Wrigley Bound

Scouting the Prospects in the Derrek Lee Trade

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

The Cubs made a brilliant move yesterday, dealing Derrek Lee to the Braves. While Lee was a fine player and citizen as a Cub, he served no use to a team as bad as this one. And when his contract runs out at the end of the season, the Cubs can always still re-sign him, should they choose to go that direction, so there's no need to keep him around.

In the meantime, they've saved themselves nearly 2 million dollars and extracted some value in the form of three prospects.

I was out of town without an internet connection yesterday when the trade happened, so I'm a little late to this party, but here are some thoughts on each of the prospects the Cubs received.
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The Peoria Chiefs get down with their bad selves

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

For promo nights, I suppose. Regardless of the reason, they're pretty entertaining. 

Stars of the first video are DJ Fitzgerald, Anthony Giansanti, Corey Martin, and Luis Flores, while as best as I can tell the Chiefstreet Boys are comprised of Fitzgerald, Martin, Flores, Matt Cerda and Justin Bour.


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Cubs Acquire OF Prospect Evan Crawford

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With Mike Fontenot now headed out of town to the greener pastures of a pennant race, the Cubs continue make investments in their farm system. Even if the prospect has just the faintest chance of contributing at the major league level, you are turning a guy who is a backup with little value to a losing club and turning him into a guy who can potentially help a winning team down the road, and that is the right move to make.

Which brings us to Evan Crawford.

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Cubs SP prospect Su-Min Jung making a name for himself

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

Since he signed out of the same high school that produced Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in Gim Hae City, South Korea for $510K prior to the 2009 season, I've been pretty bullish on the potential of Cubs RHP prospect Su-Min Jung.
 
At the time he signed, Jung stood 6'2 and a skinny 170 pounds. Now 20 years old, he has gained 20 pounds and still has projection left in his frame. The kid has a lot to like with his clean easy delivery that screams a potential jump in velocity. 

Currently his fastball sits in the low 90's, but he can reach back and touch 95 mph. He also spins a power curve that has the potential to be above average. The change up is a work in progress but shows some nice fade and sink. He also has a "show me" slider that me be scrapped at the higher levels. His command leaves something to be desired but has come along nicely over the last 2 months. Jung's power repertoire and improving command could lead him to be an above average starter if things continue to develop.
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Breakout Season for Jeff Beliveau

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

When the Cubs tabbed lefty reliever Jeff Beliveau with their 18th round pick in the 2008 draft, it certainly wasn't based on his college stats.

In his junior year at Florida Atlantic, Beliveau was 5-4 with a 4.58 ERA and 78 Ks in 76.2 IP, which are respectable. Amazingly though, he also issued 77 walks.

I'll repeat that for emphasis: in the Sun Belt conference, Jeff Beliveau walked more than a batter per inning. AND got drafted.

To start his pro career it was more of the same, as he doled out 28 BBs in 34.2 IP for Boise. Armed with a low-90's fastball and a true swing-and-miss curveball, it was clear from the beginning that Beliveau's main nemesis would be his lack of command.

And here just two years later, Beliveau has seemingly vanquished it permanently.

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Micah Gibbs' Curious Failure

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

As part of a new strategy to provide the blog with more content, I'm going to try to start posting more often by expanding on shorter thoughts I had been expressing on Twitter. It's probably something I should have been doing for a long time, so I guess better late than never.

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Drafted in the 3rd round out of SEC powerhouse Louisiana State, switch-hitting catcher Micah Gibbs was generally considered a pretty polished hitter. He finished up his 2010 season with a .388/.458/.592 line in the tough conference, showing a nice all-around bat that looked like it could be enough when matched with his defensive skills to propel him quickly towards the maojrs.

Well, two months after the draft, Gibbs hasn't had anything close to the start that most people would have anticipated, with an embarrassing .108/.200/.118 line for the short-season Boise Hawks, a low Class-A squad. So what gives?

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Scouting the Newest Cubs

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With the Cubs floundering and Jim Hendry selling for the first time ever, the Cubs beat the trade deadline and packaged Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers on Saturday.

Since two of the three players returned are prospects, I asked Jared Massey from LA Dodger Talk to help us to sort out the organization's new talent.

