Cubs Minors Recap: Bryant, Vogelbach HR; Baker returns with a strong outing

It appears Daytona has made the best stretch run deal in recent FSL memory as they agreed to let the Cubs send them Dan Vogelbach and Kris Bryant for the final month of the season.  Shrewd move.

We'll have some pretty cool prospect stuff later today, so check back.

New Orleans 4 - Iowa 3 (16 innings)

  •  Kyle Hendricks had a solid 7 inning start, though he did get touched up for 2 runs in the 5th and then a solo HR in the 6th.  Overall, however, it was another good outing with no walks and 7 Ks.   He has a 3.32 ERA in 3 starts with 4 walks and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings.  So far, the transition has been pretty smooth in what has traditionally been a good hitter's league.
  • The Iowa bullpen was outstanding as Marcos Mateo (1 IP), Brian Schlitter (2 IP, 1BB, 3 Ks), Eduardo Sanchez (2 IP, 2 BB, 2 Ks), and Marcus Hatley (3 IP, 2Ks) all had scoreless outings.
  • Jeffry Antigua has had a rough go of it so far in Iowa and he allowed 3 hits in 1/3 of an inning to allow the winning run.  He fell to 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA.
  • Julio Borbon had a nice game, getting on base 5 times with 3 singles and 2 walks.  He also stole a base and scored a run.
  • Brad Nelson had a 2 run HR to put the I-Cubs ahead in the top of the first.  It was his 18th of the year.
  • Edwin Maysonet had 3 hits, including a double, and scored a run.

Tennessee 5 - Birmingham 2

  • Eduardo Figueroa has been a pleasant surprise for the Smokies down the stretch.  Promoted from Daytona despite less than stellar numbers, Figueroa has turned it up a notch at Tennesee.   Figueroa has always had solid stuff, including a good FB that has reached 95 in short stints, but he was struggling to throw strikes at Daytona.  He seems to have solved that problem now.  Figueroa walked just one batter in 6 innings while striking out 5 in in 6 shutout innings.  Today was the first time Figueroa was actually missing a few bats, however.  He has just 9 total strikeouts in 22 AA innings and 6 of them came today.
  • Tony Zych has been about as any good Cub reliever down the stretch and 2 more innings of one hit ball earned him the win today.  Zych did not strikeout a batter, nor did he walk any, but he did give up an unearned run that actually tied the game.  So Zych sort of vultured a win here, but it wasn't really his fault.  He pitched very well.  Zych has been whittling down the walk rate, walking just 3 in the past two months (19 IP) and it now stands at 3.46/9IP.
  • The big offensive contribution didn't come from Baez or Bour or Alcantara or Villanueva for a change.  It came from catcher Rafael Lopez, who went 2 for 4 with a double and drove in 4 of the 5 runs.   I've mentioned Lopez before as a possible fall league candidate for the simple reason that the Cubs don't have any catchers waiting to step up in an emergency.  My guess is that the Cubs would like to bring back Navarro for another year, but giving Lopez a jump start for next season may not be a bad idea to have him ready at AAA.  Lopez is hitting .260/.361/.418 on the year.

Daytona 5 - Brevard County 3

  • Scott Baker came back from his most recent setback and pitched 3 solid innings, allowing 3 hits -- one of them a solo HR that accounted for the only run scored off of him.  Most importantly, he did not walk a batter, though he didn't strike one out either.
  • Pierce Johnson stayed on his current path of missing bats but also missing the strike zone a little more than you would like.  He struck out 6 batters in 4 innings as he piggybacked Baker's start.  He did walk 3, however, and allowed 2 runs but he did get the win and moved to 6-1 with a 2.36 ERA.  He has struck out over a batter per inning (9.3/9IP) but has also walked 4.1 batters per 9 innings.  A number he'd like to get down despite his success so far.
  • The good Austin Reed showed up today and pitched a scoreless inning to pick up his 4th save.  He did not walk a batter and struck out one.  Reed has a 4.40 ERA on the year.
  • Zeke DeVoss continued his recent strong play with another multi-hit game, a double and a single, while scoring a run.  DeVoss is hitting .258/402/.367 and is putting himself in the mix as a guy who could possibly fill in as an extra outfielder down the road.  He's an outstanding athlete, able to steal bases and capable of making spectacular plays in CF. He also has a disciplined approach at the plate.  He lacks some power and probably needs to also lift that batting average about 20 points to be able to sustain his high OBPs as pitcher get sharper with their control at the upper levels.
  • Dan Vogelbach hit his second HR of the FSL and put the D-Cubs up 4-1, giving the team the insurance runs they would need to win the game.  It was his only hit of the game but it was key.
  • Kris Bryant filled up the stat sheet today with his first FSL walk and SB to go with his 3rd HR.  His all-around play is putting him in the conversation as the Cubs top prospect, though in my opinion, it has to be Javier Baez at this point -- but there's a debate to be made for Bryant too.  The cool thing is that we can even have this debate to begin with for a change.  It's testament to how this system has been able to add multiple potential impact players.

Clinton 4 - Kane County 2

  • Tayler Scott pitched 5 solid innings, allowing 3 hits, 2 walks and just one run.  He also struck out 3.  I have found that Scott is well-regarded by a few people in the Cubs organization, so I've been watching him with renewed interest of late.  He's an athletic guy with a fluid delivery, an average fastball in the 89-91 range, a promising curve, and the potential for above average command.  He fell to 5-8 with a 4.21 ERA.
  • LHP Nathan Dorris pitched 2 scoreless innings to keep the game within reach, but the Cougars were unable to get closer than 2 with their 9th inning rally.  Dorris has an even 3.00 ERA on the season.  He has been especially tough on lefties - -he has yet to allow an earned run against them.  They've hit just .102 and Dorris has put up a K rate of 10.3/9 IP in 15.2 innings.
  • The offense was primarily provided by OF'er Jose Dore who went 3 for 4 with a 2-run double in the bottom of the 9th to bring the Cougars within 2.  Dore is hitting .227 early on in the MWL.

