Well take a look at some of the Cubs minor-league facts and figures today in what we used to call our Farm and Fleita report, in honor of Cubs vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita. Maybe we can call it the Farm and McFleita report since Jason McLeod is now senior vice president for scouting and player development.
Before we get into today's news that No. 1 draft pick Albert Almora officially has signed with the Cubs, we're happy to report the Daily Herald's big event honoring the memory of Ron Santo is a sell-out event. It's tomorrow (Thursday) at Drink in Schaumburg, at 871 E. Algonquin Road. I'll be on a panel along with Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner, radio announcer Pat Hughes, Ron Santo Jr. and former Cubs catcher Randy Hundley.
Northwest Suburban artist John Hanley, who does stunning work, will be on hand selling his Ron Santo Hall of Fame prints to help raise money for JDRF, a cause near and dear to Ronnie's heart. It should be a fun day, celebrating the memory of the late Cubs Hall of Famer.
On to the minors: The Cubs today announced the signing of Almora, and he's on his way to Mesa, Ariz., to begin life as a professional ballplayer. Sources say the bonus is $3.9 million for the sixth overall pick in the June draft. The recommended amount for that pick was $3.25 million. The Cubs have signed 19 of their top 20 picks, with only right-handed pitcher Duane Underwood out of Pope High School in Georgia left to go. Underwood worked out at Wrigley Field before the all-star break.
Almora, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder out of Mater Academy Charter in Hialeah, Fla., is an 18-year-old who batted .603 (44-for-73) in 25 games this past season. The day he was selected, he said his first priority was the University of Miami, which had a scholarship for him. College proved to be an effective negotiating bit of leverage for Almora. He'll join a crop of minor-league outfielders that includes Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur.
None of the Cubs' minor-league teams played yesterday. The Triple-A All-Star Game is tonight in Buffalo, with Pacific Coast League stars taking on International League stars. Iowa third baseman Josh Vitters, the Cubs' No. 1 draft choice in 2007, will represent the PCL as a reserve. Vitters has come on of late, and he's making the case for a September call-up at the latest. The 22-year-old Vitters (he turns 23 Aug. 27) has a hitting line of .302/.356/.509 for an OPS of .866. He has 13 homers, 48 RBI, 23 walks and 52 strikeouts. Vitters also is riding a 10-game hitting streak, going 15-for-38 with an OPS of 1.098.
Jackson's line is .261/.339/.494 for an OPS of .833. He has 12 homers, 37 RBI, 34 walks and 122 strikeouts. We've discussed the strikeouts over the last several weeks, with Cubs manager Dale Sveum weighing in. We'll see what the second half brings for Jackson.
Class AA Tennessee had a special guest recently in Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly, who was visiting his son, catcher Michael Brenly. Pops told the Knoxville News Sentinel he thinks the kid has what it takes to make it as a catcher.
"It's a tough way to make a living, but I think he (Mike) has got the right attitude and make-up," Brenly told the paper. "If he catches a break here or there, he can follow in my steps all the way to the big leagues."
The elder Brenly had a chance to visit with fans at Smokies Park.
"If I was managing a ballclub, there's no way I could take a week off and come watch my son play," Brenly told the News Sentinel. "It just doesn't happen."
The younger Brenly is at .238/.330/.356 with 3 homers.
Tennessee's Justin Bour has 65 RBI, 2 off the Southern League lead. He has an overall line of .289/.360/.441 with 8 homers.
At Class A Daytona, shortstop Arismendy Alcantara was 4-for-5 in the Cubs' most recent game. He is at .306/.341/.453 for the season. The 20-year-old Alcantara was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. One of the scouts was Jose Serra, who also scouted Starlin Castro.
Szczur is at .270/.377/.385 with 2 homers. The encouraging stat about Szczur, who got off to a rough start, is the .377 OBP. He has 39 walks and 45 strikeouts in 244 at-bats. Pitcher Rob Whitenack is finding it tough sledding in his comeback from Tommy John Surgery. He is 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA. In his last outing, Whitenack pitched 2.1 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs while walking three and striking out one.
Downstate at Class A Peoria, Javier Baez hit his sixth homer in the Chiefs last game. Last year's first-rounder by the Cubs is at .310/.379/.508 with 14 RBI, 7 walks and 30 strikeouts in 126 at-bats.