Cubs Minors Recap: Daytona plays two; Ben Wells returns in style; Saunders with 4 hits

Cubs Minors Recap: Daytona plays two; Ben Wells returns in style; Saunders with 4 hits
Tim Saunders

Lots of games today, every team played and a couple played two, so we'll get right to it...

OKC 6 - Iowa 3

  • Recently signed ex-Brave Horacio Ramirez went 7 innings and allowed just one run.  He did not walk a batter. The LHP Ramirez was in line for the win as he turned a 3-1 lead over to Blake Parker, but the 27 year old RP couldn't hold it.  He allowed 3 runs in the 8th to take the loss.  2 of those runs came on a 2-run HR.  Parker has a 3.36 ERA on the year.
  • Dave Sappelt was the main source of offense today for Iowa, going 2 for 4 with a triple, run scored, and 2 RBI.  Sappelt raised his average on the year to .267.
  • Adrian Cardenas returned to Iowa for his 3rd stint and contributed immediately with a single and a run scored.
  • Check out some great pictures here.

Chattanooga 11 - Tennessee 1

  • Dae-Eun Rhee went 5.2 innings and gave up 9 hits and 3 runs, two of those runs came on solo shots.  He walked one and struck out 4.  His ERA creeped back over 5 at 5.07 with the performance.
  • The only real effective pitcher today was LHP Zach Rosscup, who struck out the side in his only inning.  It gave Rosscup 27 strikeouts in 19.1 innings, a rate of 12.6 per 9 innings.  On the downside, poor control (18 walks) has helped contribute to a 5.12 ERA.
  • The Smokies managed just 3 hits off Zach Lee, a triple by Matt Szczur and 2 hits (double, single) by 3B Dustin Harrington.  Harrington also pitched a scoreless 9th when the Smokies didn't want to go deeper into their bullpen.

Game 1: Clearwater 2 - Daytona 1....Game 2: Clearwater 4 - Daytona 2

  • PJ Francescon gave up a 2 run HR in the first the he and the rest of the Daytona staff shut down Clearwater the rest of the way.  Unfortunately it was too late, as Daytona couldn't muster up any offense.  Francescon went 3 innings walked none and struck out 4 as he's seen his innings limited after spending most of his time as a reliever last year.
  • RHP Eduardo Figueroa, converted OF and LHP Matt Spencer, and RHP AJ Morris finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.
  • Frank Del Valle went 4 innings in the 2nd game and allowed all 4 Clearwater runs (3 ER).  Ryan Searle found himself back in adv. A after a brief, successful stint in AAA Iowa and pitched scoreless inning.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka continued his surprising year with another scoreless inning to lower his Daytona ERA to 2.70.  After struggling with his control in a 3 game stint, Cervenka pitched his second consecutive outing without a walk.
  • 2B Roni Torreyes went 3 for 6 in the doubleheader with all three hits coming in the second game.  He sits at .268 on the year.
  • SS Javier Baez went 0-6 with 3 Ks in the two games.

Peoria 9 - Beloit 6

  • Starling Peralta had all sorts of control issues, walking 5 batters in his 5 innings of work. Peralta's walks came back to bite him as  he allowed 4 runs, 3 in the first inning, when he allowed 2 walks, and one in the 6th where he allowed 2 more .
  • The Chiefs got great bullpen work from Pete Levitt (2.2 IP) , LHP Sheldon McDonald 2 IP) and Luis Liria (1 IP).  Levitt and McDonald were particularly impressive with no walks and 4 Ks apiece.
  • The Chiefs had 12 hits and drew 10 walks, so a lot of good performances in that lineup.  We'll highlight the top two here.  RF Jorge Soler went 2 for 6 with an RBI and 3 runs scored.  He also stole his second base.  In 10 games, Soler is hitting .341/.386/.537 with 2 HRs.
  • SS Tim Saunders just keeps rolling along.  It doesn't matter where you put him as far as level or position, just give him a bat and let him do his thing.  It's been a remarkable journey for Saunders, who wasn't drafted or offered a scholarship out of high school.  He's a grinder with some athleticism and tough mental makeup, the kind of IF the Cubs always seem to produce in their system. "“Any way to get my shot. I’d go as the last player in the last round if I had to,” Saunders said. “It’s just back on the grind, working hard, doing whatever I can to move up through the farm system. Hopefully, one day I’ll be in the majors.”  Keep playing like this and it's not hard to see him making it.

