Cubs Minors Recap: Sweeney, Lillibridge with big days at the plate, Beeler sharp again on the mound

Cubs Minors Recap: Sweeney, Lillibridge with big days at the plate, Beeler sharp again on the mound
Dallas Beeler

Thanks for all the birthday wishes.  The Cubs won, the Bears drafted an offensive lineman, so it seems good to me.  But don't ask me too much about football.  I got mixed reviews on the pick from the twitterverse.

But on to the minor league recap...

Iowa 9 - Omaha 3

 

  • Barrett Loux struggled a bit again and couldn't get out of the 5th inning.  He wasn't able to get the win despite being spotted a 6 run lead in the 1st inning.  In all he went 4.2 innings, allowed 8 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs.
  • The bullpen saved the day, led by Esmalin Caridad, who pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to get the win.  Rafael Dolis earned his first save with 1.1 scoreless innings despite walking two batters.  He also struck out two.
  • Logan Watkins walked 4 times but struck out twice.  He also scored a run.
  • The I-Cubs got a big 4 hit day from Brent Lillibridge, who drove in 2 runs.
  • Ian Stewart singled and scored a run in 3 ABs.  Stewart is now 3 for 27 in his rehab for a .111 average.
  • OF Ryan Sweeney was the big offensive star again today, getting 4 hits, including a 3-run HR, and falling a double shy of the cyle.  Sweeney also walked, scored 2 runs, and drove in 4.  He's hitting .404 with 4 HRs in his first 15 games as an Iowa Cub.
  • Bryan Bogusevic singled, walked twice, and stole his 4th base of the season.  Bogusevic is hitting .371 early on.

Tennessee 2 - Pensacola 1

  • Dallas Beeler is starting to rebound from a dreadful season.  He won his second game to move to 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA.  Beeler pitched 7 scoreless innings and pounded the lower part of the strike zone, allowing just one walk and getting 15 groundball outs.  He only struck out 2, but he's not an overpowering guy, so that's not his game.  He has 7 walks and 17 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.
  • An unusual outing for Zach Rosscup in that he gave up a run, walked a batter, and didn't strikeout anyone.  Still, he held the lead and turned the ball over to Brian Schlitter, who earned the save with a scoreless 9th.
  • 2B Rony Torreyes bounced back from a mini-slump by getting on base three time with a triple, double, single, and a walk.  He scored one of the Smokies two runs.
  • Jae-Hoon Ha singled in one run and C Rafael Lopez drove in the other with a double.

Daytona 5 - Lakeland 3

  • Zach Cates has had an up and down season and today was one of his better outings.  Cates pitched 5 scoreless innings, walked one and struck out 4.  He's 2-2 on the year with a 4.32 ERA with 8 walks and 16 strikeouts in 16.2 innings.
  • Austin Reed was identified as a sleeper by Cubs brass but hasn't pitched well so far.  He gave up all 3 runs today to raise his season ERA to 13.50.  He just hasn't missed as many bats as his stuff would lead you to expect he could.  He has struck out 6 batters in 8 innings but has given up 9 walks, 18 hits and 12 runs.  I'm starting to wonder if there is something wrong with Reed as sometimes happens after a pitcher sees an increase in velocity the way Reed did late last year and this offseason.
  • David Cales pitched 2 scoreless, hitless innings with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts for his 1st save of the season.  The stock RHP from Chicago, IL has struck out 7 batters in his first 4 innings since being called in from AZ.
  • 2B Tim Saunders hit a 2 run triple for his only hit of the game.
  • Javier Baez hit a solo HR, singled and struck out twice.  It was his 4th HR of the year to go with a .238 average.
  • Jorge Soler singled to go 1 for 4.
  • The Cubs got some production from the bottom of the order.  Chad Noble walked, hit a single and a solo HR while DH Anthony Giansanti went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.

