Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 05/10/12

The beginning of this week experienced a bounce back for the Cubs’ system, as their combined 7-5 record was the first winning stretch of the year. Casey Coleman took things into his own hands at Iowa, while Tennessee finally welcomed back shortstop Junior Lake. Daytona appears to be on a roll, as great pitching performances by Austin Kirk and Eric Jokisch were complimented by Matt Szczur and Arismendy Alcantara. The hot-hitting Taiwan Easterling may have to take a back seat to Paul Hoilman in Peoria, as he extended his hitting streak to 22 games Wednesday night.

For the full stories, come inside 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 (13-19)
After being humbled the previous day, the Chiefs were not able to pick up the pieces as they lost 9-2 to Quad Cities on Sunday. Peoria’s offense managed nine hits, but they were in a hole before they could get their bats started. Michael Jensen had been among the leagues best at the beginning of the season, but has slipped in his last two starts. Jensen allowed five runs (four earned) while striking out four in 4.1 innings. Austin Reed also became a victim of the defense, as only one at the three runs he gave up was earned. Reed struck out two in 1.2 innings. Having a rough season, Bryce Shafer had a better outing. Shafer let in only one earned run in two innings with a pair of strikeouts. While being a little shaky in the field recently, Wes Darvill remains steady at the plate in going 2-for-5. Rafael Lopez joined Darvill as he went 2-for-5, while Brad Zapenas was 1-for-1 with a double and three walks.

It appears that Peoria has two budding All-Stars, as PJ Francescon and Paul Hoilman led the Chiefs to a 7-5 victory over Quad Cities on Monday. Francescon raised his record to 3-1, while lowering his ERA to 2.48 as he allowed four runs (two earned) and struck out four in six innings. Fresh up from Extended Spring Training, Sheldon McDonald tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two batters. Jeffrey Lorick, who looks like he has assumed the closer’s role, nailed down the victory by striking out a batter. Lorick shut down the River Bandits in the ninth.

Paul Hoilman extended his hitting streak to twenty games Monday. Hoilman was 3-for-4 with five RBI … and it was Hoilman’s seventh inning grand slam that put the Chiefs ahead for good. Ryan Cuneo was 2-for-3 with a double, while the hard charging Taiwan Easterling went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Peoria managed a series split on Tuesday, as the offense continued to improve in a 7-2 win over Quad Cities. The Chiefs had eleven hits, highlighted by Paul Hoilman (1-for-6, RBI) pushing his hitting streak to twenty-one games. Taiwan Easterling continues to come on strong, as he was 2-for-6 with three RBI. Brad Zapenas was 2-for-4, while Wes Darvill went 2-for-5, including a triple.

It was the second quality start in a row for Jose Rosario, who scattered ten hits over five innings. Rosario allowed two earned runs while striking out five batters. Luis Liria followed up by striking out two and shutting down the River Bandits for two innings. Seeing his first action of the year for the Chiefs, Charles Thomas also had two scoreless innings as he struck out three batters.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (12-20)
There have been signs for the past few days, but it appears that Daytona is finally beginning to put things together as they came from behind to defeat Jupiter 5-4 on Sunday. It all started with Austin Kirk, who may be the most consistent pitcher in the system at this time. Kirk went seven innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out three batters. He was followed by one of the most inconsistent pitchers, Larry Suarez, who allowed the Hammerheads to take the lead by giving up an earned run in 0.2 innings. Tony Zych was asked to bail Suarez out, but he allowed Jupiter to tie the score in the ninth. Zych ended up with the win as the D-Cubs’ offense came to the rescue.

The hitting star was Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5, two triples, two RBI, stolen base), who’s triple drove in the winning run in the ninth. Matt Szczur was 1-for-4, and stole his league leading 16th base. Nelson Perez (1-for-4) and Elieser Bonne (0-2, walk, stolen base) each had an RBI, as did Greg Rohan (1-for-4, double) who leads the league with 30.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Daytona took their first series of the season, as Monday’s 6-2 decision over Jupiter gave them a modest three-game win streak. Eric Jokisch had his best outing of the season, striking 11 batters in seven shutout innings. Ty’Relle Harris kept the trend going for an inning. However, Eduardo Figueroa ended up surrendering two earned runs while eventually striking out the side in the ninth.

The offense was finally able to reward good pitching with timely hitting, as Matt Szczur led the way with a 3-for-4 effort that included a double and a RBI. Nelson Perez also drove in a run, as he was 2-for-2 with a triple. Even Chad Noble got into the act, as he plated two runs (1-for-3).

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The D-Cubs continued their roll on Tuesday, as Charlotte was on the wrong end of a 12-4 victory. Two beleaguered pitchers received the benefits of the run support, as starter Matt Loosen, in his longest outing of the season, allowed an earned run and struck out four in five innings to pick up his first win. Hayden Simpson earned a save the hard way, as he gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out a batter in four innings of work.

All the runs for Daytona were driven in by four players, with Rubi Silva (2-for-6) providing the big hit in the second inning, a three-run homer. Arismendy Alcantara had two good games in consecutive days. Alcantara was 1-for-4 with three RBI. Another hitter plating three runs was Chad Noble, who was 1-for-4 with a double. Richard Jones drove in two as he was 2-for-4. Also having multi-hit games were Nelson Perez (2-for-4) and John Andreoli (2-for-3).

