Cubs Minors Recap: Cubs to sign Eloy Jimenez; Villanueva, Candelario HR; Draft picks Skulina, Godley, and Wagner debut

Big day today and we'll have new names to report on soon, including RHP Jake Arrieta who will make a few starts in AAA and IFA signing RHP Jefferson Mejia, who is eligible to play this season.

One name to add to the list of Cubs prospects, though he is extremely far off, is Eloy Jimenez.  As we expected, Jimenez agreed to sign with the Cubs and an official announcement will be made within the next few days, per Jessie Sanchez of  He took less money to play for the Cubs, in part because of his and his families love for a former Cubs RF'er, Sammy Sosa,

Source: OF prospect Eloy Jimenez & fam decide on #Cubs but another team was in mix & offered more $$. Expect announcement in next few days.

In the end, OF prospect Eloy Jimenez & fam love Sosa & idea of playing @ Wrigley one day. Dreams matter to him. #Cubs

A bit unorthodox but it's nice to know that there are some things more important to this kid and his family than money.

Exciting day for the Cubs who executed their plan to perfection.

On with the recap...

Iowa 6 - Memphis 2

  • You won't hear this often but Guillermo Moscoso out-dueled top Cardinals pitching prospect Michael Wacha.  Moscoso went 6.1 innings and allowed just 2 runs despite walking 4 hitters.
  • Casey Coleman and Marcus Hatley were outstanding in relief.  Neither pitcher allowed a hit and each struck out 2.  Hatley pitched one innings and Coleman pitched 1.2 innings.
  • It was the long ball that did in Wacha as he gave up two 2-run shots to a couple of minor league veterans, SS Donnie Murphy and 1B Brad Nelson.  Murphy also doubled.
  • Junior Lake had a big day with 2 triples and a double.  Lake is positioning himself for a call-up later in the year with a line of .324/.362/.491.  The Cubs could also use his speed and defensive versatility.

 Tennessee 4 - Montgomery 3 (13 innings)

  • Another solid outing for Kyle Hendricks though he wasn't very efficient even though he didn't walk a batter or allow a run.  He got to 88 pitches (57 strikes) in just 5 innings.  He struck out 6.  Hendricks has a 2.06 ERA with 21 walks and 76 strikeouts in 96.1 innings.  It's looking like he'll be the second straight Smokies pitcher to win the organizational pitcher of the year.  Nick Struck won it last year.
  • Yeiper Castillo got the win in extras after 3 scoreless innings.  He did not allow a hit or a walk and seems much more comfortable in this role (1.50 ERA) early on.
  • A typical game for Arismendy Alcantara in that he drew 2 walks and doubled -- and stole his 20th base of the season.  Alcantara played 2B with the absence of Ronald Torreyes, who was traded today.  No word on whether that will be a permanent change.  It's one I expect Alcantara to make eventually anyway.
  • 3B Christian Villanueva has hovered around the .250 mark for most of the season but today he hit his 9th HR.  He's also played his usual stellar defense.  He's not a big OBP guy, so he's probably going to hit a bit better to make it as a starter in the big leagues, but his extra base pop and defense gives him a shot.
  • With Steve Clevenger off to Baltimore, C Rafael Lopez becomes the Cubs best backup catcher prospect.  He made the Southern League all-star game as he's quietly been a solid, if unspectacular, player for the Smokies.  He hit his 5th HR of the season and is hitting .253/.349/.429 overall.  He's a good defensive catcher who moves well (he used to be an infielder) and calls a good game..

Wisconsin 5 - Kane County 3

  • Not a good start today by Tayler Scott as he struggled with his control (4 walks).  The last time I saw Scott he walked 3 and struggled locating the entire game.  It seems to have been the same story today as Scott gave up 5 runs (3 earned) and struck out 2.  Scott has solid stuff (90-92 mph FB, good curve), but not solid enough to get away with anything less than average command.
  • The Cougars scratched out 5 hits, including singles by Albert Almora, Kevin Encarnacion, Marco Hernandez, and Wilson Contreras.  Hernandez also drove in a run. But the big hit was Jeimer Candelario's 4th HR of the season, a 2-run shot.  He also stole his first base of the season.