Fort Wayne 6 - Kane County 4

 

  • Lendy Castillo's conversion to a starter is off to a slow start.  He took the loss after allowing all 6 Fort Wayne runs (5 earned), in his six innings of work.  Castillo didn't walk a batter and struck out 3.  His ERA is 6.60 so far this season.  Justin Amlung and Steve Perakslis pitched in with a scoreless inning apiece.
  •   Wilson Contreras singled home Jeimer Candelario for the game's first run in the second.  After walks by Marco Hernandez and Rock Shoulders, the Cougars tried to mount an 8th innings rally with the bottom of their order.  Bijan Rademacher singled in Shoulders and then Oliver Zapata doubled in Hernandez and Rademacher to bring the Cougars within 2.  Unfortunately the rally ended there.

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  • Happy belated birthday Boss. Hungover? I'm gonna go ahead and say you're hungover.

    Anyway, I don't dally much in prospects. I have my handful I try and keep an eye on. Zach Rosscup and and Trey McNutt are two I'm interested in, as Power arms in the bullpen are a good thing. Any chance those two make enough waves to be considered jump worthy?

  • In reply to felzz:

    Actually not hungover. It was some good scotch, so I limited myself to two. Sounds strange but if I get drunk, then what's the point of wasting the good #$%#?

    Rosscup looks really interesting but McNutt has lost leads now in two 9ths, so closing hasn't gone any better for him as it has for the big league team. Zych has struggled lately as well. Our best option right now may be Dolis.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My biggest concern about these hard throwers like Dolis, McNutt and Zych is that they don't seem to miss too many bats for the kind of stuff that they have... Not that it automatically means that they won't be any good, but you want your late inning relievers to be able to get the K when needed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Avoiding getting drunk on the good stuff isn't strange sounding to me at all.

    I love me a good KY Burbon,... have a bottle of 4-Roses (my favorite) on hand in the back of the bar most of the time. If i'm just drinking for the sake of drinking - I grab the Ezra Brooks.

    Happy belated Birthday John.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks!

    I like bourbon too, just more of a scotch guy. 4 Roses is good stuff. Recently had a KY bourbon called Old Pogue, which I really liked. Have you tried it?

  • As much as I like it that Baez is starting to heat up, getting concerned on his K rate.

    If there are concerns about BJax, when do we get concerned about Baez?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    A high K rate is more acceptable for guys like Baez vs. B-Jax because he should hit for a higher average and more power. Not that he doesn't need to cut those down, mind you... It all comes back to his approach of "see the ball - hit the ball". He needs to get more selective and learn to foul off the borderline pitches vs trying to hit the cover off of everything.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I'm a little concerned, but Baez historically has made better contact than he has so far.. Jackson's issues plagued him since college. So I'm thinking if this keeps up over the next couple of months, there's more reason for concern -- but I don't like it right now either.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Baez needs to cut it; his K-rate at A+ is not acceptable, in that it will play even worse as he goes up the organization. He won't make it if he can't reduce the Ks.

    Exhibit A on that is Brett Jackson; he is dangerously close to being a washout prospect. He changed his approach, but so far the only thing that has changed is that he isn't walking as much or hitting for power.

    The roads are paved with prospects who failed due to excessive Ks; I was a pessimist on B-Jax entering this year, and I think he's likely a washout. We need to move on for CF help.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I'm not saying he doesn't need to cut down the Ks. I'm just saying I'm not worried it's a true issue...yet. Let's see how the season evolves and how Baez adjusts first before we label him as a strikeout guy.

  • Happy belated birthday, John. Better late than never, no? Valbuena's surprisingly strong offensive profile is your present:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4969&position=2B/3B

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Thanks. I'll take that wOBA and RC+ from a guy who is playing good defense. Only thing down is his batting average -- but that OBP is pretty respectable, so I'll live with that.

  • A couple things are of concern with Alcantara early in the season. First, his right/left splits are pretty much night and day. Don't know if this is his history, but it might be the difference between getting a chance at the MLB level as an everyday player or being a platoon guy.
    Second, he needs to improve his ability to sacrifice bunt. He appears to be quite awful when it comes to this (unlike Torreyes, who seems to be able to do it effortlessly). I'm guessing that there will be quite a few calls for Alcantara to bunt in game situations during the next few weeks, as there have been at least 2 attempts so far this week.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    I think with Alcantara it's simply that he's had limited reps from the right side since there are much fewer lefties and he has missed large chunks of the previous two season. He just needs to catch up in that regard. He has a nice stroke from either side.

