Cubs Minors Recap: Vogelbach HRs and Rock Shoulders walk-off walk wins game for Kane County

I went out to catch the Kane County game today (why is it in the 50s in June?) and saw Albert Almora for the first time in person in a game and I was impressed.  His approach seemed better to me than his walk rate would indicate.  I saw him chase just one bad pitch the entire game and he did work a 7 pitch walk for his first AB.  It reminded me of when I first saw Jorge Soler at the same level.  Soler wasn't really drawing walks, but he wasn't really chasing bad balls either.  When he did swing, he generally put the ball in play.  In a general way, the same is true of Almora.  I don't think Almora will have a problem getting on base and drawing walks as he moves up but right now, there isn't much MWL pitchers can throw that he can't handle.  I didn't get a chance to see him field a tough chance in the OF but he gets a good break on anything hit around him and takes good lines to the baseball.  He's probably the best defensive CF in the entire Cubs organization right now -- majors included.

There was also a scary collision at the plate when Cedar Rapids player Niko Goodrum was sent home from 3rd for some reason even though it was clear he was going to be out by a mile.  Cougars catcher Willson Contreras was waiting with the ball when Goodrum was only about halfway down the line.  The 6'4", 200 lbs Goodrum decided to try and shake the ball loose but Contreras aggressively came out to meet him and tagged him on the chest, but according to reader Willie G. (who talked to Contreras after the game) he caught Goodrum in the neck/head area with his shoulder. Goodrum's helmet came flying off and he fell with a thud, apparently knocked out before he even hit the ground.  He had to be revived with smelling salts and was taken off the field in a stretcher and in an ambulance.  According to Willie, Contreras was okay but seemed shaken up about it.  He's a tough player who plays with an edge but he obviously didn't want to hurt him in that way.   The guess here was that it was a concussion and Goodrum did wave to the crowd as he was carried off the field.   It's unfortunate the aggressive play ended in an injury but it was not intentional.  I have to admit that, injury aside, I like his tough, hard-nosed style of play.  The Cubs could use that kind of player.

I'll have the rest of my thoughts in the Kane County portion of the recap, which I will do first today.  In fact, let's work from the bottom up today for a change.

Kane County 3 - Cedar Rapids 2

  • It seems like every time I go, LHP Michael Heesch is on the mound, so I'm getting to know him pretty well.  I've seen him at his best when his fastball ranged from 88-91 with arm side run, breaking some bats, and drawing some oohs from rival scouts along the way.  I've also seen him at 87-89, sometimes with a bit less movement on his FB.  This version was the one that was out there today but he doesn't hurt himself out there.  He works fast and throws strikes and keeps his defense in the game.  He doesn't give up a lot of hard contact and the defense plays well behind him.  His stuff is average, but the approach up there is excellent.  He makes the most of what he has.  Today that was good for 6 innings of 2 run baseball.  He walked 2 and struck out 4.  His ERA dropped to an even 4.00.
  • RHP Steve Perakslis is throwing the ball extremely well since some rough outings early in the year.  He was working off of a 91-93 mph fastball that touched 94.  He was aggressive, threw strikes, got ahead and finished them off with either the fastball or his breaking ball, which got some swings and misses today. He threw 3 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 3.  His ERA is down to 3.41 and has a 0.89 ERA in his last 10 games.
  • Eddie Orozco finished things off with a scoreless 10th and put himself in position to be the winning pitcher when the Cougars notched the winning run in the 10th.
  • Albert Almora went 3 for 4 with a walk and is hitting an obscene .475.  The first hit was his hardest hit of the game, a sharp grounder between 3B and SS.  The second hit was an infield single and the third was a dying quail double in which Almora showed good hustle, awareness, and solid speed.  Almora is definitely not a burner and he seems to run better under way. He was caught stealing earlier in the game when he had a terrible jump and was out by a good 10 feet.
  • Dan Vogelbach showed an all fields approach, twice going to LF including a hit that he hustled into a double.  In fact, Vogelbach really manufactured a run with his legs that inning.  After stretching the hit into a double, he tagged up and made it to 3rd on a flyball to medium CF -- I didn't think he had a shot to make it but he slid in easily.  Vogelbach then scored on a wild pitch.  The more traditional Vogelbach showed up in the 3rd inning when he absolutely ripped a line drive HR into RF that nailed the Leinenkugel sign with a resounding thud and shaking the sign as it connected.
  • I continue to be impressed with Jeimer Candelario's increased range and play-making ability at 3B.  I have little doubt he can stay there long term.  He made a nice play on a slow roller and another one on a sharp grounder to his left.  He wasn't too bad with the bat either, going 3 for 5 including a frozen rope single that nearly won the game in the 10th.  Candelario is hitting .259 on the year with a .344 OBP but I expect good things from him in the 2nd half.  It's just a matter of time with him because of his good approach and natural feel for hitting.
  • Marco Hernandez went 1 for 4 but he deserves a mention because he's playing with much better energy than I saw earlier in the year.  He ran out every grounder at full speed and made the defensive play of the game on a diving stop of  a sharp grounder up the middle.
  • Rock Shoulders has been struggling and had a tough day, but he came up big with the bases loaded in the 10th.  He drew a 4 pitch walk to send us all home happy -- and eager to get in our cars and turn the heat on.