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (14-19)
Sunday saw the return of shortstop Junior Lake, but it wasn’t enough for Tennessee as they lost to Birmingham 4-2. Lake led off the game with a double, and added a triple. Lake was 2-for-4 for the afternoon. Elliot Soto moved over to second base and was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Starter Brooks Raley pitched well enough to win. Raley allowed two runs in six innings with a strikeout. Casey Weathers had been pitching well lately, but Sunday wasn’t one of those times. Weathers gave up two earned runs with a strikeout in an inning of work. Brian Schlitter threw a scoreless eighth inning.

Tennessee helped complete a system-wide sweep on Monday, as the Smokies grinded out a 4-2 victory over Birmingham. Nothing fancy on offense, as Tennessee maximized six hits with the biggest coming off the bat of Rebel Ridling (1-for-4) in the eighth inning. Ridling hit a solo homer. Michael Brenly (1-for-4) doubled in a run in the fourth that broke a 1-1 tie. James Adduci (0-for-3) drove in Michael Burgess (1-for-3) with a sacrifice fly that put the Smokies ahead for good.

Starter Nick Struck upped his record to 4-2 by striking out three while allowing two earned runs in six innings. Marcus Hatley kept the Barons off the board by tossing two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Nailing down the win, Kevin Rhoderick set down the side in order to pick up his fourth save.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

The Smokies reverted back to early season form on Tuesday, as the lack of timely hitting and pitching combined to create a 6-3 loss to Birmingham. Trey McNutt continues to labor in his starts. McNutt threw 58 pitches in three innings with only one strikeout and four runs (three earned). Ryan Searle dealt with control issues. Searle walked three and gave up an earned run, with two strikeouts in two innings. Searle was followed by Jeffry Antigua, who held the Barons in check for two innings. However, Casey Weathers allowed the game to get out of reach. Weathers gave up one more earned run in the eighth inning. Luis Flores demonstrated that he was one of the missing links of the offense, as he was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Two more runs came home on a homer by Justin Bour (1-for-5), his fifth longball of the season in the fourth inning. James Adduci had a fine night (2-for-4) that included a double and an outfield assist. Jae-Hoon Ha was 2-for-5 with a double.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (13-17)
Sunday’s loss 12-4 loss to New Orleans was a failure in both hitting and pitching for Iowa. Brett Jackson (2-for-3, home run, RBI) led off the game with a home run, the offensive highlight, and Luis Valbuena and Alfredo Amezaga each went 2-for-4. Pitching totally abandoned the I-Cubs, as Jay Jackson continued his rough season with five earned runs (two on home runs) in four innings. Veteran Nate Robertson appears to be nearing the end of the line. Robertson gave up his 13th earned run of the season (in 11.2 innings) in his one inning of work. Youngsters Jeff Beliveau and Frank Batista were each taken to the woodshed, and they each let in three earned runs in an inning. The only effective pitcher was recently promoted infielder Jonathan Mota. Mota struck out a batter in one scoreless inning.

It was the Casey Coleman Show on Monday, as the I-Cubs won their second 1-0 game over New Orleans in four days. Coleman was the whole team, as he struck out nine in seven scoreless innings and was 1-for-2 with a double at the plate, which broke up a New Orleans no-hitter. The only run came in the bottom of the eighth after Brett Jackson led off with a walk. Josh Vitters singled Jackson to third and he would score on a balk. Scott Maine relieved Coleman, and held the Zephyrs at bay for two innings while striking out a batter.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

Iowa didn’t let Fresno fans get comfortable in their seats on Tuesday, as a three run first inning gave way to a 13-2 triumph. Lightning struck as Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5, two home runs, six RBI) belted his eighth homer of the season, a three-run shot. Rizzo would strike again similarly in the sixth inning. Not to be outdone, Josh Vitters had a solo shot, as he was 3-for-5, with a double along with four RBI. Alfredo Amezaga and Luis Valbuena were each 3-for-5, as Amezaga also had an RBI. Chipping in were Matt Tolbert at 2-for-5, and Brett Jackson as he was 1-for-5 with a triple, two walks, and a stolen base.

At the top of his form was Chris Rusin, who struggled in his previous outing but bounced back to strike out five in six innings while giving up and earned run. Esmailin Caridad, Manny Corpas, and Blake Parker each contributed an inning, with Corpas allowing the only other earned run.

Click Here for Complete Box Score

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs optioned LHP Travis Wood to Iowa; recalled IF Adrian Cardenas. The Iowa Cubs released RHP Dan Berlind. The Peoria Chiefs placed LHP Andrew McKirahan on the 7-day disabled list with a strained left elbow; RHP Charles Thomas was assigned to Peoria from Extended Spring Training.

CCO’s Prospect Watch
Note: Outfielder Reggie Golden is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Replacing Golden on the list is the next highest player available in the fan vote: pitcher Tony Zych.