TriCity 10  - Boise 2

  • Paul Blackburn is still having some control issues though I'm not worried this is going to be a long term issue.  He walked 3 more batters in 3 innings while allowing 7 hits.  It led to 4 runs and Blackburn's once sparkling ERA now stands at 3.79 for the season.
  • 5th round pick Trey Masek allowed 2 more runs in 1.2 innings.  He walked one and struck out one.  He still has a very good 2.16 ERA on the season.
  • Carlos Martinez-Pumarino also got knocked around -- to the tune of 4 runs in one inning to essentially put this one out of reach.  His ERA rose to 5.68.
  • Not much on offense for the Hawks.  Carlos Penalver continues to see the ball well.  He doubled and walked.  He also scored a run.  David Bote and Kevin Encarnacion each had a hit and drove in a run.

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    Woo-hoo! A Kris Bryant walk! (I have no reservations whatsoever.about his ability to take a walk, I just thought his stats looked weird- you don't usually see awesome stats with identical BA & OBP)

    And it is pretty crazy, the point you made about there actually being a debate for top prospect. It's not just Baez and Bryant either. There's arguments for all for of our top prospects to be THE best Cubs prospect.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I think this is the kind of organization many of us have dreamed about and haven't had since the Green/Goldsberry farm systems of the 80s. I think this one may be even better because of the potential for big time impact and not having Jim Frey there to screw it up and trade half of them away for middling veterans and relief pitchers.

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    I think both are top 10 prospects in the game as well, which is also crazy.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    Baez probably, but a lot of people are going to have to change their minds about Kris Bryant to move him all the way into the top 10. He's got a lot of prospects to surpass that are producing at higher levels to get there. Only a few that are ahead of him have graduated to the bigs. Yelich, Gausman, Wacha, d'Arnaud and Martinez are the only top prospects to see time in the majors and not all of them will see enough to lose prospect status. Some guys ahead of him are performing poorly, namely Hamilton and Singleton, but not enough to vault Bryant into the top 10. I can see top 20 though.

  • Alright, here's a question, not that it really matters, but who has the best power in the Cubs system? Baez, Bryant, Vogalbach, or Soler? Last year some were giving Vogelbach 80 power, although his numbers haven't showed that this year. I've seen 70 ratings on Soler, so he's probably out. Is it possible that all the other three might have 80 power? That is insane.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Baez, Bryant and Vogelbach all have 70+ raw power. Don't think Soler is even in the conversation.

    I think Baez has the best chance to tap into that power in games because the bat speed will lead to HRs and doubles even when fails to square a pitch up.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Not sure I agree. I've seen both Vogelbach and Soler many times in person and in my opinion, the ball just jumps better off of Soler's bat. Vogelbach is all kinds of strong, but Soler's explosive hands makes up for that. I think they're all at least in the same conversation.

    FWIW, Bijan Rademacher has seen all of them and said nobody compares to Baez in terms of how the ball just explodes off his bat, so maybe he's on a level all by himself in that group.

    However you slice them and arrange them, it's pretty cool that we can even have this conversation for a change.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree John. It's such a fun conversation. Hopefully we are still asking the same question 5 years from now when they are all in Wrigley competing for the HR title!

  • Attended last night's Smilies game in Birmingham. Figeuroa pitched really well. Appeared to tire in the fifth and sixth, but was impressed how he was able to pitch out of a few jams. Zych definitely did not deserve the unearned run -- wild throw by Mota (who was playing third last night) on a routine one-hopper to third. ball ended up in the stands.

    Lopez was impressive in each at bat last night. Last AB in top of the ninth was really something. Bases loaded with two outs, he took a borderline 2-2 pitch to make it a full count. Great eye! Then he drove the next one off the right field wall for a base clearing double. It was almost a line drive grand slam.

    After watching Baez' s at bats, I think he still has some maturing to do. Took the first pitch on each AB for a strike, then swung at the next to go 0-2 each time. Looks like he is trying to kill it each swing. With his talent I think he would be better if he was more of a situational hitter. Go the other way sometimes, swing at the first pitch every once in awhile. Change up the approach to keep pitchers off balance. "Which Javy am I facing now?"

    Going to tonight's game too.

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    Thanks for the first hand observation. Did you get a speed on Figueroa. Last time I got some times on him was last year in short relief and he clocked at 95 a couple of times.

    Lopez has a nice approach and he's an underrated hitter. He hasn't had much pro development time because of injuries so the fact that he has a near .800 OPS at AA is good to see despite his age.

    Baez approach still wavers. He'll sometimes fall into those older habits but he quickly corrects himself. I'll bet you see a better day from him today. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The speed on his pitches last night was mid-80s to low 90s. He was fooling a lot of batters early with changing speeds and locations.

    Forgot to mention Batista pitched the 9th. He was all over the place. Walked the bases loaded, then a run scored on a HBP. Was able to get get the save. Impressed by Alcantara's leadership -- came over and tried to settle him down. Seemed to work.

  • Smokies not smilies! Damon auto-correct!

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    Ha:) The Tennessee Smilies just didn't have the same ring to it.

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