Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 08/27/12

There looks to be some excitement down the stretch as the minor leagues enter the last week of play. Boise has clinched the second half pennant thanks to players such as Gioskar Amaya, Stephen Bruno, Jeimer Candelario, Willson Contreras, Tayler Scott, and Dan Vogelbach.

Peoria is charging to the finish line on the bat of Tim Saunders and the pitching of Michael Jensen. While in Daytona, John Andreoli is sure to make a number of other prospects nervous with the season he is having. And Rubi Silva, along with Jae-Hoon Ha, are both starting to put up some big numbers in Tennessee.

The late-season push that always seems to happen in Iowa this time of the year was in full swing, as prospects such as Ty’Relle Harris, Greg Rohan, and Dave Sappelt are using their last chance to impress for this season.

To see who may be a part of the Cubs’ future, take a look 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.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (34-36)
With ten games left in the season, Boise looked like they were in trouble Wednesday against West Division leading Vancouver, but ended up steamrolling the Canadians in an 11-6 victory. The Hawks pushed their division lead to six games with league leading hitter Stephen Bruno keeping pace by going 3-for-6 with two RBI. Willson Contreras moved into the top ten after having a 3-for-5 night. Contreras drove in a pair and his two RBI now tie him with Bruno for 12th in the league. Izaac Garsez is beginning to make his presence felt. Garsez doubled and tripled as part of his 3-for-4, two RBI evening. Both Trey Martin and Carlos Escobar were 2-for-4 with a double and Escobar drove in two runs.

Justin Amlung once again headed a pre-arranged squad, but had some trouble. Amlung gave up three earned runs on two homers in two innings. Michael Heesch was next to the mound and pitched two scheduled innings. Heesch held the Canadians scoreless for his stint. The pitcher that is visibly struggling with this arrangement has been James Pugliese. Pugliese struck out six but allowed three earned runs in three innings. Nathan Dorris had two whiffs in two scoreless innings.

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Once again Thursday, the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates as the Hawks defeated Vancouver 11-5. Boise jumped out to a 9-3 lead after the top of the fifth inning, led by Albert Almora. Almora was 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Trey Martin (3-for-3) drove in three runs and Willson Contreras was 3-for-5 including an RBI. Stephen Bruno maintained his league leading .345 average with a 2-for-5 performance that included a double.

Hayden Simpson made a surprise start and did a good job. Simpson struck out six and allowed three earned runs in five innings. Lefty Brian Smith was called up prior to the game and saw his first Single-A action. Smith tossed two scoreless innings and struck out two batters. Su-Ming Jung couldn’t find the plate. Jung walked four and gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Tyler Bremer finished out the game by tossing 1.1 scoreless innings that included two strikeouts.

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Friday saw a quick turnaround, as Boise played an afternoon game and lost 7-6 to Vancouver. The Hawks were actually leading 9-0 after the top of the second, but starter Tayler Scott couldn’t hold it. Scott allowed five earned runs and struck out three in five innings. A Rafael Diplan error led to two runs (one earned) in his three innings. The offense could not get untracked after posting six runs in the second inning. Lance Rymel drove in two as he was 1-for-3 while Marco Hernandez went 3-for-4. Jeimer Candelario snapped out of a slump with a 2-for-4 effort and Albert Almora also went 2-for-4 on the afternoon.

