Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 10/05/11

Next up on the CCO’s trip through the Cubs minor league system are the pitching staffs of the Daytona Cubs and Peoria Chiefs.

Pitching Analysis

Because pitching assignments can be fluid (career starters can be used out of the bullpen, and relievers with little starting experience can but used in that role), the grading scale I will use will be:

  • Pass
  • Fail
  • Incomplete

The reports are broken down by level, assignments, right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

Daytona Cubs – Right-Handed Starters

Grade – Pass

Another tough call, but the performance of Dae-Eun Rhee gives this squad the edge. The fire-balling 22-year old South Korean was second in the organization with 117 strikeouts against 43 free passes. He’ll need to become more of a pitcher than thrower to advance, as his 8-7 record, 4.02 ERA and ten home runs allowed will attest, but his future looks bright. The yang to Rhee’s yin would be Brett Wallach. Acquired from the Dodgers last season, the 22-year old had a tough time this season. Wallach was 3-5 with a 5.74 ERA before being demoted to Peoria, where he was 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA. He does have some ability to work with, as he had 71 strikeouts in 18 games for the D-Cubs with 96 K’s overall.

With the more transitory nature of “A” ball, Nick Struck was 6-2 for Daytona, while 21-year old Aaron Kurcz was 3-2 with a 3.58 in 12 starts before converting to a reliever. Twenty-two year old Matt Loosen made six starts for Daytona, in which he was 2-3 with a 4.42 ERA. Pitching at three levels, Loosen was 4-6 with a 3.55 ERA, and 75 strikeouts to 27 walks in 17 games.

However, all starters at Daytona were subject to a bizarre arrangement to rehab 29-year old Angel Guzman. Guzman started every fourth game and pitched up to two innings each time. In the process Guzman bumped the scheduled starter all the way the third inning. It was well documented how each of the young pitchers suffered from this plan, and Guzman was 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 31.2 innings before being demoted to Boise.

Daytona Cubs – Left-Handed Starters

Grade – Pass

The core of the future pitching staff begins here. Twenty-three year old Jeffrey Lorick was acquired from Atlanta last season and led Daytona with 18 starts. Lorick was 8-6 with a 5.38 ERA and 75 strikeouts to 44 walks. However Lorick went on the disabled list toward the end of the season. He joined another 23-year old on the DL in Zachary Rosscup. As part of the Matt Garza deal, Rosscup was 4-2 with a more than a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (50 strikeouts, 19 walks) and a 2.54 ERA before being lost for the season in late June. To pick up the slack, 22-year old Casey Harman was pressed into service from the bullpen. He was 4-5 with a 4.47 ERA and, most importantly, 48 strikeouts to only 12 walks. Also coming in from the pen was Jeffry Antigua. The move seemed to suit the 21-year old. While going only 2-2, he struck out 81 while walking only 18 and posted a 2.92 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP.

Daytona Cubs – Right-Handed Relief

Grade – Pass

If you are looking for anything that resembles classic closer, look no further than Frank Batista. At 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, Batista will bring back memories of former Cub Tom “Flash” Gordon in both stature and performance. The 22-year old All-Star was 5-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. In 61.0 innings, he struck out 46 and walked just 20 as he recorded 26 saves. After 12 starts, Aaron Kurcz was sent to the pen however, the move didn’t seem to be the best. The 6-foot, 175-pounder was 2-2 with a 5.45 ERA in 20 appearances. For all that, Kurcz is a strikeout pitcher, recording 91 whiffs to 34 walks overall. Acquired from the Dodgers in 2010, Kyle Smit came to the organization with the reputation of having a big arm and future closer potential. After making appearances in the 2010 Arizona Fall League, the 23-year old started the season in Tennessee. However, after having a 5.40 ERA in 43.1 innings for the Smokies, he was demoted to the D-Cubs. He didn’t do much better in Daytona, going 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA. He also made six brief appearances in Iowa as a roster fill-in, with a 10.12 ERA. Smit will need to work on his control, as his 1.96 WHIP for the season will attest.