Daytona 5 - Brevard County 0

  • Excellent outing for LHP Austin Kirk  as he pitched all 6 innings in a rain-shortened game, walking 3 and striking out 7.
  • Ben Carhart went 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored.  Carhart was a good college hitter at Stetson and has been doing well since being moved up to the 2nd spot.  He's hitting .279 after going 7 for his last 17.
  • Javier Baez stayed hot with a 2 more singles, an RBI, and a run scored.  He's hitting .281 with 9 HRs and his OBP is suddenly a not-so-hideous .322, especially considering he came into the game with a .519 slugging percentage (.243 ISO).
  • The team's two steadiest producers were in on the action as usual, Jorge Soler went 1 for 4 with 2 RBI and Dustin Geiger went 1 for 4 with a double and a run scored.

New Orleans 5 - Iowa 3

  • Chris Rusin had one of those outings that's better for the FIP than the ERA or won-loss record.  He pitched 7 innings and allowed 12 hits and 5 runs, but did not walk a batter and struck out 4.   He fell to 4-5 with a 3.82 ERA on the year.  His FIP coming into the game was 3.59.
  • Michael Bowden made his 2013 Iowa debut and it was a good one.  He went 1.2 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 3.
  • Logan Watkins seems to find a way to contribute everyday but he continues to tread water and hasn't broken out yet.  He went 1 for 4 with a walk and a sacrifice hit.  He's hitting just .229 but has a solid .349 OBP and a surprisingly solid ISO of .165.  If he can just get some better luck (his BABIP is down to .278 from .332 last year), he can still have a solid year at Iowa.
  • Dave Sappelt went 2 for 4 and scored a run and raised his average at Iowa to .276 with an OBP of .323.
  • Brent Lillibridge went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI.  He's been hitting .282 since his demotion.

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  • fb_avatar

    Do you have any more pictures from the cougars game?

  • In reply to Nathan Mausehund:

    Tons of pics. My wife takes them. It's not the fanciest camera, but not too bad either. I'll post some of them tomorrow or late tonight. Anybody in particular you want to see.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    mostly the almora pictures but I wouldnt mind seeing them all. Just send me a link to them whenever you post them.

  • In reply to Nathan Mausehund:

    You can check back tomorrow around noon. They should be up by then. You can also "subscribe" and you get an email whenever there is a new post.

  • Another good day on the farm... which is good, because we need them (sooner rather than later).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. Good to see.