The Hawks clinched the second half title of the Northwest League’s East Division on Saturday with an 8-6 win over Vancouver. Jeimer Candelario is breaking out of his first professional slump in a big way. Candelario went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI … Candelario has 42 RBI on the season, good for fourth in the league. Willson Contreras (1-for-5) knocked in a two runs while Dan Vogelbach (2-for-5 with a double) picked up an RBI. Stephen Bruno fell one percentage point off the league lead in hitting despite going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Ian Dickson was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst. Dickson allowed four earned runs and struck out two in 4.1 innings. Hunter Ackerman finally showed some of the promise he displayed at lower levels by striking out five batters and giving up an earned run in 2.2 innings. Closer Eduardo Orozco got in some work and let in an earned run in 1.1 innings before giving way to Nathan Dorris. Dorris recorded the final two outs and picked up his fourth save.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (60-70)
A wild 12-inning affair on Wednesday that saw four lead changes ended with the Chiefs scoring three runs in the top of the 12th for a 9-6 victory over Beloit. The big story was the hitting prowess of Tim Saunders. Saunders was 4-for-6 with a double, a stolen base, and two RBI. Saunders raised his season average to .415 over three levels. Another 2012 draftee, Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with a RBI), had three walks and a stolen base. Jorge Soler (2-for-6) drove in a run.

Starling Peralta started and allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings while striking out four batters. Bryce Shafer was also the victim of some shaky defense. Shafer gave up two runs (one earned) in 1.1 innings. Relief came in the form of Pete Levitt and Sheldon McDonald. Levitt tossed 2.2 innings of scoreless ball while McDonald pitched two scoreless frames. Luis Liria recorded three outs in the 12th and picked up his fifth save.

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Although it is too late in the season to help Peoria, the Chiefs seem to be putting it together and playing spoiler down the stretch, as they made it two in a row over Beloit on Thursday with a 6-1 victory. The Snappers pitchers may have been concentrating on not letting Tim Saunders (0-for-3, RBI) beat them, but forgot about Zeke DeVoss. DeVoss ended up 3-for-4 and hit his sixth home run. Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5, two RBI) is starting to put pressure on DeVoss for the team leadership in stolen bases as he swiped his 32nd of the season, three off the lead.

Speaking of taking the lead, starter Michael Jensen is challenging Tennessee’s Nick Struck for the system lead in wins. Jensen won his eleventh, two behind Struck with two more opportunities to start if the Cubs do not shut him down. Jensen went six innings, allowing an earned run and striking out four batters. Justin Berg had his best outing of the season, with two strikeouts in 2.1 scoreless innings. Larry Suarez fanned one in getting the final two outs.

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Peoria dug themselves a hole on Friday that they could not climb out of, as they lost to Beloit 8-2. Yao-Lin Wang had one of his poorer outings since returning to the starter’s role. Wang lasted 4.1 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) while striking out four batters. Willengton Cruz also struck out four, but gave up two earned runs in 2.2 innings. Austin Reed ended things with a scoreless eighth inning. Dustin Geiger (2-for-3, two RBI) continues to rise up the ranks of the league leaders in home runs. Geiger hit his 17th of this season to tie him for third in the Midwest League. Chadd Krist was 2-for-4 with a double.

The Chiefs rode a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth inning to secure a 3-2 win over Wisconsin on Saturday. Jorge Soler led things off in the fourth by reaching on an error, and then scored when Chadd Krist (1-for-4) delivered his fourth home run of the season. Tim Saunders (2-for-4, double) made it back-to-back jacks with his second big fly.

Joe Zeller and his knuckleball had the Timber Rattlers off-balance. Zeller allowed one earned run through six innings. Sheldon McDonald earned his tenth hold by striking out three while giving up an earned run in two innings. Closer Larry Suarez notched his fifth save as he fanned two in a scoreless ninth.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (55-72)
Wednesday was not a good day for Daytona, as they dropped both ends of a doubleheader with Clearwater 2-1 and 4-2. Game one saw starter PJ Francescon give up two earned runs in the first inning, as he struck out four in three innings. Eduardo Figueroa, Matt Spencer, and AJ Morris each tossed a scoreless inning. John Andreoli was 1-for-2 with his league leading 51st stolen base. Taylor Davis went 2-for-2 and drove in Christian Villanueva (1-for-3, double) with the D-Cubs’ only run.

Spot starter Frank Del Valle took the hill in the nightcap and allowed four runs (three earned) while striking out five in four innings. Ryan Searle and Hunter Cervenka each tossed a scoreless inning. Ronald Torreyes led the Daytona offense by going 3-for-3 with an RBI. Vladimir Frias had a double and was 2-for-3.

