Cubs Minors Recap: Underwood hurls 3 no-hit innings, Amaya HRs,

Cubs Minors Recap: Underwood hurls 3 no-hit innings, Amaya HRs,
Gioskar Amaya

One promotion note today: The Cubs promoted speedy CF Jeffrey Baez, an 18 year old leadoff prospect who has a .378 OBP this season and has stolen 60 bases in 116 games in the DSL over the past two seasons.  His line was .291/.378  /.448.  Baez was part of the same 2010 international free agent class that included top signees Jeimer Candelario and Carlos Penalver.

And Daytona got rained out...again.

Iowa 2 - Memphis 0

  • The I-Cubs got a surprisingly good performance from veteran Seth McClung, who went 6 scoreless innings, walking just one and striking out 6.
  • Ex-Cubs Scott Maine and Blake Parker preserved the shutout with a pair of 1-2-3 innings.  Parker struck out 2 of the batters and earned his 6th save.
  • Both Iowa runs came in on a 2 run HR by another veteran minor leaguer, Jeff Frazier.

Chattanooga 3 - Tennessee 1

  • The Smokies were on the right side of a 1-0 pitching duel for the first 8 innings.  LHP Eric Jokisch was the starter and went 5 scoreless innings, walking 3 and striking out 4.  Jokisch has a 2.90 ERA in AA.  He has maintained his solid control but his strikeout rate has gone down to 5.2 from the 8.6 mark he put up in Daytona.
  • Trey McNutt pitched another scoreless inning, striking out one.  After a rough start out of the bullpen, McNutt seems to be adjusting to his new role.  He was clocked at 96 in his last outing  and in his last 7 appearances (12.1 IP), he has a 2.19 ERA and has struck out 11 batters.  The downside is that he has also walked 9.
  • Tony Zych also appears to be hitting his stride out of the Smokies bullpen.  After a great start in Daytona, where he had a  sub 2.00 FIP in adv. A, Zych struggled in AA, though much of it was BABIP fueled bad luck.  Today he went 2 perfect innings and struck out 6.  He has not allowed a run in his last 9 innings, lowering his ERA to 4.46.
  • The normally reliable closer Frank Batista gave up a rare run and was tagged with an even more rare blown save, his 2nd of the year.  He allowed the Lookouts to tie it up on a 9th inning HR by Nick Buss.
  • Slider specialist Kevin Rhoderick has been anything but reliable in the second half and today was no exception.  He allowed 2 runs in the 11th and fell to 1-4 with and 8.31 ERA in the second half and 2-7, 4.97 overall.
  • The Smokies only run came when 1B Justin Bour doubled home Logan Watkins, who had walked.  That has been a popular tandem for this year for the Smokies when it comes to scoring runs.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha and 2B Matt Cerda each had a pair of singles.

Peoria 4 - Wisconsin 2

  • LHP Jeffrey Antigua, who was pitching in AA earlier this season, went 5 strong innings, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, while walking one and striking out 5.  Antigua has not impressed this season with his stuff, mostly sitting between 84-87 on the radar gun, but he has gotten results at every level.
  • Austin Reed has had an up and down season.  Today was an up with 2.1 scoreless inning and a win.  He lowered his ERA to 3.70.
  • Hard-throwing Larry Suarez picked up his 4th save.  Suarez has a 1.88 ERA in his last 10 games and 4.46 overall.  Perhaps this is Suarez's last chance to try and turn things around.  While he was once a promising prospect signed for 700K out of Venezuela, Suarez has stalled.  This is his 3rd go-round in Peoria and is now 22.
  • The Cubs got 3 hits and an RBI today from two very different players.  The first one was Jorge Soler, the big bonus baby who stands out on the field, both for his athletic, physical stature and ability on the field.  Soler is hitting .343.  The second was Sergio Burriel, a stocky catcher who backs up starter Chadd Krist.

Boise 6 - Yakima 4

  • Tough day for Pierce Johnson after a brilliant start the last time out.  He went just 2 innings and gave up 3 runs.  He walked one and struck out 2.
  • Felix Pena got Boise back on track with 5 innings of one run ball (unearned).  He walked one and struck out 3.  Pena has pitched well since his demotion to Boise (3.43 ERA), though he wasn't exactly terrible in Peoria either, posting a 4.50 ERA in 10 innings after a disastrous first outing.
  • Steady Eddie Orozco got himself a 2 inning save by shutting down Yakima to close the game.  It was his 6th save.  He walked one and struck out 3.  He has 9 walks and 26 strikeouts in 23.1 innings at Boise.  He's not an overpowering pitcher, throwing in the low 90s, but solid secondaries and command have been enough for him to dominate the NWL (1.16 ERA).
  • 2B Gioskar Amaya was the offensive star of the day with 3 hits, a HR, and 2 RBI.  Amaya is hitting .312 with 7 HRs, 5 doubles, 11 triples, and 12 SBs in 60 games.  He has also shown good patience, walking in over 10% of his plate appearances.
  • Stephen Bruno is showing he can play just about anywhere and today he was in LF.  The defensive position may change but the hitting doesn't stop.  He went 1 for 3 with a walk and is hitting .340 on the year.  He also stole his first 2 bases.
  • Dan Vogelbach went o for 2 but did draw 2 walks and scored a run.
  • CF Albert Almora went 1 for 5.  A recent slump has dropped him to .242.

