Low A – Midwest League – Chicago Cubs
Since I was snowed on in Battle Creek taking an important photo of Red Sox prospect Chris Reitsima in 1998, I vowed never to return to Michigan to take baseball photos in April again.
But I broke my vow and took a chance this year when I decided to catch Peoria in the thumb area of Michigan at Midland., Michigan and provide Vine Line, the Chicago Cubs team magazine, some early photos of their Low A – Midwest League ballplayers.
As it turned out , I missed the spring snow and cold weather by a week and saw Peoria play the LA Dodgers Low A affiliate Great Lake Loons, April 19-20th and the Toronto Blue Jays Lansing Lugnuts affiliate, April 22nd.
The Peoria Chiefs are blessed with HOF manager, Ryne Sandberg, and a bevy of good ball players.
I lucked out when BA#1 prospect Josh Vitters came up from extended spring the night before I got there.
I saw Josh hit the ball hard several times but it seemed like it was always hit at a third baseman or somebody. The ball just didn’t have eyes for him but he is a far better hitter than his lowly batting 182 average showed and I expect him to blossom into a first class major league hitter with some minor league experience.
BA #7 catcher, Josh Donaldson showed some good leadership qualities behind the plate and whacked the dickens out of the ball.
Almost before I got some good action shots of him, BA #16, RHP Dae Eun Rae knocked out of the box in the second inning at Lansing but he threw hard and I am certain he is a better pitcher than he showed that evening.
While not rated, keep an eye on 3B Marquez Smith, who, my baseball instincts say is going to be a good ball player and who is still at the hot corner for Peoria after Josh Vitters returned to extended spring. He’s hitting 253, 3HR, and 17 RBI so far this season.