Boise 11- Vancouver 6

  • Justin Amlung is getting hit a bit harder after a nice start to his season.  He allowed 6 hits in 2 innings, leading to 3 runs.  He did now walk or strikeout a batter and his ERA stands at 6.30.  He's a polished RHP with a low 90s fastball and solid stuff across the board and was a key part of the Louisville pitching staff, so it's possible he could just be wearing down at the end of the season here.
  • LHP Michael Heesch started the year with 7 consecutive scoreless outings, then followed that up with 3 consecutive poor outings.  Tonight he started another scoreless streak with his second straight 2 innings, no runs performance.  All in all his ERA stands at 2.91.  The 22 year old 8th round pick works off a 90 mph fastball and excellent command (1 walk in 21.2 IP).
  • RHP James Pugliese was pounded his last time out and showed a little moxy by rebounding with 3 strong innings (6 Ks), but was unable to get retire anybody in the 8th, which was to be his 4th inning.  He gave up 3 runs (all on an inside-the-park HR)before recording an out and was taken out of the game.  Nathan Dorris then came in and got the last 3 outs of the inning.  Dorris a LHP out of Marion, IL, was drafted in the 17th round but he has some talent.  He can throw 90-91 with a pretty good curve.  His ERA is 2.38 on the year.  He also has 20 strikeouts in 21.1 IP.
  • Not to be outdone by Peoria, Boise played pattycake with the Vancouver pitching staff's ERA, getting 17 hits, 5 walks, and 11 runs.  Every player had at least one hit and every player had at least one run scored and/or one RBI...with the exception of Dan Vogelbach, who still went 1 for 4 with 2 walks.
  • 3B Stephen Bruno had 3 hits, scored 2 and had 2 RBI.  He's hitting .344 now on the season.
  • Normally a catcher, Wilson Contreras was in RF went 3 for 5 with a walk, run scored, and  2 RBI.  He raised his average to .280 but he he doesn't draw many walks nor does he hit for much power.
  • Not sure if there was a change here, but Trey Martin was listed by his given name Darien today, but no matter what he calls himself, he continues to play well this season.  He's an athletic player with raw skills at this point but he has held his own at Boise with a .264 average after tearing through AZ (.448 avg., 1.208 OPS).
  • Idahoan Isaac Garsez has been on a roll of late and today he went 3 for 4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI.  He was a HR shy of the cycle.  He's gone 7 for his last 16 to raise his line on the season to .279/.353/.475.

