Cubs Minors Recap: Almora, DeVoss heating up; Batista hits 2 HRs

So I made the short trip yesterday to see Soler, the Chiefs, and mega power prospect Miguel Sano.

Well...I didn't get to see much of Sano, other than that he's a monster physical specimen.  Sano took one swing before walking in his first AB, though, he was displeased with the umpire's strike zone, even making a point on one call of walking back slowly after he had already trotted a few steps toward first.  I told my wife that he's probably not getting a borderline call for the rest of the day.  It turns out I was right, but not in the the way I imagined.

On his next AB, Sano fell behind 0-1, then took the next pitch.  When the ump called a strike again, he yelled out "that was a ball!"  In Sano's defense, the ump was not consistent all day, but it was obvious Sano was skating on thin ice.  Next pitch was off the outside corner.  Strike 3.  Sano yells out and the ump gives him the heave-ho.  So much for that.

Soler did play and though he didn't do anything as glamorous as the grand slam he hit the night before, he did put his great skills on display.

Game 1: Iowa 10 - Las Vegas 8.......Game 2: Las Vegas 3 - Iowa 2

  • In a game that started last night, Casey Coleman went 1.2 scoreless innings before leaving with shoulder pain.  Esmailin Caridad came on in relief and allowed 2 more runs.  No word yet on Coleman's status but with the minor league season ending soon, that may be it for him this the very least.
  • The I-Cubs were cruisng along with a 10-5 lead before Marcus Hatley imploded and allowed 4 runs in 1.1 innings.  Jay Jackson came in and was struggling with his control, walking 2 batters and allowing an unearned run to bring Las Vegas to within 2 before Jairo Asencio slammed the door with 1.1 scoreless innings to get the save.
  • RHP Frankie De La Cruz started the second game and gave up 3 runs in 5 innings.  He walked 4 and struck out 7.  Good to see those K numbers going up of late, but De La Cruz has to throw strikes.
  • Another big day for 26 year old Greg Rohan, who seems determined to shed his label as an organizational player.  Maybe Rohan isn't a prospect, but nobody seems to have told him that.  Over the two games, Rohan had 4 more hits and 3 more RBI to raise his average to .349 at Iowa and put him 2nd in the organization in RBI with 95.  If the Cubs don't pick up a veteran 3B in the offseason, it wouldn't surprise me to see them throw Rohan in the mix next year and see if he can give them some production early in the season, much like LaHair did.  But it's worth noting that although LaHair came up late, he wasn't still in A ball at age 26 as Rohan was, so it's a different case.
  • RF Dave Sappelt went 3 for 9 with a triple, RBI, and 2 runs scored.  All his damage came in the first game.  After getting hot for a while, Sappelt has seemed to have gotten stuck around the .260 mark, though he's still around the .800 OPS mark against lefties.
  • C Blake Lalli had a big doubleheader, going 4 for 9 with his 7th HR of the season.  He drove in 2 and scored 2.  He's hitting .248 on the year.

Tennessee 4 - Huntsville 0

  • The Cubs brought in Yoannis Negrin, a pitcher they had signed out of Cuba last year, from the Mexican League.  He wasted no time making an immediate impact as the 28 year old RHP allowed one hit through 5 shutout innings, walking one and striking out 4 to earn the victory.  He even pitched in on offense with a double and an RBI.
  • Zach Rosscup, Casey Weathers, and Frank Batista completed the shutout.  Rosscup had some more control issues with 3 walks in 1.2 innings, but managed to escape trouble.  Batista finished up by retiring the last 4 batters in order, 2 via strikeout, to get his 21st save.  Batista has a 2.11 ERA on the year.  He's walked 12 batters and struck out 34 in 42.1 AA innings.
  • 2B Logan Watkins was once again the catalyst, getting on base 4 times with a single and 3 walks.  He stole 2 bases, giving him 25 on the year, and scored 3 runs.  Watkins' OPS is at .785 which is more than acceptable given the position he plays.
  • Justin Bour reached the century mark with 2 more RBI today.  He's hitting .300/.367/.476 with 15 HRs.
  • SS Junior Lake has put together a solid season, though maybe not the spectacular one some had expected.  He went 2 for 4 with a double, RBI, and stole his 18th bases.  He's hitting .284/.339/.428 on the year.