  • Javier Baez (IF) – Extended Spring Training
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .252, six doubles, triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, six stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – .250, double, triple, stolen base (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – Extended Spring Training
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .254, nine doubles, two triples, seven RBI, 16 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .193, three doubles, two triples, five RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Josh Vitters (3B) – .263, four doubles, two home runs, 14 RBI (Iowa Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – Extended Spring Training
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 1-1, 3.94 ERA, 16.0 innings, 12 strikeouts, three walks, 1.25 WHIP, three saves (Daytona Cubs)

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Quote of the Day

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  • Carmelo

    Hoyer in Fresno watching Iowa—-

    • Cory

      Checking in on his boy Rizzo…

      • Bryan

        Hopefully with a plane ticket in hand for Rizzo.

        • daverj

          I hope the plane ticket ticket isn’t for any date in May.  I’d like to see them wait a bit more on Rizzo.

          • Zonk

            If Cubs can wait another 5-6 weeks, it sets Rizzo’s FA clock back a year.

            I think they will, because brining up Rizzo will force a decision on Soriano, and I’m not sure the Cubs are ready to make that decision yet.  Sure, seems easy for us, but you have to be REALLY sure he’s cooked before you cut a player you already own for 2+ years.

            I said it before and I’ll say it again:  The most important decision facing the francise right now is what to do with Alfonso Soriano.

          • Hoosierboy3423

            There really appears to be no other decision then to cut him at some point. When that point is, is the question. What I want to know is how long he has to be unclaimed for the Cubs to end up on the hook for his salary. I mean if we pay him for the next 2 + years when is it that if another team does sign him for DH duty that  we are off the hook if at all.

  • John_CC

    Thanks Tom.

    With the draft less than 4 weeks away, I am curious if you or Neil is working on a piece.  And when we might look forward to reading it.  I am more interested in the draft this year than ever before – for obvious reasons.  

    • Tom U

      Thanks John. I can’t speak for Neil, but I leave the draft to others who know more. Its hard enough to keep track of all the players in the system, let alone college and high school players.

      I can report that some of the deficits in the system include third base, catching, power hitting, and power pitching-especially left handed.

      • Zonk

        Let’s set aside Rizzo and Jackson, who are well-developed, almost ready prospects.  After them, what are we rich in, exactly?

        Seems like we have alot of toolsy middle infielders (Lake, Baez, Candelario, Torreyes), and OF’ers with speed, but not power (Szczur, Ha, others).  We have one power arm (McNutt), and a bunch of low-level interesting guys that might be something, and might not.

        We’re pretty thin in minor league talent, alot of work to do down on the farm…..

      • Dorasaga

        Does that mean there are good enough contact hitters and speedsters in the system? I’m trying to stay positive here :-)

        • Tom U

          Yes, centerfield and second base seem to be particularly well stocked in that area.

    • cubtex

      Baseball America should be having their mock draft coming out shortly. Many people have the Cubs taking shortstop Carlos Correa.

      • John_CC

         I did some quick searches yesterday and couldn’t find much info.  BA has their of Top 100 out but you have to have a subscription to read the scouting reports. I found a different list that had the Cubs taking a Freshman RHP from San Fransisco, I believe it was.

        Zonk: I think you’re right, the Cubs have seemed to really like the athletic middle IF players for the past few years.  Very little power and very little pitching. 

        I yearn for the day the Cubs get a Stanton or Freeman or Heyward type hitter.

        • cubtex

          Correa is a 6’4 inch shortstop with excellent tools and a canon for an arm. He is compared to Franciso Lindor who was drafted ahead of Javier Baez last year. He is projected to be a shortstop whereas Baez might not be. They need pitching but drafting #6 they should take the best available player and look for pitching in the later rounds.

        • cubtex

          His name is Kyle Zimmer from San Fran….here is his scouting report.

          28. Kyle Zimmer, rhp, San FranciscoAfter throwing just five innings as a freshman in 2011, Zimmer blossomed into San Francisco’s ace down the stretch in 2011, capped by a four-hit, 11-strikeout shutout against UCLA to beat Gerrit Cole in regionals. He followed up his spring with a solid Cape season, posting a 3.38 ERA and a 37-14 K-BB mark in 48 innings. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Zimmer is a power pitcher with a fastball that sits comfortably at 92-94 and touches 95. His curveball can be a hammer in the low 80s with sharp tilt, but sometimes he leaves it up in the zone when he should bury it. Still, it projects as a plus pitch when he learns to stay on top of it more consistently. He made progress with his changeup this summer, but it still has a ways to go. “He had plenty of arm and had a hard curveball—a really good curveball,” a second NL scouting director said. “He had a good sense what he was going, and was aggressive. The arm and delivery work—it’s not an effort deal—and it looks like he’ll be a starter. It was a pretty impressive package.” —2011 Cape Cod Top 30

          • John_CC

             Thanks for the info. Is he the top ranked SP in the draft? How old is he?

  • Tom U

    Today’s minor league starters:

    Peoria – Gerardo Concepcion (0-3, 18.90)
    Daytona – Frank Del Valle (2-0, 3.71)
    Tennessee – Dae-Eun Rhee (2-1, 5.57)
    Iowa – Randy Wells (1-1, 8.38)

    Today’s spotlight game: Daytona v. Charlotte
    The D-Cubs stumbled last night, but have been on a roll recently. The hitting of Matt Szczur, Arismendy Alcantara, Rubi Silva, John Andreoli, and Elieser Bonne has improved over the past ten games. Frank Del Valle is their most reliable starter behind Austin Kirk.