Middle relief was well provided, as 24-year old Jordan Latham was second in appearances with 41. Latham was 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA. Twenty-two year old Eduardo Figueroa had the most bullpen innings with 70.2, and had an exact 2:1 strikeout ratio with 56 strikeouts to 23 walks. Figueroa ended up 2-2 and a 2.42 ERA. Juan Serrano chipped in with a 4-1 record and a 3.67 ERA. The 23-year old also had 41 strikeouts to 20 walks in 56.1 innings.

Daytona Cubs – Left-Handed Relief

Grade – Incomplete

Left-handed relief was mainly transient for Daytona, with Jeffrey Beliveau, and the traded Ryan Buchter passing through, along with Casey Harman and Jeffry Antigua converted to starters. However, 23-year old Brent Ebinger made 19 appearances, and struggled mightily. He was 5-5 for the D-Cubs with a horrid ERA of 7.74 and 1.88 WHIP in 43 innings.

Peoria Chiefs – Right-Handed Starters

Grade – Fail

The fate for Peoria’s right-handed starters was sealed by the performance of Hayden Simpson. The 2010 first round draft pick was clearly not ready for the season, as his fitness and conditioning were curtailed due to illness. Second on the team in starts with 16, the 22-year old went 1-6 with a 5.27 ERA. Sent to the Rookie League to regroup, Simpson ended up 1-10 with a 6.27 ERA combined. Twenty-one year old Luis Liria’s numbers seem pedestrian at 3-3 with a 3.77 ERA. But when you combine it with a WHIP of 1.04, 3.44 ERA, and more than a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio (58 strikeouts, 27 walks) between Peoria and Boise, there is some promise. With similar, but not as good, numbers was Starling Peralta. Just 20 years old, he started 12 games for the Chiefs and was 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA. After 15 appearances out of the pen, the Cubs 40th round pick in the 2011 draft P.J. Francescon was given two starts late in the season and had a 1.50 ERA in those performances, earning him a call-up to Daytona. The 22-year old made one more start and finished the year at 1-4 with a 3.49 ERA, three saves, 1.22 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts with only eight walks in 38.2 innings.

Peoria Chiefs – Left-Handed Starters

Grade – Pass

As stated with the Daytona lefties, future major leaguers seem be here. At the top of the list is 22-year old Eric Jokisch. Beginning the season as a piggyback starter for Hayden Simpson, Jokisch moved into the primary role and was 9-3 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. His 103 strikeouts were good for third in the organization. Jokisch was promoted all the way up to Tennessee, where he was 1-0 with a 4.11 ERA in three starts. Looking at some of the numbers for 21-year old Austin Kirk, you might not be that impressed. Kirk led the Peoria staff with 28 starts and was 5-12 with a 4.29 ERA. However, he also had a 1.19 WHIP and led the organization with 122 strikeouts, as well as tossing a Fourth of July no-hitter.

Acquired in the off-season from Washington, 21-year old Graham Hicks was third on the team with 14 starts however, ended up on the disabled list on July third. At 6-foot-5, 170 pounds, the string-bean lefty was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. He made two rehab appearances with the AZL Cubs late in the season. Twenty-two Year old Cuban Frank Del Valle bears some watching. After blowing away the Rookie League with his near 100 mph stuff, Del Valle came to the Chiefs and was 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, earning a promotion to Daytona. For the season Del Valle was 3-4 with a 3.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and a better than 2:1 strikeout to walk ration (47 strikeouts, 20 walks) in 14 games. Going an opposite direction was Cameron Greathouse. The Cubs eighth round pick in the 2010 draft started the season strong, but a 4-5 record and 4.37 ERA earned him a trip to Boise. With the Hawks, Greathouse was 0-5 and a 7.58 ERA, and was moved further down to the AZL Cubs. Greathouse made four appearances in the Rookie League to finish at 4-10 and a 5.06 ERA with a 1.91 WHIP. While his 87 strikeouts and 87 walks are not encouraging, keep in mind that he is just 20-years old.

