Cubs' Archer Opens Eyes With Dominant Year





Best Player: Brandon Guyer homered in Wrigley Field in 2008 with low Class A Peoria in a Road to Wrigley game.

This year, he is helping pave that road back to the park thanks to a monster second half with Double-A Tennessee. The 24-year-old outfielder hit .424/.459/.724 in the final 46 games after the all-star break to help the Smokies qualify for the playoffs with a franchise-best 86-53 record.

Overall in 102 games, Guyer ranked second in the organization in average (.344) and on-base percentage (.398) and first in slugging (.588). He finished with 39 doubles, six triples, 13 homers and 58 RBIs. He also swiped 29 bases.

The Virginia product was a fifth-round pick in 2007. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Guyer has a great combination of power and speed but is still working on plate discipline. He has 91 walks and 206 strikeouts in 356 career minor league games.

Best Pitcher: A change of organizations seemed to help righthander Chris Archer.

The fifth-round pick of the Indians in 2006 had a 5.64 ERA in rookie-ball in 2007 and was 4-8, 4.29 in 2008. He was traded with two other minor league pitchers in a deal that sent popular Cub Mark DeRosa to Cleveland and has flourished ever since, including an eye popping 15-3, 2.34 record with 149 strikeouts in 142 innings in 2010. His win total, ERA and strikeout total are tops among Cubs minor leaguers. He is also No. 1 in opponents average as batters hit .200 against him. He was third in WHIP at 1.17.

The 21-year-old has a fastball that tops out at 96 mph, a very hard slider, and an  effective changeup and curveball. He's been prone to walking batters early in his career, but he cut that down to 63 in 140 innings this season.

Keep An Eye On: Short-season Boise second baseman Pierre LePage hit .331/.367/.453 with 20 doubles and 38 RBIs in 254 at-bats and was named to the Northwest League postseason all-star team.

The 5-foot-8, 21-year-old Connecticut standout was drafted in the 13th round in June and went 5-for-5 in his second game in the Rookie-level Arizona League, after which the Cubs sent him to Boise, where he flourished. He did well adjusting to professional pitching, despite striking out 26 times in 65 games. That's not a bad total but high by his standard. He struck out three times in 56 games with UConn in the spring.

Cubbyhole

• Ryne Sandberg, who is a serious candidate for the Cubs managerial job, was named Pacific Coast League manager of the year for Triple-A Iowa.

• Iowa infielder Darwin Barney and outfielder Brad Snyder were named to the PCL's postseason all-star team.