Boise 10 - Salem-Keizer 5

  • Tough day for Paul Blackburn as he had trouble throwing his curveball for strikes.  He walked 4 batters and lasted just 3 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) and not striking out a single batter.  It's a bump in the road and a learning experience as Blackburn will learn to pitch without his best stuff -- which he did for the first couple of innings, but the wheels came off in the 3rd.
  • Orbandy Rodriguez pitched 2 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 2.
  • 5th round pick Trey Masek made his second appearance and allowed an unearned run, allowing one hit and a walk.  He didn't strikeout any hitters.
  • 4th round pick Tyler Skulina made his professional debut and also tossed a scoreless inning, though he did walk a batter and got some help on a great defensive play by David Bote.
  • David Bote also hit his 2nd HR of the year and is hitting .293.
  • It was a big offensvie day for Boise as every player got on base at least once, even Jacob Rogers in his only AB -- and he did it in style with a 3 run HR.
  • Catcher Lance Rhymel was one of the more productive players today.  He singled, walked twice and scored 3 times while driving in 2.
  • 3B Daniel Lockhart doubled, singled and drove in 2 to raise his average on the year to .296.

AZL Cubs 6 - AZL Brewers 4

  • It was rehab day again in AZ.  Dae-Eun Rhee started things off with 2 innings of work in which he gave up 2 unearned runs.  
  • Starling Peralta was sharp with 2 scoreless innings in which he walked none and struck out 3.
  • Marcus Mateo pitched another scoreless inning.
  • 10th round pick Zach Godley made his debut and pitched one inning, allowing 2 hits and one run while striking out one.
  • 15th round sleeper Michael Wagner was the 3rd pitcher from this year's draft to make his debut.  Wagner fared well, tossing a scoreless inning.
  • Erick Leal, normally a starter, closed the game out and pitched 2 scoreless innings to pick up his first save.  He struck out one hitter and lowered his ERA to 0.75.
  • Kevin Brown was in LF and led off and went 2 for 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. He has raised his average to .280.
  • SS Giuseppe Pappacio bounced back after a recent slump had dropped his average to below .300.  He went 2 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI to bring his average back up to .313.
  • C Erick Castillo singled, doubled and scored 2 runs.




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  • I was at Smokies game again tonight. Alcantara once again showed great plate discipline. Vilanueva hit a bomb. Hendricks looked pretty good but certainly didn't knock my sock off (radar on scoreboard had him at about 86 but it is wildly inaccurate) I hope the Alcantara to 2nd is a preamble to Javier Baez as Smokies SS very soon. I am going again tomorrow.

  • In reply to Tide23:

    I've heard that about the gun there, but Hendricks probably doesn't throw a whole lot harder than that.

    Can you imagine a DP combo of Baez and Alcantara? Electrifying.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Love a lot of your observations.
    You should do a little homework on this one however. He can hit 93-94 anytime he wants with little effort. Last tin
    me I checked straight 4 seam fastballs usually end up over the fence regardless if it's at 96-97. All he does is WIN!! Do you like winning??

  • In reply to golfpro:

    No. He cannot do that. He doesn't purposely throw 86 when he can throw 94 with little effort. That is ridiculous. If he could throw 94 with little effort then he'd be doing that.

    Where do you read that kind of stuff?

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    Cubs to sign Jimenez!

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I forgot to put that in. i actually saw that tweet as soon as it popped up. I added it to the story and headline.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Someone on mlbtr said the Mets were the runners up.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Interesting. I thought it would have been the Rangers, who have shown no regard for the pool limit. They didn't have anything to lose.

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    What's the word on signing Bryant?

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Still the same. It seems to me they haven't really talked yet other than maybe setting some loose parameters early on. This one is going down to the wire, probably, but only because Boras probably won't seriously negotiate until the last couple of days.

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    Always nice to see power from Candelario.

    And awesome international signing day.

    I wasn't a fan of the Feldman trade (didn't HATE it and really not even questioning it.) Just hoped we would get prospects instead of projects.

    But considering the timing, maybe the trade was less about Arrieta and Strop and more about pool money.

    When combining the three trades, I overall liked what was done.

    International signings are such a unique thing. So much could happen from the age of 16. So tough to project.

