Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/11/11

Welcome everyone to a new minor league season. This week, it seems that every level came out swinging, as each team scored over twenty runs in their first four games.

There were also some lights-out pitching performances and an addition to the Iowa Cubs pitching staff. The Cubs also released several players in the organization.

Here’s this week’s Down on the Farm Report …

Low Class A – Peoria Chiefs (2-2)
The Peoria Chiefs began their season on April 7 with the game suspended after eight innings in a 3-3 tie with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

With an overabundance of outfielders, manager Casey Kopitzke has used Greg Rohan and Anthony Giansanti at third base, with good results.

Greg Rohan went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a RBI, while Anthony Giansanti, playing outfield, also went 2-for-4 with two doubles. However, when the game was resumed Friday, the Chiefs couldn’t put the Kernels away, and the Chiefs wound up losing 7-3.

The game marked the professional debut of Hayden Simpson, the Cubs’ first round draft choice in 2010. Simpson didn’t disappoint, tossing 3.2 innings and allowing only one earned run. Simpson struck out seven, while walking only one batter. Eric Jokish was equally dazzling in relief, pitching four innings and allowing only one earned run. Jokish also struck out five hitters, while only walking two.

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The Chiefs then regrouped for the scheduled game and brought out their bats. Elliot Soto lead the charge by going 3-for-4 with a run scored. His double play partner, Pierre LePage, was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI. Anthony Giansanti, playing third base, went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. Right-hander Austin Kirk shut the Kernels down, pitching four innings without an earned run, as the Chiefs defeated Cedar Rapids 8-2.

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The Chiefs came up on the short end of a slugfest Saturday, losing to Cedar Rapids 12-9. Matt Szczur hit leadoff for the Chiefs and was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a stolen base. Pierre LePage continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4, including a double and an RBI. Micah Gibbs came back from a hitless opening night to go 2-for-5 with a stolen base.

Sunday saw the Chiefs evening the series, as Rubi Silva, Greg Rohan and Richard Jones supplied the thunder.

Silva was 3-for-4 with a double, home run and a RBI. Rohan also had a home run and a double, while going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Richard Jones chipped in a home run and finished the game 2-for-3 and an RBI.

Cameron Greathouse closed out the series allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings. He struck out four and issues a free pass while allowing a home run. Jeffry Antigua picked up the win in relief, while Eduardo Figueroa earned his first save.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (4-0)
In the pitching rich Florida State League, the D-Cubs have shown that they have the bats to answer all those arms. Daytona started their season on April 7 by defeating Brevard County 3-2.

Third baseman Matt Cerda was 3-for-5, with a double and two RBI. Off-season acquisition Michael Burgess hit his first home run for the organization, going 1-for-4 with a RBI. Shortstop Junior Lake was also 2-for-4. Opening night starter Robert Whitenack went five innings, striking out three while letting in two earned runs. Jeffrey Lorick pitched two innings in relief for the victory, while Frank Bautista earned the save.

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Nick Struck took the mound Friday night and pitched five innings with five strikeouts in a 7-3 win. Jae-Hoon Ha went 2-for-5, with a double, a RBI, and two stolen bases. Catcher Welington Castillo, rehabbing a broken finger by serving as the D-Cubs designated hitter, was 2-for-3 with a double. Big Justin Bour was 1-for-2, while hitting his first home run and collecting three RBI. Michael Burgess blasted his second home run in as many games, driving in two and picked up an outfield assist.

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On Saturday the D-Cubs brought out the lumber and rode three home runs to another 7-3 victory. Outfielder Nelson Perez led the hit parade, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI. Welington Castillo repeated his 2-for-3 performance and drove in a run. Justin Bour smacked his second home run, while outfielder Evan Crawford swiped two bases. Right-hander Aaron Kurcz got the victory after pitching five innings with three strikeouts.

