Jason McLeod spent a lot of time discussing the draft and the minor league system Saturday and Sunday. McLeod provided an update on Jorge Soler, and discussed the struggles Javier Baez and Albert Almora have dealt with this season.
Jorge Soler is taking batting practice and facing live pitching at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa. And McLeod updated where Soler is with his rehab Sunday.
“It’s just been a frustration because he’s been dealing with injuries earlier in the year. It was a left hamstring the first game. Got hurt, took him a while to get back and then he starts playing again and then he tweaks the right hamstring,” McLeod said on the Jordan Bernfield Show. “With how touchy those things are we are taking it real slow. He is back in Arizona right now rehabbing it. He is out on the field. He is taking live BP, all of those things. But, now that it’s been both legs, this early in the year, we just want to go slow with it before we get him back out until he’s like 100 percent and then he’ll rejoin that Tennessee team, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.”
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs are trying to get Jorge Soler “nutrition and hydration” and are “making sure he’s properly hydrated.”
Albert Almora has struggled over the first two-plus months of the season. The 20-year old outfielder has managed a .250/.273/.333 line in his first 56 games with 13 doubles and two home runs. Jordan Bernfield asked Jason McLeod about Almora during an interview on 87.7 The Game on Sunday morning.
“He’s another one that has always had success and now he’s down in the Florida State League and dealing with his first kind of adversity in the sense of not getting his hits,” McLeod said. “Pitchers pitching him differently than what he’s seen before. I think he is around .250 right now and just grinding through it. This is one of those things that Theo talks about a lot, players’ developments are not a linear path and they have to deal with their struggles and for Albert this is a struggle for him.”
“I do not think he’s ever not hit .300 or something. Obviously he is a very talented kid and we feel real confident that he’s going to get through this and at the end of the year you’re going to look up and see that he’s had a successful season,” McLeod said. “These struggles for these guys, it is good for them to go through it, so when that time happens later on at the big league level then they will have something to fall back on how they got through it before.”
Jason McLeod also talked about Javier Baez’s slow start to the season and what he needs to do before he is called up to the majors with Jordan Bernfield.
“First and foremost, obviously he needs to perform. I think coming out of Major League camp, having the good Spring Training that he did, for whatever reason he just got into a little slump there at the end of Spring Training that carried into his minor league season,” McLeod said. “That first month was a real struggle for him there. His last couple of weeks he’s been swinging the bat better. With Javy, he has the big swing, big power. He swings at every pitch like he wants to hit it 500 feet at times. With him and at his age it’s just more about having a consistency from at bat to at bat, understanding what the pitchers are trying to do to him and how they are trying to pitch him. And for him to understand, ‘Okay I am looking for a certain pitch, I am looking for a certain area that I’m really going to let it go on. Rather than I’m just looking for any pitch to let it go on.’”
“I think his struggles in Triple-A are going to be good for him,” McLeod added. “He’s learning how to adjust [being pitched differently] to that. I think before he gets up here he’s just going to have to show his consistency and the approach.”
Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars made several roster moves Saturday. The Cougars placed RHP Duane Underwood, RHP Jose Arias and C Will Remillard on the minor league 7-day DL and called up LHP Alberto Diaz and C Antonio Valerio from extended Spring Training to fill two of the three spots on the roster.
Alberto Diaz, the soon-to-be 23-year old (June 12) lefty, was 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 19 games, two starts, for the Venezuelan Cubs last summer. In 41 1/3 innings, Diaz struck out 44 batters and issued 11 walks. Antonio Valerio batted .258/.317/.328 in the Dominican Summer League last year with nine doubles, one triple and one home run. The 22-year old also plays first and third base.
Pierce Johnson was placed on the minor league 7-day DL on May 22 with a strained left calf. Johnson dealt with hamstring injuries in the spring that delayed the start of his season.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Jason McLeod said Saturday that Johnson is healthy and will return when his spot in the rotation comes back around.
Pierce Johnson is 1-1 in six starts this season with a 4.39 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. In 26 2/3 innings, Johnson has given up 18 hits with 24 walks and 22 strikeouts.
Jen-Ho Tseng has been on the minor league 7-day DL since May 19 with an upper extremity injury. Tseng had a sore right shoulder that Mark Johnson, the Cougars’ skipper, said was nothing serious a couple of days later.
The 19-year old right hander is 3-0 in six starts with Kane County this year with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Tseng allowed 37 hits with five walks and 32 strikeouts in 32 innings.
Jen-Ho Tseng threw live BP last week and is scheduled to start Monday’s game. Reports last week indicated Tseng would be eased back in with outings of two innings and 45-50 pitches and increase his workload from there.
Injury and Rehab Updates
Zac Rosscup began a minor league rehab with Iowa on Saturday night. Rosscup threw a scoreless inning in his first appearance Saturday and followed Sunday with another scoreless frame. Rosscup has struck out three of the six batters he’s faced in two innings.
Ryan Sweeney has been on the 15-day DL since May 3 with a right hamstring strain. Sweeney had a setback in his rehab a couple of weeks ago. According to reports, Sweeney is expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Kane County.
Jason McLeod said Stephen Bruno is “week to week” with a hamstring injury.
News and Notes
According to Baseball America, the Cubs released C Rony Rodriguez.
Daytona placed RHP Austin Reed on 7-day DL, called up RHP Jasvir Rakkar from extended Spring Training.
According to a report from the Des Moines Register, Marty Pevey has not been told when Manny Ramirez will be joining the team. Pevey thinks he might know something “in the next week or so.”
According to a report from the Des Moines Register, Arismendy Alcantara will play centerfield “at least two days a week.” Marty Pevey said the goal is to make him more versatile. Alcantara has played centerfield two times in the last two-plus weeks. Alcantara dropped a routine fly in center during Saturday’s game.
With the draft in the rearview mirror and many of those players signing in the coming weeks, plus the Boise Hawks’ season starting this week (Friday) and its Opening Day roster being released, there should be a lot of player movement throughout the minor league system.
Several of the minor leaguers throughout the game were retweeting the following quote from Hall of Fame infielder, Zack Wheat (1909-1927), a couple of weeks ago. “Every batter has a natural style of hitting. Let him follow that style regardless of what others tell him. Then, whatever talent he has will come to the surface. Advice is all right when it tends to overcome some technical fault, but advice should never go as far as to change a batter’s style.”