Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 04/23/12

As Casey Stengel once said “Can anybody here play this game?” Uneven efforts were the norm this week, as one or more elements, pitching-hitting-defense, were lacking throughout the system.

However, there are always silver linings. Peoria’s Oliver Zapata has extended his hitting streak to seven, and the offenses of both the Chiefs and Daytona seem to be perking up. Tennessee is now second in the Southern League in pitching and third in fielding. Anthony Rizzo is in the top ten in the Pacific Coast League in batting and RBI, and leads the league with seven home runs.

For more of the somewhat unpleasant details, have a look at today’s Down on the Farm Report …

Note: Monday’s report will cover games from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday’s report covers games Sunday through Tuesday.

Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (6-10)
Peoria saw their winning streak end on Wednesday with a late inning rally falling short, giving Cedar Rapids the 5-2 victory. Overall, hitting has improved for the Chiefs, but timely hitting is still in short supply. Paul Hoilman was the hits leader as he was 2-for-4, and was driven in by Oliver Zapata (1-for-4) with a double. Zeke DeVoss was also 1-for-4 with a double, while Pin-Chieh Chen, Wes Darvill, and Eduardo Gonzalez each collected hits. Jose Rosario started for the Chiefs and yielded four runs (three earned) while striking out six in 4.2 innings. Peoria seems to be looking for a role for Luis Liria, who followed Rosario and gave up an earned run and struck out three in 1.1 innings. Andrew McKirahan may have settled down some, allowing no baserunners and striking out three batters in two scoreless innings. Lefty Jeffrey Lorick was given some late inning work and shutout the Kernels with a strikeout in the ninth.

The 2012 Chiefs were supposed to be built around pitching and defense, but both deserted them on Thursday night, as they dropped the first of a three game set with Great Lakes 11-4. Ben Wells was both the culprit and the victim, as he allowed ten runs in 4.2 innings, with six of them being earned. Four errors, including two by Ryan Cuneo and one each by Zeke DeVoss and Kyler Burke, didn’t help matters. Burke came on in relief of Wells and gave up his own earned run while striking out four in 3.2 innings. Austin Reed got the final two outs, including a strikeout. Oliver Zapata continues to be an unstoppable offensive force, going 3-for-5 with an RBI. The left side of the infield is trying to do their part, with third baseman Brad Zapenas having a 2-for-2 evening with shortstop Wes Darvill was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. Ryan Cuneo was also 2-for-5 and an RBI.

Friday was another frustrating night for Peoria as their pitching failed once again as the lost 7-5 to Great Lakes. Left-handed pitcher Willengton Cruz had a promising 2011 for the Boise Hawks, but his 2012 hit another bump as he allowed five earned runs, including two solo home runs, and struck out four in 5.2 innings. Another Boise pitcher, Bryce Shafer was second in the Northwest league in saves, but has struggled in Peoria giving up two runs, on earned, in 2.1 innings. The lone bright spot was Yao-Lin Wang, whose ERA remains at 0.00 with a scoreless inning. The Chiefs’ offense was able to take advantage of some pitching wildness by the Loons, but lapsed back in their habit of poor situational hitting. Eduardo Gonzalez was 1-for-2 with an RBI, while Pin-Chieh Chen drove in two runs and was 1-for-5 with a double. Oliver Zapata has hit safely for the sixth straight game.

After a three game win streak, the Chiefs squandered another good pitching performance on Saturday to extend their losing streak to four with a 2-1 loss to Great Lakes. Peoria’s best pitcher to start the season, Michael Jensen, struck out six in seven innings, but allowed two earned run, as the Chiefs’ offense couldn’t support the effort. Peoria scored its lone run in the first inning, as Rafael Lopez (1-for-4) doubled, and scored on Paul Hoilman’s (2-for-4, double) single. With a seven-game hitting streak, Oliver Zapata was 2-for-4 for the afternoon. Scott Weismann kept the Chiefs in it until the end with two scoreless innings.

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (4-11)
If things weren’t bad enough for Daytona this season, they started kicking the ball on Thursday night as they lost 5-2 to Tampa. Getting his second start, Eduardo Figueroa allowed four runs, but only one was earned as errors by Arismendy Alcantara and Richard Jones led to the winning margin. Figueroa struck out three in five innings and gave way to Ty’Relle Harris, who held the Yankees scoreless for two innings and struck out three batters. Brian Schlitter and Tony Zych each tossed an inning and shutout Tampa the rest of the way. The only offensive highlight was Nelson Perez, who was 2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI.

