Cubs Minors Recap: Stars come out..Baez hits 2 HRs, Soler hits a monster shot

Cubs Minors Recap: Stars come out..Baez hits 2 HRs, Soler hits a monster shot

I'll write more about the Peoria game in the recap, but for now suffice to say that Jorge Soler hit a HR in Kane County that Javier Baez would have been proud of.  Though Baez hit a pretty long HR today in his own right.

I have a video of the Soler HR but it's a bit grainy. It's tough to track the ball but you can see how explosive his hands are through the zone here...

Here is a video with a good angle on the HR, though you can't see the ball land.  Come to think of it, not sure if it did land.

Once again, great meeting some more readers/contributors at the game!  One more tomorrow if anyone is still going.

Only 3 games on tap...

Tennessee 7 - Pensacola 3

  • Dae-Eun Rhee finished the season with 6 strong innings, allowing one run while walking 3 and striking out 5.  Rhee ended the year at 9-8 with a 4.81 ERA but did have a 3.29 ERA in his last 5 starts, gaining some momentum as he heads to the AZ Fall League.
  • Tony Zych, unfortunately, did not finish as strong, allowing 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning to blow his first save.  He lacked his usual good command, walking 2 and not striking out a batter. The bad outing raised his ERA to 4.38, though he has pitched better than that.
  • Frank Batista (1.1 IP), Brian Schlitter (3 IP), and LHP Casey Harman (4 IP) shut Pensacola out the rest of the way.  Harman picked up the win.
  • Logan Watkins had a pair of hits, including a double.  He scored a run and drove in 2.  Watkins is about to close out the best year of his professional career with a line of .281/.383/.424, 9 HRs, and 28 SBs in 35 attempts.
  • SS Junior Lake went 1 for 5, hitting his 10th HR of the year and driving in 4 runs.  Lake is hitting .279/.338/.433 on the year.
  • 3B Matt Cerda had 3 hits, scored a run and drove in another.  After a poor start, he's hit a respectable .283/.408/.368 since the all star break.  Cerda has a great approach at the plate and some of the best plate discipline in the system, but a lack of power and true defensive home has set his ceiling at a utilty infielder.
  • AFL bound Rubi Silva had a pair of hits and is hitting .267 in AA.

 Daytona 3 - Brevard County 2

  • Ryan Searle started and pitched a solid 6 innings, allowing just one run.  He walked one and struck out 4.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka bounced back with 1.1 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 2.  Cervenka's ERA in the FSL is 3.86 and in 3 minor league stops has struck out 71 batters in 62.2 innings.
  • 2B Ronald Torreyes had cooled off as of late but today he did get 2 hits, including a double, and a walk.  Torreyes is hitting .264 with 6 HRs and a .326 OBP at age 19 in a tough league for hitters.
  • Javier Baez had a big night with 2 HRs, one of which was reportedly hit 420 ft.  Baez is hitting just .188 in the FSL, partly due to the sporadic schedule, but he has shown flashes of his big time power.  He'll head to the AFL and will likely start in Daytona next year, but he'll have a shot at reaching AA by the end of the year, putting him in position for a call-up as early as 2014, though 2015 is most likely.

Kane County 5 - Peoria 4

  • RHP Starling Peralta was on the mound and sat at 94-96 all game long, touching 97 at one point.  He also flashed an 83-85 mph slider with occasional sharp, horizontal movement.  He had both pitches going early in the game and started the game with 4 no-hit innings, but then struggled with his command in the 5th, leaving some balls up in the zone and they got crushed, resulting in a 3 run rally by the Cougars. Peralta wound up striking out 8 hitters in 5.1 innings, allowing just the 3 hits in the 5th.  I didn't see Peralta throw a change, but his first two pitches would make him a pretty solid reliever as long as he commands his pitches.
  • LHP Sheldon McDonald has been reliable all year and today I got my first look.  The stuff was pretty pedestrian, the 23 year old McDonald throws 85-86 mph with an occasional slider, but he spots them well and today he got Peoria out of trouble with 1.2 scoreless innings.
  • RHP Stephen Perakslis got the call from AZ, where he'd been red-hot and flashed a solid 92-93 mph fastball.  He did give up 3 hits and the tying run in the 8th.
  • Austin Reed showed a better fastball and slider than I expected.  He was consistently 93-94 and touched 95 mph hour.  He had a good slider but it was inconsistent and he did wind up giving up a couple of hits and the winning run in the 10th after breezing through the 9th.
  • Jorge Soler hit the booming HR but he also had two singles, resulting in a 3 for 5 day.  The HR was Soler's 3rd in AZ and he's hitting .333/.381/.513 at low class A.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers is finishing up strong in Peoria as 2 more hits left him at .300 for the year.  He also has 19 walks in 69 PAs, helping him post a .493 OBP.  Rogers has some power, as he showed in Peoria when he became the first player to hit a ball of the scoreboard at O'Brien Field.
  • This was my first in-person look at Timothy Saunders and he was pretty much as a I expected, more of a grinder who is neither fluid in his swing or out in the field, but he battles out there and gets the job done in both areas.  Saunders had 2 groundball singles and a walk (intentional), putting his line at .325/.386/.494 in 19 games at low Class A Peoria.

