A Grand Night for Kris Bryant and the Iowa Cubs and Other Minor League News

It was a good night at Principal Park Monday for the Iowa Cubs as the I-Cubs fought back and beat the Omaha Storm Chasers on a walk-off single by Josh Vitters in the 10th  inning that plated Javier Baez with the game winner. The Iowa Cubs moved into first place, one half-game ahead of Omaha with Monday’s victory.

Iowa was being shutout 4-0 going into the seventh inning before Manny Ramirez (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) connected for his first homer for Iowa, a two-run shot with Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI, a walk and two runs scored) on base. Omaha added a run in the top of the eighth and took a 5-2 lead into the home half.

Rafael Lopez (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) and Arismendy Alcantara (1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) led off the eighth with back-to-back walks and former Cub Casey Coleman was summoned from Omaha’s bullpen. Ryan Kalish lined out to center. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) walked to load the bases. Coleman struck out Chris Valaika swinging for the second out.

Kris Bryant stepped in and launched Coleman’s second pitch over the wall in center. And Bryant’s mammoth shot, a Grand Slam, put the I-Cubs up 6-5.

Blake Parker had a rough ninth inning and blew his first save of the year. After Iowa was unable to push across a run in the ninth, it was free baseball time at Principal Park. Marcus Hatley, another hard throwing reliever in the Cubs’ system, pitched a 1-2-3 top of the tenth.

Javier Baez led off the bottom of the tenth with a double to left. Baez just missed a walk-off home run. Chris Valaika bunted Baez to third and set it up for Bryant. But Omaha wanted nothing to do with Bryant and intentionally walked him and Logan Watkins to load the bases with one out.

With all of the attention on Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Manny Ramirez, it was the Cubs former top prospect, Josh Vitters that delivered the game winner. Vitters ripped a single into left, Baez scored and Iowa moved into first place.

Kris Bryant told Tony Andracki after the walk-off that Monday night was one of the 10 best games he’s ever been a part of.

Manny Ramirez

The Iowa Cubs held an introductory press conference for Manny Ramirez Monday afternoon at Principal Park. Ramirez, wearing an Iowa Cubs logo t-shirt, was rather engaging throughout the press conference as he fielded questions from the Des Moines and Chicago media.

Theo Epstein was very honest with Ramirez from the beginning and told Ramirez that he would play maybe once a week. Ramirez likes the challenge that poises because that means he will have to be prepared to play on a daily basis. Ramirez said he would give his best when he has the opportunity to play.

PrintRamirez was asked why it took so long for him to report to Iowa. Ramirez admitted he “kinda loved it” in Mesa and pointed out the Cubs have such a great facility there he did not want to leave. He enjoyed working with the young players there.

Ramirez is looking forward to working with the young players and giving back to the game. Ramirez said having a routine is the key to success for a young player. Ramirez is thankful for the opportunity Theo Epstein and the Cubs have given him. Ramirez said he would’ve just coached and did not have to play. Ramirez said it was Theo Epstein’s idea to maybe play once a week.

Manny Ramirez was asked what he thought about the talent on Iowa’s roster, such as Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Ramirez said it’s unbelievable.

 

Kris Bryant

With his 2-for-4, home run, walk and four RBI performance on Monday night, Kris Bryant is now hitting .333/.412/.800 in 12 games for the Iowa Cubs. Bryant has three doubles, six home runs, 15 RBI, six walks, 16 strikeouts and a 1.212 OPS. Over the last 10 games, Bryant is 14-for-37 with three doubles, five home runs, six walks and six strikeouts (.378/.465/.865/1.330).

Bryant hit his 28th home run of the season Monday night between Double-A and Triple-A and is second in the minors in home runs behind the Rangers’ Joey Gallo. Gallo has hit 29 longballs this season.

For the year, Kris Bryant is hitting .352/.451/.717 with 23 doubles, 28 home runs, 210 total bases, 73 RBI and a 1.168 OPS.

Arismendy Alcantara

Arismendy Alcantara was named the PCL Player of the Week Monday and extended his hitting streak to nine games in Iowa’s win. Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored Monday and is batting .439/.467/.732 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs over his last 10 games with a 1.198 OPS.

Arismendy Alcantara should give Kris Bryant a run for his money for the Cubs Player of the Month for June. Alcantara finished the month with a .345/.395/.549 slash line that included eight doubles, three triples, three home runs and a .944 OPS.

Javier Baez

Javier Baez is figuring things out at the Triple-A level. Baez went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and a strikeout Monday night. Baez has more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) since June 24 and is 13-for-38 over his last 10 games with four doubles, seven walks and 11 strikeouts (.342/.444/.447/.892).

In 28 games last month, Baez hit .275/.345/.471 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 walks and 34 strikeouts with a .815 OPS.

