Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 01/30/12

Congratulations to both the Yaquis de Obregon and the Indios de Mayaguez for securing spots in the Caribbean World Series. In Mexico, Obregon rode the bat of Alfredo Amezaga and the pitching of Marco Carrillo, while Kyle Smit did his best to help the Indians claim the crown in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are still looking to award a championship.

For a recap of this week’s contests, along with news from the Australian Baseball League, check out this week’s Down on the Farm Report.

Dominican Winter League
The Leones de Escogido leads Aguilas Cibaenas 4-3 in their best of nine series. The Lions were up three games to one, and ahead 5-4 going into the top of the ninth on Thursday. However, the Eagles scored four runs to steal an 8-5 victory. Cibaenas then came back on Friday to even the series by defeating Escogido 2-1. Saturday’s game saw the Lions roar back from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-2. Game eight is set for Sunday, with a Game nine on Monday if necessary.

Mexican Pacific League

Yaquis de Obregon
Obregon started the week up 1-0 in their best of four series with Guasave. The Yaquis found themselves ahead again 1-0 on Sunday, however things quickly unraveled. Obergon was down 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth, thanks in part to an earned run given up in relief by Tennessee right-hander Oswaldo Martinez. But the Tribe rallied back and took home a 6-5 victory to improve to 2-0 in the series. Alfredo Amezaga was 0-for-2 with a walk.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The series resumed on Tuesday with another tight battle early on. Alfredo Amezaga singled and scored the first run as part of a 3-for-5 evening. Amezaga had two doubles and an RBI, and scored a total of three runs as Obregon held off a seventh inning surge by the Cotton Growers to defeat Guasave 6-4. Oswaldo Martinez had a strikeout in a scoreless inning of relief.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Needing one more win to earn a return trip to the Caribbean World Series, Obregon was not to be denied. Alfredo Amezaga led off the scoring on Wednesday by cracking his first home run of the playoffs, igniting a five-run first inning. The Yaquis then brought in the hammer as starter Marco Carrillo hurled six shutout innings, striking out six batters. Oswaldo Martinez chipped in a scoreless inning as Guasave had no answers for the Tribe’s attack, giving up 25 hits in a 19-0 whitewash. Alfredo Amezaga ended up 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored while Marco Carrillo earned his second victory of the playoffs.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Puerto Rico Baseball League

Indios de Mayaguez
In a surprise move, manager Dave Miley decided to start Iowa reliever Kyle Smit on Tuesday with Mayaguez up 4-2 in their best of nine series with Caugas. Smit held the Creoles scoreless for three innings, and then started to implode as he couldn’t record an out in the fourth inning. Smit ended up being charged with three earned runs as the Indians fell to Caugas 6-5 in eleven innings.

However, Mayaguez bounced back on Wednesday with a 5-2 win to secure a place in the Caribbean World Series.

Venezuelan Winter League
The Tigres de Aragua currently leads their best of seven series with the Tiburones de La Guaira 3 games to 2. The Sharks actually led the series 2-0, but the Tigers rallied back on the timely hitting of veteran free agents Jorge Cortes, Adonis Garcia, and Jose Martinez as well as former Met and Giant Edgardo Alfonzo. Game six is set for Sunday, with a Game seven on Monday if necessary.

Australian Baseball League
The Perth Heat have taken a 2-1 lead over the Melbourne Aces in their best of seven series. The winner of this series will have a second round bye, while the loser plays the winner of the other first round opponents, the Adelaide Bite and the Sydney Blue Sox. That series is tied 1-1, as storms postponed Game three on Saturday.

Attention CCO Readers
The Down on the Farm reader’s poll continues. Please post the names of the minor league players you would like the Down on the Farm Report to follow next season. The CCO will track the progress of ten players throughout the entire season. A representative sample of positions and levels of play is optimal. You can name as many players as you like, but remember, only ten will be chosen to be followed.

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
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  • Anthony

    Solid update, as usual Tom, Thanks

    Some statements before comments:

    Minor League baseball/talent sometimes gets “dissed”
    and is under-appreciated for its main purpose.

    There is no magic pill that somehow transforms a minor
    leaguer into a major leaguer. The talent is distinguished by
    a very fine line.

    Minor league performance is very indicative of Major league
    performance given the proper sample size, and when the
    Clubs can determine that tools meet results, and for hitters, the
    swing can be repeatable, i.e no major flaws, hitches.