  • Of Contreras you say. "The Cubs could use that kind of player." I couldn't agree more. If you were to ask me to name the things the Cubs need to do to stop being "the lovable losers," I could name 20 or 30 things right off the bat, but if I had to choose one it would be "The Cubs could use that kind of player." They lack swagger.

  • In reply to tommy:

    Contreras definitely has swagger and he's a tough kid. He doesn't take any gruff out there.

  • In reply to tommy:

    You'll love Baez then too. Baez is very cocky and is the kind of player that would see breaking the drought as challenge, not a burden

  • fb_avatar

    The thing about Candelario that amazes me is his age. He doesn't turn 20 until November. I'm really excited to watch him develop.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Always nice when the player is doing at a younger age. Can say the same about Baez, who just turned 20 and doesn't turn 21 until December at A+ and Alcantara who is 21 at AA. All guys are top 10 prospects.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Definitely true. Especially easy to overlook with Baez, since Almora -- an obvious comparison -- is so much more polished at a younger age. But, yeah, Baez is playing with guys older than him and more than holding his own.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Almora has faced such a higher level of competition entering pro ball. In some ways I'm impressed Baez is slugging away in the FSL -- a tough hitter's league-- considering how raw he is and how he didn't get to face the top shelf competition as consistently as Almora did.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I've read elsewhere that Candelario may not have a strong enough arm to play 3B. Do you have any insight on this?

  • In reply to unccubsfan:

    He has plenty of arm for 3B. Haven't heard from anyone that he doesn't have enough arm. In fact, I have it from a very good source that he'll be a 3B unless something changes physically (i.e. he fills out, gains weight, and loses range)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There was a discussion at the Cubs.com message board (not the classiest of MB's, but they do have a great minor league thread) where someone mentioned that Candelario probably couldn't hit 70mph on a radar gun on his throws to 1B. I don't know the credibility of the source, but I found it interesting because I've paid attention to Candelario since you've been high on him after his breakthrough in Boise last year. Nevertheless, I trust your analysis much more than other sources.

  • In reply to unccubsfan:

    He looked good when I saw him. Definitely a capable thrower - not to many times Vogelbach had to step out to save him...

  • I look forward to the day I change my moniker from Hustlelikereed (who I'd still rather have than either of Hairston or Sweeney) to Hustlelikewillson... I'm really pulling for this kid. Every team needs scrappers to complement their superstars.

    As an aside, does anyone think that the picture on the Cougars jumbotron of Vogelbach makes him look like a water-buffalo...? Crazy hair poking out from under his hat...

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I was at the Cougars' game in the Quad Cities last Wednesday. The video screen (the one that posts the players' photos and hitting stats as they come to bat) had Vogelbach's name as "Dan Vogelmonster" with a picture of the one-eyed green monster from "Monsters Inc." in place of his picture. I wondered if that was done with Vogelbach's cooperation. It seemed like a funny thing to do for a player on an opposing team.

  • In reply to JoePepitone:

    Haha! I've seen minor league parks have fun with opposing players before. Kane doesn't do it, but I know Tennessee did last year. I'm sure it's all good.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    He's got quite the mane underneath that cap.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    You'd like that whole Kane County team. They all play hard and hustle.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - I've already been 3 times to Batavia this season on my visit to Chicago for the opening homestand at Wrigley... back there for the homestand against the Snappers in late June.

    Hopefully it's a bit warmer than it was watching against Quad Cities in early April - and getting frostbite. Extra innings in the rain wasn't fun. Neither was watching the Astros number one prospect mash our pitching.

    The Cougars are a team of scrappers... I love the attitude of Vogelbach - as vocal a supporter of the team as Garza is for the Cubs.

  • Vogelbach also hit a deep fly to the opposite field yesterday that the LF made a real nice grab on. Seems like he can go oppo with his power which is a good sign it is coming around.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yes. He seems to be getting better at it. I saw him hit a HR that just cleared the LF-CF wall earlier this year.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Saw that with VBomb in Az last year. His bat definitely is impressive.