Blake DeWitt

Year Age Tm G PA R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2008 22 LAD 117 421 45 97 9 52 45 68 .264 .344 .383 .728 93
2009 23 LAD 31 53 4 10 2 4 3 7 .204 .245 .388 .633 68
2010 24 LAD 82 292 29 69 1 30 30 49 .270 .352 .371 .723 99
3 Seasons 230 766 78 176 12 86 78 124 .262 .340 .379 .719 93
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/31/2010.

The centerpiece of the trade and the lone acquisition with major league experience, DeWitt is an infielder who has ample experience at both second and third base. He's shown a limited offensive skill set in his first few major league seasons, highlighted by above-average on-base skills. Remember that OPS undervalues OBP, so he's better than that stat shows, but his OPS+'s indicate he's been just about league average in that category in both of the seasons he's had adequate playing time in.

I asked Jared for his thoughts on DeWitt, specifically about his defense and whether he has a chance to develop more power as he ages:

DeWitt's swing is more line-drive oriented and there's a chance that he could develop more gap to gap power, but I don't see him becoming much of a home run hitter. He's improved defensively at second base and should be an average fielder there. However, were he to move back to third, he'd be one of the better defensive third basemen in the NL.
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Intriguing Cubs Prospect: Junior Lake

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

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Photo: Jim Denton

Daytona shortstop Junior Lake has been somewhat of an enigma since signing as a 17 year old kid in 2007. In '07 and '08 he put up solid numbers in the Dominican Summer League and in Arizonia rookie ball, raising some eyebrows. After '08 he was the Cubs 14th best prospect according to BA just 7 slots behind Starlin Castro, and  the two were generally considered to be on about the same level.

2009 saw Lake go a separate direction from Castro. While Starlin had a breakout season that would set up him to take over the Cubs shortstop position in 2010, Lake struggled in the pitcher friendly Midwest League at Peoria. Hitting just .248 with 138 SO in 463 ABs (28.8% k rate) he was overmatched and had trouble recognizing off speed pitches. Dropping to 29th on the Cubs prospect list (BA) his '09 showing left a lot of questions to be answered. Unfortunately, as recently as two months ago, 2010 was shaping up to be a repeat of 2009, as Lake was hitting just .209 in April and May over 115 ABs with a 28% K rate.

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Taking Stock

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

First of all I'd like to apologize for my unexplained absence for the last month. It was unplanned and I had some personal things to deal with, but I'm excited to get back to blogging and providing you with some coverage of the Cubs farm system again. I have an interview lined up with a current minor leaguer, a trip to see a game planned, and a new set of rankings on the way, so I hope you'll check back soon.

Now, I think an appropriate way to start back up is to look at how the landscape of the Cubs minor league system has changed in the last month since I've been absent. And what better way to do that than with everybody's favorite banality, a "stock up, stock down" feature!

Way Up

Brett Jackson, CF, AA Tennessee

Jackson's stock was already on the way up with a very good performance in Daytona, but over the last month as he has smoothly transitioned to AA, he's ensconced himself in the discussion for top 25 prospect status. His overall line of .314/.420/.509 with 18 stolen bases is fantastic, and he's taken more walks than anyone could have anticipated. He posted a 22% line-drive rate in the Florida State League, and has bumped it up to 31% since his promotion. He's generating a lot of hype, and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus even mentioned him as a potential candidate for the #11 overall prospect in a recent article.

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Q&A with Cubs Draft Pick 1B Ryan Cuneo

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With their 20th round selection in last week's draft, the Cubs tabbed Delaware senior 1B Ryan Cuneo, the first player they grabbed at a power position. After a historic college career marked by prodigious power production, Cuneo will join a Cubs system lacking in that department.
Ryan recently took a few minutes to catch up with Wrigley Bound about his draft process and his new professional baseball career. 

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Wrigley Bound: Describe the draft process. How did you spend your draft day? What kind of contact did you have with the Cubs after they picked you?

Ryan Cuneo: On Draft day I told myself that I wouldn't sit by the computer screen and watch every pick. On Tuesday morning I went to the gym and got home around 12:30. They were just about getting done with round 2. As soon as I looked at the draft tracker I new I was going to be glued to the screen all day. I started getting a little nervous in the late teen rounds. Then sure enough in the 20th round pick 610 I heard my name. The area scout Billy Swoope called me shortly after to congratulate and welcome me to the Chicago Cubs.

Gallery sneak peek (3 images):

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Cubs Draft: Q&A with 11th rounder and Northwestern LHP Eric Jokisch

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

A dream was realized Tuesday for lefthander Eric Jokisch when he found himself selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft (340th overall) by the Chicago Cubs.

