Cubs Minors Recap: DeVoss HRs; Almora with 4 hits; Paniagua debuts

The Cubs threw out some curveballers today with mixed results and Zeke DeVoss is making a late surge after struggling all season with the bat.

Just a note that I took a semi day off yesterday.  It was a slow news day and thought I'd take advantage.  We'll be back at our normal pace tomorrow.

OKC 2- Iowa 1

  • Ryan Rowland-Smith was the first curveballer on the docket and he went 5 innings.  He pitched well, giving up just 3 hits,but a little wildness (walk, HBP) and then a two out, two run double in the 2nd inning cost him and the I-Cubs the game.
  • The good Marcus Hatley showed up today, the one with the good command, and it was 6 up and 6 down for OKC, 2 via strikeout.
  • Jeff Beliveau made a triumphant return to Iowa by striking out the side in his only inning.
  • For the second night in a row, Dave Sappelt provided most of the offense, going 2 for 4 and driving in the team's only run.

Tennessee 5 - Chattanooga 4

  • LHP Austin Kirk worked primarily with a 2 seam fastball and a curve today and was pretty solid for 4 innings, allowing just one run, before losing command in the 5th inning, when he walked 3 batters and gave up 3 more runs on a bases clearing double.   After 3 outings, including 2 starts, Kirk has a 4.22 ERA but has walked 8 batters in 11 innings.
  • Kirk was replaced by Trey McNutt, who retired the last batter, then had a 1-2-3 6th to pick up the win.  With that outing, he's had a 1.88 ERA in his last 8 appearances (14.1 IP) and  he lowered his relief ERA (4.44) to less than his starters ERA (4.46).
  • Frank Batista hasn't been quite as automatic as he was earlier in the season but despite allowing 2 hits and a walk, he got out of the 9th without allowing a run to preserve the 5-4 lead and get his 24th save.
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha was 1-3 with a double, a run scored and 2 RBI.  He's been mired in a bit of a slump lately and is hitting .265/.349/.365 on the year.
  • 1B Justin Bour had a scary moment when he fouled a ball straight up that knocked off his helmet off, after getting checked out by the trainer, he stepped right back in the batters box.  Overall on the day he went 2 for 4 with a double and his 109th RBI.
  • Junior Lake had a good day with a 2 run double and two walks in 4 PAs. The walks were #29 and #30, putting Lake 5 away from his career high even though he's played just 93 games.  Lake has made some strides this year and is starting to win over some of his big skeptics, though nobody is under the illusion he'll be a star unless he continues to improve.  Lake is hitting .281/.337/.430 on the year.

Clearwater 3 - Daytona 0

  • Encouraging start for Robert Whitenack in that he didn't walk a batter (though he did have an HBP) and allowed 3 hits in 3 innings. Unfortunately, the HBP, two of the hits, plus a fielding error all happened in the first inning, giving Clearwater all the runs they would need and more.  Only one of the runs were earned.
  • Another curveballer, Kyler Burke pitched 3 perfect innings, striking out 3.
  • LHP Matt Iannazzo made his Daytona debut and pitched a scoreless inning. The 22 year old undrafted free agent continues to beat the odds and it will be interesting to see what he does in a more age-appropriate league.
  • Not much on offense, obviously.  Roni Torreyes had a single and walk.   Javier Baez went 0-3 with a walk.

Peoria 6 - Beloit 1

  • Michael Jensen may have the best curve of the bunch, throwing a 12-6 with good depth and bite.  He was outstanding today, allowing just 2 hits and no walks over 6 innings.  He gave up the one earned run.  He also struck out 4.  Jensen is 11-5 on the year and probably should have a lot more wins this season were it not for a bullpen that seems to choose to implode whenever he pitches.  He has a 3.47 ERA and by my quick calculations, an even better 2.97 FIP.
  • Zeke DeVoss went 3 for 4 and hit his 6th HR while raising his line to .251/.384/.381 (.764 OPS).  DeVoss is making a late run to salvage a tough season.  He's hit .338/.446/.558 (1.004 OPS) in August.
  • Pin-Chieh Chen had a pair of hits, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI.  He also stole his 32nd base.  Chen has also been better after a slow start, hitting .288 with a .379 OBP.
  • Jorge Soler went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI.  He's hitting .333 in Peoria.

