Special Assignment – Peoria Chiefs v. Kane County Cougars
Recently, I had the pleasure of being able to cover the series between the Chiefs and Kane County. It was a pleasant addition to be able to meet some of the executives from the Cubs organization. I’d like to thank Shawn Touney, Director of Public Relations for the Kane County Cougars, as well as Broadcast and Media Manager Nate Baliva of the Peoria Chiefs for their hospitality.
I’d also like to mention reporters Chris Emma of Northsiders Report.com and Mike Knapp of the Beacon News, who were my companions during the series; as well as reporter Larry Peterson of the Fox Valley Labor News, and Woodrow Carroll as they all made me feel welcome in the press box.
Both Cubs’ Director of Pro Scouting Joe Bohringer and Vice President-Player Personnel Oneri Fleita were in attendance for the series. I had a chance to speak with them over the course of the series, and they agreed to answer a few questions:
ChicagoCubsOnline: Have there been any prospects that have stood out so far this season?
Oneri Fleita: Our player of the month, Anthony Rizzo, has put up video game-type numbers in Triple-A. He’s looked good defensively. He and Frank Batista stand out. Batista is a player that we’ve only had for a couple of years, and he’s at Triple-A. He shows that what’s most important is to throw strikes.
CCO: How about any surprises?
Joe Bohringer: Tony Campana did a great job for us at Iowa, and now he’s up with the big league club.
Fleita: I like our pitching here (at Peoria). I’ve been impressed.
CCO: Do you see any promotions coming?
Bohringer: We’d like to see the rosters stabilized at this point. We’re just coming around to 100 at bats for some players, and some players are just coming back from injuries or are just not ready yet.
Fleita: We try not to get too high or too low on any of our players this early in the season. Some players get off to slow starts.
CCO: Are there any players that are in Arizona at this time that have looked good?
Bohringer: Well, I haven’t seen him since spring training, but Shawon Dunston Jr. comes to mind. He can hit leadoff, and projects to center or left. We currently see him as a centerfielder. He works hard, and I’ve had good reports on him. Is that okay to say (to Fleita)?
Fleita: (laughs) He hasn’t given away any secrets.
CCO: Do you have any expectations for the upcoming draft?
Fleita: Well, that’s Jason McLeod’s job. All we ask is for good players. He’s done a good job with that, and there have been some good players from the Dominican (Academy). (laughs) Just get us good players and we’ll do the rest.
Side Session – Gerardo Concepcion
Recently signed Cuban National Gerardo Concepcion was throwing a side session before Wednesday’s game. Here are some impressions:
Gerardo Concepcion has very long arms and legs, making him appear much taller than his listed 6-foot-2. He stands on the mound with his shoulders slouched back … has a three-quarter delivery with a consistent arm slot. However, his release point seems to vary, which makes him appear as if he is nibbling rather than attacking the strike zone. Has no violent or deceptive movement on his pitches, but curve and slider break the way they are supposed to. He maintained consistent velocity throughout the workout (no radar readings available).
Here are my impressions of the performances of some of the Chiefs, in alphabetical order.
Kyler Burke – Pure power pitcher, 94 MPH fastball, 89 MPH change-up, 89 MPH power curve. Burke struck out three and walked two in 6.1 innings. Burke started a nifty 1-6-3 double play and was able to work out of a jam. Burke left the game allowing one earned run on a solo homer
Wes Darvill – Played third base for two games. Darvill has enough arm strength for the position, but would probably fit better at short or second, outstanding range, got tagged with some probably unfair errors on plays many third baseman wouldn’t get to. Darvill takes a good approach at the plate and doesn’t seem overmatched, despite the fact that he is only 20 years old and appears to be well liked by his teammates
Zeke DeVoss – Can see why many are excited by his ability. DeVoss is very raw at second base, but works hard at the position before every game. DeVoss can make plays that will cause you to rise to your feet, or shake your head. Can be alternate between being too deliberate or too causal in the field and has great speed and excellent acceleration
Taiwan Easterling – Does not look to have improved on defense since I saw him last season, but hasn’t regressed. Easterling’s throwing arm may be one of the best in the system, as he threw out four runners during the series. He has deceptive speed, as he appears to glide more than stride. Easterling’s hitting seems to need a lot of work
PJ Francescon – Has a good mound presence and a sweeping curveball. The radar gun was not working on the night he pitched. Francescon’s only mistake was an inside fastball that was belted for a three run homer. Francescon went seven innings, threw 81 pitches, six hits, three walks, five strikeouts
Marco Hernandez – A very slick fielder, with quick hands and reactions with more than enough arm strength for shortstop. Hernandez has very good range and elevation on leaps but appears to be a little overmatched offensively
Paul Hoilman – Seems very focused on his hitting, stays within himself, and takes what the pitcher gives him. Hoilman has good agility and a better fielder at first than advertised and seems to be a leader, whom other players gravitate toward
Luis Liria – Sports a 91 MPH fastball, 89 MPH slider, 81 MPH change-up. Liria was able to get off the mound quickly and tag a runner on a bunt attempt. Liria had a lot of poise, inherited runners in scoring position and left them stranded
Austin Reed – Works very efficiently, 94 MPH fastball, 89 MPH curve and worked out of a one out-runner on second jam
Yao-Lin Wang – Looks bigger in person. The radar gun not working on the night he pitched. He has a lot of drop on his curveball, works slowly and was missing down with his breaking ball … not his best effort
Video – Player Sideshow
The CCO would like to thank the management of the Ozric Tentacles for permission to use their music.
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