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The D-Cubs closed out the weekend by pounding out 17 hits at they defeated the Manatees 11-7. Triples machine Evan Crawford stroked his first of the season, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Matt Cerda and Nelson Perez were each 3-for-5 … Cerda with a double and two RBI.

Jae-Hoon Ha, Michael Brenly, David Macias and Junior Lake each had two hits, while Welington Castillo popped his first longball of the season. A late-season acquisition in 2010, Brett Wallach pitched 4.1 innings and allowed three earned runs with four strikeouts and a walk. Jordan Latham picked up the victory in relief, while Jeffrey Lorick was credited with a hold.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (3-1)
With what appears to be the strongest all-around team in the Cubs minor league system, the Smokies flexed their muscles in their opening series with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Manager Brian Harper has taken advantage of his team’s athletic ability. Both Ryan Flaherty and Blake Lalli have played three separate positions, while Steve Clevenger, D.J. LeMahieu, Rebel Ridling and Josh Vitters have each played two positions.

Opening night saw the Smokies show they are a team to be reckoned with, blowing out the Lookouts 12-4. Matt Spencer answered the call by going 3-for-5 with a home run and an RBI. Josh Vitters was also 3-for-5 with a double. Rebel Ridling, facing Double-A pitching for the first time, was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI.

Leadoff hitter Brett Jackson was also 2-for-4, with a triple, a pair of walks and two RBI. Unheralded left-hander Chris Rusin opened with five strong innings, striking out four while waking just one batter. Rusin allowed three earned runs and notched the Smokies’ first victory of the year.

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The Smokies stayed hot Friday night, besting the Lookouts 6-3. Blake Lalli led the way by going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Josh Vitters, playing first base, was 2-for-5, including a double and two RBI. James Adduci showed that returning to Double-A hasn’t affected him. Adduci went 2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI. Shaking off an opening night O-fer, D.J. LeMahieu was 2-for-5 with a double.

Rafael Dolis continued the strong pitching efforts by the Smokies. Dolis threw four innings with five strikeouts and two walks. He allowed only one earned run. Marco Carrillo picked up the win in relief, while David Cales earned a save.

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The Lookouts returned the opening night favor to the Smokies Saturday, embarrassing them with a 12-4 victory. D.J. LeMahieu, building on the previous night, was 2-for-4 with a double. Ryan Flaherty was 2-for-5 with a RBI, while Steve Clevenger blasted his first home run. Brett Jackson also stole his first base.

As in the previous two nights, Alberto Cabrera was strong, punching out seven Lookouts while walking only three. Cabrera allowed three earned runs in four innings, as the bullpen failed to hold the lead against Chattanooga.

Closing out the series, the Smokies bounced back with an 8-5 victory on Sunday. Leadoff hitter Brett Jackson was electric, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run, a stolen base and the four RBI as the result from a grand slam. D.J. LeMahieu and Steve Clevenger stayed hot. LeMahieu went 3-for-5 with another double, while Clevenger was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Trey McNutt had a very good start before a blister forced him to leave in the third inning. McNutt struck out two and walked a pair of hitters in 2.2 innings. Ryan Buchter earned the win in relief, while Kyle Smit had a hold and David Cales notched his second save.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (3-1)
The organization’s top club capped off a great opening night, as the I-Cubs beat the Round Rock Express 12-9 on April 7. Outfielder Ty Wright was the star of the game. Wright went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Luis Montanez returned to the Cubs’ organization and went 3-for-5, legging out two triples while plating three runs. Bobby Scales was also 3-for-5, cracking two doubles.

Bryan LaHair hit the I-Cubs’ first home run of the season. Thomas Diamond opened by hurling four innings with five strikeouts and three walks with two earned runs. Esmailin Caridad picked up the win in relief, while Scott Maine posted his first save.