    Players who eventually fit that mold also need luck, timing, a created
    need if not a heavily invested player(signing bonus) let alone talent.

    The point to be made is simple. On average, and over a period
    of time, a players results will settle to a certain level, and from a hitting standpoint, reveal what should be contributed to a Club.

    93 mph is 93 mph in A ball, AA, AAA, and MLB. There are only a few Aces every season, and these #1’s basically keep the numbers in line, i.e the law of averages.

    Why do we hear so many reports that so many pitchers are destined to the pen, or are classified as 4/5 starters? Because at some point, its called human limitation.

    So, below are some career-to-date stats using a sample of great and good, high school signed versus college signed, showing their minor league and major league lines.

    With the proper sample size, minor league production says plenty:

    D. Jeter(signed out of HS):

    Milb-.309/.386/.418…………1781 at bats
    MLB-.313/.383/.449

    Notice how similar the BA and OBP is. The bump in SLG
    usually is a result of physical maturity and experience.

    N. Swisher(signed out of college):

    Milb-.261/.381/.476……………..1169 at bats)
    MLB-.254/.360/.466

    A decent player, entered Pro ball after using metal in college,
    and once to the MLB, he is basically producing the same.

    D. Pedroia(signed out of college):

    Milb-.307/.392/.452…………1046 at bats
    MLB-.305/.373/.463

    Once again, eerily similar, a slight trade in power as he matured
    and slight drop in OBP, but the point is, similar production, and MLB
    pitching is not that different than Milb pitching.

    B. McCann:

    Milb-.276/.335/.466………….1097 at bats
    MLB-.286/.358/.486

    Pretty much in line, and some increase, he is a tinkerer(swing)

    So, when I look at prospects, I need enough sample size, not a daily boxscore. I have read so many knee-jerk websites, and we all know the names of them, and a prospect goes from hero to bust on a daily basis to the point it becomes comedic.

    We do not know what the organization write in their reports internally, as only they know, and the players themselves. We don’t know what they think of PLAYER swing mechanics, approach, their plans for the Player, and if they feel the tools will produce CONSISTENTLY GOOD.

    So, here are few Cub minor leaguers career statlines so far. Only one hasn’t tasted AA yet, but should in 2012. Two are college, and two from high school. Way more often from not, if/when they get to the Show, you can about expect similar production, measured over an acceptable sample size.

    Vitters-.277/.319/.439…………..1547 at bats
    Rohan-.290/.347/.421…………..1071 at bats(no AA)
    Lake-.267/.315/.401……………..1693 at bats
    Jackson-.292/.393/.491…………1133 at bats

    Just these guys as examples, Vitters has the hands and just needs some approach corrections, much easier to improve than a monkey wrench in a swing. Despite age(25), if Rohan has a 2012 line in AA according to book, he becomes viable versus an afterthought.

    Lake is still raw according to what is posted, and if his 2012 is according to book, his value drops.

    Jackson will strike out plently, but his line indicates positive production and will be a decent corner outfielder with some power.

    Now, Top Prospect lists are silly without a sample size. Either they should be based solely on tools, or solely on professional sample size, and not a mix of both.

    Enjoy, blast this, like it, or hate it. Until McCleod, Theo, Hoyer, Fleita, Wilken come on board and tell us what they think of every prospect, I will stick to my way of tracking players and commenting on them.

    We will have to wait for answers to questions like:

    Will Paul Hoilman reduce his K’s and keep crazy power?
    Will Javier Baez use those fast hands to fruition?
    Will Torreyes remain an OBP machine? Same for DeVoss
    Can Golden hit for average?
    Will the polished LH swing of Klafczynski produce?
    Will Vogelbach make a huge splash?(nice swing)
    Will Szczur progress rapidly as he plays more baseball only?
    Who is the real Rock Shoulders?
    Is Dunston real, or a legacy?
    Is Rebel Ridling close?

    These are just a few thoughts, lots to follow.