Originally from Virginia, IL, a small town in the western part of the state, Jokisch has spent the last three years at Northwestern. During his time as a Wildcat, he's posted a 17-16 record and a 4.71 ERA, and has won honors like Big Ten Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten.

In the aftermath of his selection, Eric took some time to reflect on the process and discuss his game with Wrigley Bound.

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Wrigley Bound: What was the draft process like for you? What did you do on draft day?

Eric Jokisch: It was a long process drawn out over the whole year, and when the day finally came, I was fortunate enough to finish my last paper for Northwestern and head home to be with the family.

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Cubs Draft- What the Experts are Saying

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

I was stunned when I heard the Chicago Cubs' selection, Hayden Simpson, a diminutive pitcher from Division II who has two average pitches and good command and control, in Round 1. For one thing, it's not scouting director Tim Wilken's style; he loves athletes and hard throwers, guys with upside who have the chance to become stars. For another, I can't imagine Simpson wouldn't have been there for the Cubs' second pick; other teams told me they had him in the fourth or fifth round, or not in their top 200, or that he was "not a priority guy."

ESPN's Keith Law in his Winners/Losers of Day 1 column


I like Matt Szczur to the #Cubs in the fifth-round. Absolute burner who could be nice bench OF.

- Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein via Tweet

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Cubs Draft Tracker

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With two full days in the books, it's time to look at the new faces in the Cubs farm system and see what the draft has yielded.

The theme of the draft has definitely been "uncovering hidden gems", and Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken seems to believe he's outsmarted the rest of the league on several players. After taking a Division II player with his first pick, he overturned stones across America to fill out the class and wound up with an eclectic collection of talent.

How did the draft turn out? We won't know for years. But with the success Wilken has had over the last several years and the burgeoning youth movement at the major league level, it certainly will play a large part in determining the future of the Cubs.

Gallery sneak peek (30 images):

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MLB Draft Chat: Day 2

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

Meet Hayden Simpson

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples and Matt Swain

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The Cubs pulled a name out of nowhere in the first round of Monday's MLB draft, selecting Hayden Simpson from Division II Southern Arkansas. Because he's somewhat off the radar, we can only give a very a limited scouting report.

His repertoire starts with an above-average fastball sitting in the low 90's that can touch the mid 90's, though it is fairly straight. He also features 2 brekaing pitches. His best is an 82-84 slider that does have some late titlt and a slower high 70's curveball. His changeup is rudimentary but has some promise. He has average command of all his pitches, and if he can learn to mix his pitches he may have the potential to be a #3 SP. If he cannot stay as a starter, he could be a decent set-up guy with his fastball-slider combination.


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Cubs Draft 2010: Why the Cubs Blew their First Round Pick

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

With the 16th pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs select...

Hayden Simpson?

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In the NFL and NBA drafts, teams are allowed to trade their picks. What that means is that if a team sits with say a #5 pick and covets a player who will surely be available in the 30's, it can trade down and add another pick in addition to landing their target. If that team chose their guy at #5 and sacrificed the value they could have added to the team by trading it, the pick was a failure.

The MLB draft is different. If you have a pick, you're stuck with it. So if a team falls in love with the 20th ranked player in the draft and pick #8, then they're going to have to reach to get their guy. The implication is that you can't hold a selection against a team if the player wouldn't have made it to the next round. After all, the separation between MLB draft prospects isn't huge, and who's to say that their guy won't turn out better than the other options anyway?

This reasoning has the ability to validate every pick made in the first round on Monday, save possibly three. Arizona's choice of Barrett Loux at #6, New York taking Chevez Clarke at #30, and the Chicago Cubs shocking the world with the selection of Hayden Simpson, a no-name righty from Division II Southern Arkansas.
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MLB Draft- Cubs Live Chat

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

Join us tonight at Wrigley Bound, where we'll be talking prospects and counting down til the Cubs pick when the MLB draft gets underway.

Stop by later to get real-time updates and compilations of what all the experts are saying, video highlights of the Cubs pick, and of course some sparkling analysis from myself and our resident draft guru Dan Cupples.

We'll also touch on some hot topics involving current Cubs prospects and answer any questions about them.

Get your questions in now, and we'll see you back here at 5 PM CT!