Boise 11 - Vancouver 5

  • Hayden Simpson had a pretty solid outing, going 5 innings and allowing 3 runs, 2 in the first inning before settling down.   He struck out 7 and walked just 2.  No idea what he was clocked at tonight, though. Edit: Reader Furious Jeff was able to catch the game on the radio and reports he was throwing 89-90 mph, which makes sense, given that's been about where he's been all year.
  • Hard throwing 19 year old LHP Brian Smith got the promotion from AZ and continues to a) have some trouble throwing strikes b) have no trouble striking people out and c) being very tough to hit.  Put it all together and it spelled a 1.72 ERA in AZ and a scoreless 2 innings in his debut for Boise.
  • 2B Stephen Bruno had 2 hits, a double, and a walk to raise his team leading average to .345.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach has a double, single, walk, and an RBI. You know you're a pretty good hitter when you slow down and are still hitting .314 in your last 10 games.  Vogelbach is at .336 overall with 9 HRs since joining Boise.
  • C Wilson Contreras is on a tear, getting 3 hits and  hitting .452 in his last 10 games to raise his average to .287.
  • If you were worried about Albert Almora's recent slump, you can exhale again.  The Cubs top pick had 4 hits, including 2 doubles, scored 3 runs and drove in 2.  He's hitting .316 in his last 8 games.  He's pretty good.  In fact, BA's Jim Callis considers Almora the Cubs 2nd best prospect.
  • LF Trey Martin is an exciting player, long limbed, athletic, fast, and this year's he's showing he can hit a little.  Today he went 3 for 3 with a walk and 3 runs batted in.  He's hitting .277 on the year and .301 overall between AZ and the NWL.

Arizona Rookie League

  • One of the Cubs most highly regarded curveball specialist, Dillon Maples was all over the place today again, walking 4 batters and throwing 2 wild pitches in just 1.2 innings, allowing 4 runs to score despite not giving up a hit.  A bit of a setback for Maples, who appeared to have been turning the corner in his last 2 starts with one walk total.
  • This was strange.  As you may know, Juan Carlos Paniagua has had some name fraud issues before the Cubs signed him and he did actually pitch for the D'Backs as Juan Collado.   Well, MLB hasn't changed his name to Paniagua yet because good old Juan Collado showed up in the box score again.  We'll assume it's Paniagua again.  However he's listed, he pitched 2 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out one.
  • Jin Young Kim pitched a scoreless inning.  The finesse, control-oriented pitcher has a sterling 1.64 ERA pitching out of the bullpen.
  • We don't really post the score of any of the complex league games, such as AZ and the DSL, but this was a great game for the Cubs, they were down 8-2 and chipped away before rallying to tie it in the 9th at 9.  Then scored 5 in the 10th to win the game
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr. had another pair of hits to raise his average to .301 since joining AZ.  He also drew his 17th walk in 35 games. Obviously he has his mother's batting eye.  He also stole his 4th base.
  • 3B Ben Carhart is a seasoned college hitter who is likely too good for this league.  So far he has proven that to be true.  After 2 more hits, Carhart is hitting .368.  He also has drawn 14 walks in just over 130 PAs.
  • 19 year old C Justin Marra is an excellent hitter who hit 3 more doubles to raise his average to .341 and his slugging pct. to .488.  Marra has also shown to be very selective, walking 17 times in about 100 PAs.
  • Trevor Gretzky had two more hits to raise his average to .274.


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  • I was listening in on the Boise Hawks game and I'm not sure where Simpson sat but he hit 89 and 90 a few times.. Quite a few of his Ks were actually on his Change-up though.. Seemed like he just kept them guessing.

    Game started rough with 2er in the first (2run dbl off first pitch"a get me over fb" to Fuenmayor) but he seemed like he eased into it and got more comfortable after that first inning.

    Interesting tidbit, the Hawks announcer mentioned that Simpson told him "he feels like his fastball gains life the later the ball game gets." Not sure if that's true or anything.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    Thanks Furious Jeff!

    That makes sense since that's been about where he's been all year. I'm not sure about gaining life as he goes on. Maybe he's gaining confidence in it?

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    I love the Shawn Dunston, Jr. line...

