The Chicago Cubs handed out a pair of minor league awards today, honoring the organization's player and pitcher of the month for July.
Single-A Peoria shortstop Javier Baez, took home player of the month honors after batting .368 with six doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 20 RBI and 21 runs scored in 28 games.
Baez, selected by the Cubs with the ninth overall pick in 2011, was recently listed as the organization's number one prospect by CubsDen's John Arguello. The 19-year old infielder leads the Midwest League with a .584 slugging percentage and a .965 OPS since making his debut May 28. Baez is hitting .330 with 10 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs, 32 RBI, 40 runs scored and 19 stolen bases for Peoria this season.
Brooks Raley, who has split time between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2012, was named the organization's pitcher of the month, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched over five starts. Raley recorded 28 strike outs and just 12 walks while limiting opponents to a .254 batting average.
Raley, selected by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2009 Draft, owns a 6-10 record and a 3.58 ERA in 130.2 innings pitched this season.
The Chicago Bears won the offseason. At least, that's what the national opinion seems to suggest.
General manager Ryan Pace may not have read all the news clippings, but he offered his thoughts on the job he and the front office accomplished since January 1.
"It's been aggressive, a lot of work has been done, very exciting and energizing," he said at Bears training camp from the campus of Olivet Nazarene University Thursday. "There's a lot of new pieces and it's really neat to see the assets come together."
Pace and his team certainly did do a lot of work. The Bears made headlines in free agency with the signings of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, three players expected to provide a huge boost to the Bears' passing game.
In addition to what he did on offense, Pace exercised his option with the transition tag placed on Kyle Fuller and matched the Packers' offer for the ascending cornerback. It was a big-money deal that showed players in the locker room he's willing to reward hard work and effort. It also showed the fans that he wasn't going to let the Packers steal a homegrown talent.
It didn't stop there. Pace strengthened the defense even more with the selection of linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of April's NFL Draft and gave the offense yet another weapon in the second round when he traded up to select Anthony Miller, a receiver who could challenge for a starting job as a rookie.
Yeah, it's been an aggressive few months.
And let's not forget the biggest change of all: Matt Nagy.
Pace's tenure as Chicago's GM will likely be defined by the last few months. He invested in his hand-picked quarterback and made his first "real" coaching hire after a few years of experience on the job. He'll sink or swim with those two decisions. He knows it, and he went all-in this offseason.
The toughest part of any comeback from injury in sports is the mental aspect. Players have to build trust in their body again in order to eliminate thought from their movements.
In the case of Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson, he has to regain confidence in his left knee after tearing his ACL in last year's season opener.
According to coach Matt Nagy, Robinson is ready.
Nagy, who met with the media at Bears training camp Thursday in Bourbonnais, told reporters that Robinson is mentally and physically ready to go. The biggest issue for Robins, Nagy said, is building chemistry with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Robinson is more than 10 months removed from his ACL tear, an injury that generally takes less time than that to recover. He participated in some on-field work during minicamp sessions this offseason in an effort to build that confidence.
Robinson will look to regain the 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown form he displayed in 2015, a year in which he was arguably the top young receiver in the NFL.
"For us, he can play multiple positions," Nagy said. "We want him and Mitch to work on timing."
They'll start working on that timing Friday when the Bears kick off their first training camp practice.