Arizona Rookie League Game 1: Game 2

  • Trey Lang started the first game and pitched one scoreless inning.  He has a 2.84 ERA in 12.1 innings in which he has 2 walks and 10 Ks.
  • Carlos Martinez-Pumarino pitched the next 3 innings and struggled.  After a great start, he has been somewhat inconsistent of late.  He gave up 4 earned runs on 6 hits in 3 innings today.
  • Steve Perakslis has been steady of late and today he threw 2 scoreless frames, walking none, striking out 3 and lowering his ERA to 3.47.  Chad Martin picked up the win with a scoreless 9th.
  • In game 2, 2nd round pick Duane Underwood got things started with 3 no-hit innings, walking one and striking out 3.  His ERA is still 7.11, but much of that is because of his debut in which he went just 1/3 of an inning and gave up 3 runs.
  • Anthony Prieto couldn't keep it going, giving up 4 runs in 2.1 innings.  Prieto has had poor control and it finally caught up with him this time as he walked 3 more hitters, giving him 12 in 17.1 innings this season.
  • At the plate, Shawon Dunston went 3 for 6 with an RBI and 2 runs scored in the two games.  He's up to .299/.374/.431 on the season, surpassing the .800 OPS mark.  Dunston has made good use of his second chance.  After struggling in Boise, Dunston did not mope about going to AZ.  Instead, he has been the team's best hitter and may earn himself a trip back to Boise.
  • C Justin Marra went 3 for 7, including a double and a triple, with 2 runs scored and an RBI.  Marra has 16 walks and 13 Ks, showing a knack both for making contact and grinding out ABs.  What he hasn't shown is much power so far.
  • Anthony Giansanti went 2 for 7 with 3 RBI with all the damage coming in game one.  He's on rehab assignment from Peoria and will probably rejoin the team soon.
  • 1B-OF Trevor Gretzky went 2 for 5 with a walk and has upped his average to a respectable .276 while showing good patience at the plate with 12 walks, giving him a .354 OBP.  So far, however, he has been almost exclusively a singles hitter with only 2 of his 25 hits going for extra bases (double, triple).
  • Jeffrey Baez went 1 for 6 with a stolen base in his debut.




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  • John, how much different is the level of competition between Rookie & Dominican Summer Leagues? With a few exceptions, DSL is basically the teenage IFA's signed that aren't old enough to play pro ball in US, right?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It's higher in the AZ because there is a bigger pool of good players. Lot of kids in the DSL, sometimes as young as 16. Best prospects are usually out of there by the time they're 18 (like Baez, Candelario, Penalver).

  • Congrats to Billy Hamilton for breaking the SB record... I'm not looking forward to seeing the havoc that young man will reek on our pitching staff & defense in the near future. As if the Reds aren't stacked enough... oh well....

    Does anyone know how many true lead off hitters we have within our organization, that could be an everyday impact player? (Andreoli, Szczur, & Devoss?) We've talked a lot about the big 3 (Baez, Soler, & Almora) and even Vitters & Jackson.... Unlikely that all 5 will realize their ceilings, (let's be real - remember when our entire Double-A outfield of Matt Murton, Felix Pie and Adam Greenberg was major league?) but say they do... and they are the core with Castro/Rizzo.... Who is going to lead off & where will they play?

    We haven't had a true lead-off hitter for years. Hopefully, they are teaching Campana to steal first in Iowa...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't know if the Cubs have an impact player at leadoff. Szczur might get there, but sometimes I think he'll just be a good 4th OF'er. DeVoss hasn't hit enough and a scout I spoke with really soured on him this year. Andreoli is definitely an extra outfielder. No extra base power at all and he's not as fast as 50 SBs indicate.

    There's also Dunston, who's more patient than his father, Amaya, who will get on but won't steal bases at the MLB level. Watkins is a good OBP guy with some speed, question is will he hit in the bigs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Szczur seems to have stopped hitting. He may have found his ceiling, unfortunately for him. He does respond to coaching, so maybe he'll find his bat again.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I hope so. He doesn't have the smoothest swing in the world, he'll even say it himself, so you hope it plays at the upper levels. He's got the other skills...speed, OBP, defense, to be a starting player, but only if he hits.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sold on Dunston ever being an everyday player at the MLB level. Hopefully, he'll prove me wrong.

