Cubs Minors Recap: The debut of the VSL Cubs

The Cubs eliminated one of their Dominican Summer League teams and picked up a team for the Venezuelan Summer League.  Today was the debut and it was...well, eventful.  They played the VSL Rays and lost 22-11.  We'll be linking VSL and DSL box scores but not summarizing them, though we will write about certain players from time to time.

Iowa 6 - Reno 4

  • Nick Struck is having a rough time of it this year in AAA and it looked like it was going to be another poor start, but Struck battled and kept the I-Cubs in the game after allowing 3 runs and putting them in an early deficit.  He worked 6 innings and allowed 4 runs in all, walking one and striking out 4.  He did allow 11 hits.
  • Veteran Esmalin Cardidad pitched 2 scoreless innings to hold the lead while Zach Putnam pitched a perfect 9th to record his 2nd save.  Putnam has a 0.75 ERA in his last 10 games, striking out 14 in 12 innings.  He has lowered his overall ERA to 3.52.
  • Brett Jackson went 0-4 with a walk and that may not mean a whole lot, but he did not strikeout.  In fact, he has only struck out twice in his last 22 PAs, covering 5 games in which he has hit .333.  He has lowered his strikeout rate to 27%.  Whether this this is just a good run or a genuine long term change remains to be seen.
  • The big inning for the I-Cubs was the 6th, the frame in which they scored all six of their runs.  The big hits were an RBI single by Josh Vitters, a 2-run single by Brad Nelson, and then a big 3-run HR by Donnie Murphy.

Tennessee 6 - Jackson 4

  • Dallas Beeler was using his 89-92 mph two seamer extremely well, generating an incredible 15 ground balls in just 6 innings of work.  He also kept the ball in the strike zone, walking 2 while striking out 3.  He allowed just 3 runs (2 earned).  It was a quality start but he didnt get the run support he needed from the Smokies.  Beeler has a 3.14 ERA on the year.
  • Tony Zych and Trey McNutt came into keep the game close.  Unfortunately Zych allowed a run on 2 hits and 2 walks.  McNutt walked 2 hitters but managed to work out of trouble for a scoreless inning -- and that was  a good thing because it set the stage for the Smokies comeback. He got credited with the win.
  • Kevin Rhoderick pitched a scoreless 9th for the save.
  • Matt Szczur singled and doubled in the go-ahead run as the Smokies rallied from a 4-2 deficit to score 4 runs in the top of the 9th.  He also stole his 13th base.
  • C Rafael Lopez has become a solid contributor for the Smokies.  He doubled and hit a key HR in the 9th to bring the Smokies within one.  It was Lopez's 3rd HR of the year to go with a .259 average.
  • CF Rubi Silva's power surge continues and today was one of his biggest HRs yet.  He homered to tie the game.  It was his 7th of the year.  He's hitting .276 on the year.  Silva's sudden display of power is probably putting him back on the Cubs radar as a guy who can play all 3 OF positions, run well, and show some pop at the late.  Silva's biggest weakness is a very aggressive approach that has led to 2 walks and an OBP below .300.
  • The versatile Anthony Giansanti had 2 hits and is now hitting .444 since his recent promotion to AA.

Charlotte 3 - Daytona 0

  • You have to give Zach Cates credit for throwing strikes but you also have to credit the Stone Crabs for hitting them.  They cranked out 11 hits -- but 9 of them were singles and combined with one walk, Cates was able to limit the damage to just 3 runs.  Unfortunately that was more than enough to tag him with his 4th loss.
  • LHP Frank Del Valle and RHPs Luis Liria and David Cates all pitched a scoreless inning.  Del Valle has been particularly impressive this year. When it comes to missing bats, he's the Daytona version of Zach Rosscup. He has a 1.93 ERA with 24 strikeouts in just 14 innings.
  • Not much offense for the D-Cubs.  Zeke DeVoss and Ben Carhart each had a pair of singles.  Chadd Krist had the other hit and drew a walk.
  • While he did not get a hit, Jorge Soler showed he can contribute in other ways.  He walked, stole his 3rd base and threw out another runner at 3B from RF.

Clinton 4 - Kane County 0

  • RHP Pierce Johnson had his second straight tough outing, but once again the peripherals were good.  Johnson threw 6 innings and allowed 4 runs but walked one and struck out 6.  He has a 3.89 ERA on the season with 11 walks and 36 strikeouts in 34.1 innings.
  • LHP Jeffry Antigua pitched 2 perfect innings, striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced.
  • Not much offense for the Cougars today.  Both Gioskar Amaya and Dan Vogelbach each had a pair of singles while Jeimer Candelario doubled for their only extra base hit of the day.