Minor News and Notes

Jed Hoyer provided updates on C.J. Edwards and Jorge Soler prior to Monday’s game. Hoyer said the reports he’s getting on C.J. Edwards “have been encouraging” but there is not a time table on when he will be returning to the Smokies. Soler is closer to rejoining Tennessee than Edwards is. The AZL Cubs had Monday night off. Soler played Sunday and went 1-for-3. In five rehab games in Arizona, Soler is 8-for-15 with two doubles, a home run, three walks and three strikeouts.

Kyle Schwarber was named Player of the Week in the Midwest League.

RHP Dae-Eun Rhee was named Pitcher of the Week in the Southern League … four straight weeks a Smokies player won a weekly honor in the Southern League.

RHP Daury Torrez was named Pitcher of the Week in the Midwest League.

According to a report from the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Cubs are “in the process” of getting No. 99 jerseys for Manny Ramirez. Ramirez is currently wearing No. 44.

From ESPN Stats and Info Kris Bryant and Manny Ramirez homered in the same game Monday night for the Iowa Cubs. Bryant was one-year old when Ramirez debuted for the Indians in 1993.

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  • DWalker

    Manny has had a lot of faults and problems, but I think he is a guy you can honestly say genuinly loves the game and it shows. being a teacher instead of the star may really be good for him.

    • John_CC

      True that! The space Manny loves to play baseball and he has fun doing it. Nice Mohawk.

      It looked to me like there was a split second when he launched that homer that an old old habit wanted to watch the ball but his new role told him “Run!”

  • Jeffrey Rogers

    Time to switch Vitters and Olt?

    • cubtex

      the problem with that is that Vitters has played zero games at 3rd in the minors this year.

      • John_CC

        And? How many games a week does Olt play 3B? Seriously though, Vitters could be a 4 corner utility man, he has played 3B his entire career. And unlike Olt, he hits.

        Vitters is far more deserved to get reps in Chicago and even if he struggles I think he has earned the chance to “work it out” to find out what he can do. Whereas Olt most certainly needs to go to the minors to work it out.

        • cubtex

          not disagreeing one bit but unfortunately the FO decided that Vitters in no longer a 3rd baseman. I would much rather see Vitters get a fair shot like Olt has been getting this year.

          • Tony_H

            What’s unfortunate about it if he can’t handle it defensively? That is why they made the move.

            That doesn’t mean that if he makes the majors he doesn’t end up seeing some time at 3B in a back-up role.

          • The Dude Abides

            Tony obviously not a Vitters fan this week he can’t field last week he couldn’t hit.

          • Patrick_Schaefer

            That’s what I was talking about Vitters can backup 3b and 1st and start in LF until Bryant is up.

      • Jeffrey Rogers

        Good point

    • OttawaBob

      Where does Olt play then, with Bryant at 3rd. Can’t send Olt to AA either because Villanueva has been tearing it up in Tennessee. I would rather see Alcantara up, he’s been playing 2nd AND centerfield of late. Better hitter and far superior defensively…….I hope people aren’t giving up on Olt already.

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

        Agree Bob… Too early to pronounce him.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Theoretically you could bring up Vitters and Alcantara. And send Olt down. Vitters is currently playing 1st and LF. Olt can play 1st and has played a little bit of OF. Regardless Bryant is your future 3b see if Olt can play OF and turn thing’s around. Play Vitters in LF. VALBUENA at 3b and Alcantara at 2b. Vitters can back up 3b and 1b.

        • cc002600

          I still think Bryant ends up in the OF eventually.
          Baez at 3B, Alcantara 2B

          • John_CC

            Still, it’s not Olt right? So if he is in any future plans whatsoever, it would not be at 3B. He should be learning defensive versatility and how to hit.

            Having him struggle away in Chicago makes little sense to me. He doesn’t look like the future 3Bman and he has zero trade value right now and it’s too late to create any value for this year. At least if he were in Iowa and if he straightened himself out and was hitting and playing a couple corner spots he would still have that post-hype prospect status to garner a little in trade.

          • cc002600

            I do not disagree. Having him (Olt) on the bench 1/2 the time in the majors is dumb. Just play him everyday. What do you have to lose ? so maybe you can get something for him if he bounces back….and have Valbuena play 2B. I have no idea why he keeps playing Barney. Only thing I can think of is that they are showcasing him, but let’s face facts, you won’t get a bag of balls for Barney. A middle INF with a good glove and no bat are a dime a dozen. Completely worthless.

        • John_CC

          Exactly.

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

    I think Manny being aboe to go hit and come back to the dugout and share his approach is invaluable. I understand why he’s a player/coach. He seems to really be enjoying himself and Iowa just seems to be a party right now

    in a 4 game series is give Iowa an edge over the Cubs. That team is loaded.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      If Iowa got to face EJax and Wood, maybe. And if it was still June I wouldn’t be scared of Samardzija either.

      But not sure how well our AAA guys would do against Samardzija, Hammel, and Arrieta, if they are on their game.

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

        Arietta would no-hit them through 8 and 1/3rd and then give up a Kris Bryant solo shot.