Beloit 6 - Peoria 5

  • RHP Starling Peralta was coming off his big 14 K performance but was unable to match it as he made a big mistake early in the game on a 3 run HR, though all of those first innings runs were unearned on the account of a Zeke DeVoss error.  There was no radar reading in Beloit, but he was popping the catcher's mitt with good velocity in the 6 innings he worked. He was wild, however, walking 5 batters and hitting 2 others.  In all he pitched 6 innings and gave up 6 runs (3 earned) and struck out 2.
  • 2B Zeke DeVoss has really been putting together some good ABs and had 2 more hits and a walk today as he continues to battle back from what has been a disappointing season with the bat.  He's still at .246 but he did raise his OBP to .377.  In the field, he struggled a bit, making a key error and was shaky in the field early before settling down as the game went on.
  • CF Pin-Chieh Chen is also doing a great job of getting on base despite struggling with the bat for much of the year, though he is hitting .299 since the all star break.  Overall he has a .351 OBP and stole his 27th base today.
  • 3B Dustin Geiger had a big leadoff double and scored the game tying run on a sac fly.  He also drove in the games first run with a ground out.
  • All eyes were on Jorge Soler as he spent much time before and after the game signing autographs.  He looks like a very likeable guy, always smiling but serious when he take the field or comes to bat.  At the plate he was more selective than I expected, showing the discipline to lay off bad pitches and taking a good rip at pitches in the zone.  Today he went 1 for 3 with a walk.  In the field he showed good range, though he did let one ball get over his head after a bad jump.  He also threw a rocket to the plate from RF on a sac fly.  It was too deep for him to have a chance to throw the runner out, but he fired it on a line, one hopping the catcher (though the throw itself was up toward the 3B side).  I timed him at average speed (4.2 secs) to first but I suspect he could beat that on a close play where he has to run hard through the bag at first.
  • SS Wes Darvill has heated up of late and went 2 for 4 with a walk, raising his average to .240.  He's hitting .359 in his last 10 games.

Salem Keizer 10 - Boise 9

  • Justin Amlung started and went 2 innings as the Cubs continue to limit his workload after a full, productive college season at Louisville.  He gave up a run, walked none and struck out one.
  • LHP Michael Heesch has been effective most of the season but that was not the case today.  He have up 2 runs in 2 innings today, but did leave with Boise leading 6-3.
  • RHP James Pugliese, who has mostly been a starter at Boise, had a disastrous stint in relief today.  He gave up 2 runs in the 5th to allow S-K to close the gap to one and then when Boise rallied and gave him 3 more runs of support to go ahead 9-5, Pugliese promptly gave up that lead too when he allowed  a 5 spot in the 7th.  5 of those 7 runs were earned as Pugliese fell to 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA on the year.
  • How do you not root for a guy who 1) has battled back from some big injuries, 2) went undrafted, and 3) stands only 5'9" on the mound?  That's the case with 22 year old LHP Matt Iannazzo who has a 0.00 ERA in August after a horrific July in which that ERA was 21.21.  Two more scoreless innings for Iannazzo today as he struck out 3.
  • As usual, Boise was productive on offense but this time it wasn't the usual suspects.  All 9 RBI came from 2 bottom of the order hitters.  The first 4 were by C Wilson Contreras (.263/.306/.356), who went 2 for 4 with a double and his 3rd HR.  He drove in 4 runs.
  • RF Xavier Batista had an even bigger day.  The batting practice show-stopper hadn't done it on the field yet -- until last night, that is.  Batista went 2 for 4 with 2 HRs and 5 RBI, though it was only the 6'3", 190 lbs Batista's 2nd and 3rd HRs of the entire season.  He's hitting .212.
  • None of the other Hawks had great days.  Stephen Bruno went 3 for 5 at the plate, but he's probably more worried about the error he committed that led to 2 big unearned runs.  Even big Dan Vogelbach went 0 for 5 with 3 Ks -- and he didn't look good doing it.  Just one of those days.

Arizona Rookie League

  • Another solid outing from Ryan McNeil who went 2 IP and gave up one run, he walked one and struck out one.   He has a 3.00 ERA in limited work this summer.
  • The wheels came off for AZ defensively today.  6 errors led to 8 unearned runs, 6 of which where given up by losing pitcher Corbin Hoffner, who had the unusual line of 1.2 innings, 7 hits...and no earned runs while keeping his season ERA at 0.00 in his debut.  Hoffner has walked one and struck out 5 in his 5 innings so far this season.
  • It was a sloppy game all-around as the AZ Cubs scored their first 3 runs without recording a  hit (4 walks, and HBP, and a sac fly)
  • Shawon Dunston did today something we rarely, if ever, saw his father do.  He drew 3 walks.  So far in AZ, Dunston appears to be more comfortable and selective than he was in Boise.  This was his 14th walk in 123 PAs (11.3% rate) and has put up a .352 OBP.
  • Albert Almora has his timing back as he singled, doubled, and drew one of those first inning walks.  He had an RBI and scored 2 runs.   Almora is now up over .300 and his line stands at .304/.329/.420.
  • SS Carlos Penalver went 2 for 3 with a walk, a run scored, and an RBI.  The athletic, defensive oriented Penalver stands at .250 with and OBP of .336.


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  • You don't mess with the Rohan!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He keeps hitting. Unusual case. You don't normally see guys stuck at A ball in their age 25,26 seasons and then make their way to AAA and keep hitting. I'm not sure people know what to make of him right now. I don't think anyone is willing to call him a prospect yet, but I'm sure he's getting a lot more attention than the everyday org player right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'd like to see him brought up next month and have the MLB staff get a good look at him.

