Bryant Keeps Impressing, Vizcaino Progressing and Cubs News from Down on the Farm

Kris Bryant is off to a very good start to his first full season of professional baseball. Bryant is performing at the plate (.322/.418/.605/1.023, 20 walks, 10 doubles, 11 home runs) the way the front office expected he would when the Cubs selected him with the second overall pick in last June’s draft. Bryant is working on his defense and cutting down on the strikeouts (50) that figure to be part of his game throughout his career.

Jed Hoyer addressed a possible promotion for Bryant to Triple-A Iowa and the Cubs have not had internal discussions about promoting one of the top prospects in the system. The Cubs would like to see him continue to thrive at the Double-A level, work with his current teammates, and focus on improving his deficiencies. Also as part of a player’s development, seeing how he responds to adversity at the Double-A level would help him down the road. Bryant has made things look rather easy at the plate, and that is not going to be the case once he makes it to the majors.

Kris Bryant impressed Jose Veras while the big leaguer was rehabbing with the Smokies. Veras told the beat writers, “This kid’s unbelievable. Everybody loves him. Unbelievable teammate. He’s humble. He’s kind of the leader of the team.”

Jesse Rogers spoke with Kris Bryant on the phone Wednesday about being named Southern League Hitter of the Week and the way he has heated up at the plate after a solid start to the season. Bryant told ESPN Chicago, “I’ve gotten a lot of good pitches to hit lately and I’ve done what I’m supposed to do with them.” According to the ESPN Chicago report, “Many around Bryant say he is his own hitting coach. He admits to needing help.” On his ability to seemingly make quick adjustments, Bryant said, “Having a more solid approach, realizing how pitchers are trying to get me out and not letting them do that. I think the first couple of weeks was definitely a learning process.”

Kris Bryant is not focused on Chicago according to the report from ESPN, he is focused on his job with the Smokies and “blocks out all the distractions and things I can’t control.”

Arodys Vizcaino

Arodys Vizcaino is healthy and he has already been promoted to Double-A Tennessee after beginning the season with High-A Daytona. Vizcaino pitched in nine games (9 innings) for the D-Cubs and allowed one run on six hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts (1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP). In four games for the Smokies, Vizcaino has allowed one hit with no walks and seven strikeouts in four innings (0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP) and it is not a stretch to say Vizcaino will see the big leagues this year as long as he stays healthy.

Chris Bosio addressed Vizcaino’s progress this season with Comcast SportsNet. Bosio said, “He’s right on plan. Obviously, we’d like to get our hands on all these guys up here at some point. He’s maintained his stuff and he’s done well. It’s exciting what we potentially could have in a couple of months with this guy.”

The Cubs are being very cautious with the hard-throwing right hander. Vizcaino has not pitched on consecutive days and still has to show he can bounce back and pitch two days in a row. Vizcaino has pitched every three to four days for the most part season. Vizcaino did pitch on May 7 and May 9 after he was promoted to Double-A.

Arodys Vizcaino is one of the many prospects in the system to keep an eye on throughout the summer. And it will be important to not only read the box scores, if MiLB.TV is not available, but pay attention to the dates in which he pitches.

Jorge Soler

Jorge Soler left Thursday night’s game with hamstring tightness. Soler aggravated the injury that has sidelined him for a majority of the season. Soler ranged to the gap in right center to make a play. He caught the ball and threw it back in before he hit the turf in obvious pain. Soler stayed on the ground for a short time, facing down before turning over when the trainer arrived to check on him. Soler left the field on his own power.

At the time of the injury, Soler appeared to be suffering from a leg cramp and not a hamstring injury. He did not grab the back of his leg before he went down.

Jorge Soler was held out of the Smokies lineup on Friday night. Manager Buddy Bailey did not provide an update on Soler prior to the game according to Mick Gillispie.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez keeps making headlines, right now though, they are for the wrong reasons. Baez is struggling at Iowa and hasn’t been able to get on track yet. Reports have surfaced that suggest Baez was disappointed about not making the team out of Spring Training, but if that is the case Baez should have been able to put that behind him by now.

