Cubs Minors Recap: Rizzo with game-winning HR, RHP Tayler Scott sparkles in debut, Jensen solid again

In a little less than a week, Anthony Rizzo will no longer be able to accumulate a year of service time by season's end.  That is undoubtedly a factor in the decision to call him up.  The other big factor is that there is nowhere to put him without cutting time from one of the Cubs most productive players, whether it be Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair.  The other option is that you put them both in the corners and  DeJesus in CF -- and field an outfield with perhaps the least range in baseball.

One thing that can no longer be doubted is whether or not Anthony Rizzo is ready.  He is.

Iowa 3 - Albuquerque 2

  • Chris Volstad had a solid start and did not fall victim to a big inning.  Well, not that big anyway.  He did give up 2 runs in the first but shut down the Isotopes the rest of the way, walking 2 and striking out 6 in 6 innings of work.  It's likely Volstad gets another crack at the big leagues once the Cubs trade Dempster -- unless the Cubs get an MLB ready pitcher in return.
  • Michael Bowden won the game with another excellent outing, striking out 4 batters in 1.2 innings.  In his last 4 outing covering 6.2 innings, Bowden has a 0.00 ERA with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts.
  • LHP Scott Maine is also red-hot, having posted an 0.79 ERA in his last 10 outings.  In his last 9.1 innings, he has walked 3 and struck out 10.  He earned his 5th save by retiring the only 4 batters he faced, striking out one
  • Alfredo Amezaga hit his 4th HR to give the I-Cubs their first run of the game.  He also singled and scored when Anthony Rizzo hit a go-ahead HR in the 7th that was the eventual game-winner. That was Rizzo's only hit of the game, but it couldn't be more timely.
  • 3B Josh Vitters had 2 hits (single, double), giving him 6 in the last 2 games.  Vitters is once again climbing back toward that .800 OPS mark.  He's at .793 (.282/.332/.461).  That .332 OBP is especially encouraging in that he is showing some progress, though I would like to see him get it at around .350 before he's promoted, which will likely be in September at the earliest.
  • RF Dave Sappelt had a single and a double.

Birmingham 5 - Tennessee 3

  • RHP Trey McNutt had another tough outing, giving up all 5 runs that Birmingham scored in just 5.2 innings.  It's not a particularly good hitting Barons team, yet they had 9 hits and only 3 strikeouts against the guy many considered the Cubs top pitching prospect when the season started.  He's going to have to have a strong second half to keep that distinction.
  • Alberto Cabrera finished up with a 1-2-3 inning in which he struck out 2 batters.  Cabrera has 9 walks and 43 Ks in 33.2 innings this year.  He has a 2.42 ERA and his FIP is 2.31.  Chalk this one up to Chris Bosio, who made a slight adjustment with Cabrera's grip to give lots of downward movement and velocity (97 mph) on his fastball this season.
  • Logan Watkins had a triple, single and an RBI as he continues to rake after perhaps the worst slump of his career.  His average is back up to .259, but more importantly for him, he has his OBP near the .350 mark again.
  • Junior Lake was the DH and went 3 for 4, getting his average up to .301 on the year.  Lake also has a .356 OBP and is slugging .462.  He's continuing to build on the progress he made last year at Daytona and then again in the AZ Fall League.  He's still aggressive but his approach is better.  He doesn't swing at nearly as many pitches that are well outside the strike zone, though he still gets fooled occasionally with sliders away, especially when he's down in the count.  The tools are there for Lake and if he continues to improve his approach, he can still be a starter in the big leagues.
  • Solid glove man Elliot Soto was at SS. He has tailed off since an impressive start but did have 3 hits today.  The utility IF prospect is batting just .230, however.

The Florida State League and Daytona had another day off from their all-star break.

