Cubs Notes from Down on the Farm – 08/02/14

The acquisition of catcher Victor Caratini may not signal the end to 2014 draft selections Kyle Schwarber and Mark Zagunis days as a backstop yet. Nothing will be determined for sure until both Schwarber and Zagunis have an off-season to work with minor league instructor Franklin Font and former catchers/minor league managers Mark Johnson, Buddy Bailey, and Brian Harper. But Caratini now joins a passel of catching prospects in the lower minors, including Will Remillard and Cael Brockmeyer at Kane County, Boise’s All-Star Justin Marra and Mark Malave, along with Alberto Mineo, Tyler Alamo, and Tyler Pearson in the rookie league. Both Schwarber and Zagunis have demonstrated advanced hitting skills, and the organization may not want to slow down their development in that area in order for their defensive skills to catch-up.

The trade that brought Caratini may also bring a re-assessment of Brockmeyer, currently the starting catcher for the Cougars. Brockmeyer is hitting .296/.367/.450/.817 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 53 games. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, “Big Brock” is huge for a catcher and may get a look at first base, which he has played on occasion.

Congratulations on a big night for 21st round draft pick Charlie White Friday. The Naperville native is an outfielder for the Boise Hawks and delivered an RBI double that sparked a four-run ninth to tie the game. More importantly, the left-handed White came in from the outfield and pitched three scoreless innings. White gave up only three hits while striking out three batters to gain the victory as Boise won it 11-10 in the 11th inning.

PrintTennessee has an open slot in the rotation tonight, which may be a sign that C.J. Edwards will be activated from the disabled list. Edwards completed his rehab with AZL Cubs in which he was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP that included eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

It might be time to start dusting off the Shawon-O-Meter, as the son of Cubs’ legend Shawon Dunston is starting to make an impact for Kane County. Installed as their leadoff hitter after the promotion of Jacob Hannemann about two weeks ago, Shawon Dunston Jr. has been on a tear. In his last ten games, Dunston has batted .359/.381/.513/.894 with five RBI and three stolen bases. That brings his season totals to .276/.313/.387/.699 with 12 doubles, five triples, a home run, 29 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 70 games.

While there was disappointment in some circles that utility player Logan Watkins was not promoted when the Cubs traded INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, the adding of INF Chris Valaika was well deserved. Signed in the off-season, Valaika did what a Major League veteran should do when assigned to Triple-A after not making the parent club in Spring Training and that is produce. Valaika batted .278/.344/.423/.768 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI in 102 games. He was also a good soldier, lining up at five positions (first, second, and third base, shortstop, and left field) while providing batting order protection to prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. It is a fitting reward for Valaika, who can now showcase his talents to everyone in the majors over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Watkins time will come, as the organization is still high on their 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.

And finally, family vacation time has rolled around once again. With our first born preparing to leave for college soon, my contributions both here and on Twitter will be limited over the next few days. However, I will be back, and in full force, by this time next week. Until then, stay with us at ChicagoCubsOnline and @TheCCO_Minors on Twitter for the best minor league coverage of the Cubs’ system.

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  • calicub

    Informative as always Tom. And props on the use of ‘passel’ in a sports blog!

    • texcubnut

      Tom must have a little of the ol’ South in him. That’s almost as good as “beaucoup”!!!

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

    Enjoy the vacation Tom! Well deserved.

    We’ve got some catching talent. Marra is really intriguing. Obviously Schwarber and Zagunis. Then Brockamaer and now Catarini. Interesting to see how this plays out.

    I’d like to see Zagunis and Schwarber advance quickly. But there’s only so many spots on the diamond. I’ve got a hunch Zagunis stays behind the plate. It seems he can really hit, and perhaps was undervalued in the draft.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Thanks for the great coverage Tom. Have a great time on your vacation.

  • texcubnut

    Thanks, Tom. If anybody deserves some time off, it is you! Good to hear about Shawon Dunston Jr. I’d almost forgotten him. Wasn’t he a part of that 2011 draft with Baez, Vogelbach, Maples, Pugliese, McKirihan, Justin Marra, John Andreoli and P.J. Francescon to name a few?……….A few pieces there, might not have been as bad a draft as some thought. One or two big pieces and some smaller but possibly productive players.

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