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

With All-Star season upon us in the minors, some reshuffling of personnel can be expected. Here are some moves that may happen:

Kris Bryant to Iowa: Okay, so I started with an obvious one. It seems pretty clear that Bryant is ready for the next level, yet still has work to do with his defense and cutting down on strikeouts. However, the reaction that most expect may not happen. Iowa third baseman Christian Villanueva may not get sent down to Tennessee in order to accommodate Bryant, but rather be moved to second base. This looks like a possible scenario if infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Logan Watkins are promoted to the big leagues.

Armando Rivero to Iowa: The hard-throwing right-hander is primed for a move following an All-Star appearance. But he may have to wait for a little while if the parent club is looking to trade some of their pitchers before a spot at the Triple-A level opens. The organization can loan out Frank Batista or Yoanner Negrin to the Mexican League again, or cut Marcos Mateo, but those moves do not seem likely.

Gioskar Amaya to Tennessee: If the first scenario with Bryant happens, Tennessee has plenty of in-house options to fill third base. Stephen Bruno, Anthony Giansanti, and Jonathan Mota all having experience there and veteran infielders Elliot Soto and Jeudy Valdez are available. While Amaya doesn’t have outstanding numbers, he has hit a consistent .274 and his fielding is about right where you want it at .978, and was named a Florida State League All-Star. Amaya has more upside than previous Smokies’ infielder Wes Darvill.

Willson Contreras to Tennessee: Contreras is following a May in which he hit .370 by batting .378 in his last ten games. This move may take a little while as the organization will want to see if draft choices Kyle Schwarber or Mark Zagunis can be jumped to Daytona in a similar fashion to what happened with Bryant last season.

Jordan Hankins to Daytona: All-Star Hankins has had a surprisingly good season for Kane County, batting .304/.342/.421/.763 with one home run and 26 RBI in 48 games. At 22 years old, Hankins is a better fit in the Florida State League than 20-year old Jeimer Candelario. The move could help Candelario get back on track offensively from his .194 average. It is good to note that Candelario has improved his defense at third to a .949 average.

Tyler Skulina, Paul Blackburn, and Juan Carlos Paniagua to Daytona: Kane County has the best pitching staff in the Midwest League thanks in part to the trio of Skulina, Blackburn and Paniagua. Daytona’s pitching staff is in disarray as Starling Peralta is on suspension and former relievers Justin Amlung and Nathan Dorris are being used in the rotation. All three could join All-Star Felix Pena and 2013 second round pick Rob Zastryzny in a much more formidable starting rotation. Starter Tayler Scott may move back down to the Cougars in the process.

Oliver Zapata to Kane County: This move would be made to free up more playing time for both Shawon Dunston Jr. and Trey Martin. Dunston and Martin are in a quasi-platoon and Dunston can move into a starting role with the Cougars while Martin would receive more at bats with Boise. A switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions and having experience at Single-A, Zapata fits better as a fourth outfielder.

With Arismendy Alcantara seeing time in the outfield and Logan Watkins playing first base, both seem to be more ready to make the jump to the big leagues than management will admit. Expect both players to get the call once some trades go down.

From my point of view, the only positive outcome to the Cubs signing catcher Yorvit Torrealba is that he takes over as a starter at Triple-A Iowa after Welington Castillo returns from the disabled list and Rafael Lopez is promoted. Veterans John Baker and Eli Whiteside would end up being released if that was to occur.

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  • triple

    Tom- Realistically, when would you expect to see Schwarber be promoted to either Kane County or Daytona? And obviously he’s only played 1 game so far, but which do you think will be the more appropriate place for him?

    • Richard Hood

      I know I am not Tom but I think it matters how much he has left in the tank after a full season of college ball. If they think that Schwaber is going to still be fresh enough to play in the AFL they may send him to Daytona first to get him use to that level of competition but if they think he is going to run out of gas towards at some point they might just send him to Kane County and start him at Daytona next year.

      • triple

        Good point about the rigors of his first longer (than college) season. So he’s played about 60 games, but that also started back in February. I guess the destination of his promotion will depend on how well he does in Boise. But I’m now starting to think that the AFL should be out of question for him, as he will already be playing a longer than normal season. I’m sure they’d want him to be fresh for next year, and I imagine in 2015 he will start out in Daytona. In a best case scenario, hopefully he finishes this season there too. Also, I think the reason they sent Bryant to the AFL was not only because he showed the aptitude to play there, but to make up for his lost time between draft day and when he finally signed his contract. That break probably made him fresh enough to handle the extended experience.

    • Tom U

      Triple, I have maintained that if Schwarber can show a similar offensive output as Bryant did last season, he will follow the same path.

      • triple

        Thanks Tom… that would be a really nice outcome.

  • Theboardrider

    Tom you do see Lopez coming to Chicago this season?

    • Tom U

      Board, I believe that Lopez should have started the season at Iowa with that in mind. Unfortunately, the front office didn’t see things that way. Hopefully, Lopez can change their minds in the next few months.

      • Theboardrider

        Thank you Tom. What sort of a big leaguer do you project him to be?

        Thanks in advance for answering all my replies and as always for all of your hard work. You make us really lucky to have te type of coverage of the system you provide. I imagine many teams fans don’t get near the up close and personal items we get regularly

        • Tom U

          Board, sorry for seeing this so late. I see Lopez as a left-handed hitting Henry Blanco; a back-up who will provide quality relief for a starting catcher and will surprise with his offense.

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