Things may have gone from bad to worse for Daytona, as they managed only three hits in a 3-0 loss to Clearwater on Thursday. Robert Whitenack started and was hung for three runs (two unearned) while striking out two three innings. Kyler Burke piggybacked and struck out three in three scoreless innings. Matt Iannazzo, Scott Weismann, and Jeffrey Lorick held the Threshers scoreless the rest of the way with Weismann striking out the only two batters he faced. John Andreoli, Ronald Torreyes, and Rebel Ridling each had a hit.

Doubleheader-mania continued on Friday for Daytona, as they split a pair with Tampa, losing 11-5 in the opener while taking the second game 4-3. There was the good and the bad with Matt Loosen in game one, as he struck out seven batters but allowed eight runs in 3.1 innings. Hunter Cervenka didn’t fare much better, giving up three earned runs in 2.2 innings. Catcher Taylor Davis was on-call for mop up duty and he supplied a scoreless inning. John Andreoli (1-for-3 with a stolen base) drove in two runs while Christian Villanueva and Elieser Bonne each went 2-for-3 with a double.

Game two saw some heroics from Elieser Bonne (1-for-3), as his three-run homer in the fifth inning put the D-Cubs ahead. A Christian Villanueva (1-for-3) solo shot in the sixth provided an insurance run Daytona needed, as AJ Morris gave up an earned run in the bottom in the inning on way to his fifth save. Starter Kyle Hendricks lasted five innings and struck out three while allowing two earned runs.

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Another day, another doubleheader and another split as Daytona lost game one 3-2 to Tampa while taking game two 4-1. In the opener, a depleted pitching staff saw Eduardo Figueroa making a spot start and striking out six in four innings. The game was lost when Matt Spencer couldn’t find the pate. Spencer walked five and allowed three earned runs in 0.2 innings. Matt Iannazzo was able to hold the Yankees from scoring any further in his 1.1 innings. The D-Cubs’ runs came courtesy of Javier Baez. In the fourth inning, Ronald Torreyes (1-for-3) hit a ground rule double and eventually came in on a sacrifice by Baez. Baez then walked in the sixth inning, stole second, and came home on a wild pitch for Daytona’s other run.

Ronald Torreyes was in the thick of things in the second game, as he was 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored. John Andreoli continued to be an igniter from the leadoff spot. Andreoli went 2-for-4 including a double, triple, and two runs scored. Rebel Ridling had an RBI and was 2-for-3. Another pitcher came out of the pen to start, as Ryan Searle took a turn and went five innings, striking out five and allowing an earned run. Jeffrey Lorick and Scott Weismann finished things up with Weismann collecting his fourth save.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (65-67)
Tennessee got an old fashioned butt whipping by Chattanooga on Wednesday, losing 11-1. The Lookouts lit up Smokies pitching for 14 hits, including six home runs. Dae-Eun Rhee had a somewhat typical performance. Rhee allowed three earned runs and struck out four in 5.2 innings. Casey Weathers only recorded one out as he was pummeled for three earned runs. Zach Rosscup struck out the side in the seventh inning; however Casey Harman served up three home runs but was only charged with one earned run, as the other four came courtesy of a Junior Lake error. Infielder Dustin Harrington mopped up with a scoreless inning. Harrington also had two of Tennessee’s three hits. Harrington went 2-for-2 with a double. Matt Szczur (1-for-4) tripled in Harrington with the Smokies’ only run.

The Smokies put up five runs early on Thursday … then hung on of a 5-4 victory against Chattanooga. Jae-Hoon Ha (1-for-3) and Junior Lake (1-for-2) were the key performers. Ha and Lake both doubled and drove in two runs. Justin Bour (2-for-4) also doubles and drove in a run.

