The Iowa Cubs road show arrives at Cheney Stadium on Sunday, and is in town through Wednesday.
The most interesting team in the Pacific Coast League features the top power hitting prospect in the game, an intriguing Cuban escapee, and a man who has hit 555 major league home runs.
Yes, Manny Ramirez is back in town — this time in his new role as a player/coach for the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate.
The 42-year-old Ramirez has been on the active roster and playing this past week. In 72 at-bats this season, he’s hitting .222 with three homers.
As a coach, Ramirez is helping tutor top hitting prospects Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.
Bryant was the second player chosen in the 2013 draft, out of the University of San Diego. The slugger leads all of minor league baseball with 41 home runs this season. He’s not a one-trick pony, either: he’s batting .332, has drawn 78 walks, and is even 15-for-18 stealing bases.
The Cubs started Bryant at Double-A Tennessee, where he hit .355 with 22 homers and 58 RBI in 68 games. He was promoted to Iowa on June 19, and he has continued to mash home runs. He’s hitting .305 with 19 homers and 47 RBI in 61 games for Iowa.
Soler is a 22-year-old Cuban defector who signed a nine-year, $30 million Major League contract in the summer of 2012. The Cubs knew he would need some minor league seasoning, but injuries (broken leg in 2013, repeated hamstring strains this year) have slowed his development.
Soler hit a three-run homer in Reno on Friday night, giving him six homers in his first 98 Triple-A at-bats. However, he’s batting just .224.
Jabari Hits 30
Mariners outfield prospect Jabari Henry hit a milestone on Friday night in Modesto, launching his 30th home run of the season for the Advanced-A High Desert Mavericks.
It was the sixth homer in the last ten games for the 23-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder.
Henry was the Mariners 18th round draft pick in 2012 out of Florida International University.
In his first full professional season in 2013, Henry hit just 11 homers in 433 plate appearances split between Low-A Clinton and High Desert.
The California League is known as a hitter-friendly circuit, and Henry has broken out in 2014. He’s hitting .303, he’s drawn 65 walks, has a .407 OBP, and he has driven in 95 runs. He has 101 strikeouts in 413 at-bats.
Home/road splits are always needed when looking at High Desert players, because of the extremely high-scoring environment in Adelanto, California. Henry is batting .327 with 17 homers at home, and .279 with 13 homers on the road.