Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 11/14/11

Before we focus on this week’s action, the CCO wishes to express our relief to the safe return of Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos to his family. Ramos survived a harrowing ordeal, as he was held captive in Venezuela since Wednesday as part of a ransom plot. Six suspects are in custody, as well as two accomplices while authorities search for four more men who escaped during the rescue.

Now, let’s shift back to the Cubs’ organization. Relief pitching has remained strong this off-season, as Blake Parker, John Gaub, Oswaldo Martinez, and Hector Mayora continue to roll … and Scott Maine put forth a strong effort, becoming the “go-to guy” in the Dominican League.

As some hitters cooled off in the Caribbean, see which ones are heating up in Arizona, as we begin this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League

Leones de Escogido
It’s probably a week that Steve Clevenger would like to forget, going 0-for-7 with a walk in three starts. However, teammate John Gaub seems to be slowly finding his way. On Sunday, Gaub picked up his second hold by recording an out in the Lions 3-2 win over Este. Then on Friday, Gaub struck out the only batter he faced for his third hold as they defeated Licey in a 2-0 nail-biter.

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Sunday’s game saw a start by Chris Rusin, who went seven innings and struck out five in the 3-2 victory.

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Chris Rusin started again on Saturday, striking out three and allowing two unearned runs in four innings. However, Rusin was given the loss as the Pride stumbled against Oriente 9-5.

Toros del Este
The Cubs’ prospects had a light week … Nelson Perez drew a walk in a pinch hitting appearance on Sunday, as the Bulls lost to Escogido 3-2. In Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to Este, Alberto Cabrera had a strikeout and tossed two shutout innings.

Estrellas de Oriente
While Rafael Dolis threw a scoreless inning in a 6-1 loss to Licey on Monday, the week belonged to lefty Scott Maine. Maine picked up his first save in a third of an inning on Sunday, as Oriente edged Cibao 6-5.

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Save number two was also against Cibao on Tuesday, as Scott Maine blanked the Eagles for an inning, striking out a batter in a 4-1 win.

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Scott Maine was back on the hill on Wednesday, shutting down Escogido for an inning as they won 6-5 … Maine earned save number three.

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The Stars then turned again to their “Maine” man on Saturday, with a scoreless two-thirds of an inning and his fourth save of the week as they beat Escogido 9-5.

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Mexican Pacific League

Naranjeros de Hermosillo
Blake Parker continued his successful season for the Orangemen on Sunday, allowing an earned run in an inning pitched, but picked up his fifth hold as Hermosillo nipped Mexicali 2-1.

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Blake Parker then whiffed three in 1.2 scoreless innings on Thursday; as he earned his sixth hold in the Growers’ 2-1 win over Mazatlan.

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Yaquis de Obregon
Marco Carrillo experienced the highs and lows of being a starting pitcher this week. On Sunday, Carrillo went 5.2 shutout innings with a strikeout for his first victory, as the Tribe beat Guasave 3-0.

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In his next start on Friday, Marco Carrillo struck out a batter, but served up five earned runs as the losing pitcher as the Yaquis bowed 6-3 to Mexicali.

Reliever Oswaldo Martinez contributed to a 6-2 win over Navojoa on Thursday, tossing two scoreless innings and striking out two batters.

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Venezuelan Winter League

Caribes de Anzoategui
On the comeback trail, Carlos Zambrano pitched for the first time since August 12 in his native country. In his first start on Sunday, Zambrano went 2.2 innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out three batters in a 5-4 loss to Magallanes.

Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound on Saturday, tossing six innings, struck out five, and gave up three earned runs as the Indians lost 3-0 to Zulia.

Leones de Caracas
After taking some time off, Marwin Gonzalez was back in action for the Lions on Wednesday, going 1-for-3 with his third stolen base as they beat La Guaira 4-3.

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On Friday, Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with an RBI in a 4-3 loss to Zulia. Gonzalez then capped off the week on Saturday by having a 2-for-5 night as the Lions went down 5-4 to La Guaira.

Tiburones de La Guaira
Boise right-hander Hector Mayora extended his scoreless streak to five innings with two appearances for the Sharks this week. On Thursday, Mayora struck out the only batter he faced in a 10-8 loss to Zulia.

Mayora came back again on Friday and hurled a scoreless inning as the Predators lost to Aragua 9-4.

