Cubs Minors Recap: Geiger HRs (again); Alcantara, Vogelbach also go deep; Loosen sharp again

Cubs Minors Recap: Geiger HRs (again); Alcantara, Vogelbach also go deep; Loosen sharp again
Matt Loosen

Lots of stuff to cover today, as I flipped between the Cubs, Iowa, and Boise, all of whom had exciting games.  I also caught part of Eric Jokisch's start for Tennessee.

Promotion note: The Zachs are breaking up.  LHP Zachary Rosscup is getting a well earned promotion to Tennessee.

Iowa 5 - Omaha 4

  • Casey Coleman got the start and put the I-Cubs in a hole early when he gave up 3 runs in the 2nd inning.  He went 3 inning in all and walked 2 and struck out 3.
  • Frankie De La Cruz saved the day.  "Pecho" ,as some call him because of his barrel-chested frame, went 4 innings of scoreless baseball.  He walked one and struck out one.  His ERA stands at 3.45 and he seems to excel as a swingman.
  • Jay Jackson continued his impressive performance in relief with another scoreless inning.  Is it possible that Jackson may have finally found a niche for himself?  Perhaps the shorter stints give him an uptick in velocity while allowing him to pare down his repertoire.  Whatever is, Jackson has been outstanding out of the pen.  He has posted a 1.67 ERA with 9 walks and 33 Ks in 27 innings in that role.
  • Michael Bowden was solid once again, pitching 1.1 shutout innings before allowing the tying run with one out in the 9th on a solo HR. Overall he pitched 3 innings and allowed just the one run.  He ended up getting the victory and moving to 2-0, 2.25 when Alfredo Amezaga (2 for 6) hit the walk-off single.
  • Dave Sappelt has been finding his batting stroke and may yet join fellow former Red Travis Wood on the Cubs roster.  As a solid defender who hits lefties well, he is a natural replacement for Reed Johnson should he be traded.  Sappelt went 2 for 5 with a double and 2 runs scored.  He's hitting .247 overall but .304/.330/.431 against lefties.
  • 3B Josh Vitters didn't HR but had himself quite a day with a double, 2 walks, 2 SBs, and a run scored.  Vitters now has 23 walks, which represents his career high.  Vitters is hitting .300/.355/.506 on the year.  The .355 OBP is particularly impressive for Vitters.  Much of it is due to his average, though Vitters has a 6.8% walk rate, which is also a career high.  He has walked 7 times in his last 10 games (44 PAs).
  • C Welington Castillo hit a HR while scoring 2 and driving in 2.

Tennessee 5 - Jacksonville 1.......Jacksonville 3 - Tennessee1

  • I got a chance to see LHP Eric Jokisch pitch and he has tremendous pitchability on the mound -- changing speeds, hitting his spots, but his breaking ball didn't have real sharp bite today.  His change-up, however, is excellent, as he had a few hitters out in front today.  He went 6 innings, giving up just one run while walking one and striking out 2.  He moved to 4-1 with a 3.04 ERA on the mound.  Marcus Hatley finished with a scoreless inning, though he struggled a bit with his command today.
  • In the second game, 22 year old Nick Struck got the start and pitched well but was undermined by a throwing error by Junior Lake, leading to two unearned runs.  Struck went 5 innings and allowed one earned run, walked none and struck out 6.  Struck is 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA on the year.
  • RHP Tony Zych came in and threw heat, striking out the side in his only inning.  Frank Batista mopped up with a scoreless frame and one strikeout, giving the Smokies pitchers 10 for the game.
  • The Smokies got all the runs  they needed in the first game from top notch RBI men Justin Bour (2 RBI) and Greg Rohan, who doubled in a run.  Michael Burgess stayed hot and hit a 2 run single to put the game out of reach.

Daytona 5 -  Dunedin 1 

  • Matt Loosen, 23, isn't going to wow you with his stuff, but when he's commanding his 4 pitches (89-91 FB, slider, curve, change), he's very, very tough.  That was the case today as he struck out 10 batters in 7 shutout innings.  He walked one and allowed just 3 hits.  When I look at his numbers, sometimes I wonder if I need to get a new reading on his FB.  Loosen is 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA with 25 walks and 71 Ks in 73 innings this year.
  • LHP Matt Spencer pitched a shutout inning as he continues his conversion to the mound.  Who gets to the bigs first? Spencer or Kyler Burke?
  • Arismendy Alcantara, 20, is making a case to be included among the Cubs top 30 prospects this year as he seems to contribute every day.  Today he nearly hit for the cycle with a double, triple, and HR in this first 3 ABs.  The HR was his 6th of the year.  The 160 lbs switch hitter is now hitting .301/.331/.443.  Though he's a SS now, add him to the list of possible future 2Bs.
  • The other 2B prospect in Daytona, Ronald Torreyes, was the DH today and went 1 for 2 (double) with a walk.  He's hitting .320/.387/.510 since the start of June.
  • Rubi Silva has a solid bat, good speed, and excellent versatility. That gives him a shot at the bigs someday.  He made a good case by getting 4 hits to raise his average to .300 on the year.  His lack of patience and power limit his ceiling to a reserve role, however.