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The win streak continued on Friday as Iowa outlasted Round Rock 6-4. Austin Bibens-Dirkx had an uneven effort, tossing six innings while punching out six. However, he allowed three earned runs on two home runs. Matt Camp, Luis Montanez and Bobby Scales were each 2-for-4, with Camp and Scales each stroking two doubles. Chris Carpenter picked up the win in relief, while Scott Maine notched his second save.

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The Express jumped all over I-Cubs starter Robert Coello Saturday. The I-Cubs lost to Round Rock 13-9. Coello gave up seven earned runs on three home runs. Reliever Jake Muyco didn’t fare any better, allowing six earned runs on three homers in three innings. Bobby Scales continued to be a doubles machine, hitting his fifth of the young season. Scott Moore and Bryan LaHair each contributed home runs.

The weekend was closed out by the I-Cubs holding off a late rally and defeating the Express 8-6. Leadoff hitter Tony Campana was virtually unstoppable, going 4-for-5 with a double, a stolen base and RBI. Luis Montanez went 3-for-5 with four RBI. Bobby Scales blasted yet another double, his sixth of the season. Veteran lefty J.R. Mathes had a workman type effort, pitching four innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. Mathes struck out four and walked one. Justin Berg came on in relief and was credited with the victory, as Esmailin Caridad earned a hold and John Gaub picked up a save.

Click here for Complete Box Score

Top Prospect Watch

  • Michael Burgess (OF) – .167, 2 HR, 3 RBI, Outfield Assist (Daytona Cubs)
  • Chris Carpenter (RHP) – 1-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, ER, K (Iowa Cubs)
  • Micah Gibbs (C) – .222, Stolen Base (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – Extended Spring Traning
  • Jae-Hoon Ha (OF) – .357, 2 RBI, 2 SB (Daytona Cubs)
  • D.J. LeMahieu (IF) – .389, 3 Doubles, Stolen Base (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Trey McNutt (RHP) – 0.00 ERA, 2.2IP, 2K, 2BB (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Hayden Simpson (RHP) – 2.45 ERA, 3.2IP, 1 ER, 7K, 1BB (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .375 2B, 2 RBI (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .400, 2 Doubles, 3 RBI (Tennessee Smokies)

Minor League Transactions

The Cubs signed 37-year old right-hander Ramon Ortiz Sunday to a minor league deal. Ortiz will join the Iowa Cubs and is expected to start Monday night in Albuquerque. Ortiz pitched in 16 games for the Dodgers last season.

Ramon Ortiz’s Page on Baseball-Reference

The Cubs released Chris Huseby (RHP), Alex Maestri (RHP), Mike Perconte (RHP), James Leverton (LHP), Marcos Perez (LHP), Chris Siegfried (LHP), Polin Trinidad (LHP) and Alvaro Ramirez (OF) according to Baseball America.

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax
  • Tony

    This is the place to go each week, to get good news about our Cubs organization!

    Nice job Tom!

  • Tony

    Our AA team, if they could stay together all year, would have a very good season. Unfortunately for them, the big league team, should start picking some of their players up. Good for them, our A ball teams look good as well.

    It is really good to have a good AA team. That is where most of your best young talent is located.

  • GrantJones7

    The DCubs looks liek a good team, Cheifs look solid and Tenn looks like they can be very good.

  • cubtex

    Tom, do you know what the deal is with Polin Trinidad? He had a good winter league and I was surprised to see that they released him.

    • carmelo

      Didn’t Trinidad throw in game 2 @ Iowa? That surprised me becasue I too read he had been released.

      • cubtex

        Carmelo, you are right. 2/3 of an inning. 2 hits and a walk but 0 runs. He is only 26 or 27 and supposedly has a varying degree of arm angles that is effective against lefties. He had a very good winter and I am surprised they cut ties with him already. Now with Russell starting for a short time and if something happens to Grabow or Marshall….I would have thought they would have kept him as a possible left handed specialist if needed.

    • Tom U

      I’m sorry to get back to everyone so late today.