Peoria 10 - Clinton 5

  • The first game, which was supposed to be the conclusion of a suspended game, was cancelled, so none of those stats will count, but they did play the second game.  RHP Michael Jensen had a lot of offensive support, though as usual, he didn't really need it.  Jensen pitched 5 shutout innings before tiring in the 6th and giving up 2 runs.  He didn't walk a batter and struck out 3.  Jensen is a legit prospect with a 91-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball.  He has a change, but doesn't often need it right now.  He's 7-3 with a 2.58 ERA on the season.  He has 25 walks and 61 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.
  • Addison's little brother RHP Austin Reed had a scoreless inning with one strikeout.  Austin doesn't throw as hard as Addison, but plays his fastball up with a very good change.  He has a 26 strikeouts in 31.2 innings and a 3.41 ERA.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka came within one out of a 9 inning perfect game, though he did it over 6 separate outings.  Dustin Geiger committed an error to end the streak and Cervenka eventually gave up 2 hits and 2 unearned runs, so his ERA actually went down to 0.59.
  • Tons of offense today led by Zeke DeVoss who had a single and scored a run.
  • CF Pin-Chieh Chen had 2 hits, and RBI, and scored 2 runs.  He also stole 2 bases.
  • 3B Dustin Geiger looks like a much improved hitter after surprisingly starting the year in extended spring training.  He had 2 hits in 5 ABs with a run scored and an RBI.  He's hitting .333/.350/.513 in his first 9 games with 2 HRs.  Geiger was a 24th round pick by the Cubs in the 2010 draft but he was considered a big sleeper by the Cubs scouting staff.  So far this year, it looks like they may have been right.
  • Paul Hoilman had a big day with his 6th HR, double and 4 RBI.  The big 23 year old 1B is hitting .271/.354/.467 on the year.
  •  Wes Darvill played SS and had a double, single, and his 8th SB of the year.
  • Javier Baez was the DH today and had a single and a run scored.  He's at .317 on the year.
  • LF Oliver Zapata has really struggled since a very strong start but he got into the action today with 2 hits, including a double, in 4 ABs.  Zapata is hitting .241/.318/.309.
  • C Sergio Burriel went 2 for 4 with a double, a run scored, and 2 RBI.

Salem-Keizer 4 - Boise 3

  • RHP Tayler Scott is one of the more interesting prospects on the Hawks team. As a  former soccer player from South Africa, he's an excellent athlete and the Cubs liked him because of his 90-92 mph fastball, innate feel for pitching, potential ability to repeat his delivery, and his  projectable frame.  Scott could throw harder as he fills out and he should develop good command because of his athleticism.  His breaking pitch is a curve, which shows plus potential at times but is inconsistent and average -- at best -- overall right now. His change-up is in the rudimentary stages as he has rarely needed it to this point. As for today, he started with 5 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
  • Hayden Simpson is back in Boise after struggling at Class A Daytona and did well today for 2 innings.  Then the wheels came off and Simpson lost his command.  He surrendered a single and 2 walks to load the bases and was yanked in favor of  RHP Pete Levitt, who let 2 of the 3 runners score before getting out of the inning.  Levitt than gave up 2 singles in the 9th to give way to closer Bryce Shafer, but Shafer allowed both runners to score to blow the save.
  • CF Shawon Dunston went 2 for 4 and scored a run.
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya went 2 for 3 with a walk.  He also had an RBI.
  • 1B Rock Shoulders doubled and scored a run.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario had 2 hits in 4 ABs and drove in 2 runs.  Candelario is hitting .250 in the early going.




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  • Broadcasters were commenting that it takes LHP pitchers and tall guys a longer time to develop, hopefully that's the case with Volstad. Minus the big innings thing he's been solid. He's still young I like his chances.

    I know small sample sizes should apply but seems like Amaya should be in Peoria. Also does DeVoss look close to ready for Daytona? He's got some ridiculous plate discipline, been hitting better recently as well.

    Also found a site (h/t Adam Foster) that records advanced stats for minor league players ( records plate discipline and pitch detail from AA up to AAA. But also has some good stuff for lower minors like Strike-outs swinging and stuff like that.

    Took a look at Lake's plate discipline and seems like he's taking a lot more pitches. And a large part of his strikeouts this year are by strikeouts looking rather than swinging (11.7% K's swinging || 7.8% K's looking). Also his overall swing% has decreased from last season AA at 52.7% - 48.9% so definitely looks like he's taking some strides in plate discipline.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I think DeVoss needs to hit better to move up. Love his plate discipline, but he'll get more strikes as he moves up the levels and sooner or later, he's going to have to start hitting them.