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    WOW!! What a shot by Soler! Nobody on the field even moved and it looked like a towering bomb. Looked like decent plate discipline to get into the 2 and 1 count, at least from what I saw. Almora, Soler, Baez, Rizzo, Jackson, Castro, Castillo...that could be the foundation for 2015.
    By then Jackson, Rizzo, Castro would be seasoned and the others will be MLB-ready when they're summoned.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips66:

    It'll sure be nice to see up and down the order guys who will tatoo the ball. It's a bit right-handed, but as Dallas Green used to say, you're supposed to be able to hit righties and lefties alike.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips66:

    We could be seeing that 2015 team take shape before our eyes -- that's 7 of the 8 players on the field you named with only 2B missing.

    His discipline is not bad. I think better pitchers will get him to chase that outside pitch but for the most part he was laying off it pretty well -- but boy, if you're going to come in on him, better make sure you locate it because he just destroyed that pitch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Someone in the system will win the 2nd baseman job

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Lots of candidates, including Barney himself.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And then there's the possibility of one of the 3rd basemen making it, and moving Baez over to 2nd, or siging a big time FA bat at 3rd and doing the same. Austin Meadows would also look nice in that lineup, and would give them another lefty.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Baez at 2B would be tremendous.

    Austin Meadows would be a big talent to add if they don't get that college pitcher. The Cubs could do a lot worse.

  • Yep! Like I was telling everyone yesterday, Soler is flawless..hehehe

    I also took a video of all his at-bats and couldn't help notice his batting stance. By no means am I a scout but you could totally tell that stance showcases his lower body strength. My wife even said it reminded her of Moises Alou without the crouch.

    He also did okay out in the field. I thought he looked pretty fluid running his routes to catch fly balls. I was hoping he'd show off his arm but no dice.

    Like I mentioned yesterday he was the 1st guy on the field unless he had to take off his hitting gear. Sometimes he was in RF before the other team's players were off the field. Couldn't help notice that once he gets in the dugout he sits in the corner by himself. Sometimes someone would sit next to him but I'm not sure if that's good thing or not.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Intersesting comparison with Alou. I agree that his stance does show that lower body strength, he loads kind of deep and then he's quick enough to whip those hands through the zone. As he gains strength I think we'll see big HRs like that more regularly.

    I didn't notice he sat off by himself (couldn't really see from where I was sitting). As you said before, he does seem kind of quiet -- and while he's always smiling, he doesn't seem as extroverted as Baez is. According to the Cubs, Soler gets along with his teammates great

  • John,

    I don't do this very often (I'll stop by later to apologize in person) but I have to disagree on your report of Starling Peralta. I agree that he throws hard but his velocity is not consistent. I asked my wife to tell me how fast he was throwing and she read off 94 mph for three pitches in a row. This was in the 1st inning. Then when the 5th inning came along I said, "He looks like he's getting tired." So again, I asked her to read how fast he was throwing. He only throw the ball over 90 mph once. He looked good early on but as the game went on his velocity did go down.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    That gun in Kane County was wacky. I was going off the scouts guns that were sitting in front of me. The gun up there was consistently 1-3 mph slow and in a couple of cases it was off by 4 or 5....at least compared to the guys in front of me, that is.

  • John, I'm jealous that you guys got to see that epic Soler home run in person. Thanks for posting the video. Love the crack of the bat! Do you think the Cubs should start Soler in Daytona next year?

    Given that he's only had a half-season at low-A, that might be pretty aggressive, but that would be cool to see him in the same lineup as Baez and maybe Geiger, giving Daytona a ton of right-handed power. I'm curious to see how Soler fares against slightly older pitchers.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I think he definitely starts in Daytona next year along with Baez and they'll have a chance to go to AA midseason if they play well.