    • Aaron

      Anthony,

      I agree with just about everything you said above. I don’t know if you were around this site a few years ago, but I posted something similar, going through nearly all of the stars in the league, and averaging their minor league stats to see what they needed to produce in order to be a successful MLB player. I can’t remember exactly what the stats were, and I don’t care to research them again, as it took me a long time to do so….however, I remember I broke it out like this (again, this is going off memory, so it’s not precise):

      Power Hitter-.295+/.375+/.450+

      Slap Hitter-.310+/.350+/.380+

      Role Player-.285+/.340+/.400+

      So why did I break them out this way? I believe the reasoning is fairly obvious…I didn’t want to lump every hitter into just one category and make a blanket statement like, “you must have a .295+avg, .380+OBP, and .450+SLG in the minors to be successful in MLB”….because that simply isn’t true, because your speed guys and slap hitters don’t have high OBP’s and SLG like the power hitters.

      What all of this should tell you is that you can eliminate all of the “noise” in the system, and get down to the real prospects. There are obviously some caveats to factor in, such as injuries, and that guys like Lake, Vitters, etc., can develop into big time prospects if they add more muscle…same with any organization…but in general, it’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

      This is precisely why, outside of Brett Jackson , Matt Szczur, and Anthony Rizzo, most talent evaluators aren’t high on any other Cubs position prospects.

      Personally, that’s why I would add Clevenger, Ty Wright, Rohan, and Cerda, but with Clevenger, Wright, and Rohan, all in the 25 year old range, I highly doubt they’ll ever be given a full opportunity.

      Guys like Baez, Candelario, Vogelbach, Marco Hernandez, Amaya, DeVoss, Schlecht, could develop into those type of hitters I outlined above, but they don’t have enough time in the system.

      It’s important to keep in mind that while I say that, I am NOT stating the Cubs have a bad system at all, nor am I saying the Cubs shouldn’t promote these guys (even Lake and Vitters who don’t fit into the categories I listed), because what I’ve ALWAYS done is subscribed to the notion that you promote players if they’re better than what you currently have at the MLB level, and that has clearly been the case the last few years.

    • Texcubnut

      Outstanding thoughts, Anthony. It’s amazing how you can have insightful posts like this today, and have nowhere near lucid posts like yesterday when you advocated trading Castro.But anyway, great post and good research. Aaron posted something similar to this two years ago.Excellent read.

      • Anthony

        Its called misdirection…………..lol

        and thanks

        I get frisky when folks feel that any player/prospect are deemed horrible when measured against dream world standards that really don’t apply, for example, if every hitter mentioned in a trade, from the Farm, has to be a .350 hitter with a .400 OBP, with power, and to make them real happy, take tons of walks, is just plain foolish.

        Well, Roy Hobbs is a fictional character.

        Given the proper sample size in the minors, and then in the majors, a player who hits .280 overall thru at least AA, should hit around that mark in the long run at the MLB level. If they don’t, then the team pro scouts missed a few warts and were probably romanced along the way.

        Hitting guru’s, advanced scouts, and especially with super-slow video can easily evaluate the swing. Once a player has a confirmed groove, it gets tested further in game play, reviewed, adjusted, reviewed, with the hopes that it can be repeated for good results.

        I use George Brett lots as an example of what I mean. True student of the game, of hitting, and the results were a high contact rate, but what set him apart was the type contact, consistent, hard, solid.

        His walk rate was under 10% of his PA’s, but yet had a career OBP of .369 which equals tons of solid hits, as he still walked more than striking out.

        Guys like Rizzo, and his failure in SD at the MLB level is meaningless due to a small sample size, but if SD traded for Alonso making Rizzo expendable, it is a sign that they chose backspin over loft. Alonso is a wonderful hitter, and quietly made the transition from college metal bat “clubbing” to wood bat grooving.

        Rizzo is strong, and could easily trade some loft for backspin and that may be what they are working on, lesser uppercutting!

        Once he puts it together, he could easily be a .280 BA with 30 plus HR’s consistenty, and being young, it bodes well for the Cubs.

        Some of the Q’s I had in the original text are just interesting to me player-wise. Big believer in up the middle defense, and especially SS, and my opinion remains the same about that certain player. I know what a SS looks like, seen many of the greats play it.

        Jackson, you’ll get .280 and 20, and setting aside the K rate, one of those type players that does everything well enough to be a positive contributor.

        Soriano needs to go, had a great career, and would be on the outside looking in if the old Cubs did their due diligence.

        I like what Sappelt can bring, like what Campana can bring, Barney needs a another full season to get a better idea, and Torreyes can climb the ladder fast, needs Daytona first, and if he remains consistently good, AA by the break. Not high on Lake yet, not high on Szczur yet, like Ridling, potentially blocked or more OF versus 1B.

