Cubs Minor League Recap: Cubs making roster move soon? Tennessee throws shutout, PJ Francescon impressive

With the Cubs off, the focus was on the minor leagues today.  The affiliates split their games. Tennessee is  the only undefeated team left now at 2-0.  As always, there were some individual performances worth noting...

Round Rock 4 - Iowa 3

  • Before I get into the performances, during the game it was mentioned that Rodrigo Lopez was told to be prepared for a call-up this weekend.  This would entail a roster move.  The announcers did not say what that might be and it may not be announced until game time tomorrow if it happens.
  • Iowa's offense got off to a rough start against top Texas LHP prospect Martin Perez.  Perez was sometimes mentioned as a possible return for Garza.  He pitched 6 innings gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, struck out 3 and gave up just one run.  They did come back a bit against the Round Rock bullpen.
  • Casey Coleman was knocked around a bit.  He gave up back to back HRs and 4 runs total in 5 innings.  On the bright side, he didn't walk anybody and struck out 5, but when Texas made contact, they hit him pretty well and Iowa's quick OF of Campana, Jackson, and Sappelt probably saved him from more damage.
  • I was impressed today with Brett Jackson who looked a little lost against one of the top LH pitching prospects in baseball in his first 2 ABs.  By the 3rd AB, he adjusted, went the other way and took him off the LF wall for a triple.  He also got an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded.
  • Welington Castillo had the game's first big hit, a double that drove in Iowa's first run.
  • Josh Vitters had a hit and his 2nd walk in 2 days.  Is the light coming on or is it just a fluke from a ridiculously small sample size?  Until I see more, I'm going with the latter, but it is nice to see him make an effort.
  • Anthony Rizzo had 2 hits, one was of the infield variety.  The other was a single with the bases loaded to bring Iowa to within one.
  • Tony Campana had a tough day on the bases.  He got caught stealing and then he was thrown out trying to score the tying run from second on Rizzo's single.
  • Jeff Beliveau came in and had a solid inning. He  gave up a hit and walked one but the umpire didn't give him anything close.  He was around the plate all inning -- which is what  he needs to do to succeed.

Tennessee 1 - Chattanooga 0

  • If I told you Trey McNutt started the game and his team won 1-0, you'd probably be pretty encouraged.  The truth is he threw 3 solid innings before losing command in the 4th.  Overall he pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up 3 walks.  He also gave up 2 hits and struck out 3.
  • Jeffrey Antigua, a one-time prospect trying to get back on the rader, came in relief and pitched 2 1/2 scoreless innings.  He walked nobody and struck out 2.
  • Alberto Cabrera then came in an pitched 2 shutout innings of his own.  He also struck out two and, most encouragingly, did not walk anybody.  He gave up just one hit.
  • Frank Batista earned the save although he made it a nail biter by allowing men to get to 1st and 3rd.
  • OF'er Michael Burgess was the games offensive hero.  He accounted for the only run with a solo shot in the 6th.  He also had a single.
  • 2B Logan Watkins also had 2 hits.  He has 5 hits in his first 2 games.
  • 3B and utility infield prospect Matt Cerda made the only other offensive contribution.  He had a single and a walk.  Cerda has perhaps the best batting eye in the system.  And yes, that includes Brett Jackson.

Daytona 6 - Brevard County 2

  • Eric Jokisch is coming off a great year statistically and he got off to another good start this year.  He pitched 6 innings and gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk.  He struck out 5.
  • Tony Zych finished the game with a 2 inning save.  Encouraging for Cubs fans used to watching Marmol (and Wood yesterday)? No walks!
  • Have I told you about Arismendy Alcantara?  No?  Well, he's a SS prospect but he's pretty low on the depth chart right now.  He's got a shot to be a utility IF'er in the pros but today the 160 lbs Alcantara hit like Ernie Banks.  He had 3 hits, including a 3-run HR and 4 RBI overall.  He also scored 2 runs.
  • Cuban born prospect Rubi Silva had 3 hits for the second straight day.  2 of the hits were doubles.  He's a good, versatile player with an aggressive approach, but he does have legit tools.  He figures to be a 2B but is athletic enough to play all OF positions.
  • 2011 draftee out of UConn John Andreoli got on base all 4 times, 3 of them via the base on balls.  He's a good 4th OF'er type prospect.  He plays good defense in the OF corners and a passable CF, runs slightly above average, and has a solid line drive swing.
  • Matt Szczur scored a run and got on base via a walk.  He's off to a slow start, but anytime I see Szczur walk, I consider that to be a good sign.  He needs to get on base to be an effective player in the majors.

Beloit 6 - Peoria 1

  • Sleeper prospect Patrick (PJ) Francescon had a brilliant outing, but his pitch count limited him to just 4 2/3 innings.  He have up one run on just 2 hits.  Most impressively, he walked none and struck out 9.  Francescon was a 40th round draft pick whom the Cubs felt had a projectable arm.  So far he has proven them right with a fastball that was clocked at 93 mph last season.  Looking at the results, I'm wondering if it was even faster tonight.
  • Middle relief prospect Luis Liria came in and struck out 3 more in 1 1/3 innings, giving the Chiefs 12 strikeouts in the first 6 innings.
  • LH relief prospect Willengton Cruz came in and gave up a game deciding grand slam to Twins mega prospect Miguel Sano.
  • Not much offense from the Chiefs today.
  • 2B Zeke DeVoss was doing his OBP thing. and got on base twice with a walk and a single.
  • Raw but exciting RF prospect Reggie Golden had a single and stole a base.
  • Catching prospect Rafael Lopez had a hit.  As did 3B-SS Wes Darvill, 1B Paul Hoilman,and intriguing athletic OF prospect Taiwan Easterling.