      As far as releasing Polin Trinidad, I’m as perplexed as everyone else as to why he was released. He did pitch in relief in game 2. He also has experience starting. There is nothing about this in the press releases of the Chicago Cubs or the Iowa Cubs. In fact, the transactions for the Iowa Cubs list his as added to the roster on 4/8/11.

      As for right now, I can only guess at the whys. If he was injured, he would have been placed on the DL. The only thing that I can think of is that the organization feels good about lefties James Russell, Scott Maine, Ryan Butcher, and Luke Sommer, and that Trinidad is now unnecessary. The timing is curious, but that is not unusual for the Cubs.

      Maybe this can go down as another “Cubbie Occurrence”?

  • paulcatanese

    Nice article Tom,as usual. I read something about Tony Campana that he may be an option for the Cubs as Ownership may be getting tired of little or no speed on the team. It was mentioned Reed Johnson would or could be replaced with Tony. Is that just a rumor or could it happen?. Anyone in Reeds spot would be an improvement, as that was a stupid signing to begin with.

    • Aaron

      Paul, that was nothing but pure speculation from me. Based on recent comments by Quade, and Hendry wanting Fernando Perez in the Garza trade, it was quite clear that the Cubs desperately want speed, but don’t know where to get it from.

      Right now, there only true SB threat on the team is Starlin Castro. Here’s a list of guys with little to no speed whatsoever at this stage in their careers: Hill, Soto, Pena, Baker, DeWitt, ARAM, Soriano, Byrd, Johnson and Fukudome.

      The only guys with above average speed on the team right now are Castro, Barney, and Colvin, and the latter two really aren’t known as “speed guys”…they’re simply faster than the other 10 guys that I mentioned.

      Therefore, just in my deduction of the whole scenario, noting the poor showing in Spring Training that Perez had, and the poor showing (though it was still better than Perez) that Johnson had, combined with his poor performance early on this season, it has become quite clear that if the Cubs did want to get more speed on the team, the logical option would be Tony Campana, who can play all the positions Johnson can.

      After Campana, the only speed options in the minors are Adduci (23 SB last year), Camp (13 SB), Snyder (19 SB), Jackson (30 SB), LeMahieu (15 SB), Lake (13 SB), Crawford (24 SB combined Giants and Cubs).

      Let’s face it, Adduci, Camp, and Snyder will likely never see the light of day ever with the big league club. Camp has an outside shot of doing so, but time is really running out for him.

      The Cubs also appear committed to keeping Jackson in the minors the whole season, so he’s out. That leaves LeMahieu as the only guy that’s remotely close to the big leagues that could see time if DeWitt continues to suck, and if Barney can’t cut it.

      That’s why I was saying that the most logical way to get speed on this team is to cut Johnson and go with Campana, who stole 48 bases in 2010 (albeit he was caught 20 times….though in 2009, he stole 66 and was caught 18 times….and already in 2011, he has stolen 2 bases, and hasn’t been caught yet)

      • paulcatanese

        Yes,I saw that post a few minutes ago and responded on Neil’s site. Still,Campana would make sense over Johnson, but when have the Cubs done anything that has made sense?

      • cubtex

        More wrong info coming out of this guy. Barney 6.7 60 DeWitt 6.6 60 Marlon Byrd 6.5 60. The only thing correct this guy said was no basestealers.

        • John_CC

          What does this mean?

          • cubtex

            In baseball….scouts use the 60 yard dash to determine speed. In football it is the 40.

            So, DeWitt actually has a faster 60 time than Barney and of course Byrd does as well. Although Byrd might not look like a speed demon….he still runs very well.

            I like Barney, but he is what scouts call a high floor…..low ceiling guy. Good contact hitter….no power and doesn’t walk very much. Average range and average arm in the field. Great hands and will field everything he can get to.

            People on here were saying it was Ramirez’s fault for not turning that double play yesterday but if you look at the tape…you will notice Barney did not make the turn the way he needed to. As a second baseman to make the turn faster from 3rd you want to catch the ball earlier across the bag so you can make the turn faster. He tried to turn it pushing off the bag and didn’t get much on his throw.