        The Farm is better than many think, and SP is still the weakness. If they lose 90 plus games, but do it in a “young and athletic” fashion, and build the farm further, things should improve.

  • Aaron

    Tom,

    Thank you for the report.

    I really hope we see some action on the trade front this week. The Cubs need to figure out a way to get Soriano to the Tigers by paying almost all of his salary. They also need to figure out a way to get a pitching prospect or two from the Rays for Soto, as they are supposedly in the market for a starting-caliber catcher.

    If they could resolve the Garza situation, that would be ideal. I just don’t see any possible way he is in their long-term plans, ESPECIALLY after requesting over $12 million in arbitration. I would LOVE a Jays package of Marisnick, McGuire, and Syndergaard…or a Tigers package of Turner, Oliver, and Castellanos, or Smyly, Oliver, and Castellanos…really, I don’t care all that much about Turner, but to save face, he’d probably have to be included in any deal.

    Looking at what teams in recent years have sent over in deals for Cliff Lee, Haren, Halladay, Gio Gonzalez, Jimenez, Latos, etc., including what the Cubs already dished out for Garza in the first place, it would appear that the Cubs should be able to receive a decent haul for their best pitcher.

    When considering the 40-man roster, it is completely full, and if the Cubs can land decent talent in the trades I suggested above, the guys that should be dealt along with Soriano, Soto, Garza, Marmol, etc., should be (or outright released to clear room):

    Wells-one hit wonder. What else can I say?

    Volstad-Wood and Volstad could end up surprising a lot of people, but starting pitchers that have mid-4’s to 5 ERA’s are a dime a dozen. Both guys were one hit wonders (see Wells, Randy). I just don’t see a need for them on this team, especially if they remain the same, and ESPECIALLY if the Cubs acquire better young talent via trades. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they were flipped again this offseason in trades.

    T. Wood-(see above)

    Sonnanstine-why is he on the roster again?

    Weathers-for the life of me, I cannot understand why the Cubs essentially traded the far more valuable LeMahieu for this guy who can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    DeWitt-I would rather have Adrian Cardenas, but unless the Cubs make a trade quickly, he’ll go back to the A’s system, or another team if they claim him.

    Baker-I would prefer one of Baker or DeWitt get traded/released. I just don’t see a need for both.

    Campana-I love the guy, but first of all, he is NOT an everyday player. Second of all, he’s almost like Gathright in that he is lighting quick on the bases, but he just can’t seem to get on base with any regularity. He’s best used as a pinch runner, and do you really want to have a pinch runner taking a valuable spot on your bench?!?

    Byrd-I love his hustle, but there’s no room on a rebuilding team for an aging 34 year old CF.

    I would also throw in Barney, but with LeMahieu, Gonzalez, and Flaherty gone, he’s more valuable than he used to be, especially since he can play SS and 3B in a pinch if need be.

    I fully expect the Cubs to be VERY active at the trade deadline this year, especially if they are out of contention, and have a couple of decent performers. If they elect to keep Garza this offseason, then he’d most likely be the first to go, followed by Marmol and Soto if they both have resurgent seasons, then guys like DeJesus, Barney, T. Wood, Volstad, Russell, Stewart (if he has a better year), etc.

    • daverj

      Aaron – I agree with you on Garza that the Cubs should get a decent haul, but for some reason other teams don’t seem too excited about him (at least in exchange for a large haul).  The Jays think they are a ways off from contending so they won’t part with top prospects for an established piece.  The Yanks are done looking for pitching.  The Red Sox don’t have the prospects we’d be looking for.  The Tigers may be the only option and thus far, it looks like they do not want to trade a few top prospects for Garza.

    • daverj

      I believe the reason the Cubs “traded LeMahieu for Weathers” is that the Cubs were pushing for a Stewart for Colvin straight-up deal.  The Rox wouldn’t make that deal and insisted on Colvin and LeMahieu for Stewart.  There was a standoff and finally the Cubs caved, but asked for Weathers as a throw-in to the deal.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs have signed Trever Miller to a minor-league deal with an invite to
    spring training. He’ll make $800,000 if he’s in the big leagues

    • Aaron

      With Russell, Beliveau, Gaub, and Maine all in the mix for a pen job…I believe a trade might be on the horizon involving Russell with this Miller signing…just a hunch. I know the Padres wanted Russell in the past, so who knows?