Navegantes del Magallanes
Slugger Bryan LaHair re-asserted himself on Sunday, stroking his league leading seventh home run to help defeat Anzoategui 5-4.

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However, LaHair’s success made VWL pitchers stay away from him, as he ended up a collective 2-for-10 over the next three games, all losses for the Pathfinders. LaHair doubled and walked twice over that period.

On Friday, Bryan LaHair added another walk but went 0-for-4 as the Navs beat Anzoategui 7-3. In that game, Iowa teammate Robert Coello continued his scintillating performance, lowering his ERA to just 0.71 as he struck out two in 1.2 shutout innings.

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Saturday saw Bryan LaHair get back on track somewhat, going 1-for-4 with three walks as Magallanes lost to Aragua 9-8 in 12 innings.

Aguilas del Zulia
Venezuelan fans were treated to the Austin Bibens-Dirkx many watchers are familiar with on Thursday. Bibens-Dirkx threw 4.1 innings and gave up six earned runs, but also struck out three and lowered his ERA to 3.86 ERA in the Eagles’ 10-8 win over La Guaira.

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Arizona Fall League
Mesa stumbled this past week, going 2-3 to put the Solar Sox at 16-17 with a week to go in the season. Hitting his stride is D.J. LeMahieu, who batted .316 in the last week to raise his overall average to .297. His 20 RBI are good for ninth in the AFL, while he is second with 13 stolen bases. Leading the league in stolen bases is teammate Junior Lake with 18. However, it seems as though Lake is moving in the opposite direction of LeMahieu, hitting at a .125 pace for the week to lower his season average to .295. Continuing to chug along is Josh Vitters, who went 4-for-11 with a double, home run and three RBI to maintain his .341 average.

Cubs’ pitchers had measured success this week in Arizona. Trey McNutt had the best effort, tossing two scoreless innings and a strikeout with two innings pitched in his Tuesday start. It seems as though Marcus Hatley is beginning to figure things out, allowing only one earned run in his last five innings. For the week, Hatley had 1.2 scoreless innings and two strikeouts in two outings. Hatley left Friday night’s game with an ankle injury, suffered while covering first base. Hatley’s status for the remainder of the AFL season is unknown.

Andrew Cashner picked up his first victory on Wednesday, tossing a scoreless inning and striking out two batters. Cashner added another scoreless inning on Saturday. Chris Carpenter only had one appearance for the week, striking out a batter in a scoreless inning on Wednesday. But after posting a scoreless inning on Wednesday, Jeffrey Beliveau served up three earned runs, including a home run, on Saturday. Beliveau also struck out three as he was tagged with the loss.

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Quote of the Day

"A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory." - Arthur Golden
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Will have full report later:

    2012 Chicago Cubs Top 10 Prospects: Ranking Chicago’s Top 10 prospects led by outfielder Brett Jackson.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2012/2612580.html

  • Anthony

    BA isn’t really qualified as a talent prognosticator let alone tools evaluation experts. They are in the business of making money. If they can produce organizational original scouting documents directly from the front offices as underlying support then some credibility may exist. In reality, this fodder is no more than someones Opinion, For Sale.

  • Brp921

    Tom, is it a misprint above that Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up six earned runs?

    • Tom U

      Welcome to the world of Austin Bibens-Dirkx. That was no misprint, He gave up six earned runs, including a two-run homer, in 4.1 innings.

  • Last_ginger

    Alot of teams could be interested in Marmol now that the market was set with the Paplebon contract

    • paulcatanese

      You are absolutly correct and it the Cubs want to, should be able to get a very good return for Marmol.

  • cubtex

    Wow! 3 from this years draft already cracking the top 10. That doesn’t say too much about what has been there. Baez at #2  Maples at #5 and Vogelbach at #10. It will be interesting to see how these 3 adjust. I am really surprised on Maples being asserted in the #5 spot already.

    On another note….Robert Coello seems like a totally different pitcher out of the bullpen. I don’t know why the Cubs kept him in the rotation for so long.
    Tom….What are they chances in Coello being picked up in the Rule 5 draft? I would imagine it is pretty good.

    • J Daniel

      When they asked McCloud about the Cubs draft he said it was average.  I trust his judgement.  With that said, it really shows you how bad the system is.  So we could get back to the compensation – who cares as long as it is not one of the top guys.