The D-Cubs resembled the team that most fans thought they would perform like on Friday, as they blitzed Tampa 9-2. Greg Rohan (1-for-2) struck the big blow with his grand slam home run in the second inning. Rohan would end up with five RBI on the night, as Richard Jones was 3-for-5. Ronald Torreyes seems to have finally broke out offensively, as he was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple. John Andreoli’s (1-for-4) double also drove in a run.

Left-hander Austin Kirk continues to impress, as he struck out three with one earned run in seven innings. Brett Wallach gave up an earned run in an inning of work, while Casey Harman finished out the game with a scoreless ninth.

Click Here for Complete Score

Daytona made it two impressive outings in a row on Saturday, as they overpowered Tampa 13-2. Everyone in the lineup had a hit, and all but two players had two or more hits. The big stick belonged to Nelson Perez, who was 3-for-3 with a home run, stolen base, and three RBI. Greg Rohan also drove in three runs, and was 2-for-5 with a double. Dustin Harrington was also a big contributor, going 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and two RBI. Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Matt Szczur was 2-for-8 and a stolen base. Elieser Bonne and Sergio Burruel each had two hits and a double, and Richard Jones and John Andreoli had an RBI apiece.

The offensive explosion gave starter Eric Jokisch the ability to pitch free-and easy, as he allowed two earned runs and struck out two in 5.2 innings. Larry Suarez followed with 1.1 scoreless innings, while Joe Zeller also struck out two as he shut out the Yankees for two innings.

Click Here for Complete Score

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (9-8)
Tuesday’s rainout brought a double-header on Wednesday, as the Smokies dropped the opener 2-1 to Huntsville. Tennessee put two of their best pitchers on the mound in Dallas Beeler and Kevin Rhoderick, but the offense was only able to muster six hits. Beeler lowered his ERA to 1.08, sixth among starters in the Southern League, by allowing one earned run in 5.2 innings while striking out five batters. Rhoderick was the hard-luck loser after he gave up a triple and single for the game winner, after striking out two in 0.2 innings. Infielder Jonathan Mota (2-for-3) scored Tennessee’s only run as Michael Brenly (1-for-2) drove him in with a double.

Relegated to the bullpen after being a starter last season, Ryan Searle took the hill in the nightcap and combined with two other pitchers to shut down Huntsville 1-0. Recent addition Ty Wright (2-for-3) provided the game’s only run with his second inning homer. The Smokies continued their offensive struggles, managing only four hits over the seven innings. Searle gave the team a much needed boost by striking out five in four innings. Casey Weathers also received a shot of confidence as he went a scoreless inning and struck out two batters. Closer Frank Batista showed he just isn’t a last inning specialist, shutting down the Stars over two innings and recording his league-leading fifth save.

Click Here for Complete Score

A valiant comeback by Tennessee on Thursday after an underwhelming performance by their starter went by the wayside as they ended up losing 9-7 to Huntsville. Starter Dae-Eun Rhee did not have his A-Game, as he gave up five earned runs while striking out four in five innings. The Smokies stormed back as Nate Samson led the charge, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Ty Wright was 2-for-5 with a double and RBI, while Justin Bour drove in a run and was 2-for-4. Michael Brenly was also 2-for-5. After tying the score, the Smokies turned to Dan Berlind to hold the Stars, and he let in two earned runs in two innings. Marcus Hatley gave up another two earned runs to put the final nail in the coffin.

On Friday, Tennessee got some great pitching and, frankly, overcame some poor managing decisions, bringing home a 3-2 victory over Chattanooga. The Smokies offense produced thirteen hits, but took at least two runs off the board as manager Buddy Bailey twice threw up a stop sign at third on plays that looked like the runner would score easily. Another time, Bailey sent Jae-Hoon Ha, who had originally broke back to second to let the ball go through the infield for a single, only to have him thrown out at home. Ha broke out of his slump by going 2-for-3, while Juan Apodaca was also 2-for-3. Logan Watkins was 2-for-5 with a double, and Nate Samson, Rebel Ridling, and James Adduci had RBI each.

Lefty Brooks Raley had a no-hitter through four innings. But the lack of offensive production seems to rattle him, as he started to be too fine with his pitches and gave up two earned runs in the fifth inning, as he would go six innings with three strikeouts. Kevin Rhoderick, after suffering two hard-luck losses, wound up with the win as he held the Lookouts scoreless and struck out two in 1.2 innings. In a somewhat shaky ninth, Alberto Cabrera was able to strike out two batters for his first save.

Click Here for Complete Score

After appearing somewhat snake bit during the first few weeks, Tennessee seemed to be putting things all together in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Chattanooga. The Smokies got good pitching and timely hitting, as Jae-Hoon Ha shook out of his doldrums and was 3-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored. Ty Wright has been a big part of Tennessee’s offensive turnaround, as he was 2-for-3 with two RBI. Rebel Ridling is also coming around and drove in a run as he was 2-for-3.