  • paulcatanese

    The “American Pastime” has become the American Pastime watching the Foreign Experience, and soon fans will need an interpeter to read a scorecard,if they don’t already.

    Tom, you do a wonderful job posting about all minor league players,
    including those that have little or no track record and I appreciate it
    I just wish I could warm up to the idea of all of the signings that are not from this country, but it wouldn’t be the truth if I did.

    If these players would end up becoming citizens of this country I would feel differently. Don’t care for outsourcing at all, try to buy everything American from cars to local produce, and thats even getting tougher to do.

    Born and raised in Chicago, the tough Union city that always took care of it’s own and only wish it could remain that way.

    • Agustinrexach

      Don’t take it like that Paul. You should feel proud that people bought in to the American dream, people want to be part of good things. Even if they are from a different landscape. America was, is and will forever be the land of opportunity!

      • paulcatanese

        Maybe a little strong, however I would point out that both set’s of grandparents immigrated from Germany and Italy, struggled here but became citizens and pursued the American Way.
        They were not paid to come here,nevertheless did and I am proud of them.
        The wife’s grandparents from Poland and the same thing, became citizens, and I am proud of them.
        Chicago was an influx of immigrants and became citizens and had one important difference, they were not paid to come here, they did so at their own expense and became part of the American Dream.

    • Anthony

      Global economics is an interesting topic, but why should I start controversy and debate, but paul, I understand that aspect in your post.

      As far as the Demographics of baseball, another topic of discussion that can stir controversy and can be posed various ways with several sub-topics that all relate.

      Is the RBI program for real, or a token gesture?

      Why are MLB clubs investing so heavy in Latino “Academies”?

      Why is the NBA and NFL more alluring to some?

      You got about 6000 players in affiliated professional baseball, and about 1000 each year passing thru the in and out door. Add in International play, the academies, and the pool of talent is vast. About 1/2 of these affiliated players were NOT born in this country, and this obviously is nothing new.

      If MLB clubs want to grant crazy bonus’ to IFA’s, then these decision-makers must believe these players are far better than what is currently available from our high schools and colleges, which is too bad, but reality, because they keep doing it.

      And when we purchase anything from any MLB sponsor, we are indirectly funding this.

      • paulcatanese

        Was not trying to start controversy or even a debate, simply an opinion that I chose to express.

        Athletes from the US have one thing that the others from other countires do not have, and that is freedom of choice. They can participate in several types of athletics at the same time.

        This may or not be one of the reasons MLB chooses to go outside for talent, because of the intense direction that they have, one sport, one commitment, and a vehicle that will produce monies that only a few can realize from another country.

        If MLB were really interested in American talent why do they not invest in more scolorship funds for colleges that would offer more opportunity for American players instead of the one or two that are offered by schools now. Increase the American opportunity the same as the academys that they are sponsoring outside of the country.

        And I do not refer to the “bonus for college” thats incuded in many high school contracts that are offered. I mean before anyone is signed and for any player that would qualify for college.

        Example, my oldest son had a $10,000 college bonus in addition to his bonus for signing ( never used) and the middle son had a full baseball scholorship ( 1 of only 2 offered) If more scholorships were offered to schools more players would direct their decisions to one sport.

  • Anonymous47701

    Possible Compensation Solution???

    RHP Marcos Mateo

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs invited 21 to camp: Trever Miller on list along with M. Brenly, C Rusin, M. Carrillo, T. McNutt, JJax, Brett Jackson, Amezega, E. Gonzalez, J. Mota, M. Tolbert, B. Scales, Jae-Hoon Ha, Dae-Eun Rhee, J. Adduci, Jason Jaramillo, Lalli, Parker, Mather, Lopez and Corpas

    • John_CC

      I’m heading to Mesa on Feb 20…I think that is reporting day for position players, isn’t it?  Can’t wait to see all these kids at Fitch Park.

      • paulcatanese

        Been wanting to do that for a couple of years now, hope you have a great time.

        Signed, Envious.

        • John_CC

          Thanks Paul. I went 4 years ago for the first time, met some old friends and went 3 games. It was great. But now I prefer pre-game weeks and the practice fields.  A lot easier on the pocket book (and liver!). 

          • Anthony

            When in Az I prefer water when the sun shines, then enjoy the good stuff after

            If scheduling works, gonna hit Az in March, focus on the minors and many of my college follows, and some of the kids also

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for you comments.