Arizona Rookie League Cubs: Game 1, Game 2

  • 3rd round pick Ryan McNeil continues to excel down in AZ and today pitched 4 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 2.  McNeil has pitched 16 innings and has put up a 1.69 ERA with 7 walks and 16 Ks.
  • Rafael Dolis continued his rehab with a win and another scoreless inning (2 Ks) while 26th round pick Javsir Rakkar picked up his first professional save by getting the last 5 outs of the game for AZ, 4 of them via the strikeout.
  • Corbin Hoffner was a 14th round pick out of a JC in FL but was unheralded, not even getting ranked by Baseball America.  Perhaps the Cubs knew something that other teams didn't as the 18 year old, 6'5", 235 lb Hoffner has put up a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings with 3 walks and 8 Ks.
  • The most encouraging news of the day for me was that RHP Ben Wells was able to return before the end of the season -- and he struck out the side in his only inning.  Wells reportedly added a few ticks to his fastball and was reaching the high 90s this spring, causing him to be specifically mentioned by the Cubs new brass as a pitcher they had high hopes for.  If he comes back strong and healthy, he could add some oomph to their SP prospect depth chart.  He'll still be only 20 next season and should start at least in Peoria...or Kane County.
  • 20 year old Alvido Jimenez picked up the win in the 2nd game with 3 scoreless innings and has a 2.76 ERA on the year with 29 Ks in 29.1 innings vs. just 7 walks.   Despite his young age, this is Jimenez 3rd stint in AZ.
  • Shawon Dunston went 2 for 6 in the twinbill and his average sits at an even .300 while his OBP was at .374 going into the 2nd game.  Dunston is a high energy player much like his father was, but he's more patient than Sr. ever was.  From what I've seen he's not as fast however when it comes to either hand speed or foot speed -- but that's no great insult.  Dunston, Sr. was top of the scale in both categories.
  • SS Carlos Penalver was 1 for 5 with a walk and finished the day with a .270 average and a .341 OBP.
  • Rehabbing Anthony Giansanti had a pair of hits and drove in 3 runs, including a walk-off HR in game 2 to win a 1-0 game.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez went 1 for 3 and for the second time in 2 games, he threw out a runner on the bases.  Speed, arm, solid hit tool, patience...Baez has a nice skill set to work with and he's just 18.


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  • I am so happy Ben Wells is doing well. He was one of my favorite last year. John didnt you hear any reports about his movement or sink on his FB?

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Unfortunately, no. I expect he had to be down some after an injury and a long layoff, but the results didn't show that at all.

  • I know the whole TJS thing was tossed around a bit. But boy was I happy when I saw his name flash up with 1IP 3Ks in the AZL Cubs box score.. Hoping he starts off next season 100% as well, whether it be in Kane County or Peoria.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Me too. This new FO was pretty high on him this spring and he's always been a favorite here.

  • Wow that's great news! I am very surprised Wells was back this soon. I don't think I have ever seen anyone have TJS and come back to pitch the same season. I didn't think he would be back until April/May at the earliest or did he not even have the surgery? I'm just confused how he can make it back in less then 6 months but man what a pleasant surprise. He is my favorite prospect and can't believe he is still just 19.

  • In reply to Holycow!78:

    Favorite pitching prospect I mean.

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    I've read somewhere that, despite reports to the contrary, Ben Wells did not have TJS. Apparently the doctors evaluated him and decided he didn't need surgery right away. He spent all this time just resting his arm, I guess.

    I'm no doctor, but I don't like to hear about players avoiding surgery. With his age, what are the chances that he won't need TJS anyway later on, given that he already has a history of elbow ligament injury? Obviously, I hope I'm dead wrong and all he really needed was some time off.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Thanks Joao yeah that makes sense and kind of what I was thinking otherwise that would be a modern miracle lol. I'm with you though even though I'm happy hes back I don't like avoiding the surgery he could of had it done and been back early next year and have TJS out of the way. Now if he has one little setback he is going to get the surgery and miss all of 2013 most likely and miss 2 years of development instead of just one as this year is mostly a loss. Look at Giolito from the Nationals they said he didn't need surgery earlier this summer and now hes most likely facing the knife after a setback.

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    In reply to Holycow!78:

    I hadn't heard about this Giolito setback! That's tough.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    Yep one 2 inning start couple days ago and complained of elbow soreness. Now he is flying to L.A. for 2nd opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum. Man HS pitchers are scary I almost rather draft them with it TJS already done lol at least they would be cheaper.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    That has to be the case. A lot of us relied on that report that he had TJS but apparently it was inaccurate.

    I do share some of those concerns. I think for the most part, teams aren't nearly as reluctant to do TJS so the fact that they decided against it makes me think it wasn't a tear, or at least a very,very small one. But I know what you mean, I can't help thinking TJS going to be inevitable.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I read somewhere where someone said that if a kid knows that he's going to pitch that he almost should just have the surgery as a preventative measure.

    I don't know if that was said in jest or not.