Tennessee pitchers combine to strike out ten of the Lookouts, with starter Nick Struck recording half of that total. Struck pitched five innings and gave up an earned run, being relieved by Jeffry Antigua. The left-hander struggled early to find the strike zone, but ended up striking out four in three scoreless innings. Scuffling pitcher Marcus Hatley got the last “K”, as he retired the side in the ninth for his first save.

Click Here for Complete Score

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (7-10)
Frustration seems to be setting in for Iowa as they failed to get a decent pitching performance on Wednesday for the fourth time in five games and lost 8-4 to Albuquerque. An overtaxed bullpen may have kept Jay Jackson in the game too long, as he allowed three earned runs (five overall) in the sixth inning. Jackson did strike out five in 5.2 innings, but all of the runs came in via the home run, as he served up a two-run and three-run blast. Manny Corpas finished the game out, and allowed an earned run over 2.1 innings. Luis Valbuena can be placing some pressure on the organization as he continued to stay hot. Valbuena hit a two-run homer and was 2-for-3 to raise his average to .400. Welington Castillo (1-for-4) also drove in a run with a double, while Edgar Gonzalez (1-for-2) had an RBI.

If Wednesday’s loss wasn’t frustrating enough, Thursday saw some decent pitching and a big hitting day by Anthony Rizzo, but it still added up to a 4-3 loss to Albuquerque. While giving up four earned runs in 6.1 innings isn’t the stuff legends are made of, the five strikeout performance by Travis Wood should have been enough to win, considering the Iowa offense. But after pounding out 35 hits in the past five games, the I-Cubs could only manage six, as Rizzo was 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI. Dave Sappelt also collected two hits. Jeff Beliveau kept Iowa in the game by throwing 1.2 scoreless innings.

With scheduled starter Randy Wells back in Chicago to be ready for the parent club, Iowa tapped Frankie De La Cruz as a replacement, but would end up losing 5-4 to Albuquerque. Like other pitchers in the organization this week, De La Cruz, for the circumstances, pitched well enough for the I-Cubs to win. He ended his evening tossing three innings and letting in three earned runs. However, no one else on the squad picked up the slack. The Iowa offense was limited by journeyman (and former I-Cub) Mike Parisi. Iowa’s veterans showed up, with Edgar Gonzalez going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Alfredo Amezaga was 2-for-3 with a double. But as the offense attempted a comeback, Esmailin Caridad failed to hold serve, as he allowed two earned runs and struck out three in four innings. Blake Parker remained unscored-upon, as he struck out one in the eighth inning.

If any game could illustrate the fortunes of the Cubs’ minor league system this week, it would be Saturday’s 12-7 loss to Memphis. Casey Coleman and the I-Cubs were clearly in control at 5-2 when he left after six innings of work, giving up two earned runs and striking out seven batters. Jeff Beliveau came on and pitched a scoreless seventh, but was lifted in the eighth after a walk, double, and single. Manny Corpas relieved and after 12 batters and nine runs scored, the eighth inning finally ended. Iowa had to resort to position players Blake Lalli and Alfredo Amezaga to finish the game on the mound. Not only was Coleman’s effort spoiled, but good offensive performances by Anthony Rizzo and Adrian Cardenas were lost. Rizzo was 2-for-5 with three RBI, while Cardenas drove in two more and was 2-for-3 with a double. Brett Jackson was returned to the leadoff spot and was 2-for-5 with a double. Dave Sappelt (2-for-4, stolen base, two RBI) provided some late inning thrills with his inside-the-park home run.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Scott Maine, RHP Randy Wells and OF Tony Campana from the Iowa Cubs; LHP Sheldon McDonald was assigned the Iowa Cubs from Boise; McDonald would be reassigned back to Extended Spring Training a day later. Outfielder Ty Wright and RHP Frank Batista were assigned to the Iowa Cubs. The Tennessee Smokies placed RHP Trey McNutt on the 7-day disabled list (blisters). The Daytona Cubs activated RHP Matt Loosen from the 7-day disabled list; LHP Casey Harman assigned to Tennessee.

CCO’s Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .224, three doubles, triple, home run, seven RBI (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Reggie Golden (OF) – is currently on the disabled list
  • Junior Lake (IF) – is currently inactive
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .194, double, two RBI, five Stolen Bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .256, three doubles, triple, RBI (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .269, two doubles, eight RBI (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training

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Quote of the Day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
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  • Ripsnorter1

    Cubtex has posted that the Cubs’ fan is extrordinarily patient for a major market team, and willing to endure a rebuild like the Cubs are currently undergoing. He has also pointed out that fans in NY or Boston would not tolerate the approach that the Team Theo is taking here.