  • In reply to Taft:

    And regarding facing older pitchers, I was saying that to my wife on the way home that I'm not so sure that an advanced pitcher with better command and a later breaking slider won't get him to chase some of those low and away pitches. He looks tempted sometimes, but he's able to recognize it at this level and lay off most of the time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    So you think he shares more than just physical appearance with Soriano at the plate? It'll be interesting to see how he progresses and adapts over the next year or so, but I think you're spot on as far as Daytona to Tennessee next year. It's a small sample for low A (84 PAs), but the K rate of once every 14 PAs is very promising. I'm trying to remember if he even had a swinging strike last night? And that bomb... 415? Farther? I think it cleared the trees in LF, and those are some tall trees.

  • In reply to Ash Damitz:

    I think he has more natural discipline/pitch recognition skills than Sori but he may have to adjust when the pitchers get better.

    I'm guessing it was probably further than 415 but hard to tell because couldn't see it land. Where's a physicist when you need one?

    It's too bad none of the videos could pick that ball up in flight. My wife did the video on my phone so I got to see it with the naked eye...I just sat there mouth agape for a several seconds.

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    Thanks for putting up the whole at bat. Above and beyond the blast itself, it was nice to see his plate approach. He took a strike to start the at bat, but still just waited for his pitch. He didn't swing until the 4th pitch. And then clearly teed off on the fifth pitch.

    It does look like he needs to adjust his swing with two strikes some -- though it's entirely possible he's been told not to bother as he works his way back into shape -- but that was an impressive performance.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks, I think he ripped at it because the pitcher put it in a tasty spot for him. He did take it up the middle for a single on two other ABs. He's a pretty good hitter, not on Baez's level but he does seem like he has an idea out there.

  • John, is it just me or do you feel something different about Baez, soler and almora? Those guys seem to care and work to hard to be bust. I just get a difference sense of them than previous cubs prospects like Patterson and pie. None of those guys seem to want to fail. Javier Baez tweeted a few days ago that he will be in Chicago soon! I love the confidence and can't wait for a lineup of Jackson, Castro, rizzo, almora, Baez, soler, and vogelbach. I'm excited just thinking about. I'm including vogelbomb because he is the fat kid and should be converted to a catcher! Lol

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    They are definitely on a different level. And unlike Patterson, all seem to be open to coaching.

    Vogelbach at catcher? You mean like the kid from the Bad News Bears?

  • fb_avatar

    Lol I shared. The same thought a couple of weeks ago ^

  • fb_avatar

    About Vogelbach turning into a catcher.. Unless we get a stud pitching prospect for him in the future..

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    My guess or hope is that with the Astros going to the AL and having and inter league game everyday, the NL will eventually add the DH. Vogelbach would be a perfect DH for the cubs

  • Not sure if Vogelbomb possesses any of the traits you look for in a catcher. This is by far the most important position defensively. The last thing you want to do is move someone who is too fat/slow to play anywhere else. That's a little league mentality and I don't even agree with it at that level.

    I like this kid, and wish him the best, but I do not see him as a catcher. I know everyone says his only tools are hitting, I think they under estimate him. He's still a few years away from the show. But he seems to have a great work ethic and has lost a lot of weight in the last year. If he continues, he will make a great 1B and/or DH.

    FWIW, I never want to see the DH played in the NL.

  • Here's another view of Soler's moon shot:
    http://tinyurl.com/8p94vgs

  • In reply to SFToby:

    SFToby, thanks for the link!

    That's the best angle I've seen yet. If you go full screen with it, you can see the ball come down (sorry, John, it did come down) well beyond the structures behind the left field wall. Monster moon shot.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Didn't see it come down on that one either :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Seriously? Or does the smiley face mean you're joking? If you go full screen with it, you can totally see it. It's amazing how far it went. It looks like it lands in the trees.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Actually I didn't try it full screen at first and I couldn't see it, but it made a big difference when I went full screen. That is a nice angle. I saw it from behind home plate but seeing it from the side like that you really get an idea of the depth. That is a huge blast.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's difficult to tell for sure, but it looks like it comes down behind the first row of trees. That's deep.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    That's what it looked like to me too. Even behind home plate it looked like it went into the trees. But, of course, you can't quite tell for sure from that far back and that angle. I can say that when it was hit, it looked like it was shot out of a cannon. It just exploded off his bat. I was sitting there dumbfounded, not sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.