Jed Hoyer addressed Baez’s struggles this week and the Cubs’ GM admitted he’s “in a big slump.” Hoyer added, “He’s going to have to figure his way out of it. He’ll be stronger for having to go through this. Now it’s just a matter of Javy kind of figuring out what he needs to do to get through this.”

As for a possible position change or seeing time at second base for Baez, as planned, right now the front office needs for him to get on track at the plate before determining how much playing time to give him at second base.

Gordon Wittenmyer spoke with Jaron Madison, the Cubs farm director, and he thinks a breakout is right around the corner for Baez. And as Wittenmyer pointed out, Javier Baez is the youngest player at the Triple-A level.

C.J. Edwards

The Cubs have not provided an update on RHP C.J. Edwards yet. Edwards was placed on the minor league 7-day disabled list at the end of April (April 25) with inflammation in his right shoulder. Edwards was supposed to be shut down for at least two weeks at the time the news surfaced the MRI on his right shoulder revealed fatigue and inflammation, but no structural damage. According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi on Thursday afternoon, Edwards is still shutdown and no return date has been set.

News and Notes

Josh Vitters talked with MiLB.com about two of his teammates, Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez.

Ken Rosenthal made a list of prospects that could be on the way to the Majors. Javier Baez was mentioned and if he was hitting there would be noise about the Cubs calling him up.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • kslee146

    If you look at Javy’s game log going back to the beginning of the season, you’ll see that he played fairly well until the start of May. Calling him a bust this early into his first AAA season is very premature, as it’s clear he’s only slumping, albeit awfully. I can see him busting out of it pretty soon, and once he makes those adjustments at that level, it’ll lead to him being successful in the majors.

    • GaryLeeT

      I don’t think many are concerned about Baez’s batting average or HRs. The concern has been, and will be his K rate. That’s what I am looking at for signs of improvement.

  • Ripsnorter1

    ESPN Insider has a truly great article on the 25 most highly rated draft picks for the last ten years. If you have not read the article, I think it will be very profitable for every baseball fan to read and consider. Here’s the link:

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/mlb-draft/post?id=1674

    The article rates the 25 highest rated (by scouts) players, and looks back at how they have fared. Half of the time they were not even the best player taken for that year, as time revealed that the best player was rated lower.

    #3 Matt Wieters: “There’s still time for him to become a star, but “Mauer with power” is probably never going to happen.”

    #4 Justin Upton: “The offensive potential is still huge, but he’s not the 35-homer, 25-stolen base guy that so many thought he was going to be at this point.”

    #7 Andrew Miller: “He’s the first player in this ranking who could be classified as a major disappointment.”

    #9 Gerrit Cole: “Cole wasn’t the first pitcher to make his debut from the 2011 class (Bauer) and he almost assuredly won’t be the best (Jose Fernandez), but he has posted a 3.34 ERA since being called up a year ago and could still be an ace.”

    #11 Tim Beckham: “there’s little to no chance he’ll ever reach the massive potential he showed as a prep, profiling more as a utility player. ”

    #12 Dustin Ackley:”Ackley still has time to be a quality hitter at the top of the order, but he’s closer to bust than he is to justifying this ranking.”

    #15 Josh Vitters: “At this point, it’d be a surprise if Vitters became anything more than a backup corner infielder; he just doesn’t have the skill to be an everyday player.”

    #16 Alex Gordon: “He’s nowhere close to the best collegiate hitter to come out of that class, he’s certainly not a bust by any stretch of the imagination.”

    And there’s plenty more to read. It is excellent.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Conclusion: the draft is a crap shoot. Any idea that all of the big draft picks Team Theo makes are going to make it is unrealistic.

      • Tony_H

        Who has ever said ALL?

        • Ripsnorter1

          Have you heard of the Cubs’ “Big Four?”
          Almora, Byrant, Baez, Soler.

          Have you ever heard of someone prognosticating that they are all going to be stars? I have.

          Realistically, MLB is a very tough world to survive in, and expectations can exceed the reality of the thing.

          And some or all are going to struggle once they get to the show.