    As for bunting, I'm not a fan at all of that strategy, so for me that's a small concern ;) In all seriousness, I think this is a learned skill. Contact hitters like Torreyes are naturally good at it, but it's a skill you can teach -- even at the upper levels.

  • I wonder how long you can keep Sweeney down in AAA. He seems to be tearing up that league

  • In reply to Paris:

    Need to make room for him. There's no other way to get him proper playing time. He's not go to replace Schierholtz or Dejesus -- and the Cubs aren't going to bench Soriano either.

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    In reply to Paris:

    Correct me if i'm wrong but I believe he's one of many players who have opt-out clauses in their minor-league deals if not brought up by June 1st, I think. Can anyone confirm?

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think you are right, but I am not 100% sure. But the new CBA has additional rules that allow ML veterans in the minors to request and receive release if not on a roster by June 1.

    If you look at Sweeney's ML record, he isn't anything special, but he is a professional hitter with an advanced approach. This shows against AAA pitching

    There are contending teams that could use him as a 4th OF/PH type

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yes, he does.

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    Way to stay dedicated, John. Usually the day after my birthday it's the last 10-12 hours of my life that need recapping.....along with how I wound up on my friend's couch by morning.....in another state.... :)

    Not minor-league baseball so kudos for banging this out and hope you and your family had a great day/night. Hope you saved the good stuff for when we win the pennant.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Haha. Thanks. We had a small gathering since it was a weekday. i think Saturday and this weekend in general may be different ;)

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Hollywood made a movie about you.

  • Happy birthday, John, hope you had a good time.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It was a nice time thanks. Watched the NFL draft and a little baseball with some friends. And had a scotch or two, of course :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sounds like you did have a good time, good to know... I can say I did them, I was at the game last night.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Nice! Going to any more games this series?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, I'll be working during every game the rest of the series, I did travel to Chicago and went to the Texas-Cubs series and watched personally the amazing arm motion Villanueva has been showing, everything looks the same coming out of his hand, was also there to admire that 475 ft blast by Rizzo.

    Last night, I didn't eve think Valbuena's blast was gonna go, it's just not easy to hit it out there, Barney hit a 410 ft fly out yesterday... But he put on a defensive clinic at 2B... Who said he can't be flashy like Brandon Phillips? lol

  • By the way, John, Gordon Wittenmyer is reporting that the Cubs are likely to draft Appel or Gray, not sure if you wrote about this particular piece already, but thought it might interest you... It's on mlbtraderumors.

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    In reply to Caps:

    Music to my ears. I think there's no way Appel makes it past the Cubs but i'm still iffy on whether they'd take Gray if he went to Houston.

    IMO it's Appel or position player but Gray is making that very interesting.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It's going to be very interesting to see how Houston plays this. If Roger Clemens is really helping make the choice, you can easily see Gray being the guy.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I hope Gray falls to them.

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    In reply to JOCK231:

    I'd much rather have Appel. Track record. Three pitches. And plus plus makeup.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good point about Clemens, the fact that they sent him out there probably means they're looking seriously at Appel/Gray... But keep in mind, Mark Appel is a Houston native which could play out in the decision... It's gonna be real interesting.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think the top position player has to be Kris Bryant, but I'm liking Appel and Gray... They are matching each other pitch for pitch... It's gonna be interesting to see whether the Astros go a similar route they did last year and draft someone not as highly touted so they can overslot later or go for the sure top talent in a rather weak draft class.

  • In reply to Caps:

    If Wittenmyer is saying it, then it's gota be true. The guy is like Nostradamus.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Yes. And actually Tom spoke to someone personally on this, so I have posted a long article on the two pitchers -- with a poll.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh I see the new article up, thank you.

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    Just when it looks like Roni is getting lost in the shuffle he puts up a night like that. I get that his tools grade out below the rest of the guys pushing for the second base job, but his 1 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio as a 20 year old in AA is just unbelievable.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I wonder why he doesn't get more prospect love; John, can you comment?

    I understand he is a plus defensive 2B. He's young for AA (youngest on the club), and clearly can make advanced contact; his entire minor league record shows that.