  • stu_studdly

    I love this site and the comments but rarely comment myself. I live in Cincinnati and have watched every Cub game this year except three…. cause I’m a nerd. I don’t get to follow the live threads of the games because I watch them all on DVR but I got two questions. We always discuss Olt being overmatched but the front office has said he’s here to stay. Why aren’t we complaining about Lake? He looks way out of his league and appears to have no confidence. My other question is what happened to Ronnie Woo? I’ve been to Chicago twice this year and twice last year. No sight of him. Thanks for the time and again, love the site!!!

    • Ripsnorter1

      There has been “complaining” (your term, not mine) about Lake. Cubtex and I have both posted about is strikeout numbers. Frankly I am surprised that his average is above .200. Most cannot sustain that many strikeouts and still hit .230. It is indeed likely that he will not be able to continue to hit .230. Right now the Cubs are in last place in MLB (win total) and Lake is not an everyday player, thus many ML teams are not spending a lot of time with advance scouting the Cubs. When/if that changes, teams will know how to better pitch to him so that he fans even more, and does a lot less damage.

      I don’t think teams should ever throw Lake a first pitch fastball for a strike, and probably should be starting him off with off speed curves, sliders and splitters. Then he might look more Mike Olt-like.

      Iam glad to have you as a Cubs’ fan, and glad to have you post here.

    • GaryLeeT

      “My other question is what happened to Ronnie Woo?”

      I think Ricketts is paying him not to come, or has priced him out of the market. I hear he can occasionally be seen outside the park on game days.

      • Henry

        Sad to say I have seen Ronnie Woo Woo in the park on more than one occasion this year. It would be nice to see him go away.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Probably 5 years ago now, I caught a ST game in Mesa. After game, driving home, and I have my windows cracked slightly, and hear a rhythmic sound and get concerned my tires are making an odd noise.

          Roll windows all the way down, and it suddenly dawns on me that Ronnie Woo Woo is in the back of a pickup truck that is right in front of me. The sound I heard was him “woo-ing”. If it was once at beginning of game and once after a win, no problem…maybe even a fun tradition. But to listen to his “woo-ing” through-out a game has always been annoying to me when I have had the displeasure of being within earshot.

  • Denver Mike

    A little off-topic for today, but I saw this picture of Comiskey Park during today’s national anthem and thought to myself, this is what weekday games would look like if the Cubs moved out of Wrigley and into the suburbs. Wrigley Field is an attraction by itself, and moving the Cubs out of there would be a huge financial mistake.

    • Denver Mike

      This probably could have gone on the “daily” thread, but the internet restrictions at my office make changing pages a 30 minute activity, so impatience reigns.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      only if they built a boring stadium in a bad location. Then, yeah, it would be like Cellular One.

      • Denver Mike

        I feel like if they take them off of WGN so fans across the country can’t catch games, and move them out of Wrigley so the attraction isn’t there for tourists in Chicago, it won’t matter where they play. They will struggle to keep fans at the games.

        I feel like you and I have discussed this topic before, so I suspect you see it differently which is cool. But living out of state myself, I can say for a fact I plan to take my (future) kids to see a Cubs game at Wrigley some day, but if they are playing in Naperville, Schaumburg, or Rosemont that won’t ever be a destination I’m planning a family vacation to.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          I appreciate your view, and I also left the area for 8 years (to AZ) and have been back a year, so I know the fans are all over the country.

          I guess my thought process is if we are catering to tourists, then they are the “Chicago” cubs in location only, with no reason to focus on the fans in the chicagoland area (which the suburbs are a huge part of). As you likely know, Chicago doesn’t have dinky little suburbs…this is a major metropolis with North, West, South, Northwest, and Southwest suburbs that are pretty densely populated compared to the days of the 1969 team.

          So I care more about the actual fans in the area getting better pricing, better accessibility, and better stadium amenities. The Sox are, and always have been, an afterthought. Chicago can certainly sustain the Cubs outside of the city.

          I get that there are “real” fans outside of IL…I was one for a while, but when you fly into the area, you fly into O’Hare. If it isn’t rush hour, I am smack dab in the West suburbs just as quickly (if not a lot quicker) than getting into the city and figuring out parking and every other thing under the sun. Like many who have left the area, our friends and relatives live in the burbs too…so if we travel in, that is the direction we are going.

          I just have run into very very few people, in other parts of the country, who were actually from the city of Chicago. I have met tons from the suburbs, who are either traveling for work or moved to another city, etc…

          So you have:
          Chicago city fans
          chicago suburb fans
          out of state fans orig from city
          out of state fans orig from suburbs
          out of state fans who grew up outside of chicagoland
          tourist coming to chicago and going to wrigley for “something to do”

          Why cater to only that last group? Doesn’t seem like a fan-friendly approach to me.

      • Denver Mike

        One caveat would be if they moved the team elsewhere in Chicago, near the lake even. If they had a lakefront stadium near the city, I’d likely forget Wrigley pretty quickly :)