    • Tom U

      We’ll have to wait and see on the 40 man roster first. If they don’t put him on it (remember, Epstein had him in the Red Sox organization), it will depend on who else is on the list. If Coello isn’t one of the first taken, he will probably be one of the first called back.

  • cubtex

    I looked up McNutt’s numbers from 2010 and they were real good. Let’s not be too quick to discard this guy. I liked what I saw from him in his brief appearance on television a week ago as well. He looked to be in shape and threw free and easy at 95 with a nasty curve. Here are his combined 2010 numbers.

    116.1 IP   93 hits   37 BB …….AND  132 K’s   with a 1.117 Whip.

    That’s not bad! He had a bad year last year but much had to do with injuries. Let’s hope he has a bounce back year.

    • Aaron

      True, he had a bad year, after coming off an above average first year. Problem is, he was repeating AA (2010 he had a brief, unimpressive stint there), and this year at AA, he was even worse. That’s not a very good sign in my opinion….whereas the player the Cubs gave up for Garza instead of McNutt (Archer), had great success at AA in 2010, then struggled early this year before figuring things out, and earning a promotion to AAA….McNutt has a pretty violent delivery that will take away his velocity eventually with injury, etc. My gut tells me they got rid of the wrong guy, as Archer has a somewhat of a rubber arm, but I guess time will tell.

      I would not be upset if McNutt was dealt in the Theo or Hoyer compensation talks.

      I would, however, be upset if solid guys like Vitters, LeMahieu, B. Jackson, and even someone like Antigua who is not as hyped.

      • cubtex

        I was curious to see McNutt pitch because you stated how violent his deliver is. I did not see that to be the case. Like you said time will tell with Archer and McNutt but Archer has major command issues(even in his brief stint in AAA) Unless Archer figures out his command issues…he will never make it to the next level. You can get away with walks at the lower levels but not at the next.

        • Aaron

          I guess I should’ve clarified that comment of “violent”….What I mean by that, is it’s a high-effort delivery. The issue with that is:
          1) Repeating that type of delivery is difficult
          2) Over time, the wear and tear will cause significant shoulder injury

          ….whereas with Archer, I’ve seen him throw also, and it’s more of a low-effort delivery and what they typically refer to as “easy gas”

          • cubtex

            Here is my issue with Archer. He might have more of a rubber arm but his command is what will keep him from making it. These are his numbers combined in AA and AAA last year. He only threw 13 innings in AAA and walked 6.

            147 IP     86 Walks(brutal)     10 HBP    18 WP  

            That is not good

          • daverj

            I think in a few years the Archer vs McNutt debate will be mostly moot because I don’t see either of them having a productive major league career.  Both have too many questions marks.

      • Dorasaga

        How are Vitters and Antigua “solid”? They improved, but I wonder if “solid” means something specific you were looking at? And that was my earnest wonder, knowing that you know your prospects better than yours truly.

        Talking about a turn of events. Neil provided a BA link that reminds me of the 2003 prospect, #1 Choi. I wonder why he never figured it out in the Big? Well, at least he married a rich and powerful woman:

        http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2007/11/28/2007112861007.html

        • Tom U

          Dorasaga, it looks like Choi didn’t marry the heiress, but a former Miss South Korea. Not as much money, but looks like an upgrade!

    • J Daniel

      This is exactly why no compensation yet.  Cubs refuse to give up a top guy and I say good for them!

      • cubtex

        I hope they don’t give up any top 10 guys. I wouldn’t mind giving them Flaherty and Jay Jackson(someone like that)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Darwin Barney finished 7th in NL Rookie of the Year voting

    • cubtex

      Trade him now :)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs name Shiraz Rehman as the club’s assistant to the general manager

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Shiraz Rehman will oversee development of tech info system.

  • Cubluv

    So what’s everybodys thoughts on if the cubs make any acquisitions and or trades this week during the gm meetings.

    • daverj

      Other then naming a manager and potentially agreeing on compensation to Boston for Epstein, I don’t see the Cubs making any moves this week.

  • Texcubnut

    Another typically outstanding report. You’re spoiling us, Tom. Thank you very much.