VSL Rays 22 - VSL Cubs 11



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  • fb_avatar

    Man, if the Cubs keep this run going and then can add Brett Jackson to the mix around the trade deadline? Hot damn.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good to see him start to pick things up a bit. I hope it's for real and not small sample size noise.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, lots of presumption there: that this run is for real and that Brett Jackson's turnaround is real. If both are, though...

  • You got the write up correct, but the scores are off.

    I think both Iowa's and Tenn's should be 6-4

    Crazy game in VSL League. I haven't really followed it in the past, is that normal? I mean not 22-11, but high scoring games.

  • In reply to Zakh:

    Thanks. I usually don't write it all at once and when the game isn't finished, I put the current score as a place holder to format the piece. It looks like today I forgot to go back and update the final score.

    As for the VSL, no, they're not all like that! Would be fun (except for the pitchers). It is, however, such a lower level of competition that stats are practically meaningless, so I won't keep tabs every single day but I'll note how some prospects are doing from time to time.

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    Pierce Johnson is making a case for our #1 pitching prospect if he isn't already.

    Nice to see Bjax and Vitters playing well. They are the middle men between our core players and the big 3 and company. If those two and Vizcaino can give us something this year that could really bridge the gap to the A-ball guys.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    'Pierce Johnson is making a case for our #1 pitching prospect if he isn't already.'
    Marcel, you have too much time on your hands and your daydreaming and speculating has gotten out of control. LMAO

  • In reply to shalin:

    Actually, he very likely is our #1 pitching prospect right now. Hard to find someone in the minors who isn't both healthy, has as good a stuff, and is pitching as well as Johnson is.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'd definitely call him the Cubs top pitching prospect already. Well, for now, anyway. That may change in June. Vizcaino may be pitching and the Cubs will probably have a new pitching prospect or two.

  • I like seeing Brett Jackson turning it around, I hope it lasts. I was beginning to see him as Josh Vitters 2.0 , a AAAA player, too good for the minors but not good enough to stick around in the majors

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    Chisenhall just joined Vitters in the minors.

  • Both guys are puzzling. They should hit better than they do. Chisenhall has at least hit some in the majors.

  • I think B Jackson's early struggles this year had something to do with minor injuries. He had a sore shoulder and turf toe. Maybe he is healthy now. Hopefully he can remain healthy and contribute.

  • In reply to John57:

    Could well be. And we've talked about here also that there will be an adjustment period where there will be some ups and downs. That's the nature of changing something in your mechaics.

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    Lets just hope he stays healthy and the K's continue to drop over the next 2 months, then you'll see him @ Wrigley for sure

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Hope so too. Would like to see him get another shot by mid-season if keeps this up.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Hopefully Rizzo's new contract will motivate him.

  • Here's 22 year old, Pierce Johnson's record in the low class A Midwest league, more hits than innings pitched and a 3.89 ERA, not exactly dominating, but it is a long season, so let's hope for the best for him as well as many of our top prospects who have not dominated like we hoped for.
    2013 22 Kane County MIDW A CHC 1 3 .250 3.89 7 7 0 0 0 0 34.2 36 18 15 1 11 0 36 3 1 1 152 1.356 9.3 0.3 2.9 9.3 3.27

  • In reply to shalin:

    Stats at low level A ball don't tell you much. A polished 22 year old with command and below average stuff would dominate A ball. So those kind of numbers don't tell you much about a pitcher's long term potential. There are so many factors involved in low A ball stats that we can't take them all that seriously. They are significantly less than 50% of the equation when evaluating low A ball pitchers.

    I think you have to see Johnson pitch to appreciate him. There's only so much you can glean off of stat pages, especially at this low level. It's certainly not the way you should evaluate a pitcher at that stage.

  • The VSL/DSL makes my brain hurt! Its tough enough to follow the American teams. "HEY JOHN! you think Harrinson Bermudez has top of the rotation stuff?" LOL!

    Good stuff on Pierce. Havent seen him pitch but seems a lot of his hits given up are ground ball base hits. He must not be giving up alot of hard contact. Is this the case?

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Yes, definitely. I saw him in the first game where he got "shelled". I think he gave up one or two hard hit balls the whole game. The infield defense has been inconsistent at Kane.

  • Actually mid-season would be pretty fast considering that Jackson has an all new swing. He did start in the off season but by the tradeing deadline would be timely.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    You're right, that may be ambitious. May not see him until trade deadline or so.

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