Cubs Promote the Future and Other News and Notes

While the big league team spent Monday trying to figure out a way to put runs on the board, the front office promoted two of the biggest bats in the system and another one hit his 29th longball of the season.

The Cubs promoted Kris Bryant and Dan Vogelbach to High-A Daytona on Monday. Both Bryant and Vogelbach will report to Daytona on Tuesday and finish their seasons trying to help the D-Cubs win games.

Javier Baez went yard again in the first game of a twin bill on Monday. Baez is up to .273/.329/.580 with a .909 OPS in 34 games with the Smokies that includes eight doubles, 12 home runs, 12 walks and 46 strikeouts in 34 games. In 110 games between Daytona and Tennessee this season, Baez has hit 29 home runs while walking 33 times.

Welington Castillo

Welington Castillo has made a lot of improvement this season. The light seems to have turned on at the plate as well as behind it. Even with his 0-for-3 performance on Monday night, Castillo is hitting .316/.474/.474/.947 in the 20 games since the break with one double, one home run, 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in 57 at bats. Castillo has bumped his overall numbers to .275/.358/.376 with 18 doubles, four home runs and a .734 OPS in 89 games (298 at bats).

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Castillo has proven to Dale Sveum and the coaching staff that he is “a front-line defensive catcher” and the team is very happy with the way he is developing at the plate.

Right now, Welington Castillo is the only back-stop at or near the Major League level in the organization that has the ability to be an everyday big league catcher. The Cubs will likely re-sign Dioner Navarro in the off-season to keep him in the fold as they try to develop catchers.

Jed Hoyer said the team plans on addressing the lack of catching in the system this off-season.

Dioner Navarro

Dioner Navarro told the Sun-Times that he has liked playing with the Cubs this season and would like to re-sign with the team in the off-season. Navarro has mentored Welington Castillo and Dale Sveum called Navarro “the perfect back-up catcher.”

Navarro signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract last winter and figures to command a little more this off-season.

Kris Bryant

Prior to the news surfacing that Kris Bryant had officially been promoted to Daytona, Bryant was named Northwest League Player of the Week. Bryant was a homer shy of a cycle on Sunday and extended his hitting streak to 15 games in the second game of a doubleheader, in what turned out to be his last game in a Hawks’ uniform.

Kris Bryant went 9-for-17 with three doubles, one triple and one home run last week.

Eric Jokisch

Eric Jokisch was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Jokisch pitched a nine-inning no hitter last Tuesday against the Jacksonville Suns. Jokisch then went out Monday afternoon and picked up the win against Montgomery.

Sunday’s game against the Biscuits was suspended due to rain and was resumed on Monday afternoon. Jokisch pitched the last 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

The Northwestern product is 10-10 in 23 games, 22 starts, this season with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP … 124 hits, 51 walks and 117 strikeouts in 135 innings. The lefty is 2-0 in his last two starts with a 0.59 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP.

Junior Lake and Albert Almora

The Cubs switched Junior Lake from left field to centerfield prior to Monday’s game. Dale Sveum said the original lineup was a typo and that Lake was supposed to start in centerfield, and not David DeJesus. The Cubs want to take a look at Lake in center, where he has been playing against southpaws. The Cubs do not have any lefties on the schedule and Sveum wants to see Lake in centerfield a lot between now and the end of the season.

Sveum indicated Albert Almora could be the Cubs’ centerfielder in two years, which led many to say that Almora is on the fast track to the majors. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs want to get a better idea of what Junior Lake can do over the next seven weeks.

Pedro Strop

The Cubs might have found their closer for next season in Pedro Strop. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Dale Sveum could use Strop in the closer’s role this season when Kevin Gregg is not available. Sveum also said that he could see Strop in the role next season, but next year is a “long way away.”

According to the report, the Cubs planned on using Strop in the closer’s role this season once Kevin Gregg was traded. But no one met the Cubs’ asking price for Gregg prior to the deadline.

Jen-Ho Tseng

The Cubs confirmed the signing of Jen-Ho Tseng on Monday night. Baseball America announced the signing on July 26. The 18-year old Taiwanese right-hander signed for $1.625 million.