    • Tom U

      Thank you

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs in AFL (11/14): Junior Lake (DH): 1-for-4, 2B, RBI; DJ LeMahieu (3B): 1-for-4; Trey McNutt: 2R, 1ER, 2H, 2BB, K in 4IP (58 pitches,36 strikes). McNutt took the loss

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jim Bowden: Francona doesn’t interview with St.Louis if he knew he had Cubs job.Cubs leaning towards Mike Maddux according to source

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Everyone should check back tonight. Will be multiple posts later on, including Ramirez’s days as a Cub are 100% done.

    • John G

      From the wire????

      Can’t wait.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        It was a ‘From the Wire’ but a hire to the front office … sorry.

    • Texcubnut

      Thanks for staying on top of things and keeping us informed, Neil.I know it’s been said over and over but this is the best Cub site and you do the best reporting, period. Just one question….how is it the Tribune or Sun-Times haven’t stolen you away and given you a position? I mean, they hired Steve Rosenbloom for crapsakes!!

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Thanks man, I really appreciate it. Got two up, working on two more.

    • RynoTiger

      I saw Heyman tweeted the Cubs are doing 2nd round interviews with the candidates.  Seems like they should narrow their list for the 2nd round…or maybe shock us all and throw in Ryno :)

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Heyman tweeted about the second round but with Sveum interviewing for a second time with Boston, he could be left out of the second round for the Cubs job.

  • RynoTiger

    Awesome quote below by Theo (source: mlbtraderumors.com)

    Compensation talks between the Cubs and Red Sox for Theo Epstein are progressing amicably, Epstein told Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I know I’m right, because I know my own faults better than Ben does,” Epstein said. “I know my limitations. I’m just not worth that much. But I’m sure it will work out, one way or the other, in a way that satisfies all the parties involved.”

  • Jay from sandwich

    Here’s the Latest on Theo compansation per MLB Trade Rumors:
    Compensation talks between the Cubs and Red Sox for Theo Epstein are progressing amicably, Epstein told Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I know I’m right, because I know my own faults better than Ben does,” Epstein said. “I know my limitations. I’m just not worth that much. But I’m sure it will work out, one way or the other, in a way that satisfies all the parties involved.”

    • John G

      There’s an echo in here.

      • J Daniel

        What did you say? 

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments.

  • cubtex

    Just read that the Mariners are willing to eat a bunch of Chone Figgins remaining contract to trade him. He is owed 17 mil for the next 2 years with an option for the 3rd if he gets 600 AB’s. Said Mariners might have to eat up to 15 Mil of contract. I am not a huge fan…….but for 1 mil a year he could at least start the year at 3rd until Vitters is ready. He still can run and could be either a leadoff or #2 bat in the lineup. Might not be a bad risk if the Mariners eat a ton of the money left on his contract.

    • RynoTiger

      NO…just run away..don’t do it…

      • cubtex

        For 1 mil a year even if he flops…he can play 3rd,2nd and left. Wouldn’t be a bad utility guy with his speed coming off the bench. ARam is 100% not coming back so they need to cosider some options and he would be low risk.

        • RynoTiger

          but that’s just one guys opinion on what he thinks the M’s might include for the cash amount. he’s been an absolute and unproductive offensive disaster. he’s an expensive Joey Gaithright with a bit more of a bat. we already have speed. his name is Tony Campana. 

          at this point if we wanted any sort of offense from 3rd, the following would be better:
          *Wilson Betemit
          *Clint Barmes
          *Jerry Hairston Jr.
          *DJ LaMahieu & Jeff Baker platoon

          • cubtex

            You are right. It is one mans opinion but for 1 mil a year for a non prospect….I would consider it. Campana is a bench guy. Figgins would be a stopgap at 3rd as a starter until he flops.

        • paulcatanese

          Aram’s not coming back because he knows Castro is moving over there and fans will forget him in a week.:)

          • cubtex

            What took you so long :-))

          • paulcatanese

            Just wanted to make sure stonefingers was really gone.:))

    • Gramps

      Picking up Figgins is something the OLD CUBS would do! I don’t think the new team would pick up an old piece like Figgins!

  • Chuck

    Good evening from Fort Myers.  Even though I have season tickets to the Cubs, I have spring training season tickets to both the Twins and Red Sox.  Had a call from Boston today telling me what my new seats are in the new Red Sox stadium, 2 rows behind the visitors dugout.  Speaking of bad contracts, what are the feelings of working out a trade with the Red Sox for Carl Crawford and John Lackey?