Chicago Cubs top prospect Anthony Rizzo must have gotten the memo that Bryan LaHair, the Cubs current first baseman, hit a grand slam against the St. Louis Cardinals earlier Friday, his second home run of the season. Rizzo found a way to top him as he went yard twice Friday night in Iowa’s 6-5 win over Round Rock. It was his second multi-home run game of the young season, and ups his total to a minor league leading five through nine games. He is also batting .400 (14-for-35) with 13 RBI and putting a lot of pressure on the 29-year old LaHair to keep producing. While LaHair is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI through seven games, he has also struck out nine times, including three more on Friday along with his grand slam.
Wellington Castillo, the team’s top catching prospect, also went yard on Friday for Iowa and is now hitting .444 (8-for-18) with two doubles, two home runs and four RBI over six games. With Geovany Soto struggling out of the gate, hitting just .143 after hitting just .228 all of last season, fans could get an extended look at the 24-year-old catcher earlier than expected.
Brett Jackson added his first home run of the season on Friday, as well. However, he is just 1-for-13 over his last three games, and with two more strikeouts on Friday, he now has 12 over his first eight games. That is the one area that the Cubs want to see some improvement on before they bring him up.
Another top prospect, Josh Vitters, is hitting a quiet .407 (11-for-27) for Iowa through eight games. The former first-round pick of the Cubs in 2007 (third overall), has one double and six RBI with just two strikeouts. He continues to be one of the hardest players to strike out but the Cubs want to see his power develop before they call him up.
Down at double-A Tennessee, pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee picked up his first win of the season, going 6.1 innings, allowing one run on six hits, while striking out four to no walks. He out-dueled Seattle Mariners top prospect, Danny Hultzen, who went 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts to three walks in the loss. Rhee, a 6’-2” right-hander, went 8-7 for class-A Daytona last season, with a 4.02 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 117 K/43 BB over 127.2 innings.
Trey McNutt, one of the team’s better pitching prospects, has tossed 7.2 scoreless innings over his first two starts. He has allowed four hits while striking out eight. His six walks, however, show that his command isn’t quite there yet. After bursting onto the scene in 2010, going 10-1 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 132 K/37 BB over 116.1 innings across three levels, blisters played a big part in McNutt’s disappointing 2011. Over 95 innings at double-A, he went 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 65 K/39 BB and opponents hit .296 against him.