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Cubs Minors Recap: Baez mashes, Szczur gets 4 hits. Jensen pitches well. Whitenack, Concepcion update.

Cubs Minors Recap: Baez mashes, Szczur gets 4 hits. Jensen pitches well.  Whitenack, Concepcion update.
Javier Baez

The hitting star of the day  isn't even with an affiliate...yet.  Javier Baez is raking down at extended spring training.  Lucky for all of us, we have AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter to keep track of game stats.  As far as the full season players go, the prospect with the biggest day was Matt Szczur, who had a much needed 4 hits to break out of his season long slump.

On the mound, Peoria prospect Michael Jensen continues to pitch well.  He is now 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA.  Meanwhile, Trey McNutt had his typical inefficient, but effective outing.

Missed this yesterday but Robert Whitenack is making his way back in extended spring training throwing 2 scoreless innings (27 pitches), while Gerardo Concepcion got knocked around a bit (3.1 IP, 6H, 5ER, 3BB, 5Ks)

As far as the games go, at Iowa, the AAA Cubs scratched out a win against Texas top pitching prospect Martin Perez while AA Tennessee was no-hit for 7 1/3 innings.

Iowa 3 - Round Rock 2

  • Casey Coleman had his best outing of the young season, though he was still a little wild.  He pitched 5 1/3 innings and walked 3 to go with 4 hits.  He gave up just 2 runs to lower his ERA to 4.11.
  • Really enjoy watching Jeff Believeau pitch.  He hides the ball by his waist at the outset then has a slight hitch when he brings it back behind his body.  Hitters just don't seem to pick him up and time him well and his 88-91 fastball gets on them in a hurry.  He's an aggressive pitcher who throws strikes.  He pitched 2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and walk while striking out one.  His ERA in the early going is at 1.29.
  • Blake Parker relieved Beliveau with one out in the 8th and stranded a runner.  He did get into some trouble in the 9th when he gave up a single and walk before getting out of the jam to save the game.
  • Tony Campana had a hit and walk plus 2 steals.  He was also caught stealing once.  For the year he's 8 out of 11 in stolen bases.
  • Brett Jackson (.277) had a hustle double on a groundball up the middle, 2 walks and a stolen base.  Looked today like pitchers were staying away from Jackson and trying to work the outside corner.  It's a fine line because if they miss, Jackson is disciplined enough to lay off those pitches and draw the walk, much as he did today.
  • Welington Castillo threw out a runner stealing but also had a passed ball.  On offense he continues to show improved patience.  He walked 2 more times to give him 6 in 33PAs - an 18% walk rate- to go with a .478 batting average.
  • Dave Sappelt had a triple and drove in a run.
  • Josh Vitters is no longer finding the holes and the patient approach has been missing of late.   He's still at .316 for the season after an 0 for 4 day.

Huntsville 5 - Tennessee 2

  • Trey McNutt started and gave up his first run of the season in a tough first inning where he gave up 3 hits, but held Huntsville to just one run.  He gave up just one hit the rest of the way before reaching his pitch limit.  All told he pitched 4 innings, gave up 4 hits, and one run while walking one and striking out 3.
  • LHP Jeffrey Antigua had a rough outing, giving up 4 runs in just 2 innings to put the Smokies in a 5-0 hole before RHP Frank Batista closed the door in the 7th.
  • Hard throwing Alberto Cabrera came in and pitched a scoreless inning with one walk and 2 strikeouts.  His ERA is at 2.70.
  • The Smokies were getting no-hit until OF'er Michael Burgess broke it up with one out in the 8th inning.  He singled up the middle and then scored on Jonathan Mota's double.

Dunedin 6 - Daytona 3

  • LHP Eric Jokisch started and went 6 innings.  He have up 6 hits and 3 walks that added up to 4 runs and a loss.  He struck out 7.
  • Tony Zych has had an up and down start to 2012.  Today he gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk over one inning.  His ERA is at 4.50.
  • Matt Szczur broke out of his slump in a big way with a 4 for 5 day.  He raised his average 79 points to .214.
  • Greg Rohan isn't considered a prospect, but he's a good minor league hitter.  He had a single, a double, and a HR.  He chipped in 2 RBI.