    We all know speed can change the game. Put that pitcher in the stretch position and occupy part of his mind with the runner stealing and all of a sudden he serves up a grapefruit to Rizzo, Castro, Soler, Baez, etc....

    Sounds like we need to sign & develop a few Catching prospects & lead-off prospects to go along with waves of pitching so we can contend by 2015..... :wink:

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I was talking to one scout who really likes him and was glad to see him get more time at AZ.

    What is it you don't like about Dunston?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for him. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a scout, I haven't read a scouting report on him, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.... But the kids going to be 20 before Spring training starts, yet he's still in Rookie ball and that's because he was over-matched by short season A ball?.... So far as a lead-off candidate, he's 4 for 8 in the stolen base department. He just seems really really raw and I'd expect a little more polish from a MLB's son.

    But like I said, hopefully, he'll prove me wrong...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    LOL...I was just curious if you read or heard something you didn't like. Someone else I respect very much doesn't like him either, but I'm still unsure as to reasons.

    He is raw. His hands aren't as quick as dad's to make up for some of that, but he does seem to have a better approach. I will say that he's a long way away..definitely a longshot.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw the other day they had Watkins move to center field at the end of the game. Obviously, way too early to read too much into that. And certainly Szczur is still getting the starts down there. However, I'm starting to wonder if the long term plan isn't switching to Watkins leading off in center.

    You may not have noticed, but Brett Jackson's tryout isn't going the best so far.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not too well on BJax, but he is one heck of a CF'er. We haven't had a guy like that in a while. Gets good ABs...why can't he hit???

    A guy like Watkins is good to have, someone who can play the middle defensive positions and it gives the Cubs some flexibility. They put Soto in, I believe, who is the best defensive SS they have in all the minors, so maybe just trying to get best possible D in there while leaving Watkins bat in there?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I looked it up, he's actually played 16 games there -- and more in lower levels. So, it would seem that he's being considered as super sub. However, his bat this year may have changed plans -- especially OBP with this front office in charge. So, the question is where to put him if, indeed, he can hit big league pitching.

  • I'm sure you know already John, but it looks like the Cubs moving their midwest league affiliate to Kane County looks like a done deal. That should be cool for a lot of people , we can now watch Voglebach, Almora and Amaya a lot more oftern than we could have before.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    You missed the thread he put up yesterday on this bit of news.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Roughly 30 miles away from where I'm at. Really excited about it, though I have to say I really liked going to Peoria on mini road trips.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I'm not sure if this is a done deal or not. Apparently nothing has been discussed so far with Peoria, and it appears that one or more rules might have been broken:
    This from the Peoria Journal Star's website:

    "The Major League rules, which govern the business of baseball, stipulate a $500,000 fine for major league teams and a $100,000 fine for minor league teams that publicly discuss future re-affiliation agreements.

    If the report is correct that the Cubs and Cougars are close to an agreement, however, the two organizations still would have violated Rule 56 of the rules."

  • McNutt is another one of those guys for me who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Would love to see him tamp down on some of the control issues while still keeping the velocity. To have a young arm coming out of the bullpen throwing 96-97 strikes? Yowza

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Control is the key for him. He has a breaking ball, it's a curve with slider velocity, so I"ve seen it called both that is a second out pitch when he commands it. Could definitely be a power closer if he has control. Of course, we could say that about Cabrera and Dolis too!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Did you guys read this article on about McNutt?

    Control is the key for all of them. I honestly think he is just now learning how to pitch. He has gotten by all this time on just talent, and now he is learning first hand how humbling this game can be. If he can work through the control issues, he will likely make the team as a RP and could eventually be stretched out into a SP role with Ace upside ala Shark & Demp....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    No, I missed that. Thanks for posting.

    That would be the best case scenario. Sometimes being an RP simplifies things for some pitchers and they can concentrate on what they do best. Hopefully it works out for McNutt the way it did for those guys.

  • Thanks for the article Hoosier, I hadn't seen it either. Why did McNutt get drafted so late in 2009? Concerns about small school, or were the worries about control already there?

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    He was pretty raw, a late-bloomer when the Cubs signed him but the Cubs and others felt he had the athleticism to eventually be able to repeat his delivery and command his pitchers better. It hasn't happened yet except for 2010, when it seemed it was really coming together for McNutt.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully McNutt will find his command. Right now I would rank Kyle Hendricks ahead of McNutt. The more I think about that Dempster trade, the more I like it.

  • Nice article on Vogelbach:

    I gotta see this kid play. I find it hard to believe that with the way he's transformed his body since H.S. and hitting doubles & triples to go with the bombs, that he;s just a one-step & dive defender. Still, with that attitude & work ethic, you can't help but root for the kid.

  • I'm incredibly excited....I just can't remember why exactly.

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