It wasn’t as smooth for Austin Kirk his second time out for Tennessee. Kirk allowed four runs while striking out six in 4.2 innings. Trey McNutt is appearing to settle into his role as a reliever. McNutt picked up the victory by tossing 1.1 scoreless innings. Brian Schlitter struck out three and shutout the Lookouts for two innings. Frank Batista atoned for a poor outing his previous time out and earned his 24th save.

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It was time for Tennessee to turn the tables and put the wood to someone for a change, as a seven-run third inning led to an 11-5 victory over Mobile. The highlight of the third inning centered around a three-run dinger by Junior Lake (1-for-5). Rubi Silva belted his first Double-A homer in the third and ended his night at 2-for-5 with two RBI. The big hitter for the evening was Jae-Hoon Ha. Ha drove in three runs and was 2-for-5 with two doubles. Top of the order partner Logan Watkins went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Matt Szczur (2-for-4) had a solo shot in the fourth inning.

While it wasn’t Dallas Beeler’s best pitching night, he received the run support that usually escapes him. Dallas Beeler allowed five earned runs in five innings. Kevin Rhoderick seems to be rounding back into form as he tossed two shutout innings. Tony Zych finished things out with two scoreless innings.

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It seems that every time Tennessee looked to even their record this season, they would fall just short and that was the case on Saturday as the Smokies lost 4-3 to Mobile in ten innings. Once again, Nick Struck failed in his attempt to record his 14th win. However, he could hardly be held accountable for the final results. Struck punched out six while allowing two runs (one earned) in seven innings. Zach Rosscup held off the BayBears with a scoreless inning, but the usually reliable Frank Batista suffered his third blown save. Batista gave up an earned run in the ninth inning. A Junior Lake error led to an unearned run off of Casey Harman in the tenth, as Harman was hung with the loss. Rubi Silva had what is becoming one of his specialties. Silva hit his 13th triple of the season between Daytona and Tennessee. Silva went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Junior Lake was 2-for-5 while Jae-Hoon Ha went 3-for-5 and swiped his 11th stolen base.

Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (53-82)
Iowa couldn’t get out of their own way Wednesday, as three late runs weren’t enough in a 6-3 loss to Oklahoma City. Horacio Ramirez was dazzling in his start. Ramirez allowed one earned run over seven innings but the Red Hawks blew things open against Blake Parker. Parker was lit up for three earned runs while striking out three in an inning of work. Jairo Asencio was tagged for two unearned runs in the ninth inning. A Dave Sappelt (2-for-4) triple in the seventh brought in Adrian Cardenas (1-for-4) and Blake Lalli (1-for-3). A single by Brian Esposito (1-for-4) scored Sappelt.

The I-Cubs lost another squeaker on Thursday as they were nested by Oklahoma City 2-1. Ryan Rowland-Smith had a solid effort. Rowland-Smith allowed two earned runs and struck out four in five innings. Marcus Hatley had better results than in his previous appearance. Hatley struck out two in two scoreless innings. Jeff Beliveau and Esmailin Caridad tossed a scoreless inning, with Beliveau striking out the side in his stint. Dave Sappelt remains the new offensive leader. Sappelt went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Putting on a finishing kick, Iowa pulled out ahead of Oklahoma City in the late innings to win 5-3 on Friday. Yoannis Negrin started his second game for the I-Cubs and went six innings while allowing three earned runs to go along with four strikeouts. A pair of inconsistent pitchers, Jay Jackson and Scott Maine, both had their good stuff and tossed a shutout inning. Jairo Asencio struck out two and picked up his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.

Tony Campana (2-for-4) and Jeff Frazier (2-for-4) paced the Iowa attack. Frazier added a double while Campana tripled and drove in a run. Diory Hernandez was 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Adrian Cardenas (1-for-4 with two RBI) added an insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth inning.