 

UPDATE: We've merged this chat with our ChicagoNow friends Future Sox, meaning our friend Jeff Buchanan will join us this evening, providing twice as much material to talk about.

 

Around the Minors- June 6th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- L 10-4

Player(s) of the Game:
CF Sam Fuld- 2-5, HR, RBI, R

  • Chad Tracy went yard and batted in 3 runs, continuing his Pacific League dominance. Since his demotion, he's at .373/.409/.566 with 3 HRs and 7 2Bs in his 24 games. Looks like he'll get another shot at the Cubs roster this year, and with good reason. Heck, he's probably better than Aramis Ramirez, and his lefty bat would be fairly welcome. It's only a matter of roster space before he finds his way back up, and the next injury or trade may be his opening.
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Cubs Draft Rumors

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

There lot's of rumors around the web concerning the Cubs potential 1st round pick on Monday. It seems as we sit now 2 names are being linked to the Cubs predominantly, Justin O' Conner (C Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind) and Karsten Whitson (RHP Chipley (Fla) H.S.) Both offer huge upside and could signal a change in draft philosophy by the Cubs. I've profiled O' Conner in the hitters preview and Whitson in "Draft Profile: A.J. Cole and Karsten Whitson" so I will just do a quick review on both.
 
O'Conner has made the transition to C with a plus-plus arm and athleticism. He's still very inexperienced but shows potential to be a well above-average defender to go with a power bat. The risk here is that high school catchers rarely pan out.
 
Whitson would be a steal at 16. He offers athleticism that translates into command and repeats his delivery well. His 90-94 fastball can touch 95 is above-average and may throw harder down the road. His plus slider that offers hard sharp break is a true swing-and-miss pitch. His change-up is currently solid-average with plus potential. Couple tweaks to his delivery once he becomes a pro gives him a ceiling of an ace. He easily could be a top notch #2 on a 1st division team. 
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Catching Up

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

I've had a busy last week or so and haven't been able to find much time for blogging, but it's time I catch up with some of the news and notes I haven't written up in the last two weeks.

Draft Projections

With just a few days left before the draft, mocks are picking up and most of the main draft experts have weighed on how they see things falling.

Keith Law at ESPN and Andy Seiler at MLB Bonus Baby both see the Cubs going in the same direction and taking high school catcher Justin O'Conner from Indiana. O'Conner has burst onto the scene this year by displaying impressive power and defense, and the Cubs could do a lot worse in this spot. I've come around to him and while I don't necessarily think catcher is a need position, I generally trust that the Cubs have seen Midwestern guys enough to make an accurate estimation of their abilities and if they feel he's the best available, I say go for it.

Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus went public with his first mock draft recently, where he projected the Cubs to take Ohio State RHP Alex Wimmers. That would be a very limited upside pick, as it's hard to picture Wimmers as more than a 3 or 4 starter down the road. He is pretty polished and should be a safe and fast-moving pick, but I personally would be very disappointed to use the 16 pick on a guy who has trouble breaking 90 mph with his fastball at times.

Jim Callis at Baseball America stuck with Florida high school RHP Karsten Whitson in his latest draft, and it still seems like an illogical prediction to me. Would I like them to spring for the ultra-high upside Whitson, who is one of the top HS pitchers out there? Absolutely. Is there reason to believe they will? Not from where I'm standing.
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Cubs Draft Dish: Part 2

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

With the draft quickly approaching, I'm going to continue to compile possible names of late round picks. To be honest, it is incredibly difficult to gauge who a particular team is targeting, especially outside the first round, so these are mostly guesses. I will throw out some names who fit the Cubs draft profile and what I'm hearing for possibilities from around the web.
 
In the Baseball America's May 26th draft chat with Dave Perkin, he was asked who the Cubs were targeting and said the Cubs probably will go with a college pitcher. He did note that the Cubs really like high school OF Austin Wilson from California. He's got a chisled body and may have the most tools in the draft besides probable #1 pick Bryce Harper. Wilson is as good in the classroom as he is on the diamond, and with a strong Stanford commitment and a father who went to MIT, he'll be a tough sign. This is a player who could go anywhere from mid-1st round to much later based on how teams judge his signability. He profiles as RF with a plus arm and athleticism to match. He offers 5 tools that grade out as average to above average. I suspect someone will take a shot at him long before the Cubs 2nd round pick, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.
 

