C.J. Edwards Returns, Six Hawks Named All-Stars and Cubs News from the Farm

C.J. Edwards returned the mound Wednesday, as scheduled, and pitched in his first game since April 20. Edwards said, on Twitter, he “felt really, really good today” and he cannot “wait to get back out there again.”

Edwards threw two scoreless innings for the AZL Cubs and allowed a hit, a walk and struck out two. Edwards recorded three groundball outs and faced a total of seven batters.

The Cubs have not said when Edwards would return to the Smokies or when he will pitch in his next game but Jed Hoyer did indicate Tuesday that the Arizona Fall League is “a strong possibility” for Edwards to make up innings he missed this season.

C.J. Edwards felt discomfort in his shoulder during a bullpen session in April. An MRI revealed fatigue and inflammation but not structural damage. Edwards has been at the Cubs complex in Mesa rehabbing the shoulder.

Boise Hawks All-Stars

The Northwest League announced the rosters for the All-Star Game Wednesday and six Boise Hawks were named to the Northwest League South Division All-Star Team.

PrintOF Jeffrey Baez, C Justin Marra and OF Rashad Crawford were selected as starters. Baez was promoted to Kane County Wednesday and will not be available for the game. RHP Trevor Clifton, INF Danny Canela and C/OF Mark Zagunis were added to the South Division roster as reserves.

The game will be played at Eugene’s P.K. Park in Oregon on Aug. 5. And the South Division team will be coached by the Eugene Emeralds (San Diego Padres) staff.

Jeffrey Baez was hitting .267/.341/.460 in 38 games with six doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .800 OPS. Justin Marra, as has been pointed out, is having a good season behind the plate and in 30 games is hitting .307/.385/.553 with 13 doubles, five home runs and a .937 OPS. Rashad Crawford has put together a .302/.323/.416 line with seven doubles, five triples and a .739 OPS.

Trevor Clifton is 2-1 in seven starts with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. In 34 2/3 innings, Clifton has given up 32 hits with 17 walks and 32 strikeouts. Danny Canela is hitting .297/.372/.438 in 33 games with the Hawks that includes nine doubles and three home runs for a .810 OPS. Mark Zagunis, the Cubs third round pick in last month’s draft, is hitting .341/.462/.494 in 22 games with six doubles, two triples, a home run, 16 walks, 18 strikeouts and a .956 OPS.

Jorge Soler, Mike Olt and the Iowa Cubs Roster

All eyes will be on Principal Park Thursday night when the I-Cubs take on New Orleans. Eric Jokisch is scheduled to get the ball with what could be an impressive lineup behind him.

Jorge Soler and Mike Olt are expected to be in Iowa’s lineup. Olt will play first base and also get at bats as the team’s DH while he is with Iowa. Kris Bryant is Iowa’s everyday third baseman.

Theo Epstein addressed the promotion of Jorge Soler and the demotion of Mike Olt prior to Wednesday’s game.

Epstein said Soler did not have any rust when he came off the DL and told the team “Now is my time” and went out and produced on the field.

Epstein said Mike Olt took the demotion to Iowa “extraordinarily well.” Epstein added Olt realizes he has gotten into bad habits at the plate and he needed to go down to Iowa and receive regular at bats in order to break those bad habits.

The Cubs think he can take what he has learned in the cages and apply those changes in games with regular at bats.

To make room on Iowa’s roster for Soler and Olt, 1B Lars Anderson was sent to Double-A Tennessee and Manny Ramirez was placed on the 7-day DL with a right calf strain. Ramirez will still be in Iowa’s dugout as a coach and will be able to work with Jorge Soler and Mike Olt again.

Albert Almora

Albert Almora is expected to be in the Smokies’ lineup for Thursday’s game and make his Double-A debut against the Mississippi Braves. And Theo Epstein talked about his promotion with the beat writers.

The Cubs have “been walking a fine line” Almora much like the team did with Starlin Castro. Epstein explained, “We asked him to focus on pitches he can drive. Instead of just being aggressive to the sake of being aggressive, be aggressive on pitches you can drive.”

Almora has started hitting the ball with more authority and Epstein thinks the walks with “come in time to a certain extent.” Epstein pointed out Almora has always played up to the level of his competition and the Cubs feel Double-A will be a “nice challenge for him.”

Theo Epstein

Theo Epstein addressed the farm system and while it is be touted as the best in the game Epstein pointed out, “We don’t deserve to be on the covers of magazines. We don’t deserve to be lauded right now, because we haven’t done anything yet.”

From Carrie Muskat:

“We were ranked the top farm system in baseball and that’s nice to the extent that it reflects a lot of hard work by our scouts and the player development people and the players themselves, but it really doesn’t mean anything. We’re in last place. Almost by definition, our work lies ahead of us, it’s not behind us. What do we have to do? We have everything to do. We have to continue to build the organization, we have to continue to improve the Major League team. That generation, they’re going to break in at some point and the process of adjusting to the big leagues starts.”

“You have to balance it out. We don’t deserve to be on the covers of magazines, we don’t deserve to be lauded right now because we haven’t done anything yet. At best, what we’ve done is put ourselves in a position to make a lot of interesting decisions going forward and hopefully, have two of the most important currencies in the game in young players and available payroll dollars and go make some hay. We’re not there yet. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’re in last place, so all of work remains ahead.”

Baseball America posted more praise for the Cubs’ system Monday and talked about how rare it is for a team to have three of the top 10 prospects in the game.

Minor News and Notes

The CCO learned Wednesday that RHP Jake Stinnett, the Cubs second round pick in last month’s draft, hopes to see action in a few weeks.

Duane Underwood lit up the radar gun Wednesday night and was throwing his fastball in the 92-96 mph range. Underwood allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over five innings. And for the season, the 20-year old right hander is 5-2 in 16 games, 15 starts, with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP (63 hits, 26 walks, 58 strikeouts, 73 2/3 innings).

The Cubs are tied for fifth in the minor leagues in ERA. The Cubs system has a 3.77 ERA, tied with the Blue Jays and behind the Tigers (3.58), Twins (3.65), Cardinals (3.67) and Rays (3.69)

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