    Cool site. Will have to check that out more often.

  • John,

    Did you see that the Jays are in talk with the Rockie for Guthrie not a move for a team that is packing it in. I think they will go all in this year with every one being soclose right now. They are also still winning.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Yes, but Guthrie also not a very good pitcher this season and Jays willing to pay salary...meaning they're trying to hold on to their prospects. Speculation the guy they'll trade is McDade, a so so 1B prospect.

    Looks more like the inexpensive flyer category than a serious move.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Or it is saving prospects for a bigger trade.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    It's possible. I just don't think it's likely.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    inexpensive in terms of prospects given up, that is.

  • Guthrie is a servicable #3 and has ALE experience.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Serviceable, maybe. But I wouldn't call him a #3. Maybe in his prime, but even that was kind of a stretch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ok maybe a 4 or 5 but if they add another pitcher on top of him I think I can compete even in the ALE with the 3 top pitching if they add Garza.

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    I'd like Geiger's slash line a lot better if it were .333/.450/.513, but I'm happy to see him hitting. I just wish he weren't allergic to walks.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He's an aggressive hitter and he won't sustain that batting average, so he'll have to be more patient up there. I imagine they were working on him with that in ext .spring training. Now that he's hitting, let's see if pitchers start working around him more..

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    Michael, that's a chronic problem in the Cubs system..It appears that Theo is gonna remedy that..

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    They're certainly trying, but they can probably only change a few guys (Szczur is the best example so far).

  • John, I saw a couple of posters with their projected future lineups having Lake at 2B, do you think that is possible? I see a lot of impact talent all around the diamond, but not so much at 2B or C. Any defeciencies in Lake's defense at 2nd could be offest by the big potential bat, and there is a possible blue chip C likely to go in the top 3 in next years draft in Jeremy Martinez. Obviously I love the idea of having impact bats 1-8 in the NL, but would Lake have the range to play 2B do you think?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I like Lake better at 3B because his range and his arm will play better there. I think he can play 2B adequately, but I don't think he'll have great range there and you almost feel like you're wasting that great arm. Lake's bat would profile best offensively as a SS, but his defense will negate that.

    3B is the best spot for him if he were to become an everyday player, in my opinion, though I won't be surprised if he winds up playing some OF too.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    the only reason lake would play 2b is if the cubs were extremely satisfied at every other position on the diamond. his arm is ridiculous which is why ppl suggest he should switch to the mound when he goes through slumps. so putting him at second diminishes his value a little bit. but to answer your question i think lake has more than enough range for second, he probably finds a home at 3rd or right if those spots arent already filled

  • Since the Cubs refuse to play LaHair vs. LHP, platoon him in LF with Soriano.

    Rizzo's spot is open and there is no loss defensively. Might even be an upgrade.

    I wonder if they'll bench Rizzo vs. LHP in favor of some no-stick scrub. Or maybe they noticed that the only offense Saturday against a LHP came from Valbuena, who is not right handed?

    Probably not.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Rizzo hits lefties well, so I think we'll see him in there. The benching of LaHair is specific to him and their reports on his inability to hit lefties consistently, which they feel will hurt his overall value.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I were the GM of another team and I saw what the Cubs were doing I'd assume LaHair can't hit lefties at all and that would kill his value right there.

    I see no benefit to sitting LaHair against LHP. If they stick him in there and he doesn't hit them the Cubs lose nothing because the assumption that he can't hit 'em has already been made. But if they get lucky and he hits them decently he gains a great deal of value.

    So play him. There's nothing to lose since it's not like the crap they play in his place is tearing it up. I hate the all RH lineup. It's as close to an automatic loss as you can get in baseball.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    True. My impression, though is that other GMs already know he can't hit lefties consistently. If he gets a few lucky hits, I don't think it will change their perception on that.

    I do agree, though, that the all RH lineup is awful -- and I would rather see LaHair in there. If nothing else, maybe he'll grind out ABs and make the pitchers throw a few more pitches. Or make pitchers work both sides of the plate for a change.