Click Here for Full Report that includes Scout Information

Kyle Hendricks

One of the top pitching prospects in the Cubs’ system landed in BP’s Monday Morning Ten Pack. Kyle Hendricks has garnered a lot of attention this season after coming to the organization last July in the Ryan Dempster deal with Texas.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Hendricks may lack “big stuff” but he throws strikes and “commands a deep arsenal that includes four-and two-seam fastballs, a cutter, slider, curve and change.” Hendricks has the ability to keep hitters off balance by varying speeds on his fastball. Hendricks can throw his fastball anywhere from 88-94 mph, sits comfortably in the 88-90 mph range and throws a mid-70s changeup. His command and deception “give him a chance for success” and he projects as a no. 4 or no. 5 starter.

Cubs and the Mesa HoHoKams

According to a report from the Arizona Republic, the Cubs have reached an agreement with the Mesa HoHoKams that will carry over to the Cubs’ new Spring Training home. According to the report, “the Cubs have a memorandum of understanding that will lead to a five-year contract.”

The HoHoKams will have many of the same responsibilities they had at HoHoKam Park except now they will be a subcontractor of the team. The HoHoKams ran the Cubs’ previous Spring Training park and will now serve as ambassadors at the new facility.

Full Report from AZ Central – Includes Photos of the Cubs’ New Spring Training Facility

News and Notes

Jed Hoyer told the Sun-Times that baseball is a young player’s game again and it is difficult to find power in the game today.

Dale Sveum told Comcast SportsNet that the Cubs have to get Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro going over the last seven weeks of the season.

Josh Vitters was activated from the DL on Monday and started at third base for the Iowa Cubs. Vitters had been on the disabled list since July 26 with a right hamstring strain. Vitters hit his fifth home run of the season in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game.

Jason McLeod and a couple of the Cubs roving instructors were in Des Moines on Monday night watching the I-Cubs. Vitters and Mike Olt both homered and Justin Grimm pitched a good game.

Scott Baker threw a bullpen session at Wrigley Field on Monday. Baker is scheduled begin a second 30-day rehab with the Daytona Cubs on Wednesday. The Cubs are still hopeful that Baker will be in the rotation at some point in September. The Cubs would like to re-sign Baker for next year but need to see him on a big league mound this season.

Prior to Monday’s game, the Cubs’ offense was second in the National League and fourth in Major League Baseball with 84 walks since the All-Star break. The Cubs were averaging 3.5 walks per game after the break after managing just 2.6 walks per game before the break.

Darnell McDonald became the 50th different player used by the Cubs this season on Sunday when he hit for Nate Schierholtz and stayed in the game. The Cubs have used more players than any other team this season and are just three short of the franchise record (53) of players used in a single season that was set a year ago.

Derrek Lee returned to Wrigley over the weekend to participate in Woody’s Wiffle Ball Classic.

And lastly … the Dodgers released Ian Stewart on Monday.

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Theboardrider

    I still think Hendricks can be a number 3 at least. I guess he’ll just have to keep proving doubters wrong. He has an arsenal and can clmmand pitches. With a fastball around 90 and a change up in the 79’s the sky is the limit. I look forward to him in Chicago soon.

    What a fun spring training we are due for next year! So many storylines and guys that could impress and eithe make the team or set themselves up or a June call-up. Will be the most exciting spring in years.

    • SirGladiator

      I agree completely. Its easy, even understandable, to make the mistake of overly focusing on the fact that he isn’t a hard thrower, when he’s in like, single A and such. But he’s in AAA now and he’s dominating just like he has every step of the way. When you have the incredible command and arsenal this guy has, you could throw an 80mph fastball and be a 4 or 5 guy. The fact that his fastball is in the low 90s, that’s where Greg Maddux lived, and he wasn’t a 4 or 5 anything. This guy has ‘The Next Greg Maddux’ written all over him, of course back then Greg could always get the calls, while our guys tend to get screwed by the umps on the close ones, that’s his only obstacle left to overcome. So long as he gets a fair shake from the umps, this guy’s got Superstar potential, and I can’t wait to see him in Wrigley.

      • Brp921

        Pitchers who are always around the plate will eventually get their share of calls.

    • cubtex

      #3? Cmon Boardrider…You were calling him an ace yesterday :)

      • Theboardrider

        Hey I said “at least,” Ray! I still think he could be. Cole Hamels, Greg Maddux- he’s in that mold.

      • Dorasaga

        One line I always love to say on prospects: Don’t believe until I see it.

    • jtrain23

      I hate to throw cliche terms around, but he does give me the feeling of a “poor man’s” Greg Maddux. He seems to have a similar skill set and arsenal.