    Hell, when the finals ended I saw some pictures of LeBron when he was drafted. He was 18 and already considered an ELITE athlete, and yet when you contrast that with his mid-twenties, he suddenly seems like a skinny kid.

    But clearly the FO is putting in the time and effort so it'll be interesting to see where some of these kids are in 3-4 years, when they're at the ages that American players are getting drafted from HS or College.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I was thinking that too, but maybe getting Arrieta at this point turns out to be a huge steal. The problem is that I think the team wants to start putting together a winner soon and getting good MLB ready prospects is difficult. Teams will give you their finesse guys or their injured guys, but nobody is going to give you a good MLB ready SP prospect for a rental 4th starter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


    How does Arrieta project as a relief pitcher. Ideally, this never has to come up and he can be a starter. However, worst-case scenario, if he continues his struggles and looks to not work out as a starter, could he be an effective reliever or shut-down closer with his stuff?

    I just wonder in lieu of Theo's philosophy towards the draft - drafting lots of potential starters and then transitioning them relievers as opposed to drafting guys to be relief pitchers.


  • In reply to 104YearsofGlory:

    Yes, ideally this never becomes an issue. The Cubs acquired Arrieta to be a power starter but if it doesn't happen for him, then the the bullpen becomes an option down the road. He has closer's stuff. Just needs to improve control.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cool, Thanks! BTW, i know lots of folks have mentioned this a lot, but the Cubs coverage you, Tom, and Fels have provided for the draft, transactions, minor-league/prospect updates and game summaries/analysis are not only excellent but IMHO the best on the web!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Trading Places comes to mind when I think of them starting to put together their winner soon. Both at the ready to SELL after buying and getting the right pieces in place to make the run. It's definitely exciting, but also nerve wrecking at the same time. Let's hope the Cubs can be like ATL of the 90's and take the division and maybe a few WS rings along with it.

  • Off topic, does San Francisco extend lincecum a qualifying offer if he ends the season in the bullpen? Could be a high risk/reward project. Think he could use a change of scenery? Seems like the giants have soured on him since his decline last year. If he could get that ball back down in the zone he could be the biggest steal of all time, karma for something that happened back in the 90's..

  • In reply to northside disciple:

    "karma for something that happened back in the 90's..."

    Well, little known story. Back in the 90s, while visiting Chicago, Lincecum did a "dine-and-dash" after eating at the Billy Goat Tavern. You don't want to piss off those people.

  • In reply to northside disciple:

    I don't think it matters if he finishes the season in the pen or in the rotation, I doubt they give him a qualifying offer. If they do he'd be a fool not to accept it.

  • In reply to northside disciple:

    If they think he can start then why not? Some think he's now best suited for the bullpen. Probably depends on his price, though.

  • Signing Jimenez makes this day worth it. I won't believe it until it's official because I'm a Cubs fan, but when he does it will be a relief. Even if he never pans out, the Cubs plan was clearly to make these trades in order to land him. By executing their plan in it's entirety, the Cubs succeeded today.

    Now we'll see if their plan succeeds.

  • Was at the I-Cubs game last night and my biggest takeaway - Junior Lake can run. On both triples, most players would have settled for a double as they hit the right centerfield walls on the fly. He didn't even hesitate and just flew. No play on either of them. He also turned in two amazing plays at third. Once diving to his right, hopping up and throwing a bullet to first to get Wacha and the other to his left, same result. I think this kid has the skills necessary to help in Chicago, especially a right handed hitter that can play all over the place.

  • In reply to BobMiller146:

    Thanks for that report, Bob. We're gaining some serious depth at 3rd, especially once we sign Bryant. I don't know who's going to end up where, but Lake sure seems like a keeper.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    It will be interesting to see that log jam clear up. If either Candelario or Carhart (who is quietly having a very solid year) have to make a position change which would it be and to where? Candelario to first makes the most sense, but there's already two big guys manning first in Kane, and he's young for the league and not putting up stellar numbers so a call up isn't in order. There's also the possibility that Bryant starts higher than this, but I personally don't see that happening.

  • In reply to BobMiller146:

    Thanks for the report Bob. He's just an amazing athlete and that he's turning that into baseball skills.