  • I live in Portland and wandered down the road to the Boise game last night. A couple impressions.

    Amaya is a player. He made 2 great defensive plays at 2B on line drives - one a leaping snare and the other moving to his left. He had a clutch 2 out hit, like you said "hits line drives all over the field". He was visibly upset when they lost, when he got thrown out at first (he was safe), and on a swinging bunt when he dove into first. He is either really feisty or really immature, but it seems like big competitiveness. One question - the program said he played last year in AAA Iowa. Is that right? If so, what is the story there?

    Candelario looked good at 3B. He made a barehand play that was sweet and handled several hard hit balls down to 3rd smoothly. He didn't look out of place.

    Scott looked good. There is some hope there. Simpson also looked good, until he didn't, then he felt like a Cubs reliever.

    It was a fun game. Wish they had won - so did Amaya. Thanks for the info on the team, it made it more fun to watch.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    Thanks for wandering Morgzie and giving us that great first hand report.

    Amaya actually played one game at Iowa because of a roster crunch. He doubled in his only AB. I've heard good things about Amaya and his mental makeup. I would chalk it up to competitiveness and a youthful way of expressing it.

    Great to hear on Candelario and the defense too. That was a concern last year but I'm sure the Cubs had him working hard. His greatest value would be as a 3B.

  • Oh, another thing from the Boise Hawks game. I noticed that the Volcanoes had a bunch of 2012 draftees (low rounds) on the team and the Hawks had none.
    Is there an organizational philosophy thing going? A signing logistical thing? What do you think?

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    A little bit of both. Cubs are trying to find a way to get a couple of their top picks signed and only recently made some signings official. I suspect will see some of those lower round guys soon.

    The Cubs also like players to go to AZ first and learn the so-called Cubs way and what is expected of them from the organization.

  • I think the Cubs should trade Lahair. I like him but think we could get something of value from him and his suspect defense will hurt us once Rizzo is up and he moves to the outfield. If I had to choose, I would keep Soriano and trade LaHair. Sori is a sunk cost and nobody seems to want him. LaHair is controlled right now and would be a better risk for a team over an aging veteran on the decline. We aren't going anywhere this year and probably next year. Trading LaHair just makes more sense to me.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    It seems they may do that. They are certainly listening and he does have value as a guy who will give you good ABs and hit for some power. Plus he has that cost control you talk about. It's definitely an option the Cubs will explore.

  • I really liked Amaya and am glad to hear both that he has good marks on mental makeup - it seemed like it and that there isn't some big demotion or problem there. Where did he play most of last year?

    Oh, I also ran into a scout from the Braves. I tried to ask him about Simpson (he was charting him). He wasn't particularly friendly. Then I started making up scenarios with trades with the Braves.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    No big problem. If anything, Cubs showed faith that he could handle himself well in that tough situation.

    Last year Amaya played one level down, in the Arizona Rookie League where he hit .377.

    I've met into some friendly and unfriendly baseball people in my time. Could also be that you just caught him at a bad time.

  • There was a funny play in the game. It looked like my little league game. Or softball league.

    Bases loaded, two outs. Ground ball up the middle. SS fields and flips to the 2B, the runner beats the throw. Yes! Run scores.

    But, instead of sliding he just takes an aggressive turn and starts motoring towards 3rd as if the ball went through. The 2B is a bit shocked, along with the rest of us. He gets easily tagged out at 3rd, just before the runner from 2nd crosses the plate.

    My son, who is 10, said "dad, he should have stopped and gotten into a pickle, then the 4th run would have scored! "

    That 4th run not scoring may have cost the Hawks the game.

  • In reply to Morgzie:

    Ha! Ahhh, to take the good and bad with minor league ball. Then again, I'm sure you saw the video of Miguel Cabrera hitting a tap to the mound and then end up circling the bases on bad throws. A true little league HR.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That was great. I was at the party for the little league team I coached and we watched replays of the Cabrera play and one of the players said 'hey, we're really good at that, we've been doing it all year!" and the jokes kept coming.

    Wait, did I mention that I was the coach, sigh...

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