Burlington 8 - Peoria 3

  • Starlin Peralta, 21, has hit 95 mph on the gun in the past and I keep hoping that will translate to some sort of success.  Today his peripherals were good but Dustin Geiger didn't help with a bad day in the field.  He had 3 errors, giving him 11 on the year.  Peralta pitched 5 innings and gave up 6 runs.  However, only 2 were earned and he didn't walk a batter while striking out 5.
  • LHP Sheldon McDonald isn't the most projectable guy in the world, but he throws hard for a lefty (91-93) and right now he's overmatching MWL hitters.  He went 2.1 scoreless innings and struck out 4.  On the year he has a 1.09 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 33 innings.
  • CF Taiwan Easterling has been a favorite of mine since I saw him play.  His athleticism and the way the ball jumps off his bat stood out and he's slowly turning that into results.  Two more hits, including a double, but his OPS is still just .654. Since June started he's hitting .265 with a .441 slugging percentage, so there's been some progress.
  • 3B Dustin Geiger may have been a disaster in the field today, but he was his usual self at the plate, hitting his 7th HR of the year to go with a .319 average.
  • SS Javier Baez went 2 for 4 and made a spectacular leaping grab on a line drive.

Tri-City 5 - Boise 4

  • RHP James Pugliese pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 runs. His ERA early on is 3.80.
  • For a guy who signed for 10K, 22 yr old LHP Michael Heesch has looked good in his first 4 outings as a pro  The Bartlett, IL native went 2 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 4 and has yet to give up a run since signing (6 IP).  Heesch has a decent fastball (90 mph) but needs to work on his secondary stuff.  Bryce Shafer took the loss today, though the winning run scored on a crucial misplay by 3B Jeimer Candelario.  He wasn't charged with an error, but he had trouble with a grounder and tried to tag the runner a runner out -- in his defense, the umps blew the call because the Tri-City runner ran well out of the baselines to avoid the tag.  Boise manager Mark Johnson got his money's worth in perhaps the best argument I've seen this year at any level.  At one point he threw his hat down than kicked it halfway across the infield.
  • Jeimer Candelario did his usual damage at the plate,however, with a double, single, and a run scored.  He's hitting .333 on the year while slugging .519.
  • C Chadd Krist (1 RBI) and 1B Wilson Contreras (2 RBI) each had a pair of singles.  It appears Krist has bumped Contreras off of the catcher's spot with his superior defense.
  • RF Bijan Radenmacher had a double and a single with an RBI. He's hitting .429 in 33 ABs so far.

Arizona Rookie League

  • Ethan Elias got the start and went 2.2 innings today, giving up 5 hits, walking one, and giving up a run.  The most impressive outing of the day came from undrafted 22 yr. old LHP Matt Iannazzo who went 2 scoreless innings while giving up one hit and striking out 4.
  • Another 22 year old, Timothy Saunders was at 2B today, but no matter where they put him, he has hit.  2 more today (single, double) as Saunders is now hitting .511 on the young season (45 ABs).  Before you get too excited, consider that Saunders is the same age as Starlin Castro and he's 6 levels down.  He'll have to prove it at higher levels, though there's nowhere to play in Boise or Peoria, who each have prospect laden infields.
  • Ben Carhart is a 3rd 22 year old who is doing well in AZ.  He had a single, two walks and 3 runs scored today to raise his average to .306 and his OBP to .422 (7 walks in 42 PAs).  Carhart is known as a good hitter who should move up, but like Saunders, he's an infielder who's blocked by some top prospects.
  • C Justin Marra needs to find more playing time.  He got into the game for one AB and doubled.  He's 6 for 12 in AZ and 9 for 17 overall.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach had one hit, a 2 run HR, his 3rd of the year.  He's hitting .370.
  • SS Carlos Penalver,18, had a single, walk, and an RBI.  The athletic 2010 signee ($550K) out of Venezuela has a chance to be a plus defender in the middle infield and is hitting .279 on the year with a .354 OBP.
  • Carlos Escobar was the 3rd catcher in this game.  He DH'd and hit 2 doubles.
  • Garrett Schlect played CF again and got on base 3 times with a single and 2 walks.  The Millstadt, IL native is hitting just .171 but has shown good patience, walking 7 times in 42 PAs.  He's also 5 for his last 12.

