Updates on Arrieta and Baez and Cubs News from Down on the Farm

Jake Arrieta completed his third rehab start on Wednesday. Arrieta worked into the sixth inning after retiring 10 in a row at one point and setting down 12 of the first 13 batters he faced to start his afternoon. Arrieta ended up allowing one earned run on three hits with one walk and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. After being scheduled to throw six innings or 80-85 pitches, Arrieta threw 82 pitches, 50 for strikes on Wednesday.

PrintJake Arrieta could reportedly make his last rehab start at some point next week for the Iowa Cubs. Iowa is in the middle of an eight-game homestand and face the Round Rock Express on April 21 and April 22. The I-Cubs have Wednesday, April 23 off and begin a four-game series in Colorado on April 24. If Arrieta completes his fourth rehab outing with Iowa on April 21, he should be ready to join the Cubs’ rotation on the next road trip, likely at some point during the Brewers series in Milwaukee (April 25-27).

The Cubs shifted their rotation slightly for the weekend series with the Reds. Jeff Samardzija is starting the opener on Friday with Edwin Jackson moving up to Saturday and Carlos Villanueva taking the hill a day later on Sunday in the finale. Villanueva’s spot in the rotation would come back around on April 25. Villanueva will move to the bullpen one Arrieta is ready to join the Cubs’ rotation.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez is on the 7-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Iowa placed Baez on the DL last Sunday (April 13) but backdated the DL stint to April 11. Marty Pevey said earlier in the week the team expected Baez to be out 5-7 days past Friday when he would be eligible to come off the disabled list. Baez said Tuesday that he thought he broke his ankle when the injury first occurred.

According to reports from the Des Moines Register, Baez went through running drills in the outfield on Wednesday and played “some catch.” Baez appeared to be moving well at the time.

The Des Moines Register reported Thursday afternoon that Marty Pevey said Javier Baez would take groundballs on Friday and “will also hit some,” but Baez will not throw.

Brett Jackson

The I-Cubs placed Brett Jackson on the 7-day DL Thursday with a right oblique strain. For the season, Jackson is hitting .121/.194/.273 with one triple, one home run, three walks and 17 strikeouts in 11 games.

The front office bumped Jonathan Mota up from Double-A Tennessee to Iowa to take Jackson’s spot on the I-Cubs’ roster.

This is an important season for Brett Jackson. An extended stay on the disabled list is not what Jackson needs at this point. Jackson has the talent to be a successful player at the big league level. Jackson has to put the strikeouts behind him and hit the way he did in 2010 and 2011.

Zac Rosscup

Zac Rosscup was very good on Wednesday night in The Bronx. Rosscup retired all five batters he faced with one strikeout. Rosscup was recalled and added to the roster as the Cubs’ 26th man prior to the second game of the day-night doubleheader.

The Cubs optioned Rosscup back down to Iowa on Thursday. Because Rosscup was recalled for the second game of a doubleheader, Rosscup does not have to stay in the minors for 10 days before he could be recalled again.

Duane Underwood and Cubs Prospects

Duane Underwood made his Kane County debut last Sunday and allowed one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts in three innings. Underwood has a huge upside and does not turn 20 until July (July 20, 1994).

With Mike Olt making the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, MLB.com updated its ranking of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system … and Underwood cracked the top 20.

  1. Javier Baez, INF
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B
  3. Albert Almora, OF
  4. C.J. Edwards, RHP
  5. Jorge Soler, OF
  6. Arismendy Alcantara, INF
  7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
  8. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
  9. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
  11. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  12. Eloy Jimenez, OF
  13. Neil Ramirez, RHP
  14. Paul Blackburn, RHP
  15. Kyle Hendricks, RHP
  16. Corey Black, RHP
  17. Jacob Hannemann, OF
  18. Tyler Skulina, RHP
  19. Gleyber Torres, SS
  20. Duane Underwood, RHP

Mike Olt was ranked as the 14th best player in the Cubs’ system in the pre-season rankings.

Joel Pineiro

The Cubs signed veteran RHP Joel Pineiro to a minor league contract on April 1 and he was expected to spend 10 days in extended Spring Training before reporting to Iowa. Pineiro replaced Pierce Johnson in an extended spring training game on Thursday and pitched three scoreless innings.

Joel Pineiro should be added to the I-Cubs roster in the very near future.

Tyler Kolek

According to Keith Law, Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow was joined by Cubs’ scouting director on Thursday to watch RHP Tyler Kolek throw. This is at least the third time a high-ranking Cubs’ official has watched the hard-throwing right hander pitch. Kolek was in the 94-97 mph range in the first inning with his fastball.

Keith Law did not say if it was Matt Dorey or Joe Bohringer that was on hand to watch Kolek on Thursday. Matt Dorey is the Cubs director of amateur scouting and Joe Bohringer is the director of pro scouting. Dorey reportedly scouted Kolek on March 6.

Theo Epstein watched Tyler Kolek pitch last Friday.

Cubs Minors on Twitter

The Sporting News released a ranking of the most popular minor league baseball teams on Twitter. And to no surprise, the Cubs’ minor league teams are among the tops in baseball.

The Iowa Cubs came in at number four among Triple-A teams. The Tennessee Smokies checked in at number six on the Double-A side. The defending Florida State League Champions, the Daytona Cubs is seventh on the Class-A list and Kane County made the cut at number 10.

The Cubs’ system has the second most followers (53,200)in minor league ball, just behind the Boston Red Sox (54,000) and ahead of the New York Yankees (51,400).

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Tom U

    There are reports that Jake Arrieta’s rehab will have an effect on the season debut for Pierce Johnson.

    According to Arizona Phil http://www.thecubreporter.com/04172014/pierce-johnson-wows-em-riverview-rally-edge-cubs, Johnson appears to be ready, and will possibly move up to Tennessee when Arrieta completes a start this weekend.

    • Richard Hood

      This is the news I have been waiting for. I expect Johnson to be making his push towards a September call up this year. I know that sounds fast but this kid could do it with a dominating performance in AA ball.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Great news on Underwood! The kid could reach TOR potential. So young! Love it.

    Hope Baez heals up and gets going.

    Too bad for BJax. He’s a cautionary tale. Tons of talent but can’t get it together. Please nobody go blaming the front office for his personal failings. Has he been managed perfectly? I’m sure the answer is no. Few are. But his development or lack therefor is squarely on his own shoulders. It’s worth it to tweak him to help cut on his strikeouts because if he can’t cut down he’ll never make it anyway. I like the kid but hitting .120 in the minors this year doesn’t bode well. Look at what Vitters is doing. BJax needed to be right there with him but instead he’s flailing as usual and now he’s hurt.

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