    Well, the proof of his theories arrived Saturday as Bobby Valentine was booed every time he came out to make a pitching change. Boston fans are having trouble accepting a team that has been 9-31 since September 1, 2011.

    I expect that Team Theo will likely wind up making one or more deals with the BoSox this year.  No doubt Cherington feels real good about the Marlon Byrd acquistion, and Theo knows the BoSox players and MiL. I expect some of our MiL pitching to head East sometime.. 

    If Carpenter had not been injured, no doubt he would be pitching in Boston right now.

    • Tony_Hall

      It’s also about expectations.  The Red Sox were in the playoffs before their September collapse.  Their fans expect them to be a playoff team again this year.  

      Yankee fans expect the playoffs every year…now.  

      Let’s hope that in a few years we will be able to expect the same thing.  But this year, even with such a weak division, it could take 100 wins to win the division.  The Cardinals are on pace to win 111 games right now and have won every series.   

      • cubtex

        They have the 3rd highest payroll in baseball…..of course they expect to win!

        • Tony_Hall

          So, by that logic, if the Cubs would have just kept all of their payroll and ADDED more payroll this off-season, to be the 3rd highest payroll, we, as Cub fans, should have expected to win, this year.

          • cubtex

            Exactly!

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t think so.

            That would have been so JH.

            Keep ARAM, Pena, Zambrano, and try to add a few pieces, by giving away an extra couple of years, and full no-trade clauses.  Go for it this year, and forget about the years after.

            We did that for enough years.

    • cubtex

      They interviewed Dan Shaughnessy(beat reporter for the Red Sox) this morning on mlb radio and he took a couple of shots at Theo. He said Theo didn’t do a good job the last couple of years and left the club in bad shape. They are strapped with payroll issues…..no one in the minors ready to help. Hmmm……that sounds familiar :)  He said it is a tough job for anyone to take over….but Cherrington is a smart guy and he will figure it out.

      Funny……Isn’t that what Cub fans are saying about the ballclub JH left for Theo :) As I said before…..Theo was extremely lucky the Cubs pursued him when they did…..otherwise he would not have been re-signed in Boston.

      As much as JH gets ripped for what he left this team(rightfully so)…..Theo is getting ripped(rightfully so) for what he left in Boston!

      • Tony_Hall

        Name me a manager or GM, who is with a different team, that doesn’t get ripped by it’s old team’s fans.

        It’s the nature of the job, they are hired to be fired, unless they find another job first.

        At least Theo has 2 shiny World Series rings on his hands.   

        • cubtex

          I used to run a 5:15 mile as well :)What have you done for me lately. Why don’t you judge Theo by his last 3 years and be objective.

          • cubtex

            How many rings does Jerry Krause have?

          • Tony_Hall

            Different sport

            All-time best player.

            Not even close to a true comparison.

          • John_CC

            Really? A beat writer took some shots at the recently departed GM of his home team?  Stop the presses!  

            So many be Epstein’s strength is building/re-building.  Which is exactly what he was hired to do for the Cubs. He has a four year contract which looks like 2 to 2.5 years worth of building and then a 1 year to see if the new team can make a solid impact. If they don’t, he will be re-evaluated, by everyone. 

            Here’s another “funny” thing, aren’t all the Epstein haters saying that Hendry actually didn’t do that bad until the last couple years? That he made really good moves and smart trades to create the team that contended for a few years?  Sounds like what Epstein did in Boston?

          • cubtex

            Epstein never rebuilt jack in Boston. He already had a good team in Boston. This is not even close to the same situation dude!

          • cubs1967

            theo was handed a 93 win team when he took over as boston’s GM.  he has never built from the bottom like the cubs nor as hoyer; who in his 1 yr as GM fielded a last place team.
            that’s why this small market re-build is SO wrong for a 3M plus fan base every year; top 3 tix prices in baseball plus 3rd largest market in the US; no one in the FO has done it before and 5 yrs from now…108 yrs and counting…won’t be a good catch phrase……..

            somehow the yanks-phils-red sox spend alot and win alot…..even the cards are over 100M now in payroll…..
            ricketts chooses to be cheap and he has chosen this path………he was NOT forced to do it…..

          • Tony_Hall

            So we can only look at his last 3 years, and forget about the rest.  Interesting resume philosophy.

            I really doubt you do that when you are hiring someone.

          • cubtex

            No…I look to hire salespeople who have underperformed for the last 2 years so I can pay them at a cheap price and hope they bounce back to where they were at 3 years ago :)

          • Dorasaga

             Are you guys marrying soon?