          • Tony_H

            Yes, but no one has ever said that all will make it.

            Individually they all have their floors and ceilings that also could be wrong.

            There is no guarantees on any player at any time. Players get better and go backwards at all different times. The majority will follow a normal path or what is perceived as normal. But nothing is for sure or guaranteed in baseball. That is why the really long term deals are ridiculous, especially for guys around and over 30.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            Tony: I agree with you. The worst signings tend to be these long-term deals with players around or over 30. At 31 the Yankees agreed to pay C.C. Sabathia, $122 for 5 years. Look how well he’s doing now with the Yankees having over $90 million left on his contract. He’s pitching poorly and hurt.

            Let’s put aside that the fact that Samardizija is a bit of a jerk with his hypocritical comments. The reality is: he’s not proven he’s worth $16-17 million a year for 6 years. You pay that kind of money on consistent performance and potential — not just potential. It’s risky enough to pay a pitcher when he’s performed well. But it’s insane to pay a pitcher like Samardizija when his greatness is inconsistent. (What happened to him last year when he collapsed the 2nd half of the season?) The Homer Bailey deal is not looking brilliant either. They — way overpaid for him.

            One of the best things that could happen for CUB fans is to have all the large MLB teams use up all their money making stupid, long-term signings. Then, when the CUBS are ready to spend, they’ll have less competition.

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

            Most people, even the most optimistic, don’t believe all 4 will become great big league players. 2 of 4 would be great and 3 would be incredible.

            That’s what is so important about the depth we are building. Guys like Alcantra may end up filling some holes.

          • Richard Hood

            There is always a bust factor. Just like the is always a surprise late guy that is better than projected. For this FO to be viewed as successful will actually take a long time to get the sample size needed to judge. Until the first of their guys actually plays in the majors we are all getting ahead of our selves.

          • GaryLeeT

            “to be viewed as successful will actually take a long time to get the sample size needed to judge.”

            True, for a prospect only rebuild. Shameful for a major market team.

          • Eugene Debs

            So why do they get such a long time until results can be evaluated? Most teams try to build the farm and win all at the same time. To be allowed to tank and get super high draft picks for half a decade? They may strike gold on some prospects but I can safely say right now that front office grades are pretty low so far in my book.

          • Richard Hood

            I was talking about the minors in general not the rebuild. I was always on the dual fronts page with the rebuild. Not this style that involves trading away veterans even if we can not replace their production.

          • Tom U

            Rip, I believe all the talk about the “Core Four” is just a creation of the Johnny-Come-Lately’s” in the mainstream media. It does not appear that this is driven by the Cubs management, due to their constant downplaying of what is happening with them, be it good or bad.

      • Sonate

        Agreed. High school pitchers, in particular, are virtually impossible to project accurately. That’s why I hope they draft a college pitcher at #4 — if they feel they must draft pitching with that pick.

    • Tony_H

      I thought that was a good, fun article. Also showed how much of a disappointment Vitters has really been, if they have him as the 15th best prospect over the last 10 years and yet Bryant is 24th.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I am almost to the point of saying, “Let’s not draft high school players.”

      • Ripsnorter1

        Vitters has been a HUGE disappointment. Very sad indeed.

    • Swish23

      good post Rip. Really shows how much a prospect is a suspect and this tanking on purpose plan is really absurd. Also shows that JH did not leave the cupboard bare; the Theo lovers are forgetting the horrid luck the team has had with prime prospects. Vitters should be raking at 3rd, 1st or LF right now. Not to mention Kerry Wood and Mark Prior both had careers ruined by injury. Even Tyler Colvin, who was deemed a “signable” pick has made the majors.
      Whata, coulda, shoulda, heard it all in 40 yrs of being a diehard. 1999-2004; Cubs were top 5 to 10 farm system; lead to zero championships. (and they did not tank on purpose).
      The Plan is really an expansion rebuild by choice; key word is by choice. Forget a top 3 market, top 10 attendance (lower now by choice putting a AAAA product on the filed), top 3 tix prices and top 5 revenues; it’s all by choice.
      Right now, Cubs are on pace to win 52 games. It’s Pk Wrigley all over again; players get too expensive we trade them, Madlock, Sutter and soon Smardz.
      Once the renovations begin, if they ever do, at 100M per year on avg cost; the payroll is only going lower. (monies from nat’l tv contract/25M, new Budweiser deal/10M, next yr’s new local tv contract(maybe add’l 25M?), the jumbotron (if ever done)/30-40M estimates; they might add up to 80-100M; renovations will take it all).
      come 2016 when this team will still not be playoff bound; gotta wonder what the Family Trust will do; like 106 yrs is not embarrasing enough; let’s lose on purpose by choice. Ouch!

