Special Assignment – South Bend Cubs – 08/22/15
I had the pleasure of being able to attend a South Bend Cubs game. I would like to thank South Bend owner Andrew T. Berlin, Team President Joe Hart, and Director of Media Relations Mike Monaco. A special thanks to Director of Creative Services and Promotions Chris Hagstrom-Jones for his input and to Hitting Instructor Jesus Feliciano for serving as an interpreter.
Interview – Ian Happ
Chicago Cubs Online: Ian, take up through the process you experienced prior to the draft.
Ian Happ: There was a feeling that I would anywhere from five to nine in the draft, with Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Texas also showing interest along with the Cubs. The whole process was enjoyable, and I never had the feeling of being overwhelmed. The Cubs brought me to Wrigley Field for a work out, and I really enjoyed my stay in Chicago.
CCO: The Cubs reported that they intended on just playing you in the outfield this season. How do you feel about that course?
IH: The plan was for me to get as many at bats as possible, and to get comfortable at the plate. I’m confident in my outfield play, so that will help.
CCO: Has the organization given you any indication on what will happen this season? Are there any plans for you to move up?
IH: Right now, there are no plans. Just finish out the season and report to instructs.
IH: There are no preferences to what position I play. I just plan on doing whatever it takes to help the organization.
Interview – Gleyber Torres
Chicago Cubs Online: Can you say what the biggest adjustment you had to make in your first full season of play?
Gleyber Torres: It has been a real learning experience on staying more focused and to keep on working. You have to be strong and willing to help the team.
CCO: How has manager Jimmy Gonzalez and his experience assisted in that?
GT: Jimmy has been a big help, especially with the language barrier. It is very good to have a manager that has experienced the pressures of high expectations.
CCO: Has there been any special pressure knowing that you are the youngest member of the team?
GT: I try to not think about that. You have to trust in your team, and go out and play the game the right way.
CCO: Have your teammates ever kidded you about your age?
GT: (laughs) Yeah, they call me Niño.
CCO: Do you have any plans for the off-season?
GT: I plan on going to the Fall Instructional League and continue to work on my game.
Jeffrey Baez – Baez has made progress since last season, but still has a way to go. Baez appears to be a guess hitter, trying to think along with the pitcher as to how he will be pitched. Because of that, Baez will sometimes expand his strike zone. What has improved is that Baez has now been able to keep his hands back and drive the ball where it is pitched, resulting in two solid singles. Speed is a plus for Baez, as he beat a pick-off move to steal second, but the umpire missed the call.
David Bote – Bote now seems to have a very good approach at the plate, a departure from the past…was not challenged in the field.
Charcer Burks – Burks looks a little gassed at this point, not showing the spark seen earlier in the season. Burks gave a ball a ride to the wall once, just short of a home run.
Erick Castillo – Castillo has the look of a very solid receiver, appearing to be in sync with his pitchers … very fluid behind the plate. Castillo easily gunned down a base runner. His offense is a little behind but the potential is there. Castillo showed good discipline late in the game, keeping a rally going with a single.
Rashad Crawford – At this point, Crawford is a boom-or-bust type of player. He gambled early on making a sensational grab of a fly ball, and played it into a triple. Crawford also rolled and flailed on the ground a little after making the attempt rather than trying to get back into the play. A long strider with a gliding style of running, Crawford misjudged after driving the gap for a solid double, getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
Ian Happ – Happ made a great play in the first inning, firing a strike to home plate from right field that just barely missed gunning down the runner. While Happ moves around well and appears comfortable defensively, he just doesn’t have the look of an outfielder. Happ did not look overmatched at the plate, just didn’t have anything fall in.
Jesse Hodges – Hodges made a great pick and throw on a difficult ground ball … still appears to be a little overanxious at the plate.
Jordan Minch – The left handed Minch is a max effort pitcher, with his head snapping around on his follow through. This causes Minch to fall off the mound, not finishing in good fielding position. Despite this, Minch seems to repeat his delivery well. His velocity was consistent, with a low-90s fastball and mid-to-low 80s breaking pitch.
Matt Rose – Rose is tall and lanky, and looks comfortable around the bag at first base. Rose has a solid approach at the plate, but does not look totally confident, yet.
Alex Santana – Easily the most impressive player on the field for that game. Santana has a fluid delivery and generates a lot of velocity despite a small frame. He displayed a mid-90s fastball with movement that topped out at 96 mph. Santana also had an upper-80s/low-90s slider with some wicked break to it. The hitters did not get a good look off of Santana, as he struck out the side one inning and induced weak contact in the other inning that he pitched.
Jake Stinnett – Stinnett has a very unusual delivery, holding the ball behind his shoulder and bending his back a lot. This gives the appearance of shot-putting the ball, rather than driving toward the batter with his backside and legs. With all the moving parts, it is easy to see why Stinnett has had control issues this season. The delivery does cause some deception, and Stinnett was able to rack up some strikeouts. However, some of the better hitters in the line-up adjusted and hit Stinnett hard the second or third time through. Stinnett also seems to bring the knee on his front leg up unusually high. While the opposition did not take advantage of this, Stinnett appears easy to steal off of. Stinnett generally threw in the low-90s, but was able to get his fastball up to 95 mph once. His breaking pitch comes in the low-80s, and has some late break. Stinnett also appears to nibble rather than attack the strike zone. While Stinnett has some tools to work with, he appears much further away than originally thought.
Gleyber Torres – Like Charcer Burks, Torres looks like he has little left in the tank. Torres has a short, choppy stride that may result in a decrease in stolen bases as he moves up the system. Torres had only one routine chance defensively and handled it as expected.
Photography: Tom Usiak Text and Editing: Lauren Usiak