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Pipeline names Cubs' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Cory Abbott and infielder Jason Vosler were named the top Cubs Minor League pitcher and player, respectively, by MLB Pipeline.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Cory Abbott and infielder Jason Vosler were named the top Cubs Minor League pitcher and player, respectively, by MLB Pipeline.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Abbott, 23, a second-round pick in 2017, pitched for both low Class A South Bend and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach in his first full professional season. With South Bend, the right-hander was 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in nine starts and went 4-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 13 games at Myrtle Beach. Abbott struck out 131 and walked 39 over 115 innings in his 22 starts. In his last three outings, Abbott did not give up a run over 16 innings, striking out 20.

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Cubs player development director Jaron Madison said Abbott's feel for his pitches is pretty advanced.

"He's a guy who throws strikes with four pitches," Madison said. "He shows a plus fastball that he can move around the zone and he has a solid average curveball and a solid average slider and a changeup that's coming. He's a guy who's really interesting because of his stuff -- three average to solid average or better pitches and his ability to move it around the zone and command is pretty special.

"He forced our hand and made us move him up to Myrtle Beach by his performance," Madison said. "A few guys got promoted ahead of him and we continued to challenge him to get better with his changeup and he struck out almost 31 percent of the batters in South Bend and continued to strike out almost 30 percent of the guys and only walking like 7 percent."

Abbott was named the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May, posting a 3-1 record and 2.67 ERA, and was honored again in August after going 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA in five starts.

Vosler, 25, began the season at Double-A Tennessee, where he batted .238 with 12 homers, 18 doubles and 46 RBIs, then was promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he hit .263 with 11 homers, 11 doubles and 47 RBIs. A 16th-round pick in the 2014 Draft, he played primarily third base but also played first and second.

"This year, he really focused on tapping into his power and leveraging his lower half," Madison said of Vosler. "He's really got a good feel for his swing now and what he wants to do with every pitch, every swing. He's not going up there looking to spray the ball around, he's looking to hit it as hard and as far as he can to the middle and pull side of the field. Now, he's starting to understand how pitchers are trying to pitch to him and making the adjustment and finding pitches he can do damage with."

Vosler hit 14 home runs in his first three Minor League seasons but then studied hitters like Joey Votto, J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner and focused on hitting line drives.

"I just want to hit line drives -- line drives that rise," Vosler said in an interview this summer with the Des Moines Register. "In batting practice, if I'm hitting line drives at the center fielder, that's good. Because if I miss under it, now I have a home run. If I miss over it, I might have a ground ball up the middle. But if I'm staying through the middle of the field with a line drive, I think that's kind of the best result you can have."

Video: COL@CHC: Vosler smacks a solo shot to left-center

Vosler also took advantage of having Hall of Famer Alan Trammell around when the infielder played in the Arizona Fall League last year.

"It wasn't like he sat down and talked to us, but more on-the-field stuff," Vosler said this spring. "He was kind of cool because right when he got to [Mesa], he immersed himself into the whole thing, right on the field, introducing himself to everybody. Most of the coordinators who came from other teams worked with their own guys and [Trammell] worked with the whole team, which was awesome."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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