Cubs

Mark Zagunis, Carlos Pimentel net Cubs minor league monthly honors

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Mark Zagunis, Carlos Pimentel net Cubs minor league monthly honors

On Friday, the Cubs named Mark Zagunis the organization's minor league player of the month for June and tabbed Carlos Pimentel as the pitcher of the month.

Mark Zagunis doesn't get a lot of pub in the Cubs system, overshadowed by top prospects like Kyle Schwarber and Carl Edwards Jr.

But Zagunis is a nice under-the-radar player for the Cubs, putting up very good numbers since being selected in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Zagunis, 22, entered play Friday with a career .303/.436/.446 slash line in 126 minor-league games with 31 doubles, seven homers, 25 steals and a stellar 94:84 walk:strikeout ratio.

He initially saw some time at catcher (19 games in 2014), but has primarily played outfield this season, notching at least seven games at each of the three outfield spots.

In June, Zagunis hit .326/.448/.537 with Advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, leading the Carolina League in runs, tied for first in homers and finished Top 5 in total bases, OPS, OBP, hits, walks, slugging, RBI and extra-base hits.

Pimentel, a 25-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic, went 4-1 with a 0.95 ERA in five starts in June for Triple-A Iowa. He struck out 22 batters in 28.1 innings and allowed just three earned runs.

On the season, Pimentel is 6-4 with a 3.01 ERA, 1.286 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 with Iowa. He has a career 4.06 ERA and 1.374 WHIP over nine seasons in the minor leagues.

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Cubs first-round pick Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and he did not disappoint.

The 23-year old shortstop showed off impressive hops during an acrobatic grab in the topf of the second inning in his first game with the South Bend Cubs. Hoerner will surely be an exciting defensive prospect with ability like this.

As far as offense goes, through four at-bats at South Bend, Hoerner is batting .500, and this comes after he hit .318 with a home run and two RBI through seven games with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs Class A short-season affiliate.

Here is to hoping we continue to see big-time plays from Hoerner.

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

One year after arguably the biggest trade ever between the Cubs and White Sox, both sides are feeling pretty happy with their returns.

Jose Quintana has had a bit of a disappointing 2018 campaign overall, but he's been really solid lately, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP since April 22 — a span of 14 starts.

He struggled in two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series last fall, but shut the Nationals down in two games (one start, one relief appearance) in the NLDS, allowing only 3 hits and a pair of walks in 6.1 innings.

All told, Quintana is 15-9 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 182 innings a Cubs uniform.

Meanwhile, the White Sox boast one of the strongest farm systems in the game thanks to Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, the main pieces from the Cubs for Quintana last summer.

Jimenez has a .313 average, .912 OPS, 12 homers and 46 RBI in 65 games this season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old outfielder was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2018 campaign.

Cease is a bit further away from Chicago, but the 22-year-old is also having a strong season. He's 10-2 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 in 16 starts this year, with his last 3 outings coming for Double-A Birmingham.

Some Cubs fans may be expecting an ace out of Quintana, but there's enormous value in a guy that's under team control through the 2020 season and due just over $30 million for the 3.5 seasons' worth of contributions.

Still, Quintana understands it was a hefty cost the Cubs paid for his services and he embraces the challenge.

"These guys are gonna be All-Stars,"  Quintana said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I've heard good things. I want to continue to do the best I can, but I know it was a huge trade. I know [the Cubs] paid a lot for me. That's a good feeling, you know? 

"It helps that [Jimenez and Cease] are doing good. I know they're younger, but it's amazing to be in that trade. I'm more happy right now to be here. Best of luck to them. 

"One time I'm going to face Jimenez, too, so I'm going to enjoy that."

We may not have to wait long to find out: The Cubs head to the South Side Sept. 21-23 for a 3-game set, when Jimenez could be getting his first taste of MLB life as a September call-up for the White Sox.