    Some info from the past few days:
    Iowa (13-19) has scored 5 or more runs in 16 of their games. However, their record is only 9-7 in those games.

    Since being named pitcher of the month, Frank Batista has been hammered for 5 earned runs in his last three appearances, 2.2 innings

    Tennessee averaged just under 3 runs per game prior to the arrival of Matt Cerda, Luis Flores, and Junior Lake. Since then, they’ve averaged over 5 runs.

    Paul Hoilman not only has a 22 game hitting streak, he has batted .366 with 2 HR and 13 RBI over his last 10 games.

    • cubtex

      Would be nice to see if Concepcion can get past the 1st inning. Many thought he would be starting in AAA and being on the fast track to the majors. He should have been breezing through A ball but that has not been the case. Hopefully he shows something this start.

      • Christian2334

        And we may have that hitter in Rizzo for the near future. But also Baez, Vogelbach, Hoilman, and Calendario.

      • Tony_Hall

        Who thought he would be starting in AAA and on the fast track to the majors?

        I believe it was well known that he was at least 3 years away.

        And he did have a better start.

        4 IP 
        2 H
        2 R
        1 ER
        5 BB
        1 K

  • Aaron

    The collective records of the Cubs’ entire organization is:
    65-93….WOW

    Not a single team in the organization is over .500, including Extended Spring Training (which I didn’t include in the overall record, but was worth mentioning).

    I’m not gonna lie…that’s a bit worrisome to me. The starting pitching has been better than I thought, with strong performances out of Jensen, Kirk, Francescon, Del Valle, Jokisch, Struck, Raley, Beeler, McNutt (except for the fact he only lasts 3-4 IP per start), Rusin, and Coleman….all of whom have ERA’s under 4, with some under 3.

    But the offense throughout the system has been dreadful. How dreadful? 

    Here are the ONLY .300+avg REGULARS (ie.-not guys with only 5-10 games) in the system:
    Hoilman-.310/.370/.531, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 3 hr, 25 RBI
    N Perez-.320/.435/.590, 4 doubles, 4 triples, 5 hr, 21 RBI (*but he is 25, and in his 3rd go-around in high-A)
    Andreoli-.306/.443/.388, 5 doubles, 1 triples, 0 hr, 4 RBI
    Silva-.304/.350/.464, 6 doubles, 3 triples, 2 hr, 18 RBI
    Amezega-.328/.338/.388, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 0 hr, 4 RBI
    Valbuena-.330/.414/.479, 5 doubles, 0 triples, 3 hr, 12 RBI
    Rizzo-.356/.420/.661, 6 doubles, 0 triples, 10 hr, 33 RBI
    *I am not including Campana, Cardenas, and Castillo, all of whom have been promoted to the big club

    There are only 5 that are considered prospects with Perez (reasons I listed) and Amezega (age) being removed, and you could technically remove Valbuena too (though not for age, but for # of years in the minors thus far)

    OF those players, only two have power potential in the big leagues (Rizzo and Hoilman)…..It’s been a VERY disappointing season to say the least, with the following guys that were expected to have big years, either are injured, or have done next to nothing:
    B. Jackson
    Bour
    Ha
    Vitters
    Lake (injured early)
    Cerda
    Ridling
    Szczur
    Alcantara
    Jones
    Torreyes
    Chen
    DeVoss
    Easterling
    Golden (injured)
    M. Hernandez

    Most of those guys are hitting sub-.250 with low OBP’s. If I had to rank them, based on age for their respective leagues on the disappointing scale, my top 5 disappointments would be:
    1) B. Jackson
    2) Jones
    3) Bour
    4) Easterling/Szczur-I put them both here because they’re both the same age (23, though Easterling is a level lower), and both were expected to have good power, and supply speed being former football players. Only Szczur has supplied that with 16 SB’s vs 6 SB for Easterling. Their avg/OBP/SLG numbers are pretty bad
    5) Ridling

    At least Ha, Vitters, Lake, Cerda, Alcantara, Torreyes, Chen, Golden, and Hernandez are young for their respective leagues, so they have one more year to get it together, otherwise they run the risk of being passed with last year’s crop of draftees/int’l free agents, and this year’s draft class

    If you look at EXST numbers…only a few stand out, which I’ve listed below:
    http://www.thecubreporter.com/2012/04/29/cubs-2012-extended-spring-training-stats-update-429 
    Baez
    Dunston
    Candelario
    Batista
    Amaya
    Martin
    Contreras (though he’s older, being switched to catcher)
    *selecting guys with 20 or more PA’s

    That’s not a very good list in my opinion, and I hope the stats over the past few weeks (note, the date on that is the 29th) have improved, otherwise we’re in for a LOT of trouble

    Therefore, in International Free agency and the draft, I expect the Cubs to go with solid college pitchers early in the draft, high velocity types in International FA that are starting caliber, and then they’ll go hard after power hitting guys and high OBP guys. 