  • John, it was an absolute pleasure meeting you last night. Boy did Soler tattoo that ball. I am salivating over the future of our offense. Opposing pitchers are going to have to be very careful one through eight.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    Great meeting you too BTC! Between Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Soler, and Almora, the Cubs could be tough if they all pan out. Castillo and Jackson not toos shabby either.

  • I hate to be the party pooper in the group, but I've seen too many prospects, not just Cubs prospects, look great at the lower levels and struggle in the majors to be excited about the Cubs line-up in 2015 yet.

    I'm certainly hopeful with this group, however. I'm a big fan of prospects who are young for their level and yet still producing. Almora, Baez, Vogelbach, Torreyes and too some extent Soler and Peralta fall into this category. Then there are players who haven't quite fully figured it out yet but are talented and still very young like Maples, Wells, Underwood, etc., that I'm also excited about. All these guys have the potential to become above average to all-star major leaguers, but history teaches us that it is unlikely all of them will.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    The big difference between this time and other groups of prospects is that the Cubs aren't counting on Javy Baez and Soler to save them, or it's over. The low minors are stacked with quality players. Some of whom you've recently heard of (Stephen Bruno -- following one of the more impressive months in recent memory) and some of whom you may not have heard of at all (Marco Hernandez).

    Yes, people are focusing on the big names because (a) they are the big names and (b) they're hitting home runs into orbit. But, the Cubs system can succeed even if both of them fail. Essentially, we just need 1 of every 10 or so prospects to work. If we keep stocking the minors with prospects, we'll get that. And the team will win.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Bruno has put up very good numbers in Boise this season as a 21 year old. When he produces similarly in Daytona next year as a 22 year old, I'll be a little more excited.

    I put Hernandez in the Arismendy Alcantara category. Interesting, but will only be a contributor at the major league if he improves his plate discipline and pitch recognition. The biggest thing they've got going for them is their ability to stick at short defensively and they still have time to improve.

    But, I have to disagree with you. The Cubs, as well as every other team, are counting on their top prospects to fulfill their potential and become stars. With more and more teams locking up their good young players long term, it is going to be harder and harder to acquire impact talent that is still in its prime. The Cubs and everyone else realize that the name of the game now is recognition, acquisition and development of young (17-20) talent.

    What gives me hope is that the front office is for realz now. I trust them to recognize and acquire that talent, and they are now taking steps to develop it as well with the hiring and promoting of Brandon Hyde to Farm Director.

    You've heard the FO say it over and over again. They are looking for impact talent. Sure one of the less talented guys like Bruno or Hernandez (and trust me, I've heard of them all) might breakthrough, but if the Cubs are going to compete for a championship and do so consistently for a long time, its going to be because their impact talent made good.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I like Hernandez better than Bruno. Very different players. Bruno is undersized and more of a grinder. Hernandez is a fluid athlete who can play a premium position and shows better speed and power potential. I think Hernandez can be an MLB SS. Bruno is more of a utility player.

  • That brings up a question for me. In my mind, the median age for a prospect, not the older non-prospects that skew the average age for a level, but a true prospect who has a chance at contributing in the majors goes like this:

    Rookie - 19
    Short Season A - 20
    Low A - 21
    High A - 22
    AA - 23
    AAA - 24

    If you are this age at that level, you are on track. If you are younger, you are ahead of the game. The superstar prospects will be two or more years younger than the average age for their level like Baez. Most college seniors will be 21 and should see Low A in their first season, etc.

    Is this how you look at it? What's the consensus out there?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I'd say that's pretty a good rule of thumb. Nothing is ever exact, but that's a good guideline.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks, John.

    I really root for the lesser prospects that are young for their level like Torreyes, Alcantara, Villanueva, Geiger, Wells, Reed, Zapata, Hernandez, Marra and Amaya. The Cubs really have a good group of 20 and under propsects especially when you include the higher rated guysl like Soler, Baez, Almora, Candelario, Blackburn, Underwood and the like.

    It's great to have numbers like that because the Cubs will be way lucky if a third of them produce in some decent capacity at the big league level.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    You definitely need numbers. Or waves of talent, as Theo puts it.

    There's always going to be attrition and you just hope that you can get a few impact players over the next several years. Maybe some get traded for MLB talent and maybe some end up filling roles, but no doubt the Cubs need to make sure they find these guys and develop them.

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