  • Wish Hendricks over Rusin on 3 days rest vs the A's last night. Curious if he is the real deal.

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    Samardzija pretty critical of the front office in the Trib this morning, in the latest sign that Theo, Jed, and Dale are losing the players. That has to temper any joy over the signings.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Samardzija was Hendry guy and I don't think he was happy when the FO didn't pick up his club option. I don't think they are losing players there is just some frustration happening at this point. Yo be honest I am happy to see it. You don't want players that are OK with losing.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    If this happened in isolation, I'd be tempted to agree with you, but coming after Soriano erupting and Garza and Sappelt jumping to Stewart's defense, it paints an ugly picture.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Soriano is at the end of his career and I am sure he would like to be in a winning environment. Sappelt is feeling the same thing as Stewart because he think he should be on the big club. Garza is just being Garza.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I agree, seemed like another beat writer seeking out the negative. Some of the quotes seemed like Samardzija talking up his friends and sending out word to the new guys that they need to be team players. All in all, that is what a team leader should do. I did not see quotes from anyone else and really, professionals should know this is a business. If you have the 5th worst record, stuff like this will happen.

    On the media side, I am getting tired of the "real" media. The blogs like this have the best coverage now and the community here gets it. When I listen to the local sports talk radio and read comments on ESPN I get so frustrated. short-sighted and ingnorant. The old guys on the radio tore up the Cubs yesterday when we here all know it was actually a good step and understood why.

    I can only hope in 4 years when the team is good and farm system is strong we can look back at Tuesday as a reason and when we read or listen to the name media guys they are gushing over how good Eloy is or how amazing the trades worked out. I am sure they will all say they saw it coming and was right behind the rebuild from the start. .

  • In reply to DoubleM:

    It pains me to say it, but there are no guarantees the Cubs will be good in 4 years. The only guarantee right now is that repetitive losing seasons allows the front office the opportunity to draft in the top 4th of the draft, giving them cracks at better talent. How that talent progresses is a massive question mark, some will even say massive crap shoot.

  • In reply to DoubleM:

    MM, the "real" media is obsessed with the negative, particulary when it comes to anything other than New York, Boston or LA, the big media centers. Truth be told, most of them are arrogant jerks. The blogs like this are far more accurate and paint a far better picture of the direction of the franchise. Ask any media boy about how quickly the Stankees have declined recently, or the fact that the Mets and Dodgers both stink.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It paints a picture of the Oakland As with Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson.

    These kinds of things happen all the time to every team. When the team is winning, they are ignored, and when the team is losing, they are blown out of proportion.

  • Saw something from MLBTR that Arrieta needs 53 more days on a big league roster to get super 2 status. If that's the case, seems like he'll spend the rest of July and the early part of August in the minors so the Cubs can get an extra year of control.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    That's interesting. Didn't realize that about him but it makes perfect sense that they'd do that.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Might as well keep him in the minors for the rest of the year and fix his command issues

  • John - kind of a nerdy question from an economic angle, but is the $2M+ of international pool money we'll need to sign Jimenez indicative of value in the same way the old $4-$5M per point of WAR metric is or just directionally correct (meaning the best prospect gets the biggest slot which is pre-defined by MLB)?

    I know these guys are super young but I'm having a hard time figuring out just what the ceiling could be on somebody like Jimenez is compared to our top stud prospects (who are admittedly older and have more reps). For instance, does the FO think Jimenez could be a stud on the level of a Baez/Almora/Soler if things break right?

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    It's too early to use anything like WAR except in the sense that you're essentially investing what amounts to the one year salary of a utility player on a potential superstar. If he doesn't pan out, he doesn't pan out, but is it any more of waste than paying someone like Ryan Theriot $4M/year?

    If he does pan out, you have yourself a cost-controlled star who will give you tons more value than what his salary will be in the first 6 years. it's an easy gamble to me -- even if you're a small market team.

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    John, Tom and Fellzy.....Your site continues to amaze me with such timely information about the Cub prospects....I check here first for Cub news, even before the Trib. Happy Independence Day to all!

  • In reply to Bob from Salem:

    Thanks Bob and Happy Independence Day to you as well!

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