Logan Watkins gets the call up to Chicago, will start at 2B today.

The Cubs are putting Luis Valbuena on the DL and 2B Logan Watkins is getting the call to replace him on the roster.  Watkins is hitting .243/.333/.379 with 8 HRs and 10 SBs, though he has been caught 9 times.

Watkins is an athletic player but he's more of a grinder than the kind of guy who will blow you away with his skills.  He can do a little bit of everything; run, solid defense, hit for a little pop, and he'll take a walk (11% rate this year).  He has struggled this season at the plate and the question is how much he can hit.  He has especially struggled against LHP (.226/.320/.338) and has done so for the past two seasons.

So what we can probably expect is that he can help fill in around the infield along with the recently called up Donnie Murphy.  Watkins has the arm to play 3B. though he has played there only once in his professional career.  He can also fill in in the OF, having played 45 games in CF, including 3 this season.

Watkins is an interesting story as a draft pick, having been more known for his football skills (QB, DB) in Goddard, Kansas.  But the Cubs selected him in the 21st round and paid him an overslot bonus of $500,000 to forgo a potential college football career.  He has bulked up a bit since being drafted and isn't quite the runner he was back then, but he has substituted a little pop, putting up a decent ISO for a middle infielder of around .140 over the past two seasons.

He's an exciting player who will grind things out and if he hits, he'll be a favorite among many Cubs fans for his style of play.  Looking forward to seeing how he fares against MLB pitching.

Today's Lineup:

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Lake LF
  3. Rizzo 1B
  4. Navarro C
  5. Schierholtz RF
  6. Ransom 3B
  7. Watkins 2B
  8. Murphy SS
  9. Villanueva P

UPDATE:  I'll be heading off to watch the game today.   First time at seeing Watkins and Lake in an MLB game.  Murphy too.


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    Is he Barney with slightly worse defense and better OBP?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    He has struggled at the plate almost as much as Barney. He's shown the ability to take walks. He can be a useful player in a reserve role even if he doesn't hit a lot because of his versatility, speed, OBP, and just enough extra base pop to keep pitchers honest.

  • Nice write-up, John. Watkins has been coming on lately...welcome to the Cubs Logan:):):)

  • In reply to TobaccopouchinIvy:

    Thanks. Looking forward to seeing him play.

  • I read somewhere that Watkin's wOBA, adjusted for the majors, is at 50 points higher than Barney's current wOBA. It would be nice to see Watkins get some split time (say, get the majority of BAs vs rhp) before he gets sent back down, just to get an idea of what he can do before September call-ups. I'm guessing that he won't be up long this time, but who knows?

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    It's .324 at Iowa, which would be a well below average MLB mark -- and he's doing it in a hitters league. Then again, Barney's is so low that Watkins walks alone and extra base pop might make him marginally better than Barney on offense.

  • Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 15s
    Looks like Watkins starts at 2nd today. Ransom at 3rd.

  • So, does Alcantara take Watkins spot at Iowa? I'm curious to see what the ripple effect is going to be.

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    In reply to Mike:

    I don't think so. Maybe if this was a permanent promotion for Watkins but this could be a case of just running out of bodies. You don't want your guys like Opt and Vitters to come up and sit on the bench. They need Abs. Watkins has the perfect utility player characteristics like Valbuena did. Essentially you're replacing Valbuena with Valbuena lite.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Good point, although I could see an oblique strain keeping Valbuena out until September call-ups which would keep Watkins here for the rest of the year. They might want to keep Alcantara in Tennessee for the rest of the season though to experience a playoff run and maybe to build some chemistry with Baez.