Peoria Chiefs – Bullpen – Incomplete

Grade – Incomplete

One of the toughest things to maintain in the low minors is a good bullpen. Simply by its nature, when someone does well, they are moved up to fill hole in the system. This was especially true in Peoria this season. Opening the season in the closer role, Marcus Hatley was moved all the way up to Tennessee after going 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA and three saves. Moving into the closer role was 20-year old Robinson Lopez. Acquired from Atlanta last season, the right-handed Lopez was 2-0 in four starts before going to the pen, where he recorded a save. However, Lopez ended up on the DL, the first of two stints. Lopez finished the year 4-3 with a 5.35 ERA in 26 appearances. Needing someone to close out games, the organization rescued 23-year old Dan Berlind from the independent Can-Am League. The 6-foot-7, 215-pounder seemed to resuscitate his career, going 1-3 with four saves in 25.2 innings for the Chiefs. The right-hander then went to Iowa, before settling in a Tennessee prior to their playoff run. Overall, he was 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA and 22 strikeouts to 10 walks in 31.2 innings. Berlind was un-scored upon in the playoffs for the Smokies. Also showing future closer potential were righties Pete Levitt and Roderik Pichardo. The 22-year old Levitt was only 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA, but struck out 21 with only five walks in 27.2 innings. Brought in from the Dominican Summer League, 21-year old Pichardo was 1-1 and a 1.69 ERA with two saves in 16 innings.

In middle relief, 25-year old righty Alvaro Sosa was available to provide experience and mentor the younger pitchers. Sosa was 4-2 with a 3.42 ERA and a save in 34 appearances. Twenty-one year old Yohan Gonzalez led the bullpen with 40 appearances and 73.1 innings. The right-handed pitcher was 5-6 and a 5.15 ERA with three saves. An enigma was 21-year old Larry Suarez. A huge right-hander at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Suarez was perfect in 16 innings for Peoria, with no earned runs and 23 strikeouts. He added 12 more K’s and a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings of work at Daytona, but then was given four starts at Tennessee. In six games with the Smokies, Suarez was 0-2 with a 7.31 ERA and 11 more strikeouts before being placed on the disabled list. Whether his future will be as a starter or as a closer remains uncertain.

More Analysis of the Cubs Farm System

Next up … The CCO will take a look at the pitching staffs of the Boise Hawks, AZL Cubs and the Dominican Summer Leagues

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • Demitri

    Man I really hope Hayden Simpson isn’t a bust..

    • Aaron

      unfortunately he is, and I called it……and was told by many on here that, “it’s still early in the season….don’t judge yet”

      • Tedtop16

        There seem to be a lot of pitchers in the organization who spent time on the DL. Does anybody have any idea if there is a problem here or not?

        • Aaron

          Too many towel drills from the Rothschild era?  LOL….I really don’t know. All organizations go through phases like that, and the Cubs are no exception. They even went through this in 2002 or whatever it was with Haggerty, Blasko, etc., where nearly all of their top pitching prospects went down with injury. It even continued with freak injuries like Pawelek and his Playstation debacle, and bizarre things like Chris Huseby, the former pitcher not being able to harness his command, and converting to an outfielder instead…..or freak injuries recently like Trey McNutt cracking his ribs in a collision earlier this year, or Ty’Relle Harris getting hit by a drunk driver probably ending his career….it just seems to me that the Cubs (both in their system and MLB) have more freak injuries than any other team out there

      • JW

        thats why you don’t draft a 4th or 5th rounder with no signability issues in the 1st round. It rarely pays off. I think Zack Cox was a consensus among many at the time and he is already in Double A!

