Cubs Minors Recap: Loosen with strong AA debut; Loux sharp; Alcantara continues to impress

Cubs Minors Recap: Loosen with strong AA debut; Loux sharp; Alcantara continues to impress
Matt Loosen

Tough Cubs loss today but you can always get encouraged by what's going on down on the Cubs farm system. Here's today's recap...

Iowa 5 - Nashville 0

  • Good to see Barrett Loux put a good start together.  He has struggled after dominating AA ball last year but today he found some of his old magic.  Loux went 5 innings and allowed 3 hits, one walk, and struck out 6.  He wasn't as efficient as he could have been and reached his pitch count early, but we won't quibble here.
  • The Iowa bullpen shut down Nashville the rest of the way with 4 scoreless innings, one each by Casey Coleman (fresh off the DL), Zach Putnam, Rafael Dolis, and Blake Parker.  Each pitcher did not walk a batter and struck out one with the exception of Putnam, who walked one and sturck out two.
  • Two hit day for Logan Watkins as he raised his batting average to .224.  He did strikeout twice and now has 16 in 60 PAs (27%).  It's not awful, but it is unusually high for Watkins, who often makes good contact.
  • Brian Bogusevic doubled, walked twice and scored a run.  He's hitting .372/.471/.442 to start the season.

Tennessee 8 - Huntsville 1

  • Matt Loosen made his AA debut after spending some time in extended spring training.  Loosen pitches in the low 90s, but unlike many of the Cubs prospects, doesn't peak there.  He can reach the mid 90s.  He also has 4 pitches, including a plus curve and a solid slider.  Today he had things working pretty well, going 4 innings before reaching his 75 pitch limit.  He did not allow a run, walked 2 and struck out 8.
  • AJ Morris picked up the win when Loosen couldn't complete the necessary 5 innings.  He allowed one run, walking 2 and striking out 2.  Brian Schlitter completed the day with 2 scoreless innngs.
  • Matt Szczur led off the game with a triple and later singled.  He also scored 2 runs.  He's hittting .283/.348/.373 to start the season.
  • Rony Torreyes has cooled off a bit since his hot start but still got on twice, though one of it was the painful way with an HBP.  He also singled and scored both times he was on base.
  • Arismendy Alcantara has really impressed with his new approach this season.  He walked for the 8th time this season and singled twice. He also had an impressive AB where he worked the count full and went 8 pitches before driving in a run with a sac fly.  He's hitting .288 with a .368 OBP in the early going.  His walk rate is at 12% after hovering just over 5% last year -- and even that took a late season improvement in his plate discipline.
  • 3B Christian Villanueva hit a clutch 2 out double in the first inning to open up the game early and give the Smokies the big lead they would never relinquish.  Unfortunately, he's been inconsistent overall, hovering just over the Mendoza line.

Tampa 8 - Daytona 3

  • It's been an up and down start for Zach Cates and this one qualifies as down.  He entered the game with a 1.86 ERA but hasn't been as dominant as that sounds.  Today it caught up to him.  He lasted just 2/3 of an inning, walking 3 and allowing 6 runs.  Daytona pitchers walked 12 batters in all.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka came in and shut the door.  He was tough to hit but was erratic with his control as well, walking 3 batters in 2.1 scoreless, hitless innings.
  • LHP Frank Del Valle had an "intersting" outing.  He allowed 3 hits and walked 5 in just 2.1 innings, yet allowed just one run.
  • Not much to talk about on offense except for Jorge Soler, who continued his combo of extra base power and discipline with a double and a walk.  He also scored a run.
  • Dustin Geiger extended his streak to 12 games with a single.  He also scored a run and drove in another.
  • On the downside,  Stephen Bruno had his hit streak snapped at 12.

The Kane County Cougars game was postponed again but you can at least listen to Pierce Johnson.  Cubs Den reader Connor interviewed him and you can listen to it below.


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    There's that performance I was looking for from Hunter Cervenka. Walks are never good, but still a really nice day for him. Good to see the bats continuing to work at Tennessee too. Not happy that Baez went 0-4, but at least only one was a strike out. Is Watkins doing something different this season, or just in a slump to start? Like you said, he has traditionally made great contact and had a good average, but there isn't as much of that so far this season

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    I still worry about walks with Cervenka, since that's what made Boston give up on him in the first place. The stuff is definitely there.

    Not sure on Watkins. I'm going to just chalk it up to an early season slump for now.

  • Loux has had only one bad outing thus far. In his last two starts, 10 IP, 9 H, 1 R (earned), 3 BB, 11 K. 82 pitches in the first outing, 73 in the second with a combined 12 ground outs to just 4 flyball outs. Interested to see how his next start goes.

    Loosen is an increasingly intriguing player. I wasn't aware he was hitting the mid-90s at points. Nice to see him get off to a good start in AA.

    I'm not too worried about Villanueva's slow start or too excited about anyone's hot start. Once mid-May rolls around, we should have a much clearer picture about how people are fairing. Hitters in their first go around at a certain level often go through an adjustment period anyway.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    As far as fast and slow starts, I don't worry about it either so much as I note what they're currently doing. What's important to me is trends, which is why I closely watch/listen to games and ask questions rather than just check box scores. When I see someone like Alcantara being more selective at the plate, that's an encouraging trend whether he's putting up god numbers or not. If I see someone suddenly not making a lot of contact, I'm not worried, but I think it's something worth monitoring.

    Of course, I'm always aware of small sample sizes when it comes to statistics and I'm assuming everyone is aware of the same thing when they read these recaps.

    As for Loux, wasn't really impressed with that second start despite the good numbers. His command was spotty, he was working up counts, and didn't really miss a lot of bats -- much more called strikes than swinging strikes...and frankly, I think he was more lucky than good. He was better this start but still not as sharp as he can be.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Completely agree, John. I think trends are important and totally worth monitoring. I obsess over the performances of every prospect in every game. My post wasn't intended as a critique of the recap, sorry if it came off that way. It was more just my own musings on the happenings of the day.

  • I love this site. I always followed the cubs minor leagues but only had stats to rely on. This site gives you soooo much more. Its great.
    Houston will pick Gray and we'll get Appel. Appel will be a solid ML'er but I think Gray will be better in the long run.

  • In reply to rockyje:

    Thanks rockyje!

    As for Appel and Gray, I'm really excited that this debate even exists. When Manaea started slowly, I was really afraid it would leave the Cubs in a tough spot if Houston took Appel. Now it's a nice prize either way -- and I still think Manaea may finish strong and re-enter the picture.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly how I feel. This draft is falling great for having the #2 pick so far. The Cubs need/deserve all the luck they can get...

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