Cubs Get Hits In Lower Rounds
CHICAGO—Five years into Theo Epstein’s regime, a minor league system that has looked top-heavy with single-digit first-rounders since Epstein took over is showing signs of developing quality from middle rounds—at least among hitters.
Two of this year’s early success stories came from deep in the 2014 draft: 14th-rounder Chesny Young, a righthanded hitting second baseman at Double-A Tennessee, and 16th-rounder Jason Vosler, a lefty-hitting third baseman at high Class A Myrtle Beach.
Neither has a ton of power or speed (Vosler a little more power; Young a little more threat on the bases). But both speak to a Cubs draft philosophy that might start producing big leaguers beyond the draft’s top 10 overall.
"We try to look for certain profile hitters, especially deeper in the draft,” Epstein said. "Guys who recognize pitches really well out of the hand, guys who control the strike zone, guys who make a lot of contact, guys with elite hand-eye coordination and both those guys fit that profile.”
Young, 23, out of Mercer University, was the Southern League’s player of the month for April (and Cubs’ minor-league player of the month) after a .402 month that included 16 walks in 22 games and a .505 on-base percentage (1.029 OPS).
"He started last year to really exhibit his elite bat-to-ball skills, and it was just a question of whether he will grow into enough power to impact the baseball, drive it to the gaps,” Epstein said. "He started to drive the ball through the gaps and hit for extra-base power, and he’s doing a phenomenal job of controlling the game while he’s at bat.”
Vosler also started strong in April, and then he got red-hot into May—hitting .342 with a .902 OPS and as many walks as strikeouts through 33 games.
"He’s got a sweet left-handed swing an real good strike-zone recognition,” Epstein said. "He’s an interesting one as well.”
• Righthander Andury Acevedo, who struggled in six outings at Double-A Tennessee, is out for the year because of a torn ACL in his left knee.
• Matt Murton, who signed a minor league deal after six productive seasons in Japan, injured his oblique the day the Cubs needed to call up an outfielder to the big league club. They called up Ryan Kalish instead.