez was 2-3 with a home run and four RBI, raising his average to .308 and giving him a combined 35 home runs and 105 RBI this season.      
It does not appear that there are any roadblocks in the minor leagues that can stop these three Cubs prospects: Hendricks, Bryant and Baez from reaching the big leagues.
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