  • John, Justin Bour is putting up some impressive numbers. Is he just an organizational guy or what?

    Also, what's the latest on Frandy De La Rosa? DSL next year?

  • In reply to drew:

    As for Bour, he's a prospect and while he hasn't been a top 30 guy, he could sneak in this year.

    He looks in better shape than he did early this year when he struggled. Doesn't have an ideal baseball body so he needs to watch himself there. Also tends to get long with his swing, though he appears to have made some adjustments there too. Power has come around in the 2nd half, he has good plate discipline...he's got a shot, but it almost certainly won't be with the Cubs barring injury.

  • In reply to drew:

    DSL next year for Frandy. Most likely he'll just work out in their complex this season. Could see him in AZ instructs this fall at the earliest as we did with Malave and other signees last year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John. Hope you had fun at the game yesterday.

  • In reply to drew:

    Thanks...had a great time. My wife took some pictures and I'll have to post them sometime soon.

  • John

    Has Rock Shoulders respond at all positively or negatively to the presence of Heavy D? they're both kind of the same player- power hitters who are best suited for 1st base. I know Shoulders numbers were kind of ordinary before Voglebach went to Boise and started lighting up the sky. It seems these two are headed down the same path but it's not like the Cubs will always be able to make one the DH and put the other at 1st every wrung up the minor league latter.

    Also, is Boise the most exciting part of your minor league routine? It just seems there's so many more possibilities down there.

  • In reply to felzz:

    He's a positive guy so off the field I think he'll welcome him. On the field, it hasn't affected him one way or the other at the plate. He still either walks, strikes out, or launches a long HR in around 40% of his ABs.

    He's had a chance to play the OF, which for him is a good thing since it gives him an avenue around far, though, he hasn't been Ken Griffey out there.

  • "Sano yells out and the ump gives him the heave-ho. So much for that."

    I learned early on to be friendly to umps, even if they were crap.
    That little edge is the difference between success and failure more often than you would think.
    So, be a smart player. Be nice to the stupid umpire!

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Exactly! The ump was having a bad day and he was power-tripping a bit...but it doesn't matter. Keep your cool.

    Soler and DeVoss also had some questionable calls and DeVoss has about as good an eye as you'll ever see at any level. Neither said a word, though DeVoss really got screwed in a game situation.

    Some immaturity on Sano's part. I was disappointed I didn't get to see him hit, especially since they didn't allow people in until after BP.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I should add that those guys are umpiring there for a reason.
    Really good umpires wouldn't be doing a Peoria Chiefs game!

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    In reply to eaton53:

    Is there such a thing as a really good umpire?

  • Sano was also very demonstrative after the third strike call, yelling and throwing his arms up in the air, and with that, the ump had little choice but to run him.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Yep, he did throw those arms up...should've mentioned that! We were disappointed but no doubt the ump had to do it at that point. The Chiefs players got some pretty questionable calls too but none put on that kind of display.

    Nice meeting you there too, Bob!

  • Daytona got rained out I'm guessing?

  • In reply to drew:

    One game got postponed and the other canceled.

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    In reply to drew:

    The doubleheader following yesterday's rainout was cancelled due to more rain and unplayable field conditions.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Sorry, the doubleheader yesterday following Saturday's rainout.

  • Hey John can you tell me a little more about Negrin. What's his cieling? Hadn't heard of him before yesterday.

  • In reply to cubsrock1988:

    Ceiling is probably a middle relief guy. He's already pretty old and the Cubs signed him last year because he has a good fastball (low 90s, reaches 94), he's polished with solid control, and thought he'd help quickly. Wrote about him last August...

  • Off thread question coming up. Did we spend all out allotment on the international draft? I see other teams still drafting players who sound like they're a great pickup.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Cubs used all their draft money for those undrafted free agents. They have some money left on int'l but spent the bulk of it on two guys..RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua and SS Frandy De La Rosa. Cubs are usually good at getting under the radar int'l FAs, so I expect some surprises to develop in the next 2-3 years.

  • hey john do you know who the prized international free agents are for next year ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    David Wright, Zach Greinke for starters, but don't expect Cubs to sign anyone big. Look for them to take some more flyers and save the FA money for after 2013.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John I think seankl meant international free agents

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    I'd say Almora to Boise if he keeps this up..

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    He has a shot. Wondering if he'll play in Peoria next year the way Baez did this year. My guess is that he will.

  • Thanks for the recaps, John! Nice to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    This year, the Cubs hired one of my all-time favorite Cubs (Bill Buckner) as the Boise hitting coach. How much credit is he getting for the team's outstanding offensive performance?

    Thanks and have a good one!

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    You're welcome. Thanks for reading.

    He deserves some credit. Boise is one of the few patient Cubs teams -- even though Buckner himself wasn't all that patient. Part of it too is that they have arguably the most talented hitters in the system -- but yeah, I'd definitely give Buck some credit.

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