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Iowa made it two wins in a row with a 4-1 victory over Oklahoma City on Saturday. Ty’Relle Harris remains a work in progress as a starter, but that progress moved forward as Harris struck out six while allowing an earned run in six innings. Recently claimed Miguel Socolovich provided a scoreless inning, while Jeff Beliveau and Jairo Asencio held down the Red Hawks the rest of the way with each tossing a shutout inning.

Infielder Diory Hernandez (1-for-3 with three RBI) had the big blow, a two-run homer in the eighth. Dave Sappelt (2-for-4) and Greg Rohan (2-for-4 with a double) continue to scald the ball. Jeff Frazier may be pushing for future consideration by the organization. Frazier went 2-for-4 with two doubles and Matt Tolbert went 2-for-2.

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News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Brooks Raley; optioned RHP Miguel Socolovich and LHP Chris Rusin to the Iowa Cubs. The Daytona Cubs placed RHP Robert Whitenack on the 7-Day disabled list. The Peoria Chiefs assigned RHP Ben Wells to the AZL Cubs (Rehab). The AZL Cubs assigned IF/OF/C Anthony Giansanti to the Daytona Cubs and LHP Brian Smith to the Boise Hawks. The DSL Cubs assigned OF Jeffrey Baez and C Wilfredo Petit to the AZL Cubs. Right-hander pitcher Juan Paniagua was assigned to the AZL Cubs.

CCOs Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 153, three doubles, a home run, nine RBI, three stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 279, 14 doubles, five home runs, 42 RBI, two stolen bases (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .251, 24 doubles, seven triples, six home runs, 35 RBI, 35 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 282, 25 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 46 RBI, 18 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-0, 4.82 ERA, 9.1 innings, 11 strikeouts, nine walks, 1.50 WHIP (Arizona Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .204, six doubles, four triples, two home runs, six RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .269, 22 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 47 RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 331, eight doubles, a triple, nine home runs, 27 RBI (Boise Hawks)
  • Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 1-6, 5.96 ERA, 51.1 innings, 31 strikeouts, 27 walks, 1.89 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 2-1, 4.03 ERA, 22.1 innings, 28 strikeouts, 10 walks, 1.43 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

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  • cubs1967

    question for whoever………..I’m in the dark on this Paniagua kid. what makes him so special> what are the chances he is 26 and does it matter? where should be be next year? AA with majors by 2014? or not that fast………

    • paulcatanese

      Cubs, I asked the same question a couple of days ago.
      Don’t know who he is , and had problems spelling his name. I’m a little surprised at his age, and being picked up.
      Then again, I shouldnt be surprised with some of the picks that have taken place. Always a mystery.

    • Aaron

      He’s got a 94-97 mph fastball, above avg changeup and working on a slider. He is 22 and projects as a closer at worst and top 3 starter at the very least…probable ETA is 2014 unless he goes to AZFL or something and lights it up.

    • Tom U

      cubs1967, I feel Paniagua was signed/approved too late to get a real good read on him. Hopefully, he will get some work down in the winter leagues, which will help determine his assignment for next season. If all goes well, a safe place to start will be a Advanced-A Daytona. The FSL is a pitcher’s league, and he could easily move up (or down) from there.

  • Zonk

    Tom, looking ahead to next year, we have a good problem to have. We have a ton of middle infielders at lower levels. How do you think the Cubs will sort it out; what levels will everyone start at?

    Javier Baez has received surprisingly high marks for SS play, more good news that makes it tougher.

    Here are the players I am aware of that need slots to play:

    Baez–SS
    Amaya–2B/SS
    Alcantara–SS
    Torreyes–2B
    Saunders–2b/SS
    DeVoss–2B

    That’s alot of guys at A/A+ right now.

    I personally think the Cubs should advance Torreyes and Alcantara to AA, DeVoss and Baez to A+, but then that would mean Amaya at A, which maybe is a little low. And what do you do with Saunders at that point? He’s clearly a man among boys at A-Ball.