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Cubs Draft Dish

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

By Dan Cupples

As June draws closer, the draft picture is still as cloudy as ever, with part of the issue being that this year's draft is pretty unimpressive.

As the Cubs sit now, Brett Eibner-- a RHP/OF from Arkansas-- is the player who makes the most sense. He fits the Cubs draft profile of athletic pitchers (Cashner, Jackson, Raley, etc.), while also offering a power bat who may be able to stick in CF. In terms of pure talent, he's more of a late 1st-rounder, but he does offer serious upside once he focuses solely on pitching, and the Cubs have shown in the past their not averse to reaching for a guy they love.
 
Another interesting name that may be falling slightly (through no fault of his own) is Cal State Fullerton SS Christian Colon. He probably will not stick at SS due to range concerns, a below average arm and questionable speed. He does offer a polished bat with a slight upper-cut in his swing producing good power. He's a skilled hitter who can bunt, hit behind runners, and hit and run. He profiles best as an offensive minded 2B who could move fast and would look great next to Castro. In my estimation I doubt he would be available and with the Cubs glut of middle infielders it's just a slight possibility, but he's at least a name to be aware of who I didn't profile previously.
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Around the Minors- May 26th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- L 9-3

Player(s) of the Game:
RF Brad Snyder- 2-4, 2B, R, SB

Not a good showing for the I-Cubs. Particularly rough day for Darwin Barney, who was 0-5 with a K at the plate and made an error (though just his 6th of the season).
Snyder is stringing together a terrific season, now swatting .322/.384/.594. I'm always amazed he never got a big league shot, and he's probably past the point where he'll get one. It's a shame, because the guy can really hit and had the potential to be an above-average offensive big league player.
Jeff Samardzija pitched today, and threw a decent amount of strikes, at least relative to his prior performances. I still think he's a terrible pitcher with upside as a long reliever type. Sorry Jeff. Find some movement on your fastball and get your slider to break harder again and we'll talk.
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Around the Minors- May 25th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- W 8-2

Player(s) of the Game:
SP Casey Coleman- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

  • Coleman's BABIP on the year has been incredibly low (.235 entering Tuesday), but on the bright side he's controlling the zone beautifully. He's getting lucky again this year, albeit in a different way (hits as opposed to HRs). Makes you wonder if he has a skill for being lucky.

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Around the Minors- May 24th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- L 1-0

Player(s) of the Game:
SP Thomas Diamond- 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

  • Diamond has quietly been better than any Cubs minor leaguer not named Cashner. After today he's down to a 2.01 ERA with 45 Ks and 19 BBs in his 49.1 innings of work. His stuff isn't where it once was, but he's missing plenty of bats, and hitters are only making contact on 26.3% of the strikes he throws, a rate even lower than Cashner's.

  • Jay Jackson had his longest stint in the bullpen, throwing 32 pitches over three innings of work. He's actually been pitching more to contact since moving to the pen, which means his stuff hasn't played up like some people hoped. To his credit, Jackson just walked his first hitter since the bullpen move today in 31 batters faced. I'm sure he'll still get a chance at the MLB bullpen, with lots of room available for anyone willing to not walk people.
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Around the Minors- May 23rd

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

You may have noticed I took the weekend off of ATM. Hope you didn't miss it terribly.

AAA Iowa Cubs-
W 11-7

Player(s) of the Game:
RF Jim Adduci- 3-5, R, 4 RBIs

  • How about Jason Dubois' line today? 0-0 with 4 BBs, 3 Rs, and an RBI. He had another day way back in April when he totaled 3 walks, meaning that 7 of his 9 on the season came on just two days.

  • Since his demotion, Jeff Samardzija has thrown 221 pitches, and just 116 of them have gone for strikes (52%). That's a lower percentage than any other pitcher in the upper minors by a pretty good amount. It's also the primary reason that he's issued 10 walks in 12 innings, and the latest concern in a career that has so far been defined by disappointment.

  • May has been kind to both Darwin Barney and James Adduci, who each had 3 hits Sunday. For the month, Barney is hitting over .400, though he only has 2 walks and 9 extra base hits among his 39 hits. His 25% line drive rate is impressive though, and while he lacks several things, he certainly can hit singles with the best of them.
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Around the Minors- May 19th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- Off day

AA Tennessee Smokies- L 11-3

Player(s) of the Game:
3B Russ Canzler- 2-4, R, HR, RBI

  • Alberto Cabrera was just coming onto my radar when he was promoted to Tennessee a week or two ago after a strong start for Datyona. Apparently the kid can't handle the pressure that came with an esteemed blogger like myself watching, because he's been pretty terrible. He hasn't been throwing enough strikes (56%), and the ones he has been throwing are getting demolished. Cabrera's allowed 20 baserunners in 6.1 IP for a total of 12 ER. Yikes. Hopefully he's just adjusting slowly to the new level and comes around in the next few weeks.