      • gary3411

         Boston is still wayyy wayyy more talented than any 2009-2011 Cubs team. Kinda stinks playing in the AL East, but I bet they’re still in the wild card hunt especially with 2 teams now making it.

        I just can’t believe what happened to Carl Crawford last year. No one could have predicted this. He is not similar to Soriano. Soriano is an uncoordinated guy and been old-looking even before he was signed. Crawford could have been a UCLA point guard, Nebraska option Quarterback, or on the Rays. He is an athlete.

      • cc002600

         I understand your skepticism of Theo, and I think part of your criticism is driven by enthusiam by many cub fans when he was hired.  I get all that. There is no doubt that he made mistakes in Boston, but name a GM who hasn’t. It’s not a perfect science. Hopefully,  now that he is older and wiser, he won’t make many of the same mistakes he has made in the past. But either way, he won 2 WS.  That is fact, pure and simple. There is no debating that. 

        So either way, we need to give him a chance and see what he can do.  We are 16 games into a season where they are CLEARLY going to lose 90+ games. Everyone is in agreement there.

        But I will say this, which I tend to agree with you on. After this season, their financial committments are basically nothing, sans Soriano, if they continue to go on the cheap and say we’ll spend money “when we’re ready to win” down the road, I will be furious.

        And AGAIN, as I have said before, I’m not advocating spending silly money again, but you have to start building a team as you go along.  Their farm system is NOT good, so if you are to going to wait for the farm system to develop players before you start spending money again, you are LITERALLY looking at 5 or 6 years of 90+ losses.  NO EXAGGERATION.  If not, someone please tell me why not.

        And that’s ridiculous when you are paying top dollar for tickets.  They will lose fans, and many of them.

        Think about it, outside of Rizzo, Castillo, Bjax, who is going to help them in the next 3 to 4 years in that farm ?  The answer is nobody, most likely.

        • cubs1967

          great post!

        • cubtex

          We both agree that this will take 4 years minimum the way he is doing it.

          • cc002600

             agree.  That’s why they had better start spending some money, starting this winter.

            If they think that going with a 80-90M payroll over the next few years is going to fly, they will be sadly mistaken. This ain’t KC or Pitt. That would be a joke.

            People are not going to spend top dollar forever to watch slop, while giving off the impression you are not even trying.

            I was at game at Saturday. Granted it was cold, but there was definitely no more than 25k fans there.,…and yes I know tickets sold were 38K, but still. I think that says a lot.

    • John_CC

       Key phrase: “… willing to endure a REBUILD like the Cubs are currently undergoing.”

      Boston is not in a re-build.  They are a perennial contender for the AL East. Of course the fan base is pissed off right now.

      Were Cubs fans patient with their expectations in 2009 following back to back playoff appearances?  Were home team players getting booed? 

      Who among you expected the 2012 Cubs to be better than a 75 win team?  Raise you hand.  Exactly.  So what were bitching about again?

      • cubtex

        Of course not with the team Theo put together this offseason. Raise your hand….Who thinks Theo put a good team together this offseason???? Exactly so stick to the facts!

        • John_CC

           Oo La la…testy today.

          Here are a couple facts; the 2011 Chicago Cubs were 71-91. The year before that they were 75-87. 

          An opinion based on those facts: the Cubs were a bad baseball team; and a theory based on the trend: the already bad Cubs team was in decline and getting worse.

          I’m just curious who could have taken that pathetic ass 71-91 team from 2011 and turned it into a contending team. Because I don’t give a rat’s ass if the team 62-100 or 72-90 or even 81-81 for that matter! 

          You guys are insane. I hope you make through the season with having a heart attack.

          • cubtex

            Cubs were 67-95 the year Hendry became GM and they won 88 games his first year as GM. Theo has got you blindfolded to think it has to be done this way.lol

      • cubs1967

        did we expect a 40 win team…….which is their current pace and did we expect a worse team than last year’s??………..NO; theo is suppose to be smarter than JH.
        we traded 2 assets; theo’s key term-assest in marshall and cashner; the only one we got back was rizzo…….
        is that what we expected?

        • cc002600

           We have to give him time…..you could not expect Theo to come in and win with this team this year. I have no problem with that.  But this coming winter, they had better start spending some of that freed up money….cause there’s plenty of it now. 

          It’s time to start acting like one of the big boys again…and not KC or PITT

          • Tony_Hall

            That is all true, to a point.  I don’t want them to spend money just because they have room in the budget.  But if a true difference maker is out there, that makes sense for this team, then I am very confident they will spend what is needed to bring that player to the Cubs. 

            I see them needing to add a SP or two and a RF. Unfortunately, FA may not be where to find these players, it may take a trade from a team that can’t afford to pay their players.