      • John_CC

        Just because some are not haters does not mean they are lovers. I really hate the “Theo lover” thing, it is immature and does nothing to further a discussion. It is simply name calling.

        Are you OK with being called a Hendry lover?

        • Swish23

          its not name calling or immature. if you don’t like theo; it does not concern you. i’m not a JH lover; just like to keep the facts straight. he won 3 divisions in 9 years; no other GM did that since the 1930′s/1940′s. the theo supporters and there are a few on here; who no matter what; support every move; even those that make no sense. so call me a JH lover; it’s not degoratory; does not bother me. facts are facts. there is zero guarantee losing on purpose will breed a winner. and much less chance than actually trying to win with proven MLB talent. at least it’s MLB talent. MiLB talent is just that; MiLB talent.

          • John_CC

            It not about liking Theo Epstein personally. I do support a lot of the things he’s done so far, so I guess that makes me Theo lover?

            My analogy is sound, if those that are going along with the rebuild are Theo lovers then it follows that your support and belief in what hendry did would make you a Hendry lover.

            Pretty silly eh? If you agree then let’s just drop the “lover” part OK. We can continue to disagree on everything else.

    • Larry Schwimmer

      Ripsnorter, thanks for this article. Since I’m not an Espn “Insider,” can you cut and past the article and post it her so that it can be seen in its entirety? Thanks.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Larry, I’m sorry he cannot post the entire report here. ESPN does not permit those type of things.

        • Larry Schwimmer

          Sorry…I wasn’t aware of that. Thanks for letting me know Neil.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            No worries whatsoever

      • Ripsnorter1

        Larry,
        Buy the magazine, and the Insider is free. I found a deal and bought 4 years of the mag for $8 total delivered price. (Yup: $2 per year). I think the mag stinks to high Heaven, but the Insider is fantastic.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I don’t get the concern with K’s, provided the OBP is solid.
    So if you either walk, K, or hit at high slugging rate, I will take that every day.

    I would rather have a high-K guy then someone that makes contact for the sake of making contact leading to a double-play machine. Derrick Lee was really solid overall, but it seemed the guy hit into a doubleplay at least once a game…drove me nuts. Would rather he K’d and let someone else get a shot rather than end the inning/rally with a DP.

    If, and it is still an “if”, Baez and Bryant both make it to the bigs, and are productive sluggers, and “if” Olt makes it, you would have 4 good HR-hitting sluggers in Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, and Olt. Add some other OF (Lake, Soler, a FA signing, etc) and 15-HR pop in Castro/Castillo, the Cubs will be hitting a lot of balls out of the park.

    They will put up a ton of runs, regardless of K’s, due to the power.
    Reminds me of 2004: Sosa, Alou, Aramis, and DLee…whoa.

    • MarkleMcD

      You know who else has hit into a lot of double plays? Albert Pujols in his prime. In 2008 Derek Lee hit into 27 double plays…the same as Albert Pujols in 2007. The reality is that guys with power who can avoid the strikeout put more balls in play and thus usually hit for a higher average than guys who K more often.

    • Ripsnorter1

      The concern with too many K’s is very simple:
      If you strike out 35% of the time, it becomes impossible to hit even as high as .240. A batter’s “BABIP” (ie, “Batting Average for Balls in Play”) for a league average is just over .330. The math looks like this:

      35% K = .000 BA in those At bats
      65% X .330 = 22 H in those At Bats
      Total= .220 hitter

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