Peoria Cedar 6 - Rapids 2

  • Michael Jensen continues to impress in his first full professional season.  An unheralded late round overslot signing, he's looking more and more like a nice find for Tim Wilken and his staff.  He's not a big pitcher but he he has a low 91-93 mph fastball and a plus curve.  Today he went 6 innings and gave up just 3 hits and one walk.
  • RH reliever prospect Austin Reed gave up his first run of the season but had a solid outing overall.  He pitched 2 innings and struck out 3.  His ERA is at 1.69.  Reed throws a low 90s fastball but uses his good change to make it look faster.
  • 1B Ryan Cuneo is a little old for low Class A ball at 23, and this is his second season in the league, so he's not really considered a prospect, but he has hit well to start the season.  Tonight he hit 2 HRs and drove in 4 runs.
  • Catcher Rafael Lopez is a even older at 24 but his good defense at a premium position make him a prospect.  He's not a bad hitter, but at his age there isn't a whole lot of projection left.  He'll hit at this level, but as he moves up he'll face pitchers that are as advanced and mature as he is, so he's unlikely to sustain his offensive performance.  There's a chance he may hit well enough to be a backup at the MLB level.  Tonight he had 2 more hits to bring his average to .379.  He also scored 2 runs.
  • SS Marco Hernandez is really struggling and while it's early, you have to wonder if he's ready for full season ball as a 19 year old.  He skipped Boise but so far he's hitting .135 in Peoria.  Meanwhile, top prospect Javier Baez (who'll play SS for the foreseeable future) is mashing in Extended Spring Training according to AZ Phil.  Baez went 4 for 5 and hit for the cycle.  He also stole a base and made a spectacular play in the field.  Baez has been working on not overswinging.  He doesn't need to because he has such tremendous natural bat speed that he makes hard contact without effort.  So far it looks like it's paying off.  In 4 games, he's 9 for 15 with 3 HRs, 3 triples, and 2 doubles.  He also hit a HR off Paul Maholm on the last day of spring training in an intrasquad game.
  • 2B Zeke DeVoss (.279) had a hit and scored a run while 3B Wes Darvil (.225) had a triple.
  • Outfielder Oliver Zapata had his second big day since being called up from Extended Spring Training.  He hit his 2nd HR and drew 2 walks.
  • 1B Paul Hoilman had a pair of doubles.

Comments

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    I'm glad Sczcur finally broke out. McNutt seems to keep hitting his pitch count limit early.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    In the game I watched, he was two different pitchers, one who cruises along with a 92-94 mph fastball, a good curve, and a promising change and another guy who tries to overthrow and gets his mechanics out of whack and loses command. The first guy is a starter, the second guy is a relief pitcher.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Now hopefully Sczcur can balance getting both hits and walks.

    McNutt's development has stalled a bit after a fairly ridiculous 2010, but I'm not too worried. I like the end results, which tells me that his stuff is there, it's just a matter of confidence and command at this point. I know that Theo&Co like to develop slowly, but if healthy, McNutt could still contend for a rotation spot next season.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    McNutt does have the stuff to be a solid SP...but man he can be frustrating to watch sometimes.

    I do think if it clicks for him, he could move quickly. All the ingredients are there.

  • Peoria is going to be fascinating to watch all season long. Zapata is showing surprising pop early on, as well as patience. If I remember right he plays a good RF too, and there will always be a place for a toolsy OF, regardless of size.

    Michael Jensen has been a pleasent surprise. I'm likely forgetting what you've told us in the past, but he's getting very strong groundball numbers, sounds like a sinker, curve, change guy. Not the best K numbers for a guy who is 21 this season, but success is success.

    Liked hearing about Whitenack pitching well, not sure where he pitches this year, but next year is more important. I think Concepcion will figure it out.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    Midwest League not a hitters league and the little guy has 2 bombs already. He does play a good OF and can run a little. Also showing good plate discipline.