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    Soler is on fire.. Glad he is transitioning to Baseball here well.. Hope within the next couple of days Baez racks up some hits.. Build some confidence.

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    It looked like he was coming out of it before all the rainouts, maybe just needs to get his timing back again

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'll admit to starting to have doubts about Baez (and Rizzo, for that matter -- though Rizzo may just need a better hitting coach). But, Torreyes wasn't just bad, he was awful his first two months in Daytona. Torreyes figured it out, hopefully Baez will, too. And this may be a good experience for him: for the first time in his life he has to make adjustments, learn how to hit with two strikes, and work out of a slump, so that's all good.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm not worried about him at all. Adv. A isn't so much better than low A that it's going to turn a .350 hitter into a .150 hitter. Part of it is Baez probably just going into a slump while facing tougher pitching. He'll have to adjust, and for someone who's never had to make adjustments before, it probably won't happen overnight, and it will probably come in fits and spurts before he really takes off, much like it did with Torreyes.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What scares me about it is that, according to Goldstein, the book on Baez has always been that he struggles with breaking pitches. Where my Torreyes comparison collapses is strikeouts. Torreyes only has 28 all season (as compared to 29 walks and 31 extra-base-hits). So, even though he wasn't smoking the ball all over the field, he was making contact.

    Torreyes's worst single month was may, where he hit .137/.190/.192 -- with 1 strikeout.

    Baez has 14 strikeouts -- half of Torreyes total -- in 12 games. (By comparison, he had 48 in 57 games in Peoria.) Now all the caveats about Baez being a power hitter and striking out more apply here. That's why it's just "slightly concerned" at this point, but I don't think those numbers can be completely glossed over, either.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'll be concerned if it's over a much larger sample size. I'm not going to worry about 12 sporadic games in the FSL.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you're right. If this biblical type rain was known in advance, then he could've gone back to Peoria to keep his timing.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    The biblical -ype rain happens every summer in Florida. It's the storm season ! And it wasn't just in Daytona, there are rainouts in Clearwater, Sarasota, Viera,....all over the state.

    The climate is a Florida State League way of life, but I think there's plenty to do in High-A as far as learning the game than just playing games. Let's hope that the instruction and development continue no matter what the weather.
    p.s. there are only a couple of weeks left in the FSL schedule. I hope to get to Daytona next week.

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    Would it be fair to say that the Cubs have the best talent age 20 and under in all minor league baseball. 1B Vogelbach 2B Amaya 3B Candelario SS Baez CF Almora RF Soler LF Martin, all they need is a catcher, and that is leaving out some pretty good young players, Hernandez, Dunston, Torreyes to name a few. Plus pitching with Maples, Underwood, Wells, and Scott just to name the bigger names!

  • In reply to Kevin:

    I'd say the Cubs are up there in the upper tier of baseball. Of course, lot of risk with younger players.

  • What ever happened to Taiwan Easterling?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He had an injury and he's out for the year.

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    John. I know you have talked about this before but I want to ask anyways. Next year where do you see Arodys Vizcaíno? Will he be a starter or a end of the bullpen guy? Also, where do the Cubs think he will play? Obviously it is a big hit if he doesn't start, but I know there are some people who don't think he can make it as a starter.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    They have to try him at starter first, but I don't think they'll rush him. I'd be tempted to keep him in AZ or FL or at least Tennessee for awhile. Not sure I want him pitching in the cold weather.

  • John - where do you think Soler starts next year? Peoria/KC or Daytona?

  • In reply to Zorb:

    Daytona, but he's not on a normal schedule. If he shows he can master it, they won't hesitate to move him to AA. Wouldn't be surprised to see him go to the Fall League to speed up his development.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    How good is the fall league John? Where in relation to the minor league systems would that fall?

  • If there's somebody who hasn't seen this yet, has a nice story and video on Soler:

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby, nice story.

  • Baez is really struggling in Daytona. Hope this doesn't carry over to next year.

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