    I don’t expect we’ll see many Danny Lockhart type of light-hitting guys taken in the draft or signed via International FA, though I do believe we might see a few Pedroia-esque sprinkled in here and there.

    • Zonk

      Can’t argue, Rizzo and B-Jax aside, we don’t have much.  It’s really barren.  It’s going to take awhile to get a pipeline of talent going to the Majors.

      We just beat the Braves 2 out of 3, but they have waves of talent coming to the majors in the near term that we can’t touch.  Teams like that are going to continue to torture us until we can rebuild the system.

      Hendry’s main sin was lack of farm system productivity.  Ironically, I think it improved under Hendry, just not enough.  The pre-Hendry farm system from ’90 to ’03 was god-awful

    • John_CC

       Aaron: what are your thoughts on the upcoming draft?  Favorites? Players the Cubs are likely targeting at #6, and then the two supplemental picks (38 and 42?)?

      • Aaron

        Other than Kyle Zimmer, I haven’t really looked into it much, because tournament play is upcoming, and a lot of prospects really separate themselves from the pack at that point.

        Here would be a good list to start from though:
        Zimmer-RHP-college
        Zunino-C-college
        Buxton-OF-prep
        Almora-OF-prep
        Correa-SS-prep
        Appel-RHP-college
        Gausman-RHP-college
        Dahl-OF-prep
        Shaffer-3B-college
        C. Hawkins-OF-prep
        Roache-OF-college (might be too high to pick, but you all better get to know this name…HUGE potential with his plate discipline, though broken wrist will likely drop him to supplemental, in which case Cubs should jump all over him)
        http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=victor-roache 
        Gallo-3B/RHP-prep (could be good gamble given power and power arm)
        McCullers Jr.-SS/RHP-prep
        Giolito-RHP (hit 100 mph but out with possible TJ looming)-prep
        Fried-LHP-prep

        Those names should get your creative thinking going….Again, given the tournament season approaching, and injuries that could always happen, there are some names that will drop. 

        What is VERY important to note about this draft that is different from all others is the slotting system and penalties associated that will have a profound impact on the way teams draft. Look for pretty much all of the high ceiling prep guys to go in the 1st round, or supplemental 1st round at the latest. The reason for this is they can no longer sign the prep guys in later rounds for overslot money, so look for a lot of top notch prep guys to go early, then a run of college guys thereafter, with the draft culminating in a bunch of seniors being selected in later rounds, because they have no leverage, and can be signed for less.

        It’s almost like the baseball gods have it out for the Cubs. Just when they FINALLY have a good player development staff, revamped scouting department, and better overall management, these rules are instituted, and will set the Cubs back even further, because they cannot rebuild as quickly.

        It is IMPERATIVE that the Cubs not only sign a guy like Soler before JUly, but also some high ceiling international free agent power arms. That’s really the only way they’re going to get ahead.

        This is one of the more asinine rules I’ve ever seen in baseball, and do NOT discount the fact that it was instituted during precisely the same year in which the Cubs finally caught up to the rest of the league with advanced scouting, sabermetrics, player development, etc. Selig has it out for the Cubs for some reason, and there was ample proof of that when the Cubs were trying to build a new Spring Training complex and Selig didn’t want them moving to Florida, but also didn’t want to help facilitate the financing as he did with other teams down there.

        Selig=Reinsdorf…they both hate the Cubs, and they both operate in this sort of croonie-capitalism state where they have politicians wrapped around their thumbs to get what they want. Meanwhile, the Cubs try to get things done honestly, and they can’t get anything done, and the Ricketts are being blasted by politicians and Selig for having billions and not willing to invest their own money. Anyone ever read about all the White Sox received from the city of Chicago with new Comiskey and the surrounding area, and capital improvements?.Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

        • Henry

          Aaron, the Selig Reinsdorf connection is simple. Bud is trying to help his friend Jerry. Jerry’s team struggle’s to get attention in Chicago.  Bud does whatever he can to help even the playing field.  The reason Ricketts was picked to buy the Cubs was because neither Jerry or Bud throught he could succeed.  Signing Theo and company completely caught Jerry and Bud by surprise!  It messed up their plans!

    • Christian2334

      To add to your opinion of the draft and international FAs, as soon as Jorge Soler becomes available, we need to scoop him up! I believe all the reports a couple of months ago that the Cubs had a deal in place with Soler as soon as he establishes residency in the DR. Raw talent and strength that he has to play CF or RF would be an immense upgrade to our minor league system as well as hopefully the parent club as well. I think the Cubs have been getting better at finding international talent, and also feel that along with the draft, international FAs are a key component to strengthening your minors.

    • Dorasaga

      Curious, weren’t most Major Leaguers called up and stayed only after age 26? I don’t know if our collective disappointment on age-to-production is appliable on some of yours listed.

    • Hoosierboy3423

      Szczur started off slow, but hasnt he been picking it up lately? Plus he leads his league in SBs. I dunno if i can count him as someone whos done next to nothing. Rather unfair assessment for him IMO.