        • JW

          Gary Brown and Christian Yelich who were both consensus 1st round picks that we passed on have all been good as well. I think they thought Hayden would be cheap so why not. 

      • cc002600

        The guy was sick all year. To say he is a bust already is a bit presumptious to say the least.
        He may end up being a bust, but he deserves a mulligan for this year, no
        different than a guy who was injured.  Not sure if you have ever had mono, but I
        know many people that have, and the fact that he was able to pitch at all is
        pretty amazing, and he deserves credit for that.
        Especially due to the fact they said it was a severe case. It’s difficult to
        even get out of bed in the morning, let alone pitch.

         
         

        • Tom U

          I’m happy to see that you are compassionate to the young man.

      • Brp921

        I don’t neccesarily agree that Simpson is a failure. I want to see what he can do next year when he can start fresh. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know if he will make it or not and I’m certainly not a great judge of talent. I just think you are to fast to judge some of these kids sometimes.

    • texcubnut

      Hayden Simpson was and is a complete bust.

  • Cubsglyph

    1.  The night it was reported that Del Valle was close to 100 mph there were some light bulbs out on the scoreboard making an 8 look like a 9.

    2.  Angel Guzman was not “demoted” to Boise.  He had reached his innings limit for the year and the roster move was only procedural

    • Tom U

      Thank you for the information.

      If you can find out why Guzman was placed at Boise, it would be helpful. I can understand that Daytona would want an extra roster spot for the playoffs, but Boise was in the running for the playoffs too. If they just needed a spot to put Guzman, they could have put him in Peoria, Arizona or the DL.

      • Cubsglyph

        The best answer I can give you is to see the E-Mail I sent to you and Neil early this afternoon.

  • Calicub

    pitching depth in the minors, like so many other aspects of Cubs baseball is a comeplete joke.

  • Calicub

    With the rays now out could we also see the rumor mill surrounding Friedman step up? He is imo the best option for the cubs. I could settle for Theo but Friedman would make the Cubs perrenial pennant winners

    • Bryan

      Or atleast serious playoff contenders. 

  • Tony_Hall
    • paulcatanese

      Exactly what I have been saying all along. I give Brenly credit for speaking straight out and saying what everyone (pitchers) on the Cubs must be saying under their breath. Aram is toast, even for one year, he wont get it done.

      • cubtex

        He was very accurate to point out how long ARam takes to turn a double play. I remember several plays that it cost the pitchers runs because they didn’t turn 2 on a ground ball to 3rd. I’m with Brenly. Time to move on.

        • paulcatanese

          We both saw that this last summer, hope he is gone. By the way,I dont know if you remember this player, but Johnny Schmitz(hope I spelled it correctly passed away. Lefthanded pitcher for the Cubs,hard luck guy, never had run support, saw him pitch several times. He was 90 years old.

          • cubtex

            That is a little before my time Paul :) I don’t remember much before the 69 Cubs.

    • cubtex

      Z for Chone Figgins? I don’t know about that

      • Tony_Hall

        Z has to go somewhere, and he gets to have the final say, so I really doubt he would say yes to Seattle.  I never understood the contract Figgins received, it was Soraino like, in how much they over bid for his services.

        • cubtex

          Agreed. I hope they can package Z with someone else to the Marlins to get Logan Morrison. He could be a nice lefthanded bat in the middle of the lineup for the next several years.

  • cc002600

    I am shocked that some of these writers like Bruce Miles and Phil Rogers keep suggesting that the cubs may have to give up something significant to the Red Sox for Theo and that they should do it, because he’s the savior.  WTF.  Are they serious ?

    There are so many good candidates out there besides Theo the wonder boy, that if the Red Sox insist on significant compensation, I would hang up on them in a NY minute.

    • Brp921

      I would rather see the Cubs interview some up and coming talent for the GM spot. I’ve seen way to many people with a great resume come to the Cubs and never do anything again. Give me someone who is hungry to make their mark in this game. Someone who can sell their plan to win, and carry it out. I don’t someone coming in and coasting on past achievements. I want someone who has something to proove.