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  • Thanks for posting this stuff.

    Very interesting to consider what the mystery roster move might be. DeWitt is the obvious candidate to go, since the Cubs seem to be stockpiling young LH 2Bmen with offensive upside. It seems like they're collecting the guys they plan to give shots to if/when Barney struggles again offensively.

    Vilbuena may be ready to breakout this year, as he's still relatively young and has been crushing AAA pitching the last couple of years. Although he's far from a good defensive SS, he's probably more versatile defensively than DeWitt, and also has more offensive upside.

    On another subject--Vitters--he was looking a lot more patient this spring, too. It would be awesome if he did make some strides in his approach at the plate. I still think he's got a good chance of being a decent everyday 3B, but he needs to keep improving, offensively and defensively. Long term, I could see him being a 285/320/450 guy in his prime, which would be good enough if he gets to the point where he can play solid defense.

    Regarding Szczur, I agree with your assessment, with one caveat--he needs to learn to walk OR develop power. I think the latter is more likely for him than the former. Either way, he needs to become a run scorer or an RBI guy to have some kind of offensive role, or else he's not a starting MLB OF. He still has a long way to go, but I like his chance of adding a bit of power. Another big question with him is if he'll develop fast enough--he didn't respond very positively to the aggresive promotion last summer, which doesn't bode that well for him, because he wasn't that young for his level (for a supposedly big time prospect).

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I'm intrigued by Valbuena. He's worth a look at the very least.

    I really do believe Vitters is trying to be more patient, what I'm hoping is that he develops a plan up there rather than taking random pitches for the sake of taking them.

    I'd like to see Szczur do both, but you're right. If he's not going to be a big OBP guy, he should hit for a decent average and some power.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I like Valbuena a lot, too. Try looking at his MiLB record, discounting the times he was rushed or skipped a level. (For example, take out 2006 High A when he skipped the Midwest League, 2007 AA in what "should" have been his High A campaign, and even his AAA time in 2008 where he did alright but without power) What remains, then, in his record, is pretty impressive.

    He looks like a guy who was a good prospect but was promoted too agressively and who has also been slow to adjust to the bigs (as you might expect of a guy who didn't handle an aggressive timetable well). But he looks like he's ready at this point to make it happen at the MLB level--he's got nothing left to prove at AAA. And he's still pretty young--roughly the age of Barney.

    I think he's the kind of guy who they stuck in the lineup every day, instead of having to do it off the bench, that he would thrive and surprise a lot of people. But he's unlikely to get that chance before July, unless Barney gets injured. And even to get it in the second half, Barney needs to again show a weak stick.

    To me, it's a good sign that the FO recognizes the potential of a guy like Valbuena and is willing to perform some uncomfortable roster manuverings in order to pick him up on the cheap.

    One thing is clear: Valbuena has shown a lot over the course of his pro career as a whole to demonstrate an offensive upside that doesn't exist in Barney. IMO, Valbuena has shown a bit more than Cardenas, as well.

    Both Valbuena and Cardenas look like guys who would hit for a decent average and draw their share of walks, but Valbuena has a good deal more pop, and Valbuena adjusted to AAA better/quicker than Cardenas.

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    John as usual very good article. I am very excited about a lot of prospects that we have, but my only concern is that we are rebuilding just like the Pirates,Royals,Orioles,Twins,Indians,Mariners,A's,Marlins,Padres,Rockies. They have been struggling a lot since rebuilding, what makes us such a different team that we are going to be able to turn it around unlike they did. Also, what move to do you see being made. Is Rodrigo Lopez really the best option to call up?

  • In reply to Larry:

    Larry, what makes us different is that the Cubs will be able to add expensive pieces at multiple positions when the time is right....Lots of guys want to play for the Cubs, it's the biggest market (better endorsements) and best fan base out of all the teams you mentioned.The Twins aren't gonna be able to pay 3 guys like 15 mill per season, probably ever..The Royals and Padres can't and the Orioles want that but top tier free agents avoid Baltimore like the plague. Plus, our front office is pretty well respected, this isn't a jim Hendry rebuild..The key now is to get and develop position players first, when you think that throughout Hendry's tenure with the Cubs 1995-2011 he only really developed 2 consistent everyday players, Starlin Castro and Geovanny Soto..that's pretty friggin pathetic.(although some are on the way).I do think however in this draft, they may go for more arms, especially if we land Soler...(That's taking way too long by the way)!!!

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Yeah Everyone gives Hendry Crap about not nowing how to run a team, and i agree 50%. He did get us to the playoff's three years in a row, but the thing i dislike him for is the destruction of our farm system.

  • In reply to Larry:

    Money. The Cubs have the money to keep these guys when they get good and the money to fill in holes that the farm system doesn't.

    My guess is DeWitt or Valbuena gets moved. The Cubs have a lot of similar 2B types. Can't use them all. Jays, Phils both trying to sign Fontenot maybe the loser of that derby is forced to make a deal.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Very simple answer, thank you.

  • In reply to Larry:

    Your welcome and thanks for the kind words earlier!

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