          • cc002600

             I don’t disagree.
            But there is nothing wrong with rolling the dice a little now.

            They no longer have a bloated payroll

            To me, there is no reason that they should not be going after guys like E. Jackson, BJ Upton, A. Sanchez, Greinke, Hamels, etc.  this winter

            To be honest, I’m very happy they are rebuilding, but I’m already tired of people saying don’t spend money until you are “ready to win”…..sorry, but that’s bull….

            and again, I’m not all advocating taking payroll back up to 140M this winter with just garbage signings…

             

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree.  They will have the flexibility to make any deal they feel makes the team better, without any worry about having money in the budget.  

            Let’s just hope they spend it wisely.

          • Dorasaga

             cc got a point. There’s ALWAYS a difference-maker. It’s a matter of how Thoyer shall structure this team to compete better. Watch and learn for me, I guess?

  • Zonk

    Good report Tom.  What is the 411 on Rhoderick and Batista?  They are 23-year old pitchers who are off to good starts, and previously have not show up on anyone’s prospect lists. 

    • Zonk

      The minor league stats don’t say a ton on either.

      Rhoderick looks like he has missed bats in the minors, but struggled with control last year at AA. 

      Batista doesn’t have overwhelming numbers, but has steadily advanced

      Not sure if it’s the right method, but I really look at Ks in the minors, because anyone with ML stuff should be able to miss bats in the minors.  Because if minor league hitters can square-up on your stuff, major -league hitters SURE can.

    • Aaron

       I know you asked Tom, but I did a post on these two during Spring Training. Both are righties. Both do NOT have overpowering stuff (both top out at about 94 mph), but both have the proven ability to close games out.

      Somehow, these guys keep getting outs. If you read the scouting reports, both have good control, slightly above average breaking pitchings and good offspeed stuff too. My guess is both end up in Chicago at some point this year.

      • Zonk

        There will certainly be opportunities for any relief pitcher who does well to move up.  There is going to be turnover at the ML level, and not just from injuries

    • Tom U

      Zonk, what Aaron said is correct. Neither Batista nor Rhoderick are overpowering. However, they do have something most young pitchers don’t have: location, location, location.

      Like it is said by many, any major-leaguer can hit a fastball and the good ones can hit the breaking balls too, if they are in predictable counts and where the hitter can do something with the pitch.

      However, if a pitcher is able to locate their pitches where batters can’t handle them, it makes less than overpowering stuff look better.

      National scouts are preoccupied with speed and movement, because that is something tangible. This is why scouts tend to be high on pitchers like Rafael Dolis and Alberto Cabrera. Their “stuff” doesn’t take up a lot of their time to recognize. A pitcher with location takes time to identify. 

      In pitching, the name of the game should be getting batters out, not blowing them away. If you can do both, all the better. Just like with power hitter, pitchers with “stuff” tend to get more chances.

    • Dorasaga

       What’s a 411, btw?

      • Tom U

        Information

  • frustrated

    anyone know what is going on with Junior Lake?  It says he is inactive not like others that are in extended in spring training. 

    • Chadaudio

      He has a hurt back… not sure why he just isn’t listed as injured, but I’m also not sure of the extent of the injury.

      • Tom U

        Junior Lake is listed as inactive because he wasn’t assigned to a team before his injury. Because he hasn’t been assigned, he can’t be listed on any team”s DL. Its a technicality.

  • paulcatanese

    I feel a little stupid here, but do the Cubs have any switch hitters in the system? The last one I remember was Koyie Hill ( and he wasn’t a good one) , just wondering.

    • Tony_Hall

      A thru AAA levels – not many

      AAA
      AmezagaTolbert

      High A
      Alcantara

      Low A
      Devoss
      M Hernandez
      Zapata

      • paulcatanese

        Thanks Tony, I should have known. Just was wondering as some MLB teams have several on the roster.

        • Aaron

          Unfortunately, only DeVoss and Hernandez (if he can re-discover his swing) appear to have any chance of making a contribution at the MLB level.

          Alcantara was really coming on strong at the end of last season, and even the beginning of this year, but now he’s forgotten how to hit. And while Zapata has 2 bombs, he’s not really known for his power…or for his speed, and light-hitting, diminutive Outfielders typically don’t get very far. 

          My understanding was that Rock Shoulders came out as a switch-hitter, but the Cubs must have put an end to that, because his baseballreference lists him as lefty only.

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks Aaron, its too bad that they cannot find another Mantle somewhere.

          • Aaron

            If you look at all of the greatest switch hitters, you’ll see that they’re few and far between.

            Mantle and Murray get the most publicity, while Chipper Jones and Berkman are close. Teixeira, prior to signing with the Yankees looked well on his way to those comparisons, but has faded somewhat.