  • Christian2334

    I feel like other than rizzo and bjax there really isn’t anything in our minors to get excited about at all, except for the guys in extended spring training. I know from reports from Tom that Baez has really been struggling at the dish with his patience and discipline, but I feel over time he’ll mature. Baez has great strength for age and should be fun to watch once Boise starts. But like I said, other than Baez, Candelario, Vogelbach, and maybe a few others, my excitement level fr our minor league system has dropped.
    I loved the amazing and touching story behind Austin Kirk when he was drafted and since he was drafted he’s been a kid I’ve been constantly rooting for. I’m very thrilled to see him doing well and I feel a promotion is due soon for him. Nick Struck and Chris Rusin are 2 others I’ve enjoyed watching and reading about and seeing their maturation process and development. And Casey Coleman seems be putting it together more consistently right now as well. Unfortunately, Trey McNutt can’t seem to get it like he did 2 years ago and Josh Vitters doesn’t seem to be translating all that well still to AAA.

    • Christian2334

      But I’m with John_CC. I can’t wait for the upcoming draft to continue to get some young talent in here. I think Theo & Co. will address a lot of pitching needs because dempster won’t be around for long and Maholm, Volstad, and Wood are stopgaps. We need impact pitching, that is why I do not feel the Cubs will be drafting the SS Carlos Corriea. If we truly want to keep this MLB team young and homegrown then the front office really needs to do their homework and due diligence on pitching for the future through the draft. Outside of Garza and the Shark, there isn’t much impact pitching in our minor leagues oter than I believe Kirk and maybe Srtuck and Ruisn.

      • Zonk

        There aren’t ANY potential top of the rotation starters in our minors, unless McNutt gets it together.  We are really weak in pitching.

        • Christian2334

          Completely agree Zonk, and that was exactly was I was saying. I believe Kirk is really the only one that may be able to produce at the major league level. Outside of that I feel we dont have much, unless McNutt can put it together again. And again, that is why I said and agree with Aaron that the Cubs will be focusing a lot on pitching in the upcoming draft.

  • Guest

    Ok, so in theory, LaHair moves to the OF and replaces Soriano when Rizzo comes up, both keep hitting (for arguments sake, we will assume soriano is traded, benched or outright released). Now, when Jackson comes up, where does he slot in? I know he is supposed to be CF of the future. So that leaves Tony C and DJ to be the odd man out. Tony so far has been looking like he’s putting it together for the most part with getting on base a lot more, plus his insane range in the field (he hasn’t looked as lost out there as some people expected). I don’t think anyone can understate his impact on opposing pitchers when he is on either, since coming up the team has felt differnt in its play. Dejesus on the other hand has done exactly what he was signed to do and has been a solid starter. However, hes not the long term answer for the cubs and we all know it. he also doesn’t excite the crowd like Tony C does. So, as things stand right now, barring injury or sudden cold streak and if Tony has started to figure it out and can keep getting on base, what do the cubs do when they call up Jackson?  

    • Zonk

      The most important decision facing the franchise is what to do with Alfonso Soriano.  That decision and it’s importance will keep Rizzo in the minors a few more weeks, I predict.

      Let’s say the Cubs do decide Soriano is cooked, LaHair is in LF, and B-Jax hits his way to Wrigley.  Let’s also say Campana is still hitting .300 or so and stealing bases, albeit with zero power.  Then what?

      I think the Cubs will play LaHair, B-Jax, and DeJesus, and Campana will take a seat.  Campana will get ABs backing everyone up.  The Cubs will finish the year this way, and then there will be a major trade at somepoint, as this would leave the Cubs very left-handed, and with a less than optimal defensive OF. 

      There is a great chance LaHair gets moved this offseason, IF Rizzo hits in the majors.  If LaHair finishes strong, he would command a good return….like young power pitching, something we need desperately.

      • Aaron

        ….lot of interesting things you said here and above. 

        You’re correct that front-line starting is NOT plentiful in the system right now. There is absolutely no question about that. 

        However, what you have is a bunch of decent 3-5 types like Jensen, Kirk, Struck, Rusin, Beeler, etc. that I mentioned. Why is that significant? Well, for one, Garza and Samardzija sit atop the rotation right now, and both are still under team control for at least another year. Garza will obviously get expensive, so it could go either way. He’s young enough where they can build around him, or they could opt to trade him for a few top prospects. 

        Heck, they could even opt to retain Dempster with the way he’s been pitching. He’s a great teammate, has pitched well this year after a disappointing 2011, so why not?…you could do a whole lot worse for a #3 starter. Having said that, it’s still early, he’s older, and he very well might break down later. Even so, you’d need 3 starters at worse, or 2 starters at best next year.

        With Volstad, T. Wood, and Wells as decent #5 starter options, they’d need to find a solid 3-4 in the group I mentioned.

        If somehow they could get a guy like Kyle Zimmer (Cubs drafted, but could not sign his brother Bradley Zimmer last year), who throws 99 mph, in this year’s draft, then they’re in business.

        But I still believe the organization’s HUGE weakness right now is lack of above average offensive guys. Let’s see, there is Rizzo….and possibly Brett Jackson. After that, it’s slim pickings folks. Baez is years away from contributing, and all the guys most of us thought would take a step forward this year have ended up being busts.

        Unless they can get an MLB-ready, high ceiling power arm like Zimmer, I believe the Cubs will go with offense in the early rounds of the draft. 