    Probably the scouts concern is that he is very small; can he hit for enough power to start at 2B? And if not, is he really a SS? As a utility guy, you either need some pop, or ability to play SS or CF.

    We'll see.......one problem the Cubs have at AA is that they probably would like to try Alcantara at 2B, but Roni needs playing time too.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I wouldn't call him a plus defender. Closer to solid average at 2B.

    Size is a big concern because the question is whether he can hit for enough power as he moves up. The biggest fear is that he becomes a .300 hitting singles hitter with average speed and defense. That pretty much makes him a utility guy.

    If he hits for extra bases consistently though, there's no reason he can't be a starter in the big leagues.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    One tool that isn't below is that hit tool. He is a gifted hitter. The rest of his tools are playable, so if he continues to hit, he's got a good shot.

  • Look like Baez is coming around. I look for Baez to be at wrigley in 2015 possibly late 2014.

  • Here's a 'just sayin' type of observation; player A has a career minor league line of .324/.384/.464 and player B was at .307/.392/.452. Both with the same number of PAs, but player A is over a year younger than player B. Any guesses who these guys are?

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    In reply to Paulson:

    Well, player A is Torreyes. Not sure who B is, it's not Alcantara, which was my first guess...maybe someone from another org.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    You're on the right track Zonk. Player A is Roni, player B... Dustin Pedroia. Not only do they play the same position, the similarity of their stats is amazing. I've seen some folks try to distinguish Torreyes to Altuve but I think Pedroia is the better comp... both have great contact skills, similar power stats, and though Pedroia had a few more home runs, Torreyes is only 20 and bound to gain another 15-20 lbs. For all the attention Alcantara and Watkins get, I think Torreyes is a perfect candidate to be starting @ second in 2015 if he continues to have this level of success.

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    In reply to Paulson:

    As one of Roni's biggest supporters on the boards, I'll say this in regards to Alcantara. Alcantara can beat you in several different ways. He has decent home run power. A walk is a double. And he's having good at-bats pretty consistently. I disagree that Torreyes will ever show significant home run power -- the guy is maybe 5'6". What he has is a hit tool that appears to be plus plus. It might be that his uncanny ability to barrel up the ball gives more from the 2 hole than everything Alcantara does right, but Torreyes is the definition of a one trick pony. (One hell of a trick, though.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'd have to disagree-- Roni might small but it's not like he's a Tony Campana lightweight. He currently has 14 homers in the minors which is more than Barney, Pedroia totaled 21 and was older when he did it. His average slugging% of .464 isn't too shabby, and if Torreyes is OPSing .800 with a K rate under 6% he'd be an ideal lead-off hitter. From all accounts his defense is adequate and he averages 17 SB per season, so I don't exactly understand how that makes him a one trick pony

  • John, back in February you wrote that Lake seemed to be on the edge of having a breakout year. I haven't seen his name a lot in the recaps. How's he doing, and what scotch were you drinking last night?

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    In reply to SFToby:

    Lake is hurt, and out until mid-May. He was hurt in ST. He'll be at AAA when healthy

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thanks Zonk. I'd forgotten about the injury.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Injured his trapezius in spring training. Should be back in May.

    And I was drinking 16 year old Aberlour, double cask matured.

    And it was glorious.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I believe it was referred to as his trapeze muscle, and good for you!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Sveum called it the trapeze muscle and Muskat "corrected" him with trapezoid.

  • In a couple years AAA is going to be awash with all these second base prospects. I'd say Watkins' time is now or never. If he's not ready, something has to give. I'd be very surprised if the Cubs don't do some trading to loosen up the jam and get back pitching or some other position of need.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I think Watkins is most likely a utility guy but won't rule him out starting yet. He's gotten off to slow starts before. At any rate, I don't think any of those 2Bs would bring much in return except for maybe Alcantara -- and that's only if teams think he can play SS.

  • I see that Vogelbach had a couple steals yesterday.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    He stole one when I was at the game -- standing up. He had a crazy jump.

    No one expects the Vogelbach steal attempt.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You were at yesterday's game in Fort Wayne?

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