Cubs Minors Recap: Garza inches closer to Chicago

Cubs Minors Recap: Garza inches closer to Chicago

It wasn't quite as sharp as his first outing but Matt Garza inched his way closer to Chicago.  It was said before the game that Garza will have at least one more rehab start before being activated from the DL and resuming his spot in the Cubs rotation.

Meanwhile over in Daytona, the D-Cubs had a doubleheader scheduled after yesterday's postponement.  They postponed one of the games and canceled the other.

Iowa 2 - Reno 1

  •  RHP Guillermo Moscoso is making a good case to move up the Cubs depth chart either in the rotation or in the bullpen.  The 29 year old veteran pitched 7 strong innings, walking one and striking out 7, allowing just one run.  In 3 starts he has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings.  He has walked 5 and struck out 16.
  • Zach Putnam earned the hold with a scoreless inning and Blake Parker earned the save with a scoreless 9th.  He struck out one and lowered his ERA to 2.03.  Putnam, meanwhile, has lowered his ERA to 3.77 after a horrendous start to the season.
  • The offense was provided by three  struggling players who've each had a cup of coffee with the Cubs.  Josh Vitters (.222) hit a double and then came around to score on Dave Sappelt's 2 run shot.  That gave Iowa the only 2 runs they needed.  But Brett Jackson added a 2 run single to add a little insurance.  Jackson also doubled earlier in the game.  He went 2 for 5 and struck out once.

Tennessee 5 - Birmingham 4

  • Matt Garza didn't get a lot of help from his defense or an inconsistent home plate umpire, but Garza battled his way through 3.1 innings and 66 pitches, inching closer to a return to Wrigley.  He'll get at least one more start before a decision is made.  Garza was sitting in the low 90s in this game.
  • Matt Loosen piggybacked the start and went 4 innings but once again had control issues, walking 4 batters and throwing 2 wild pitches.  Still, he managed to limit the damage with his ability to miss bats, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 6 batters.  He allowed 3 runs in all and it was enough for the Smokies to hang on for the victory
  • Marcus Hatley survived an adventurous 9th in which he allowed a run and then loaded the bases with just one out and a one run lead.  He got the next two batters to pop out and strikeout and the Smokies escaped with a win.  Hatley was credited with his first save.
  • Matt Szczur singled twice, stole two bases, and scored 2 runs as he continues to make things happen from the leadoff spot.
  • Ronald Torreyes flexed a little muscle and yanked a drive down the left field line that nearly  left the ballpark but fell in play for a double.  Torreyes is no stranger to HRs, he hit 6 last year, but he has yet to hit one in AA.  He also drew a walk and is hitting .289/.415/.368 on the year.
  • Organizational veteran Ty Wright has done an excellent job filling in the cleanup spot for the injured Justin Bour.  He had a single, double, and a walk today.
  • 3B Christian Villanueva is beginning to heat up.  He went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and an RBI.  He's hitting .333 in his last 8 games and his average has crept up to .235 but there's obviously still a ways to go for him.

Kane County 7 - Clinton 4

  • Sometimes you get a little bit lucky but LHP Michael Heesch  made some of his own luch by throwing strikes.  It helped him survive 12 hits in 6 innings and limit the damage to 4 runs and earn the victory.  Heesch walked just one batter and did not strike anyone out.
  • LHP Brian Smith came in to pitch 3 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 2 to earn his first save.  I've seen Smith anywhere from 88-92 this year with a big breaking curve.  When he commands the two pitches he can be pretty effective.  He has a 2.60 ERA on the year and has walked 8 and struck out 20 in 17.1 innings.
  • Gioskar Amaya had just one hit but it was a big 2 run single that broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Cougars the lead for good.
  • Dan Vogelbach doubled, walked and scored a run.
  • The big star of the game was Willson Contreras who went 3 for 5 with a single, double, and a HR that tied the game at 4.  He drove in 2 runs, scored 2 and the athletic catcher stole home as part of a double steal -- his 3rd steal of the year.
  • Need to give Oliver Zapata a mention because he always finds ways to contribute.  Today he did it with 2 walks,  2 runs scored, and was the other half of the double steal in which Contreras stole home.  It was Zapata's 6th steal of the year.


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  • Contreras is really starting to intrigue me John. Nice eye picking him out last year. I haven't seen him play yet, but it seems like he has all the tools. What's his receiving skills like? Can he stick behind the plate all the way up? If so, we will have a very valuable commodity on our hands if he continues to develop all the way up.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    His receiving skills are his least advanced skill right now but the athleticism/quickness is evident back there.

    He has the ability to stay back there but he has to cut down on the mistakes. In some ways it reminds me a bit of Welly when he first started out. As we know with Castillo it can be a long, tough road to being a consistently good receiver. But Contreras works hard so I think he'll get there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The fundamentals of receiving are easily taught/learned. When he puts it all together mentally, he'll understand the importance of those little subtleties.

    How does he rate/compare to Beef or Yadier Molina (IMO, he sets the bar) for all of those traits? Athleticism/quickness (especially footwork), Throwing arm? Toughness/Demeanor? Obviously, all three hit exceptionally well for a backstop.

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    Great news about Garza, and so glad to read that Villanueva may have turned the corner. It would be nice to see Brett Jackson go on a tear.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm a little concerned by the velocity, but so long as he feels fine today it's all good.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    A little, but he's still building strength. He was in the 92 mph range, which was what he was at the end of his last outing and he's also recovering from the "dead arm" stage that most pitchers have gone through in spring training.

    Still, like you, I'd like to see him in his usual 94-95 range -- he's close, but not quite there yet.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Not only the arm strength, but I wonder if he's holding back a little. There could be a confidence issue. Maybe he doesn't quite trust his body just yet. I need not tell you that for an athlete, having your body let you down is the worst thing, and sometimes, even after you're physically healed, it takes a while to trust your body again.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Both Villanueva and BJax seem to be making better, more hard contact lately so hopefully they're on the cusp of a hot streak.

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    Joel Hanrahan out for the season. Wonder if Boston would be interested in a Kevin Gregg upgrade.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    It never hurts to ask. I've wondered if they'd be in on Garza, just to keep someone else in their division from getting him.

  • Let's all welcome Dillon Maples to the Kane County Cougars!!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    About time. Now lets keep him healthy and get him up to speed. We need pitchers with Maples ability.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Wow. That's actually a pretty impressive placement given how little professional experience he's had.

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