            It takes a VERY special person to be able to have consistency with a swing from both sides of the plate. A lot of times, guys will abandon it, because they’ll struggle from one side of the plate, and can’t break out of a slump, so teams often times will bring in a reliever to switch to the side they’re struggling with, and they never seem to break out of their slump.

            It’s MUCH more difficult for a power hitter to break out of a slump, versus a lighter hitting type like Furcal, etc.

          • cubtex

            Ted Simmons wasn’t too shabby of one either.

        • Zonk

          Most players abandon it in the minors, because they end-up having a huge split, so what’s the point.

          There are a handful of Major Leaguers that should give it up too.

          Theriot springs to mind; he was a switch-hitter coming up through the Cubs system

          • Aaron

            Theriot wasn’t a switch-hitter “throughout” the system. When the Cubs drafted him, they saw a slap, punch-and-judy type of hitter, so they highly suggested he switch-hit. It was the first time he’d ever hit lefty, I guess, and he eventually gave it up, and soared through the system after that.

            You’re right that most players abandon it, but a lot of them are not “natural” switch hitters…meaning, they only started doing it once they hit pro with the advice of their player development staff.

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks Zonk, maybe Theriot should have contnued as a switch hitter.
            That held true for myself also. I was a switch hitter, true right handed but gave up hitting from the right side, and stayed lefty, had more power and could see the ball better.

      • cubtex

        By the way…Hak Ju Lee is now hitting .164 Buy your opening day Tampa tickets now for 2013 to see him at SS for them :)

        • Guest

          JH traded him……..he’s a sure fire hall of famer……facts be damned on this site.
          i said all along garza got traded for 1 and only 1 possible starter and this is lee……..funny how AA is the great equalizer……..
          same goes for all the 2eyes lovers; our little 2b from the reds…….funny how high A evens out those .350 avg in low A in less than 350 AB.

          • cubtex

            He actually is hitting .167 so I don’t want to shortchange him :) He also has 5 Errors for a .933 fielding % A ball is a far cry from AA. I thought he would struggle with his bat. Others were saying he would be batting leadoff for the Cubs in 2013 and winning a gold glove. Talk about a little premature!

          • John_CC

             You two should get chat-room. Spare the rest of us.

          • cubtex

            lol. Reality hurts!

          • Zonk

            He’s only 21; he’s young for his level.  He has time. 

            Trading top-flight starting pitching, though RARELY brings back a fair return in the end.  There are many examples.  (CC Sabathia to Brewers, Santana to Mets to name just a couple)

          • Zonk

            PS:  And I will agree to have to toss any numbers in Single-A.  It’s a hitters league; you have to see how someone does at A+ before getting too excited, and AA is even better.

            Torreyes is also young for his level, and has time.  It’s early.

        • Tony_Hall

          I am sure glad you aren’t in charge of deciding players fate.  You make it sound like 2 weeks of the year, is setting in stone what his and others, seasons will end up.

          And I believe I always send 2014.

          2010 – Low A
          2011 – High A
          2012 – AA
          2013 – AAA
          2014 – Majors

          It was always thought that he would go one step at a time, versus Castro who would fly through.

          • cubtex

            You said 2013 but it doesn’t matter. He can’t hit. He is another overhyped prospect that you bought into and thank god Hendry traded him and Archer when he did. We got one of the top young starters for a bunch of nothing.

          • Tony_Hall

            So 2 weeks and they may as well cut him, Cubtex has spoken.

          • cubtex

            He has 200 AB’s in AA and is under .190. He also hasn’t fielded very well. He is a long way away where you had him penciled him to be. You had him as a starting SS hitting leadoff and making all star games. I am much closer to my assesment than yours. Looking at how the players the Cubs have traded to aquire Garza…you are a fool if you don’t make that deal. It was a steal. 

          • Tony_Hall

            You have never understood, the reasoning.  

            It was a move made to go for it once again. 

            Going into last year, I was ready for a rebuild, in which you don’t trade prospects for a vet, who may be gone before the team is competitive again.

            The winner or loser will be determined, depending on IF Garza signs an extension, is traded and for what, and what the players that went to the Rays end up contributing. 

            It is still way too early to pick the winner.  Extending Garza goes a long ways towards making it good for the Cubs, but if he plays out the next 2 seasons, and walks….

  • Ryan

    Does anyone have any updates on Robert Whitenack?  I know he had Tommy John after a very nice start in the minors last June.  Just wondered if anyone had any updates on his recovery?

    • Aaron

      Yes….he’s at EXST, and doing VERY well, according to AzPhil @ TCR,I believe he hasn’t given up any runs either.