            Alot of people fall in love with certain players or hate certain players and aren’t objective. I think you know who they are :)

          • paulcatanese

            Dang it Cubtex,got to answer that one. The second baseman has several different pivots he can use. One, if he gets the ball just before reaching the bag he hits the bag(coming straight across) with his left foot then on his right foot plants on the 3b side and throws to first, givivng him the most behind his throw. Two, when the throw is late and the 2nd baseman beats the throw he straddles the bag facing third and kicks in to the bag with his left,plants on his right foot and then throws to first. Three, in the situation that Barney had yesterday,he also beat Aram to the bag and his choice was to touch with his left plant with his right on the left field side of the bag and throw to first. Last two options would of course mean a weaker throw to first. But as I saw it Aram held the ball for a little extra,forcing Barney there early,thus the outfield side pivot. The timing is always better SS to 2nd and that problem does not come up that often. But the throw from third often throws it off. Like to agree with you on that one but as I have played all three 3rd,SS, and 2b.Not saying I was any good, but thats the way it happened.I also saw the play and cringed and was happy Barney was not sent flying. In essance the throw is what dictates what pivot is used.

          • cubtex

            Paul, I played 2nd in college and minors. If 2nd baseman is there in time(which Barney was) and depending on throw(which was good) he should have turned it differently than the way he did. Not trying to throw my credentials at you….but since that is where I played my whole life…I tend to disect that area of the field. Barney should have turned as you say left foot on bag..planting right foot simutaneuosly on left side of bag or closer to 3rd instead of falling off base and losing momentum on throw. Ramirez didn’t hold it for that long of a time. Barney should have turned that.

          • paulcatanese

            Cubtex,my error, on the first pivot I meant step on the bag with the left foot coming across ,plant the right and throw.

          • cubtex

            I understood what you meant :) Barney doesn’t have a ton of experience at 2nd and he has logged many more innings at short. He is a good solid player. Not a star but a solid player. Like I mentioned a high floor….low ceiling guy. I am sure he will get better and better at turning the double play with more and more reps.

          • paulcatanese

            It’s not that I favor Barney, it’s the reverse, I don’t like Aram’s arm,even Pena had to save him a few times. As far as 2b goes I would rather have Utley,injury and all over all of them. to put up with what we have.

          • cubtex

            Don’t get me wrong either…I don’t dislike Barney, but I just wanted to point out that many second baseman would have turned that ball on that play. He doesn’t have a lot of experience there. Utley would be nice…but I really wish they would have done that Brian Roberts trade a couple of years ago. There would have been your leadoff hitter and it would have only cost Rich Hill at the time.

          • paulcatanese

            Cubtex,sorry to be preaching pivots to you. Obviously you know how. I thought you might have been an outfielder or pitcher from youre posts. But I can let you know what it was like to play without a helmut and leave youre glove on the field between innings.

          • cubtex

            Paul, I was curious to see how much experience Barney had at 2nd in the minors. From 2007 till 2010 he only played 14 games at 2B. Not a lot of experience turning double plays.

      • junior

        I have seen Campana many times. He plays the game very hard, runs down balls in the OF but has zero power and not a real good arm. I don’t know if you can leave a spot on an MLB bench for a pinch runner, late inning OF replacement where he would most likely be used. He does put a lot of pressure on the defense with his speed (decent bunter) and goes the other way well.

        Also saw Trinidad in the Iowa-Round Rock series. He was behind about everybody and the TV announcers commented on how control has been an issue for him in the past ( Does change arm angles but 86-88 on the gun so he at least could be effective against lefties. He evidently played for this team before.