      However, what made Maddux so good for so long was his work ethic, professionalism, and studious nature for the game. There has never been a more devoted student of his craft as Maddux. If Hendricks has an inkling of that cerebral nature, it will definitely bode well for him because location and knowledge of scouting reports will be the ultimate key to his success.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Hoyer said power is hard to find these days. He’s right.
    That’s why he made a nice pick in Bryant.

    • WidespreadHisPanic


    • cubtex

      Baez,Bryant and Vogelbach could be a nice future middle of the order on the North Side. 3 30 plus HR hitters.

      • JimBo_C

        Would love to include Rizzo too but … his current approach at the plate might have too much wrist roll (top hand too strong). When his timing is off (when he his too early) the wrist roll is leading to easy ground outs to the right side. Would love to see a bit more hip turn and swing extension (before he rolls the wrists over).

      • paulcatanese

        Sure would. In the case for Vogelbach though, I think the Cubs are keeping him around as an insurance policy on Rizzo to see if he can make it or not.
        Vogelbach would have a tough time any
        other place than first, and that’s too bad.
        He may end up being a better hitter than Rizzo, but then there’s that contract for Rizzo and the commitment that the Cubs have to him, and of course being a favorite doesn’t hurt either.
        Vogelbach may easily end up as a trade to the American League for some good prospects, and IMO, I would have liked to see him at Wrigley with his bat.

        • cubtex

          I hope they don’t trade Vogelbach for those reasons mentioned. Rizzo has a couple of years before Vogelbach will be knocking at the door. A lot can happen in 2 years.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree, I truly would like to see him at Wrigley with the wind blowing out, and hope it happens.

          • J Daniel

            Heck, who knows? In 2 years Rizzo’s contract could look like a bargain and command a lot in a trade. Or, they are both really good and Vogelbach has to go. Either way, when you build a good system with depth, some guys get moved. Good problem to have.

        • Theboardrider

          Rizzo should end up close to 30 this year. At least 25. I think he’ll have 30 next year. A predictable trajectory is for him to continue to improve, at least for a couple more years.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I think he’ll be lucky to get to 25. 20 is definite.

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  • 07GreyDigger

    There’s been a lot of disappointment this year, but in order to improve some of your young guys have to step forward. I have to say hats off to Wellington Castillo for being a guy like that as well as Travis Wood. We all were hoping to see improvement from Rizzo and Castro, but I am happy to see some from some other guys as well.

    • Theboardrider

      Rizzo’s ability to work in and out of slumps is encouraging to me. For a young guy on an uninspiring team I think it says a lot and bodes well for his future.

      • cubtex

        Really? I feel he is the complete opposite. He doesn’t get enough hits to ever get out of slumps. He doesn’t have 1 game all year where he was able to get 4 hits in a game. He has a lot of 1-4, 0-3 with a BB, etc. Not a lot of mulit hit games. Look at his numbers per month.
        April .224 avg
        May .295 (excellent)
        June .231
        July .210
        August .181

        Other than May….he has not gotten out of slumps.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Damn. You beat me to it! I agree. He batted .241 in the first half and .219 so far in the 2nd. Where is he working out of a slump?

          At least Castro who has also struggled is coming out of it some as evidences by his .292 average in July and .268 so far in August and .265 average in the second half. Don’t see that out of Rizzo at all.

          • cubtex

            He is the one who needs to be dropped in the lineup….not Castro. Rizzo is not ready to be counted on as a run producer. Let him hit 6th. Let him not put pressure on himself to drive in runs. I haven’t looked in a week or so :) but if I am not mistaken…Castro is hitting .292 out of the 2 spot in the lineup for the year. What is wrong with that? Other than leadoff, where he is over .300, that is his where his average is the highest in the order.

          • cubtex

            oops. way off. Castro is hitting .268 with a .307 OBP out of the 2 hole. Still not terrible and I am sure he would improve those numbers before the end of the year.

        • Theboardrider

          He’s had these prolonged droughts several times this year and worked out of them. He was in one until about 2 weeks ago when he went on the HR trend with a couple in back to back games and others. No he hasn’t had a 4-4 game or anything but he’s had periods where he would go 0-18 then follow it up with some success. Sure the o’fers are bad but at his age it’s expected. His ability to get out of a slump is what excites me. He couldn’t do it last year and when he went down he never got back up off the canvas. I don’t have all the numbers here but he’s been better at coming back from droughts.