  • Maybe he and barney can platoon and provide at least some offensive production from that position. Barney's just terrible with the bat

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    One thing I do not want to see is Cody Ransom starting at 3rd everyday. Would have liked to see Vitters get called up and rotate with Lake between LF and 3B. I even think he could play a little RF against Left-handers. Would have been Olt but I think it'll take him the rest of the year to fully recover from his symptoms.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Marcel, I'll give you credit. You're still hanging on strong with Vitters ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As frustrating and disappointing as he has been... He's hasn't turned 24 yet (a few weeks away). Still way to early to completely give up on him. But he's obviously given us reasons to be concerned.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Sign me up as a guy that is still in the Vitters camp. Younger than Olt and has been plagued with injuries.

    It is conceivable he never sees an MLB field, but if he can come back healthy and hit and have the approach he recently had, he has a shot.

    And he also has value.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    HA! Yeah I still see some good talent there. But i'm also still realistic in that I know he's lost a lot of traction and it's going to be hard for him moving forward.

    What can I say. I've been wrong occasionally on guys. I was never that high on Junior Lake and now he's starting to make me a believer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Better chance that Vitters contributes to a future Cubs contender than Cody Ransom. Perhaps better chance that you contribute to a future Cubs contender than Cody Ransom.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Vitters is on the 7 day DL again. every time he comes back he seemingly re-injures himself. dude can't seem to stay healthy. it's a shame.

  • So, I was looking at the standings this morning, and I see the Cubs are only about 3 games out of drafting in the 13/14 slot next June.

    Then I see the lineup today. Ransom, Watkins, Murphy.

    Looks like others saw the standings this morning as well.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That actually is the worst scenario, in my opinion. If we are going to need to live through the Murphy, Valbuena, Ransom, Borbon, Gillespie lineup era, we need to get a top draft pick out of it. Success this year is actually problematic (though of course we root for it). Unless, of course, it comes due to development of our young or core talent (i.e., Rizzo, Starlin, Lake, Smarz, Wood, Arrieto, etc.), in which case then it does potentially move our chances of sustained success forward.

  • Talk to you all later. Heading off to the game!

  • I'm pulling for Vitters also but he is taking up a place on the 40 man roster and for me you have to ask would you rather protect another young prospect such as Willson Contreras or a young pitcher from the Rule 5 Draft or keep keeping on with Vitters... On Vitters current performance it's a difficult one - especially given his apparent weight gain this summer and all in the wrong places... He is not looking a professional athlete - if you are Prince Fielder this isn't essential but as a player in Vitters position it is not optional bit to be.

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    In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I don't think we're looking at a 40-man roster crunch this offseason though. Alcantara is the only no-brainer addition, and a couple other guys are borderline (Rosscup, Amaya), but otherwise there isn't alot we can't expose to Rule 5. Meanwhile, we have alot of guys on the 40-man now who are droppable or free agents.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I think Amaya's hot streak makes this interesting. Someone (Houston?) will take a chance on him, IMO.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    You won't find a bigger Amaya fan than me, and even I have a hard time believing a team would take him in the rule 5 draft. Its easier to hide a bullpen arm when every staff carries an extra guy now anyway than it is to hide a position player. Any position player taken in the rule 5 would have to contribute to the team in some way otherwise the manager would go out of his mind.

    Someone even mentioned Contreras above. That is even more ridiculous. No team would carry an extra catcher with little catching experience for a whole season.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    If you like him enough, you could always carry one fewer guy in the bullpen -- essentially what the Cubs did to keep Lendy Castillo. It would still suck, but you could get away with it -- especially if you're Houston and have no desire to compete next year, anyway.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    See I actually really do rate Contreras and as a low cost back up catcher for the Marlins or the Astros I think he makes sense... Lets be honest we won't be able to afford Navarro next season and there is nobody really between Contreras and Castillo... The guys at AAA are expendable and the only other talent is Rafael Lopez... So yes it might appear stupid, but having watched him at least a dozen times this season I'm a fan of his catching and I could see him being a solid Rule 5 pickup by one of next years rebuilding teams. The Marlins or Astros aren't going to care about a year of lost development if they can develop him from 2015 onwards.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Ha will need to be added too. I realize him and Szczur are redundant, but no reason to lose Ha for nothing. He would almost assuredly get chosen in the draft. Better to add him and then trade him if he isn't in the plans. Also, Paniagua will be eligible.