  • What concerns me about Watkins is the strikeouts... Even if his BABIP was .300, I think his BA would still be low due to the high strikeout rate... Hopefully this is just an adjustment period.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Yeah, that's been a development I didn't expect from him.

  • Love the updates on the farm! this is just so interesting to me, I have never seen so many legit young prospects in the Cubs system. Then to top it off the Cubs may be getting their "Josh Beckett" this Thursday!

    On a side note I went to school and was in the same graduating class as Brian Schlitter at Maine South Class of 04, I would have never guessed he would have made it so high in the Cubs system, That is pretty cool! Best of luck to him

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    He got a call up with the Cubs in 2010, only pitched 8 innings though.

  • How is Watkins' defense at 2b?

    Also, Read on mlb trade rumors that Texas should trade profar for some players that put them in the running for a title now. Would be cool if thecubs could trade garza and russell for a profar.

  • In reply to nickdib123:

    He's a good defender. He showed some nice range when I got the chance to see him in Iowa last week. He can be a plus defender. He's not Barney, but who is?

    I think if they trade Profar it has to be for a stud. Not sure Garza qualifies there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My bet is they will trade Kinsler first, or move him to 1b and trade Moreland. I highly doubt Texas wants to trade a talent like Profar.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    That makes more sense. I think they only trade Profar if they can get another young player like Stanton.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Given what Profar is doing and the injury issues that Stanton just can't seem to shake, I'm not sure the Rangers make that deal.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe not. Stanton doesn't seem as much of a no-brainer as he once did but that's definitely the type of player they would want. Already productive, high upside, and young with some cost control.

  • John, great writing in the kc descriptions. Feel like I was there.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Thanks wastrel!

  • Baez's slash line over his last 10 games:
    .333 / .383 / .643
    1 BB / 8K's / 12 RBI's

    Wish I knew exactly what was pushing his OBP up .050pts... it's certainly not that one walk. I'll take it though!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    3 HBPs. 1 on May 26th, 2 on May 31st.

  • fb_avatar

    John, based on your limited observation of him today, what kind of power do you think Almora can develop? Is 15-20 home runs reasonable?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I hope it is much more than 15-20 potential.

  • In reply to Behn Wilson:

    15-20 hrs with a very strong hit tool, good approach, solid speed and elite defense would be a star CF. That's what Almora could be.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bjsill3:

    This is the correct assessment. We wont need huge power from him, well already have that in the lineup. We need everything else he provides and like the guy above he projects to an All-star Cf.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Personally, I view Almora's ceiling as roughly similar to Vernon Wells, who has quietly had an excellent -- though not quite HOF --career as a 20 - 30 HR slugger who gives you Gold Glove defense: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wellsve01.shtml

    Although my sense is that Almora may be able to hit for a little higher average, with a little less HR pop. I think the Cubs would happily settle for that!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I didn't see much yesterday that indicates big power potential, but did see some of that in AZ over the fall. He's still very wiry and looks like he has room on his frame to fill out a bit and gain some strength. Right now it's not his game, he has to sell out a bit to hit for power. It's more about projecting him physically and whether you think he can make the adjustments in his swing to add a bit of power. My guess is he can, but I see it as 20 HRs, not as huge power. Considering that he should hit for a high average/OBP and his CF defense, I think it's a major plus if he does.

  • How does Almora's cf defense compare to Szczur's? Szczur is the best that I have seen.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Almora is rated as a 75 defense by BA with a 60 arm. Basically, he's one of the best defensive CFers you'll see and scouts raved that he could play defense in CF in the big leagues at the time he was drafted.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    He's better than Szczur,,although he doesn't have as much pure speed. Makes up for it with tremendous jumps and direct routes to the ball. Szczur, though, has really gotten better and he's a legit CF right now as well.

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