Cubs Notes from Down on the Farm – 06/08/14

For those who might want to write off draftees Kyle Schwarber and Mark Zagunis as catching prospects, not so fast. The Cubs’ minor league developmental staff seems to have done a good job in coaching players at the catching position in the lower levels. Daytona’s Willson Contreras was converted to third base after the previous administration felt he would not develop as a catcher. The present staff worked hard with Contreras, and he is now considered the second best defensive catcher to Kane County’s All-Star Will Remillard. Minor league coaches have also worked with former utility infielder Ben Carhart and developed him into a nice catching prospect. They are also in the process of converting a very talented youngster in Mark Malave from infield to catcher. If either Schwarber or Zagunis show enough ability to remain at catcher, you can expect the minor league staff to develop their abilities to the fullest.

If anyone has any doubts as to the phrase “you can never have enough pitching,” take a look at what has happened to the Tennessee Smokies’ staff. Minor league watchers were abuzz at the beginning of the season of a rotation that had Pierce Johnson, C.J. Edwards, Corey Black, and Ivan Pineyro. Now all are on the disabled list and the Smokies have a staff consisting of two minor league free agents in Joe Gardner and Julio Rodriguez, the elastic Eduardo Figueroa, and perennial prospects Matt Loosen and Dae-Eun Rhee. Making the situation worse is the fact that of all the pitchers at Daytona, only Felix Pena appears to be ready for the next level.

The release of veteran RHP Joel Pineiro was not as much a reflection of his ability, but an endorsement of the system’s new found depth. While Pineiro did not pitch well for a player of his experience, he became expendable due to the successes of lefties Tsuyoshi Wada (2.60 ERA), Eric Jokisch (3.28), and Chris Rusin (3.14). All three of those pitchers are in the Pacific Coast League’s top 15 in both ERA and WHIP. Factor in the aforementioned Joe Gardner, who has blitzed the Southern League with a 0.98 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in three starts. Also hanging around is last season’s minor league Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hendricks, who is 6-4 with a 3.90 ERA; while Carlos Pimentel has a 3.97 ERA in 10 appearances (seven starts) and Dallas Beeler at a 4.67 ERA after starting six games.

While it was obvious that Kris Bryant deserved his All-Star nomination, the next deserving player had to be Daytona OF Bijan Rademacher. The lefty has been one of the most consistent players on a somewhat underachieving team. Without much protection from his teammates, Rademacher is batting .306/.413/.463/.875 with three home runs, 21 RBI, and three stolen bases in 48 games.

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  • Tony_H

    Great perspective! I know I disagree with you from time to time, but agree completely with you on everything in this update.

    • Tom U

      There is no problem with disagreeing. It keeps me honest and humble.

      • Tony_H

        I agree (or should I disagree) and you have changed my mind many times with your thoughts. Just as there is no one way to construct a 25 man roster, there is many ways to run a minor league system and with that creates debate about decisions.

  • Rational Logic

    Tom,

    Do you think it’s fair to say the Cubs’ draft this year should be considered a success only if they are able to sign the high upside high-school arms (i.e Cease, Sands)? Or do you think the Cubs did enough with Schwarber and Stinnett to warrant a passing grade?

    • Tom U

      Within the past few seconds, it appears that the Cubs have signed Sands (Twitter just exploded), so that helps things.

      The Cubs had very specific need along with the general pitching, pitching, and more pitching. They needed to bolster their catching and also needed run producers. They seem to have gotten some production from Schwarber and Zagunis. Those two may not stick at catcher, but they drafted six in total. Hopefully, a few will pan out.

      • Rational Logic

        Well…there you have it. Perfect timing. Agreed on all front. I trust the FO. To me, seemed like a very strong draft. Thanks.

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

        If we just signed Sands that is huge! He would have gone much higher if teams thought he was singable.

        Regardless of what you think of the FO they have a great track record of doing due Dilligance on tough to sign young draftees. They seem to consistently draft and sign players viewed tough to sign.

        Congratulations to Sands! Albeit young, he has TOR potential. May be 2018 before he’s ready but if he develops like some believe he can that is his ceiling.

  • Denver Mike

    Schwarber may have signed already as well, as was pretty much expected.

    Chicago bound— kschwarb12 (@kschwarb12) June 8, 2014

    • bpot92

      The quicker they sign, the quicker they can start working out with the coaches on defense and framing as well as keep their bats from getting rusty! I like that both the catchers will have signed quickly if reports are true

    • Swish23

      Keith Law has listed the Cubs drafting of Schwarber as a “head-scratcher”. The article is subscription only; I read it today; so I won’t post it; but basically if Schwarber cannot catch; as most assume, he really is a 1B only. Only 3 players ever have been listed at 6 foot, 240 lbs and played the OF. Marlon Byrd, Dayan Viceido, Byron Gettis. Only 4 more ever played at 230 lbs. (he does not list those names; but one was nicknamed “Fats”). 7 guys ever played that big.

      With Rizzo, Vogelbach, and Shoulders, not sure how another 1B has any value as the 4th pick in the draft. Seems the FO likes his power and walk rate way too much forgetting the kid has to play somewhere. Just as the tanking on purpose plan has risks on prospects not being suspects; as most are, so does losing thinking every draft will be fruitful.. MLB drafts are very risky; more so than any othier sport. Considering Conforto was there to be taken as were other pitchers; Schwarber is definitely a risk.

      • Ripsnorter1

        They probably had him signed before the draft even took place. They would then be drafting him for his (1) signability, and (2) they like his walk rate. It is not like he is the #4 most desirable player in this draft.

  • Tom U

    After going 7 shut out innings last night, Dae-Eun Rhee is the only Smokies starter to go through the entire season without being on the DL (jinx now in place).

  • Tom U

    From Mike Safford at Boise Hawks Radio on 22 rounder Joe Martarano:

    Physical player who was a 3B in HS…strong, simple swing…will play LB for Boise State University this fall, but new head coach gave him OK to play ball…type of player who will could give immediate buzz to the Boise baseball scene

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

    I love the quote of the day feature.

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

    Is Bijan Rademacher a 4th outfielder at best? He has been so consistent.

    When will some of the AA pitching staff come back? Do we believe the staff can be all returned by mid season so we can truly gauge these guys?

    Happy about all the success our AAA staff is having. I’m excited to see what these guys can do after trades occur. Grimm and Ramjrez should be stretched out as well. We’ve got some real pitching depth. Now we need to pull the Bindy trade and deposit a true TOR prospect in the system.

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

      With Bundy at the top the rest of our pitching would look a lot better not havin to be considered as leading a staff.

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