          • cubtex

            I think you are a fan and aren’t looking at what he has been this year. Look at those averages. The one thing he has done is hit a alot of doubles this year. He hit 8 HR the 1st month. Remember Tony Hall putting up all those on pace stats for Rizzo. 35 HR’s and 125 RBI etc. He has only hit 2 HR per month since that 1st month and he did hit 3 for July.

            For the most part….It has been a huge struggle for Mr. Rizzo this year.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I keep agreeing with Tex here and with good reason. Broadcasters always say, after a homerun that a hitter is out of a slump, but that doesn’t mean anything. Sure, you get an RBI out of it, but a HR is still just a hit.

            On July 31st, Rizzo hit a HR and then 2 the next day. Since the 1st, Rizzo went 1 for 12 until his next HR on the 6th. That’s not breaking out of a slump, that’s breaking back in. Since the 6th, he’s 4 for 24, with 1 2B, 2 RBI and 1 BB and 3K.

            I’ll give him that at he least he’s making contact when he makes outs, but he’s falling back into slumps, not breaking out of them.

          • Dorasaga


            He had three consecutive seasons in the Beantown, Orphans, and Friar systems, down the minor, when he SLUGGED LONGBALLS with high efficiency. High Isolated Power (SLG – AVG), positive indicators.

            It’s a matter of time before he learned the league (and his own flaw at timing in his swing).

            Of course, all said, it’s because he’ll turn 25 next year. If he couldn’t break before the end of his age 27, I must call him an AAAA player.

        • Tony_Hall

          I know avg and RISP avg is your end all of stats, but Rizzo has improved in many ways this year. Rather than try and retype this info read this article, mainly about Rizzo but feel free to read it all.

  • cubtex

    Cubs are 2nd in NL in walks since all star game and 4th in the majors. What has that done for their run production? Does anyone have that stat?

    • Neil

      During the Cardinals series, the team walked 19 times, six
      of those walks scored. Obviously, no walks last night … and no runs. That is the
      last 4 games.

      • cubtex

        Thanks Neil. Do you know if their runs per game is higher in the second half than the first half?

        • Neil

          I don’t have those numbers, sorry. It’s the over-all hitting
          with runners in scoring position that is the problem. The Cubs have dropped to
          last in baseball hitting with runners in scoring position. And this is from the
          same team that leads the NL in extra basehits and is second in the NL in home

          • cubtex

            That’s OK. Yea that is the huge problem. I wish they would sign a veteran to handle that roll until the younger players are ready. It has been so hard to watch this team struggle with RISP. It is too much to put on Rizzo at his age and 1st full year in baseball. He clearly is not ready for hitting where he is in the lineup.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I’m thinking it’s the pressure more than anything else. Last season, when he came up, he batted third almost exclusively and batted .290/.349/.470 and .338 in RISP. So we know he can hit well in that spot.

            With Castro, Barney and Valbuena and no Soriano, it’s Rizzo’s show and maybe he feels like he has to do it all himself. He could be folding under the pressure.

        • Neil

          Here are the numbers … before the break (93) games, the Cubs
          scored 384 runs, 4.13 runs per game. After the break, 77 runs in 25 games, 3.08
          runs per game

          • cubtex

            Thanks a lot for posting Neil. One would assume then that they are struggling even more these days with RISP. As you stated they are now last in that category. I know Soriano got a lot of heat but taking his bat out of the lineup without a viable middle of the order bat replacing him really has hurt.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Is there a number of RISP with Soriano and after? I wonder if the difference is all that much.

          • John_CC

            You guys are getting too weird now.

          • Neil

            Soriano was 26-for-109 with RISP with the Cubs, three doubles, eight home runs … .239/.283/.486

  • Theboardrider

    I like that Vogelbac and Bryant will be in Daytona together. I believe players feed off one another (part of my explanatiom of Rizzo this season) and that having another stud there not only reduces the gaze in one player but gives them someone else to measure themselves against. Instead of being on stud in a sea of average there will be at least two studs. A little internal competition is always good.

    • cubtex

      Have you seen Zeke Devoss’ stats? He doesn’t hit for a great average but he is a walk machine. I am sure the front office is liking that. He has 70 walks this year at Daytona. Average is only .261 but he has a .408 OBP. Vogelbach and Bryant should get quite a few RBI chances.

  • kingdomusa

    Some of our top prospects in the minors are better than some of the no-names up in the SHOW. Seems like A & AA talent might be better than our AAA Iowa team players

    • 07GreyDigger

      Duh. :)

  • SuzyS