The search for the Cubs next skipper enters day seven on Wednesday, it has been exactly one week since the front office lost out on their first choice to some team in the Big Apple. Over the last ten-plus days the Cubs have interviewed A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta and Rick Renteria. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Randy Bush are scheduled to meet with Dave Martinez this week in Chicago.
Some have put Renteria and Martinez above Hinch and Acta at this point of the process, but the Cubs could be waiting to interview Torey Lovullo before making their decision on who will be the 53rd manager of the Chicago Cubs.
One thing is certain, the Cubs will have a new manager for the fourth time in five years, and Starlin Castro, who has only been in the league since 2010, will be playing for his fourth different skipper.
While the focus has been on the managerial search, and the MLB playoffs, there has been quite a bit of minor league news over the past couple of days … including Kris Bryant being named Co-Player of the Week in the Arizona Fall League.
Arizona Fall League
So far so good for the Cubs’ prospects in the Arizona Fall League and the big three left quite an impression on Keith Law. Albert Almora, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler “all look great right now” and Soler is “visibly bigger and stronger” than when Law saw him last year. Law pointed out that Soler “looked the most improved of the three, but that is also a function of how advanced the other guys were coming into the fall.”
Albert Almora played centerfield and hit leadoff for the Solar Sox on Tuesday. Almora went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, a walk and a run scored. Almora is 8-for-14 in the three games he’s played in with three doubles, one triple, one home run and one walk with one strikeout (.571/.600/.1.143/1.743).
Jorge Soler was Mesa’s designed hitter on Tuesday and racked up another double in five at bats. Soler is 5-for-26 in five games with three doubles, no walks and six strikeouts (.192/.192/.308/.500).
Armando Rivero surrendered his first run of the fall on Tuesday. Rivero, who could contend for a spot in the Cubs’ pen in Spring Training, has allowed one run on three hits in three appearances (three games) with no walks and three strikeouts (3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Kris Bryant had a pretty good first week in the Arizona Fall League and he was awarded with Co-Player of the Week honors on Tuesday.
Bryant hit .500 with two home runs and seven RBI in the first week of the AFL and he finished with a .444/.450/.833 line after four games. Bryant went 8-for-18 with five runs scored, one double, two home runs, eight RBI, one walk and two strikeouts. For those scoring at home, his OPS was 1.283. Bryant committed an error and played three of his four games at third base, the other game he served as the Solar Sox’s DH. Bryant has been working on his defense at the hot corner and he feels he has made progress. Bryant is expected to see playing time in the outfield during the AFL season, but he will remain at third base when camp begins in February.
Keith Law was impressed with Bryant and said he squared up 97 mph fastballs “like it was 87 mph” and he showed “huge raw power in BP.”
C.J. Edwards, or the ‘String Bean Slinger’ which has been his nickname since high school, made quite an impression in a short amount of time in the Cubs’ system. Edwards has been compared to Satchel Paige and Oil Can Boyd due to his 6-foot-3, 165 pound frame.
Tom Ricketts, Jed Hoyer, Randy Bush, Jason McLeod, Brandon Hyde and Kerry Wood were on hand for Edwards’ playoff debut with the Daytona Cubs and he impressed the Cubs’ brass. After Edwards struck out the first four batters he faced, seven of the first 10 and eight total in five innings on the night, Hoyer and Wood used the same word to describe Edwards’ velocity according to Baseball America … Easy.
Baseball America posted a fantastic report on C.J. Edwards that is more than recommended reading.
The Cubs view this winter as a key off-season for Edwards’ development. Edwards was the piece the Cubs insisted on in the trade for Matt Garza and he could end up a big part of the Cubs’ future. Dave Keller’s quote about the young hurler says it all. According to Keller, “You can tell he doesn’t just want to be a pitcher in the big leagues. He wants to be somebody who makes a difference.”
“Hit the mitt, C.J.! Hit the mitt!” That certainly has a Wrigley chant written all over it.
Cubs Mesa Complex
Construction on the Cubs’ new facility is nearly complete and it is scheduled to open on December 1. Photos have surfaced, most notably from Tim Sheridan, and the facility looks impressive as promised. The Cubs are scheduled to have a mini camp at the new facility on November 1.
The unnamed complex is 140 acres and will seat 14,000-15,000 per game on the main field that has the same dimensions as Wrigley Field.
The Cubs will use the facility year around and the players will benefit from the 70,000 square-foot player development building, which is the largest in the Cactus League. And for the first time, when Spring Training begins in February both the Major League and minor league players will be in the same facility. The Major League players will have a different clubhouse from the minor leaguers.
2013 MiLBY Awards
A few of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system need your vote in the 2013 MiLBY Awards.
Javier Baez is nominated in four different categories … Play of the Year, Home Run of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Game of the Year. But Baez is not alone.
C.J. Edwards is nominated for Breakout Prospect of the Year and Eric Jokisch is up for Moment of the Year. Kyle Hendricks and C.J. Edwards are among 12 pitchers vying for Pitcher of the Year honors.
The Daytona Cubs are nominated for Team of the Year after winning the FSL title.
News and Notes
The Cubs have already been loosely connected to free agent catcher Brian McCann, but the team’s interest in McCann should be labeled as unknown. Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York spoke with a GM that thinks McCann could end up with a six-year, $100 million deal this off-season. The GM feels that McCann is a top five catcher in the game that could transition to first base and DH “toward the end of the deal.”
And lastly, those Redbirds are a win away from another appearance in the series and Deadspin wonders why they don’t respect the game.