  • JimBo_C
  • Tom U

    Junior Lake homered in the bottom of the eighth for Mesa

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Chris Carpenter pitched 2 scoreless for Mesa, hit 100 MPH on the gun according to Keith Law.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs in the AFL – DJ LeMahieu (3B): 1-for-4, 2-out RBI; Josh Vitters (1B): 0-for-4; Junior Lake (SS): 3-for-4,HR,2B,2R,Error; Chris Carpenter: 0R, 0H, K,0BB in 2IP

    • Tom U

      Junior Lake also stole his second base.

  • texcubnut

    Ideas for the new GM, whoever it may be…Buy out Ramirez contract and release; Trade Z to Marlins for whatever salary relief you can get; Do not resign Pena; Outright release Soriano; Free agent aquisitions should solely be for pitching including C.J. Wilson and Edwin Jackson and if you can trade for Sanchez without costing us ‘the farm’, then O.K. Pitching is where you start. Rotation would be Wilson, Garza, (that is a decent 1 and 2) Jackson 3 and Dempster and Wells at the backend (innings eaters, who could be good) leaving a bullpen of Cashman as closer and Marshall, Marmol, Samardzja, Wood as setups and Carpenter and Russell to fill out the rest. Position players would come from our farm, ready or not and let’s see what we’ve got. Vitters, Flaherty, Clevenger, Castillo, M. Smith, Lahair, along with Castro, Soto, Barney, Byrd and maybe add a Cuddyer or someone along those lines. Stress defense, speed and situational hitting. After 2012, see where you are pitching and position player-wise and then add a key power bat or two where needed and by 2013 re-evaluate your 2011 draft class ( a good one) and go from there.  Success won’t happen overnight, but use some common sense and we can have a competetive team and a winner in a short time. Patience. A tough word for cub fans to accept and understandably so. Patience and common sense will bring us a winner. Hell, we’re already on the right track. We got rid of Hendry. O.K. fellow posters, now you can rip me.

    • Tony_Hall

      The Cubs just need to exercise ARam’s option, and let him decline…no buyout.  Z to Marlins should happen, but don’t expect much salary relief.

      What makes you think CJ Wilson will want to sign with a team that is rebuilding?

      I am hoping you are saying Cashner for the closer and not Brian Cashman.   

      You are right, success won’t happen overnight.

      Why finish with “now you can rip me”.  Believe in what you post, then you won’t have to worry about what people say or think.  

      • texcubnut

        Tony, I consider what other people say and think but I don’t worry about it. I stand by what I believe. I meant the cubs should pay the 2 million on the exercised option. What makes me think Wilson will sign with us? In a word…..money.  The ‘now you can rip me’ was simply a little levity. (obviously, very little) I just love this sight and the lively debate and the ‘back and forth’ between psters. And yes, I meant Andrew Cashner as closer. It is what he did at T.C.U. so effectively.

        • Tony_Hall

          If the Cubs pick up Aram’s option, and he declines, they won’t owe him the $2M.  He won’t pick up his side, and the best deal for the Cubs would be ARam for 1 year.  

          Everyone will be offering money to CJ Wilson, what would make the Cubs offer stand out?  It would have to be a lot more money, if he sees a team that is 2-3 years from contending.  He is already over 30, playing for a team, that will offer him a lot of money, that is a World Series contender right now.  I just don’t see him leaving Texas.  But if the Cubs throw more money per year by $2-$3M and add 2, 3, or 4 more years, maybe…but that is what got us into this mess.

          I think Cashner should be given another year to start.  He has an outstanding arm, and can always go back to the bullpen, but it is much harder to come back to starting.  I think we have a few guys in our system that could be late inning guys.  Carpenter, I think should be the guy they stick in that path.