    That's exactly it on Jensen, Cameron. Keeps the ball down in the zone, throws strikes. He's not going to be a frontline guy but he's got a chance to earn an MLB role someday.

    Agreed on Whitenack. This is a year where they'll work him back slowly, could be pitching at Daytona or Tennessee by midseason but first year sometimes tricky as far as regaining command.

    Not worried about Concepcion based on one outing, either.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Daytona is frustrating me right now. Just lacking real standout guys. Jokisch has been dissapointing so far, and Austin Kirk's GO/AO and K stats worry me right now, but at least he's getting results. Can't wait for extended ST to end and SS & R leagues to start. Unfortunately I won't get to go see the Hawks play.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    Never been too high on Jokisch but think that Kirk has a chance.

    A lot of exciting prospects in Ext. ST right now, led by Baez who looks like he's just an absolute beast with the bat. Been hearing and/or reading that Vogelbach, Dunston, and Candelario have impressed too.

    Also find it interesting that Malave is there competing as a 17 yr old I think he's the only int'l signee in AZ. Other, I assume, are at the academy in the DR

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Dude are u saying that Zapata can run a little ?? Are u serious or u just made a mistake talking about his speed

  • In reply to Elcabrera:

    I'm not sure what you're implying there...I guess you're saying that John is underrating his speed.

    It would appear that his speed is most functional in the field, his SB numbers are products of pure volume attempts, he doesn't seem to know much about the art of base stealing at this point. As well, not that many extra base hits, so either he hasn't driven the ball at all, or his knowledge of base running has really held him back.

    Hopefully his time at extended ST has improved his functional speed on offense.

  • In reply to Elcabrera:

    "Dude"...I think you're taking my statement way too literally. Maybe it doesn't translate well in written form. It's my way of speaking casually in the comments section with a long time reader like Cameron who understands what I mean. And yes, I do know Zapata has good speed, and have said so in other articles.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think you never play professional baseball before did u?

    Because when u see kid like him with a really good speed and don't have that many sb you as a coach should ask your self what's going on that's why the organization pay the coaches for points like that when you see one of ur players slacking
    Real talk

  • In reply to Elcabrera:

    Thanks for your little rant, but I have actual professional talent evaluators that I talk to and trust (and none of them played pro ball either)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey John don't get me wrong I like ur comments about the players but sometimes u underrating players talents and like I said if you never been on the field or inside the dog out like a player plz have a little more of respect when it comes to any players skills or talent.

  • In reply to Elcabrera:

    1. This site is never disrespects players, coaches, execs, or readers. Saying Zapata can "run a little" is by no means disrespectful.
    2.You shouldn't be advising anyone on the meaning of respect. For a tip, see how other readers comment respectfully on this board.
    3. I have been inside plenty of dugouts as a ballplayer, but not as a professional -- and being a professional player doesn't qualify you to be a talent evaluator anyway. If you are trying to imply that your are or were a professional player, then congrats...but it's by no means a necessary component of evaluating ballplayers. In fact, many of the best evaluators in the game did not play pro ball -- including the ones on the Cubs (Epstein, Hoyer, McLeod, Fleita, Wilken). So that idea you keep pushing has no meaning to anyone.

    I appreciate you reading the blog and making comments, but please make ones that are relevant to the discussion instead of overreacting to semantics.

  • In reply to Elcabrera:

    In my experience, the random message board guy who uses lines like "you never played professional baseball before" is the same guy who played high school ball and is now a softball warrior. Just because someone has never played the game does not make them ineligible to comment on it. Or run a team (see Theo Epstein). In the same way, I can comment on the type of job the President of the United States is doing, even though I've never been President.

  • In reply to stork:

    Well said, Stork. I think it's great if someone played baseball, but what we value the most on this site are the insightful comments from our readers.

  • John - another first for yours and Tom's awesome blog, Cubs Den's first troll! :)

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Weird, isn't it?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And thanks!

  • Do you think they'll start Baez at Peoria with the way he's tearing up Instructional League?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I was thinking the same thing but from what I've learned the plan is still to start him in Boise.

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