      He will likely be assigned to Daytona for a couple “tune-up” starts in a couple weeks, then he’ll move up to AA if he does well in those starts. 

      • gary3411

         Good to hear

      • Ryan

        Great, thanks Aaron!

  • CubsTalk

    Anyone know what is happening with Junior Lake?

    • Will

      I was beginning to wonder if and when we will get to see him again.

    • Tom U

      CubsTalk, it was mentioned a little earlier, but I’ll give you everything I know.

      Junior Lake is currently inactive due to a back injury. It has been reported not to be serious, and he has been assigned to rehab at Fitch Park in Arizona. He will most likely be assigned to extended spring training, similar to the way Pierre LePage has, in order to see some live pitching before being assigned. 

  • Tom U

    Thank you all for your comments. You all certainly seemed to have spirited conversations today!

    Cubtex, we’ll talk about the job Jim Hendry did, or more accurately, didn’t do, in 2001 another time.

    • cubtex

      :) Rip got me started with his first post of the day. Thanks for your reports as always! On another note….Has Nick Struck added another pitch? He has always had low strikeout numbers in the past and he seems to be missing more bats this year. Any answers?

      • Tom U

        The thing I noticed about Nick Struck this is, well, I don’t know exactly how to put this without sounding funny, but he is noticeably “thicker” this year. 

        He was considered to be slight at 5-foot-11, 175-180 pounds. He’s listed at 185 this year, but looks almost barrel-like from the shoulders to the knees. Maybe its helped his velocity?

        • cubtex

          Alex Fernandez like :)

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Great work Tom. Your minor league reporting is awesome.

      • Tom U

        Thank you Jim!

  • Josh

    Top Performers in System (minimum 50 PA)

     

    Catcher

    Wellington Castillo (25) AAA: 318/426/545 — 4 2B, 2 HR

    Rafael Lopez (24) Low-A: 283/346/370 — 2 2B, 1 3B

     

    INFIELDER

    Anthony Rizzo (22) AAA: 380/429/718 — 3 2B, 7 HR, 1 SB

    Adrian Cardenas (24) AAA: 344/380/578 — 6 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 1
    SB

    Luis Valbuena (26) AAA: 320/410/500 — 3 2B, 2 HR

    Greg Rohan (26) High-A: 303/390/530 — 3 2B, 4 HR

    Rubi Silva (23) High-A: 346/404/481 — 5 2B, 1 3B

    Logan Watkins (22) AA: 296/370/408 — 4SB, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR,
    4 SB

    Zeke DeVoss (21) Low-A: 254/365/381 — 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 1
    SB

     

    OUTFIELDER

    Brett Jackson (23) AAA: 253/337/467 — 6 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 3
    SB

    Rebel Ridling (25) AA: 306/382/429 – 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 SB

     

    STARTERS (ERA/WHIP K/BB) – minimum 3 starts

    Michael Jensen (21) Low-A: 1.50/0.708 18/5

    PJ Francescon (23) Low-A: 2.57/0.762 18/4

    Nicholas Struck (22) AA: 2.45/1.227 21/10

    Dallas Beeler (23) AA: 1.08/1.200 9/2

    Trey McNutt (22) AA: 0.77/1.286 11/7

    Austin Kirk (22) High-A: 1.54/0.900 9/5

    Brooks Raley (24) AA: 2.79/0.931 8/2

    Chris Rusin (25) AAA: 3.38/1.125 9/4

     

    RELIEVERS (ERA/WHIP K/BB) – minimum 5 games/6 innings

    Yao-Lin Wang (21) Low-A: 0.00/0.250 6/1

    Blake Parker (27) AAA: 1.23/0.682 4/2 — 3 SV

    Esmalin Cardidad (28) AAA: 3.60/0.800 9/5

    Alberto Cabrera (23) AA: 1.74/0.871 12/4 — 1 SV

    Frank Batista (23) AA/AAA: 0.00/0.923 11/2 — 5 SV

    Tony Zych (21) High-A: 3.00/1.000 6/1 — 1 SV

    Kevin Rhoderick (23) AA: 2.00/1.000 12/3 — 2 SV

    Scott Weismann (22) Low-A: 3.52/1.043 7/0

    Austin Reed (20) Low-A: 3.86/1.143 8/3

    Joseph Zeller (24) High-A/AA: 1.64/1.182 12/6

    Jeffrey Lorick (24) Low-A: 0.00/0.750 11/4 — 2 SV

    Andrew McKirahan (22) 0.00/0.900 7/1 — 1 SV

    Casey Harman (23) High-A/AA: 0.77/0.943 8/3

    Kyler Burke (24) Low-A: 1.59/0.971 9/1