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    If guys like Lake and Vogelbach continue to progress and put up big number I have a hunch they will be future long term assets. Not by playing for us but by being used in Rizzo-Cashner esqe deals for impact arms. Both will be blocked at their positions especially Vogelbach. I think a lot of teams will have interest in both. Any chance of this happening John?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Always a chance for that, Marcel. There's still plenty of time before Cubs cross that bridge, but it's an option if everyone pans out.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Who is blocking Lake? I assume you mean Vitters. Let's hope this really is the case, but I think that might be a little premature. We need to see Vitters do it at the big league level first! Hopefully this walk rate continues and he really has started to figure it out. Couldn't Lake switch to 2b or outfield though. I don't really see him being blocked at the moment. Maybe he will get beat out eventually. Even Rizzo needs to prove himself still more than just a good couple weeks. It is encouraging to have these options though if Rizzo and Vitters continue to rake.

  • In reply to Gary Kueper:

    I still see Lake as a reserve. Obviously he has the potential to be more than that. Just a guy that that's where he winds up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just a hunch...yeesh...I was writing in a separate tweet that Vitters was just a guy if he doesn't improve D and stick at 3B. Got my wires crossed!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    gotcha John! Thanks for your excellent analysis as usual.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    We've read the rumors about the Rays having interest in Soto, one report even stated they are in deep discussions with the Cubs. If the Cubs added a top tier prospect who may not have a position (such as Lake) and maybe a veteran piece who would help TB right away, along with Soto, I wonder if they could bring back one or two very good young pitchers. It would be awesome to add Blake Snell and/or Taylor Guerrieri to the system.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    Cubs prefer pitching and I think they'll get it but they'd take another impact position prospect before a pitcher. Can't count on these guys panning out and if they do, you have trade bait.

  • what the deal with loosen i dont think he is really that old for the league maybe a little but im more impressed with his strikeout rate has his stuff gotten better he seems kinda like a mystery guy not awhole lot on him

  • In reply to dakota cubs fan:

    I've written a short scouting report in the past...

    Loosen is a 6'2", 205 lbs RHP who throws 4 pitches. His fastball is at about 89-91. He also has a slider, an occasional slow overhand curve, and a change. He's a mix and match, change speeds kind of pitcher with a body that doesn't leave a lot of room for projection. Relies on command.

  • John,

    Do we have any hard throwing LH starting pitchers in the minors?

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    If you're talking about guys who can hit the mid 90s, then no. Lots of guys in that 88-92 mph range.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully that will change if Garza and Dempster are dealt.

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    That would be nice. Big need in the org is a LHP with upside.

  • Totally agree.

    It seems that the high ceiling pitchers in the system are a little fragile. Maples, Simpson, Wells, Whitenack, Beeler, McNutt, etc. This is a cause of concern. The reason I bring this up is because if both Garza and Dempster are dealt the starting staff will be even more thin. Management has to cut the cord on Wells and Volstad. I doubt that Maholm would be brought back and Coleman should only pitch out of the bullpen. This leaves Samardzija and Wood. Um, we're going to need more than 1 Major League pitcher in return. I don't have much confidence in Rusin. Someone please help!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WillieG1:

    I agree are pitching prospects need a huge boost and I think its for that reason alone you HAVE to keep throwing a young guy with good stuff like Volstad out there to see if he can turn it around for you ala Travis Wood. He's too young and cost controlled to give up on now and the fact remains we can't afford to because of our lack of pitching prospects. You have nothing to lose by throwing him out there every 5th day and hoping it clicks like the rays and royals are doing with Moore and Hochevar...

    Randy wells however is an entirely different story. He has 5th starter stuff, too old for any projection, and has had ample opportunity. Volstads peripheral numbers show a guy who can and most likely will improve. Wells most likely will not. Cut em loose.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    good analysis Marcel, I agree!

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    The goal is to get pitching and preferably guys who are MLB ready or very close to it.

  • I've got a question about Bijan Rademacher. I see he's listed as throwing with both arms but which does he normally throw with?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He's naturally lefty. Throws hard, great arm, but Cubs like guys with a feel for pitching. More of a thrower so he would probably be a bullpen guy. Has hit 94 mph off the mound. Showed it from the OF the other day.

  • fb_avatar

    Because of our lack of pitching prospects do you guys see our clubs taking chances on former pitching prospects with top rotation stuff who might have fallen out of favor with their clubs and maybe catch lightning in a bottle? You see it all the time from Brandon McCarthy, to Ian Kennedy, Dan Haren, Chris carpenter, Daniel Hudson, Edison Volquez, Gavin Floyd, to name some examples. A few names that could potential fit that category is a guy like Luke Hochevar of the royals. Or Alexis Orlando who the rangers want to keep in the pen. Maybe even a Wade Davis. Teams find aces this way and it'd be nice if we could as well.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I do. They've already tried it with Volstad and word was they tried to get Matusz at one point.

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