        What’s also important for everyone to remember is that the Cubs already have a rehabbing pitcher by the name of Whitenack, who at worst is a potential #3 starter in a big league rotation, and he could be better than that based on his stuff. He has been lights out at EXST, so he should get an assignment soon.

        While I admire McNutt’s potential, and I’ve included him as a plus this year with his low ERA, his high pitch counts, lack of control, and underwhelming performances the past 2 years, coupled with injury issues makes me wonder if the Cubs gave up the wrong guy in the Garza trade:

        Archer: 
        7 starts, 36 IP, 29 hits, 24 walks, 31 K’s, 5.50 ERA, 1.472 WHIP

        vs

        McNutt
        6 starts, 20 IP, 16 hits, 10 walks, 15 K’s, 2.66 ERA, 1.279 WHIP

        The most troubling stat is obviously the fact that McNutt averages less than 4 IP per start, while Archer is over 5 IP per start. The peripherals aren’t much different, however, and Archer is in AAA while McNutt is repeating AA. Both pitchers lack good command, but Archer has been the more durable pitcher of the 2, and has thrown with more velocity the last 2 years.

        Anyway…got off on a tangent…..but you can see that with the likes of Garza, Samardzija, Dempster (if they bring him back), Volstad, T. Wood, Whitenack, and McNutt to potentially choose from, the Cubs really aren’t that bad off in pitching as everyone makes them out to be. They’re especially strong in the minors with relief pitching.

        But hitting…wow….talk about anemic!!! I would list their top needs in the whole system as:
        1) power hitters
        2) guys that consistently hit for average
        3) power starting pitching arms

        As for specific positions, I’d list top 3 needs as:
        1) OF
        2) 3B
        3) Catcher (given promotions of Clevenger and Castillo)

        The only guys, however, that could bring anything good in return to rebuild with are:
        Garza
        Samardzija
        Castro
        LaHair (if he continues playing anywhere near like he has done thus far)
        Dempster (see above)
        Dolis
        Russell

        Aside from Dempster, there’s not a single guy you’d want to trade at this point when you’re trying to rebuild.

        If Soto and Stewart start playing decent, then they could bring 1 or 2 decent prospects in return…same for Marmol if they pick up most of his salary. Maholm seems to be rebuilding his value.

        But who in their right mind is going to pony up anything good for those guys unless they turn things around, plus guys like:
        Baker
        DeJesus
        Soriano
        Wood
        Barney
        Johnson
        Camp
        L. Castillo
        Bowden

        …..exactly

        • Zonk

          That list of guys at the Major League level with real trade value is pretty on target.  Dempster is the only tradeable chip with an expiring contract, and he isn’t tradeable if he doesn’t want to be.

          If LaHair AND Rizzo finish the year as good ML hitters, one of them is gone via trade.  We have so many holes, we can’t carry two of the same type of player.  Both are cheap$ and would command a good player(s) in return.  This is speculative pending how they play the rest of the year

        • Christian2334

          Thanks Aaron, and while I agree with you that our system is in desperate need of strong offensive position players and that other than Rizzo and Jackson, and possibly Baez down the road with Vogelbach; the system is in dire Ned of impact SP. Yes, Dempster is having a phenomenal season so far, but hes 34. How many more years does he have left at pitching at this kind of high level or maybe even slightly worse than this? I believe we should NOT trade what we have in Garza, Shark, Castro, Lahair, Rizzo, and Bjax. That is your core, that is your future you build on! Just like the Yankees have Cano, Jeter(yes I know old but came from the system), Gardner, Mariano(injured), Nova, Hughes, Chamberlin(injured), and Robertson. Or the red sox with pedroia, youks, kind of Ortiz, ellsbury, Lester, bucholtz, and bard. Or the jays with their SP or some other teams that have done well with their minors.
          Yes, maybe Correa would be a goof selection at #6 for us, but need to focus on SP and very soiled international FAs like a Jorge Soler.

  • Zonk

    Interesting analysis on Fangraphs on Bryan LaHair, asking if his success is sustainable:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/bryan-lahair-success-sustainable/

    Quick Answer:  He isn’t a .380 hitter, but any way you slice it he projects as an above-average ML 1st baseman

    Cubs got a find here

    • paulcatanese

      I read the same article Zonk. My concern is that LaHair is proving himself (to date) as a Major League hitter, Rizzo, has not. Not saying he won’t as I think he will, but that is speculation, and the same holds true for Jackson, Both would have something to prove at the higher level.
      While it looks like they have all the tools, it’s still a risk.
      Why trade LaHair? He is doing it now, not later, and the idea that super prospects can be obtained for him is still the same,
      a risk.
      I just can’t get used to having players and have them suceed and just trade them away for what may or may not prove out.
      “one bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. They have LaHair, he is doing it, why trade him?

      • Zonk

        I hear you, and Rizzo hasn’t proven anything at the ML level.  He has raked, though, 2 years now in AAA, and Theo doesn’t beleive in 4A players.  Almost everyone thinks Rizzo can hit in the majors.

        The missing link for me is what LaHair’s defense is like in the OF.  How bad is it?  I dont’ really know, but I think we’ll find out at some point.