  • David Cales is having a pretty good year, and a scoreless inning extended a stretch over which he's thrown 11.1 scoreless innings, allowing just 1 H, 1 BB, and striking out 10. He's got a great slider, generates groundballs, pounds the strikezone and is just 22, so he's an interesting name to keep an eye on for the bullpen over the next couple years.
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Cubs Draft Preview: Interview with Andy Seiler

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

If you closely follow the MLB draft, chances are you are familiar with draft expert Andy Seiler. Andy is the proprietor of MLB Bonus Baby, which stands alone as the best free draft blog on the internet. 

With just about 3 weeks to go until draft day, it's the busy time of the year for Andy, who is in the middle of putting together the 2010 MLB Draft Notebook, his annual preview with detailed profiles of 775 prospects. It's available for pre-order now at the link above and will be delivered to your email inbox the weekend preceding the draft. It's highly recommended reading for draft-niks.

Fortunately for us, Andy was able to find a few minutes to talk some Cubs-centric MLB draft with Dan Cupples.
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WB: The Cubs spent a meager $4.0 million last year. Have you heard anything on how much they may spend this year? 

AS: There will be an increase this year, but don't expect it to double. They pick 15 slots higher in each round, and that alone should push them up to close to $5 million, and with new ownership, I could see them settling in the $5.5-6 million range, depending on a few factors. It's not the strongest draft, so $5 million seems more reasonable this year. 
 
WB: The Boston Red Sox in recent years have invested heavily in high end talent that has fallen to later rounds with large bonus demands such as Ryan Westmoreland, Anthony Rizzo, David Renfroe, Madison Younginger, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson etc. and it's paying off in the depth of the system. Why doesn't a large market team such as the Cubs also attempt to utilize this strategy?

AS: That's the question that everyone is asking in the industry, and it's all about toeing the line. Some teams in big markets have real financial constraints, such as the Dodgers. Others, such as the Mets, have chosen to follow slot due to a desire to please Bud Selig. The Red Sox should be the model for drafting as a large market team, and I've said that again and again, but teams generally don't feel that way. It's just one of those things where baseball artificially constrains itself. 

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Around the Minors- May 18th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- W 6-1

Player(s) of the Game:
SP Thomas Diamond- 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

  • Sam Fuld had a little bit of a rough start to the year, battling injuries and a slump in April, but he's come around and is back to doing exactly what he does best-- get on base. After a triple and double today, he's hitting .278 with an excellent .391 on-base percentage. Sam's playing this year at 28 and needs an injury to even get a 5th outfielder role on the Cubs. His MLB career is not looking so promising.

  • This was the best outing of the season for Diamond, who actually has a lower contact rate on strikes for the season than ballyhooed teammate Andrew Cashner. The key is really if he can hit his spots, and on the days when he's in and around the strikezone he's excellent. It's about a 50/50 proposition whether he will be or not on a given day though, which holds him back.
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Around the Minors- May 17th

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Matt Swain

Illinois engineering student, way too emotionally invested in the Cubs.

AAA Iowa Cubs- W 9-2

Player(s) of the Game:
SP Andrew Cashner- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
SS Darwin Barney- 3-5, 3 R, 2B, RBI, SB

  • A bit of a weird line for Cashner, who just wasn't fooling people like he normally does. His strike % was right in line with where it has been this year, so it's not like he was pounding the zone especially hard; he just wasn't generating swings and misses. That's fine now and again when he can get away with it like he did today as long as he doesn't make a habit of it. At 70 pitches, it was also the shortest outing of his season to date. In his first 7 starts he averaged 92 pitches.

  • Matt Camp is quietly having an unexpectedly decent season. Aside from just the .328 batting average, he's got a 7/4 BB:K ratio while also displaying his usual versatility. He's played mainly at 2B, but has also spotted time at 3B, SS, and LF. He's got to be behind Barney on the utility infielder call-up list right now, but he's definitely on the list.
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