        Carpenter and Maine looked really good in that series( Maine threw twice and Carpenter once). The field gun read 99 mph 7 times and 100 twice for Carpenter and Maine sat at 91-93. Both guys were pounding the strike zone and had very good breaking pitches. I would think both of them will see Wrigley sooner or later this year. I also watched these games on the archived site and Round Rocks announcers (including an MLB vet) were very impressed with both.

        • Aaron

          The problem with either of them seeing time at the MLB level, is who do you send out?

          Marmol, Wood, Marshall, Grabow, and Samardzija (b/c of salary, lack of options) are locks to remain with the team, unless the Cubs finally cut ties with Samardzija and admit a mistake (something Hendry hardly ever wants to do). The last two spots are Russell and Mateo, and Mateo happens to be pitching well at the moment.

          Therefore, there’s really only one spot to rotate guys in and out of, and that’s Russell’s spot, where he’s taking over for Cashner in the rotation and Stevens has taken his spot in the pen. If Stevens tanks, I could see Carpenter getting a shot, but Maine got torched late in Spring Training, and already early in the season. Also, in Carpenter’s situation, he’d need to be added to the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 38.

          • junior

            I didn’t say anything about either one replacing somebody now, but if history holds true, probably 20-25 different pitchers will see action in Cubs games this year due to injury, trade, ineptitude, etc. Carpenter is 25 so the 40 man issue shouldn’t be a major deal. If they want to keep him, they’ll have to do it before next season anyway. We’re only 6 games into the season and much can happen down the road. Maine had one spring training blow-up, but looked decent at the end of last season with Chicago, so I wouldn’t think they’d hold that against him (famous last words!).

            That said, you never know what runs through the minds of the guys making the decisions. Agree or disagree, it certainly won’t be our call.

          • cubtex

            Well said. It is a long season and injuries occur for all major league teams. Some on here judge players on 1 performance or a couple of games. What are there… 153 games left in the season? Many more roster moves will be made.

      • Aaron

        I forgot to add in my post as a disclaimer that guys that steal a lot of bases aren’t always the fastest guys on the team, nor are they guys that you would otherwise expect to be a stolen base threat. A case in point is Albert Pujols, who had 14 SB last year, and 16 the year before. He’s already got 1 SB this year already.

        To put that into perspective, only Ryan Theriot had more than Pujols last year, at 16 SB. Castro was 2nd with 10 SB. Guys like DeWitt, who might be faster than a guy like Pujols, has a max of 8 stolen bases in any professional season (2006 in A+). And Byrd, who used to be a base stealer in the minors when he was 22-24 years old (41, 32, and 15 SB respectively), has seen his speed diminish considerably, and has a max of just 11 SB at the MLB level when he was 25 years old. Soriano used to have considerable speed, topping out at 43 SB, and hitting 40+SB in 3 separate seasons. But age has taken its toll on Soriano, and since his 41 SB outburst in 2006, his walk year, he’s totaled just 52 SB in 4 seasons, and had a full season career low of 5 SB last year. I’m pretty sure that Soriano’s 60 time when he was younger would’ve probably been better than anyone else on the Cubs right now….LOL (shakes head…..some people)

        As Pujols illustrates, baseball IQ means a heckuva lot in regards to base stealing than most people understand. It’s why I put Barney ahead of DeWitt in terms of base stealing, even though Barney has topped out at just 11 SB in the minors. It’s because Barney has a VERY high baseball IQ, and I saw him play in person in college at OSU in the CWS. The guy just has a knack for taking the extra base, etc. that most players don’t have. Theriot was the last guy the Cubs had that understood the value of taking a risk, trying to make it to the next base and get in scoring position (it didn’t always end well, but he was the only guy doing it). It showed with his base stealing ability as well, and his understanding that he had to do something to start a rally. It should come as no surprise that he, too, came from a winning college baseball program at LSU.

  • Theboardrider

    I feel for Bobby Scales. If he was 25 he would be our starting 2nd baseman…

    • Aaron

      Indeed, he would be…unfortunately for him, if he was with any other team at the MLB level, even for as little as a year, Hendry would be ALL over him to get a spot on the team.