        Even if he plays an OK OF, the Cubs would be very left-handed.  That’s OK IMO if everyone hits, but something to keep in mind. 

        I still think what to do with LaHair is not the biggest decision facing Theo and Co. right now.  It’s the answer to this question:  Does Alfonso Soriano have anything left in the tank? 

        • paulcatanese

          It’s no mystery that Rizzo has the better glove,
          but I think they both can hit lefties, so both in the lineup would be tremdous.
          As you say the big question is Soriono, and thats a strange scenerio with him.
          He’s hustleing more, looks better with the bat on the pitches he used to miss badly, but no power attatched to it.
          On some of the inside pitches he is pulling them foul so I don’t think the bat has slowed all that much. The outside pitch he is pushing to right, so he’s a complete ? to me.

        • http://twitter.com/Golfnut70Bob OttawaBob

          Zonk, I think LaHair goes to left and platoons with Soriano. Which is ridiculous, but Cub management will dodge the Soriano issue that way, for at least a little while longer. I’m totally against trading LaHair. He’s not a .380 hitter  but how many people can sustain that.  If you look at his 3 previous years in AAA  (2 with Cubs…1 with Mariners) He’s no fluke. Hendry should of had this guy up with Cubs prior to the 2011 season or even sooner.  LaHair, Rizzo, Castro and hopefully Jackson will be the center piece of the rebuild, the heart of the new batting order………..and yes I well aware LaHair is 29.

  • Anonymous47701

    How many at-bats do Rizzo, B.Jackson, and Sappelt have so far down in AAA (Iowa)?

    • cubtex

      Rizzo 118 AB’s
      BJax  122
      Sappelt 112

    • John_CC

      If you mean total, 2011-2012

      Jackson has 358 PA / 307 AB
      Rizzo has 545 PA / 474 AB

      Rizzo is a full year younger than Jackson and bit ahead in development. 

  • Aaron

    Anyone remember the Garza to Blue Jays rumors this offseason?

    Guys like Syndergaard, Nicolino, Drabek, Marisnick, etc. were bantered about, and all are having good years. 

    Syndergaard and Nicolino would almost certainly be ranked 1-2 in the system, and Marisnick close behind Rizzo.

    Anyway, if you look at a single team to do business with at the deadline if they’re even remotely close, it’d be the Blue Jays, because they have holes where the Cubs could help:
    catcher-(if they want to hold off brining up d’Arnaud and if Soto can rebound)
    1B-LaHair (even though I do NOT want to trade him)
    OF-Soriano (if he starts hitting with power, and Cubs pick up whole tab pretty much), DeJesus
    closer-Marmol is obvious candidate
    SP-they actually don’t need help, but adding someone like Garza, Dempster, or even Maholm might be icing on the cake for them.

    If you’re a Cubs fan, you should be hoping the Cubs’ veterans have resurgent seasons, and hope that teams like the Jays, Rangers, and D’Backs with great pitching talent remain in playoff contention, because the Cubs have some decent veteran chips to trade them (again, if they all experience resurgent seasons much like Dempster is right now).

  • brent carmona

    Kind of bored tonight so I’m going to listen to the Tennessee and Iowa squads while I clean up my apartment (its a mess since it was finals week) .

    This might have been mentioned before, but there is an app called tunein for smartphones that will let you listen to A LOT of stuff for free, I recommend for anybody wanting to listen to any minor league games.

  • brent carmona

    Some notes on the smokies game:

    Rhee was dealing tonight, I want to say about four hard hit balls the entire night. First pitch of game was a change up, I thought that was pretty cool, he has a lot of faith in it. Radio said he really had that pitch working tonight, 77mph I believe. Fastball was 90+ I think he meant he was sitting at 91 the entire game. Plenty of ground balls as well.

    Junior lake, no surprise here, has a cannon of an arm with a real effortless motion. Not very patient at the plate tonight, and didn’t really make solid contact at all. He booted a routine grounder that let a run score and didn’t allow Rhee to finish the eighth inning.

    Rebel ridling scolded the ball twice, even hearing the contact sounded really sweet.

    Ha is 3 his last 23 I believe, but radio said he is still hitting the ball hard. Late in the game he spun out of the way on a breaking pitch that was called a strike, looked silly and the next pitch he took the exact same one.

    So nothing big tonight, just thought I’d share. About to listen to the Iowa cubs now..

    • Tom U

      When Rhee is at the top of his game, he’s as close to being a number one or two starter as anyone in the system. 

      I believe this is sink or swim for Junior Lake at shortstop. The error you heard is typical of his play. I have a sense that if that continues, management will pull the plug on him in the infield and ship him to the outfield.

      With really no offensive players during the first five weeks, manager Buddy Bailey rode Logan Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha hard, and its beginning to show, especially with Ha.

      • brent carmona

        Thanks tom, that is relieving to hear about Rhee. We really had some set backs with our ‘potential’ high end SP’s, I.e. mcnutt, whitenack etc. I really hope Rhee can keep this going.

        Man lake has enormous potential, but he just seems like a mess out there. His physical build is also impressive, as noted on the radio.

        Yes, ha seems to need a rest I agree. Watkins on the other hand seems to be holding his own more then Ha by a good margin. Another good night by him, very nice OBP guy I like.