    Good problem to have, but it’s a little crowded at the moment

    • cubs1967

      torryeyes is hitting .270; don’t think he has proven to move to AA next year. plus villeneuva from the rangers really should play 2b based on his size of 5’11 and that baez/vitters/lake are all better long term options. with that said; villeneuva should play 2b next year at AA. torreyes one more year at high A. that creates them problem with devoss……..i think he has more upside than torreyes, but villeneuva needs to play 2b if he’s gonna be one in the majors…….

      • Zonk

        Torreyes, though, has hit over .300 in the 2nd half, after a poor start that was fueled in large measure by a very low BABIP. Torreyes has more walks than strikeouts, and shows advanced pitch recognition skills for A+ level. He’s young at 19, but I think he’s ready to advance.

        You may have a point on Villanueva; he can play 2B, the reports I read when we acquired him said he was a plus defensive 3B. That’s an area of need for us, so we might leave him there. I don’t think Vitters is the long-term answer.

    • Tom U

      Let’s start out with what’s first on your list. I made a joke about wanting to have what the reporters were drinking that said Baez was playing well at short. Seriously, I’ve seen enough to know that sometimes reporters will say things like this in order to curry favor with the player and his agent, especially if that is what they want to hear. To a person, everyone I have ever spoken to about Baez report he doesn’t have the range, and question his arm strength for either short or third.

      It appears that the organization has settled on Amaya at second. That, in part, is why he has been more successful at the plate. Look for him to stay there and challenge some of the older prospects.

      Alcantra will need to go to the winter leagues and try to figure things out defensively. Unlike Lake, Baez, DeVoss, he has the tools to be an All-Star defender. He’s oozing with potential at the plate.

      Torreyes has had a better second half, but at 19 doesn’t need to be rushed. Expect him to return to Daytona.

      As things stand right now, I would have no problem with Saunders opening 2013 as Tennessee’s starting shortstop. That said, I believe that with all the talent at the position and his age (22), Saunders will go to the Fall instructional League and learn to play outfield.

      I’ve said this before about DeVoss, he’s a nice guy, but I have no idea why he playing second base. He simply isn’t very good there. I’ve seen him work very hard at it, but there doesn’t seem to be any improvement. I also have seen him in the outfield, and he looks very comfortable out there. With more of the old regime gone, we’ll see what happens.

  • Zonk

    The other question I have is around PITCHING. It’s no secret we lack pitching depth, but what are the early returns on our recent additions and draftees, including:

    Pierce Johnson
    Blackburn
    Underwood
    McNeil (he seems to be doing the best so far)
    Paniagua (Keith Law seems to like hiim)

    Also, what’s up with Concepcion? I think I read he has mono…hopefully he rebounds from this bad season.

    Struck and Jokich are having nice years, but scouts don’t project a whole lot out of them.

    Zych has a good FB, and is doing pretty well. If he makes the majors, he would be dead-last in the ML Players Directory alphabetically. Another ex-Cub is first alphabetically, if you remember him………

  • paulcatanese

    Good post Tom, it gets more interesting by the day. Baez is one that deserves a look, he will be fun to watch, given all the oddities that he carries with him. I think he will make the media often, kind of like good guy, bad guy personality, always interesting to follow.

  • John_CC

    Thanks again, Tom. It’s been really great to get to know the farm system and names of players throughout. I am really curious to see who gets the bumps up a level when the roster expands soon.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Waiting on confirmation but it appears the Cubs have acquired Catcher Anthony Recker from the A’s for Blake Lalli

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    This has been confirmed. Recker has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Waiting on 40-man roster move

  • Zonk

    Kind of a strange move. I guess the Cubs were claiming Racker anyway, and Lalli was just a bone to toss to the A’s in return.

    Cubs need catching depth, and he’s hit OK at AAA.

    Lalli is probably headed to a coaching role; he made the majors, which is good for him.

    Scott Maine was optioned; he’s had good stuff, just can’t seem to get over the hump. I guess between Hinshaw and Beliveau, he became uber-expendible.