    There is plenty of guys that I would drop before Vitters:
    Bowden, Dolis, McNutt, Putnam, Sanchez, Bogusevic, Gillespie, Sappelt.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Is Ha really much of a prospect though? They may protect him, but his ceiling is quite limited. He would really have to be stashed/hidden.

    Maybe on Paniagua, but realistically only Alcantara is a lock.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I could see Ha being snagged and actually used as a 5th outfielder. We have so many of those, though, that I don't see a reason to protect him.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Exactly....I do hope we don't lose any prospect of value for keeping Ransom, Gillespie or Borbon on the 40 man.

  • There are a good few players who are a bit further away with more potential than Vitters IMO at this stage who need protecting...

    There was a post earlier in the week or certainly a link which made interesting and worrying reading... But then I guess that is an indication that the farm is getting a lot deeper.

    It's only 2-3 ago we were worrying about Marquez Smith and the likes not being protected... How we have progressed.

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    In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    It certainly is a good sign that we'll have some guys potentially drafted this year. That sure is a great sign of progress.

  • Is it wrong that I'm openly giddy about the Cubs steady climb back up the draft board?

  • In reply to cubsdude74:

    before this week I would called you wrong but now I don't now. This is so painful to watch. I would be all for losing for a high draft pick if Cubs would dump Sveum but he looks awful comfortable on that bench no matter how bad things get. I think FO needs to make him sweat alittle.

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    In reply to cubsdude74:

    One other thing our recent poor play does (hopefully) is put an end to people claiming the basic foundation of this team is going to contend next year. We have many, many holes. We're starting to get some kids working their way up here, which is great, but we're not going to contend next year.

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    In reply to cubsdude74:

    I kind of am, too, but the Dodgers are a real good team. We'll see if this holds up against the rest of the league.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    upcoming schedule does not look promising games @StL home against Cin and StL. Hopefully can get a win @ Philly.

  • Cubs aren't going to contend as long as Sveum is on bench

  • In reply to kansascub:

    I agree that Sveum hasn't done well on development and I have seen some bad baseball, but I must admit that I have seen many more games on gamecast at work than live (I am in NY and work non-Cubs friendly hours).

    As such, I was hoping you (and others) would give some thoughts on why we are less likely to succeed with Sveum. What are his inadequacies? I personally wanted Ryno, which was pure fan-emotion, and the fact we got Sveum may have clouded my dislike of him, so I was hoping to get some other fans' thoughts.

  • In reply to springs:

    In my opinion Sveum is not a good in game manager. Like today down 1 in the 6th 2 on nobody out and instead of moving the runners he lets Ransom fan the air. This team has trouble scoring runs and need a manager that can manufacture a run this on the heels of hitting into 4 dps yesterday. Also this team seems dead not much entusiasm at all.

  • In reply to springs:

    I also was pulling for Ryno. Sandberg has earned a shot at a major league job. Very successful minor league resume and was familiar with most of the young Cub players. I thought i understood why they didn't hire him because who wants to fire Ryno but if they are giving Sveum a free pass surely they would have for Ryno.

  • Minor league happenings:
    Arrieta must have enjoyed his experience with the Chicago team, because he's pitching like he wants to return to Chicago tomorrow. Through 5 innings, he's given up 1 hit while striking out 10.
    Speaking of 10, that's the number of games in Kris Bryant's current hitting streak. He's up to .277 with another at-bat due in the Boise game.

  • Make that through 4 innings...

  • Bryant definitely has shaken off the rust and nerves. 3-5 today, 2 2B, 2 runs, 2 rbi's and hit a laser in the 9th. Skulina to KC.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    His OPS is over .900 now, too.

  • Tough outings for Skulina & Zas today- first time either has faced adversity. And it's time that Arrieta & Bryant move to the next level- neither is being challenged where they're at.

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