      I think of Hendry as the type of person that wants what he can’t have, even if he’s got it good already (meaning on his own roster, or in his own system), then when the opportunity arises for him to get the guy he covets, he goes all-in, and often overpays to get the guy. Recent examples were Bradley, Miles, Grabow, Johnson (though the first time he got him, he didn’t overpay), Byrd, etc.

      Scales is kind of pigeon-holed in a way, where the Cubs see him as nothing more than a roster filler at AAA and future minor league coach. The other negative he has going against him is the fact he has limited range at 2B, and he isn’t particularly good defensively in the first place. But you’re right, he’s probably better than everyone the Cubs have at the MLB level aside from maybe Barney. The thing I like about Scales, is his versatility. He can literally play just about anywhere in the field, and he has above average power in terms of what the Cubs currently have.

      It’s one of those things that can never be explained by anyone. Why does Aaron Miles, who essentially is a lesser player not only in stature, but both defensively and offensively, get a TON of opportunities at the MLB level, while Scales rots in AAA? It’s certainly not because of attitude, as he’s the consummate team player. Nor is it age, as Miles is actually a year older than Scales.

      In a way, it’s a LOT like Koyie Hill. Hill was out of options, and the Cubs just happened to pick him up on waivers for catching depth. He wasn’t a good hitter to begin with, nor was he outstanding defensively…he just simply filled a void. He got the opportunity due to budget constraints when the Cubs let Blanco go, and he’s miraculously hung onto the spot ever since.

      If Hendry would’ve done the same with Baker (meaning cut ties due to budgetary issues) it’d be a different story for Scales. For whatever reason, undeserving players always make teams, for reasons such as legacy (famous dad), connections to scouts/management, and has little to do with performance whatsoever.

      I’m sure a lot of players questioned why they were being passed over for Ozzie Canseco when he was in the minors, even though he was dreadful. I’m sure similar things were said of Craig Griffey, who was promoted aggressively early on in his career, with some saying it was because the Mariners wanted them (Ken Jr., and Craig) to play on the same team, and there was all the hype surrounding them signing Craig in the first place in Ken Sr.’s last year in 1991.

      I feel bad for Scales. He really deserves a shot, but he’s just one guy in a list of hundreds, if not thousands of players that deserved a shot, but for whatever reason, were blocked from doing so.

      • BillyFinT

        Aaron, curious, you watched Barney play in college. Was he quick or seeing the pitches enough, and he had the talent to make good contact? I wonder because he was very good at identifying pitches in spring training and his first start this season. But from what I saw, in limited plate appearances of his last three games, Barney might be taking “too many” pitches and not swinging at easy strikes. That can mean a lot of things, but I don’t want to pass judgement until I know his true talent.

        • Aaron

          Was he quick or seeing the pitches enough, and he had the talent to make good contact?
          I can’t really answer that question (though I did post a link for you below). In the CWS, he appeared to be a fairly aggressive hitter that made a TON of contact (which is easier with a metal bat, obviously). As for his aggressiveness on the basepaths, I saw him get on base by blooping a ball much like he did the other night, and because he hustled out of the box, and the RF kind of expected him to keep it to a single, Barney was able to slide headfirst into 2B for a double just ahead of the throw (though if I remember correctly, most people around me thought it wasn’t a wise play, because I was around a bunch of OSU fans, and they were screaming “What is he doing?!!!?????????!!!!!!!” before he slid in safely). I also saw him go first to third on a bloop hit to the CF their next game, which is NOT an easy thing to do where the play is straight in front of the CF, and the throw went into the dugout and he scored on an error on that play. He was also pretty clutch at the plate in the CWS.

          But you have to put that into perspective as well….just because a guy does well in the CWS, does not mean he will become a superstar in MLB, or even a regular for that matter. A PERFECT example of this is Mark Kotsay. I think the dude hit like 8 home runs or something in the CWS, and everyone thought he was going to be a superstar…it didn’t end up happening for him, but he’s enjoyed a fairly solid MLB career.