  • In reply to Phil James:


  • "has his mother's eye", hilarious! awesome work, as always!

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    Thanks MikeyB!

  • john can you tell me all you know about LHP Brian Smith,and were was he drafted ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    40th round pick in 2010. 90-93 mph and a good change-up. Very raw, as you might expect but tools are there.

  • what happened to matt sczcur?

  • In reply to kingpro98:

    Just a day off.

  • I also love the Shawon Dunston Jr. line. He, thankfully., doesn't appear to have his dad's lack of patience at the plate. He's raw but I think he's someone to keep an eye on.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think he's interesting. As someone mentioned, a little raw for a ballplayer's son but some ability there. Athleticism and energy, yet shows potential for a good approach up there. It will all depend on his bat.

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    We really don't have any consistent starting pitchers.. Seems like they throw 7 inning shutout ball one start.. Next start there in for 3 innings and give up a ton of runs.

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    Yep! That seems to be the story all year.

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    I really want Dillon Maples and Ben wells to end this season strong. If those to restablish themselves as top pitching prospects that goes a long way towards building the top farm system we all want and adds a few more potential front line starters to the mix.

    Is Mcnutt does with starting forever or is this just temporary to get his mechanics together?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I wouldn't say forever, but I think this is it for the time being. If he starts to show signs of dominating in relief, as Andrew Cashner did, then I think they'll consider switching him back, especially given how much they need starters.

  • Does anyone know anything more about C Justin Marra? I read his profile at perfect game and they didn't discuss his defensive tools at all. They list him as a 1.90 POP, so he must have a decent arm. He appears to be proving them right about his bat.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Receiving skills still need work but he can hit. Makes contact with a good approach, best of both worlds. Right now he doesn't show much power so unless that comes around and/or he becomes a defensive standout, he's limited to a backup ceiling.

  • John, Do you think Jensen could be Cubs' minor league pitcher of the year? Who else would you consider? Maybe Kirk?

    Thanks for all the great minor league updates, interesting to hear that Callis has Almora ahead of Soler (assuming Baez #1). That is nice to hear, as Soler being a bit older is naturally ahead of him in the system. I am very happy that they have some nice hitting prospects putting up good numbers and moving along together with the new FO's offensive philosophies being taught.

    Last question, do you see Marra as a potential prospect who can stay at catcher? I also wondered who you thought was the Cubs' top minor league catching prospect with Castillo in the majors. Thanks again for the solid reporting. Helps get through a draining season.

  • In reply to JC 2012:

    Thanks JC!

    I think Jensen has to be on the short list. Eric Jokisch has also had a good year and I think Nick Struck should get some consideration too, especially considering he's done it all year at AA. I think Kirk would have had a great chance based on his first half, but he's had control issues of late and I'm guessing he won't win that this year.

    I think Marra has a chance to stay at catcher but, much like current Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger, he'll have to improve on defense and, at any rate, it's his bat that will get him to the bigs.

  • To all the Cubs fans in central or downstate Illinois, please join in the email campaign of Phil Luciano of the Peoria Journal Star to fight to keep the Cubs in Peoria! His email is If the response is good enough, he plans on hand delivering all the emails to the Ricketts or get tasered trying. So please send him emails showing support!

  • Thanks John! I know it's been said by others, but I just have to chime in about your daily minor league recap/analysis report. As a diehard Cub fan since '69 (yes, that dreaded year), this report has become my favorite Cubs related activity in many years. It has greatly increased my Cubbie (sorry, Theo, Cubs) interest, despite their awful year.

    I'm excited to find out how Baez, Almora, Jorge, Vogelbomb, Amaya and the rest turn out in their careers. There is hope for the Cubs, and I can't wait for it to arrive.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Thanks HefCA!

    It's been fun to write about, especially the lower levels. I have to admit that when I write these, I can't wait to get until the end and talk about A ball and below. I've been a fan since '75, so hopefully our patience will pay off soon!

  • I'm sorry if you've addressed this before, but what kind of upside does Paniagua possess? I'd like to start seeing some #2s & 3s taking shape.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Dang, just read the Callis interview, he likes Pierce Johnson the best, and says even he realistically is probably just a #3. We need some arms.

  • John, what's your understanding of MLB's 10 and 5 rule? I always thought it only applied to trades and not to waiver claims.

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