          As for Barney, I’ve included his college stats below. What you get out of that is a complete picture of what he was like. You can see that he was a solid base-stealer…maybe not the fastest runner on his team, but he didn’t get thrown out much….and you can see that he makes good contact. His peripherals really didn’t stand out. His avg, OBP, and SLG were slightly above average for college given the metal bats, but he didn’t project to be much of a hitter with a wood bat. Looking at his stats from college, you’d probably say that if he even made it to MLB, he’d probably be a solid bench guy, and you’d be right. Even after attending “Camp Colvin”, and putting on more muscle, he doesn’t really project to be a regular. In all likelihood, that job is pegged for LeMahieu, or even Flaherty, depending on how they do this year, and whether or not LeMahieu adds significant power to move to corner IF.

          *pay attention to his BB/K ratio. It’s pretty good, and you can see even in college, he took a fair amount of pitches.

          • BillyFinT

            Thanks. That running skill does sound like what Barney can. He speaks and approaches fundamentals, as we had seen, like a smart baseball player. Since you mentioned about the walks; I thought about it…

            Even if we include his BB% from your link (College and Minor), it’s less than 7%, well…

            Though it’s average for a shortstop, it’s still not good enough as far as getting on-base is concerned. Adam Dunn, even at his low last year, had almost 12%, so was DLee. It’s not like DLee was as big a threat to opponent pitcher as Dunn, but Lee knew when to take the free passes as he could.

            And then there were solid hitters like Hudson (2B), Rasmus (CF), and Rolen (3B), who all played rather difficult positions; they walked slightly above 9%. Just saying, I guess Barney is limited as either a bench utility, or an everyday shortstop, where his skills might shine. But again, Freddy Sanchez as a second baseman has been around for years, with a career 5% walk rate and 0.336 OBP *(average for the league)…

      • Cheryl

        Scales is pigeon-holed and deserved more than he’s gotten. If he becomes a coach, will he be pigeon-holed too? I’d like to see someone begin to groom him for a lot better role than now. Has he done any coaching at all?

        • Aaron

          A lot of guys that you otherwise wouldn’t expect to become MLB coaches have done so without much fanfare. A lot of fans look to big name players to be the coaches at the MLB level, but that’s not the case at all.

          If Scales wants a coaching gig, it’s probably already his, and he’d start in Rookie Ball, but it all depends on how good both his and his agent’s relationship is with the team. What teams will often look for in their new coaches is someone that is a good team player, is constantly talking to his teammates, telling them ways to improve, and has a great attitude. A lot of times, these guys will be ones that just couldn’t hack it at the minor league, or even MLB levels, and it’s sort of their reward for sticking it out, trying to make everyone else around them a better player while they know they don’t have what it takes.

          Casey Kopitzke and Mark Johnson are tremendous examples of this, and both are managers at Peoria and Boise respectively. They both also were catchers, which would be something working against Scales. I heard somewhere, I believe it might’ve been the Sun-Times (and this was talking about why Hill was on the team), that Hill was already pegged for a coaching gig as well. All 3 would share multiple things in common. None of the 3 can/could hit, and all 3 are/were catchers. What that means for Scales is that he’d likely have to latch on as a hitting coach, and since he has been a substitute teacher on occasion during past offseasons in Georgia, it appears that he has an aptitude for instruction, so it might make sense for him. I just don’t know how much Hendry likes him, as he typically doesn’t like guys that have had success (see Sandberg)…and Scales certainly has done well enough to be considered for even a bench role, but was even passed over by Ojeda, who would’ve made the team if he didn’t injure his back….and it makes you wonder if Ojeda ever does come back to play at Iowa, if they’d release Scales to do so (a very real possibility)

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments. And thanks once again to Neil for making me look good.