Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Baez scoffs at your angst; Bryant (yawn) HRs, Alcantara OBPs

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Baez scoffs at your angst; Bryant (yawn) HRs, Alcantara OBPs

So, suddenly those upper level prospects are doing what we'd always hoped they would.  2014 may not be the year but the Cubs premium prospects are inching closer to Chicago.

Here's the recap...

Iowa 12 - Colorado Springs 3

  • Eric Jokish seems to be back on track.  He was a strike throwing machine today and he was locating well.  He nearly finished the game before reaching his 100 pitch count with 2 outs to go in the 9th, allowing just 3 hits and one run.  He walked just one batter and struck out 4.  Jokish is now 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA and has walked just 1.4 batters per 9 IP and striking out a solid 7.4/9IP. He even went 2 for 3 with a double, walk, and 2 RBI.
  • Matt Szczur was back at the top of the lineup and responded with a double, single and two runs scored to raise his average on the year to ,252.
  • If you don't write neatly and leave enough space, Arismendy Alcantara can clutter up your scorecard.  He doubled, tripled, singled twice, and walked, getting on base in all 5 PAs.  He also drove in 2, stole his 10th base, and scored 4 runs.  The day left him at .281/.321/.520 for the year.  While his walk rate is still in that 5% range, I'm encouraged that it is closer to 9% in May (8.7%).
  • Remember, back in the day, when you were worried about Javier Baez?  Well, Javy found your lack of faith disturbing.  He had 3 more hits today, including 2 doubles (one of which almost left the yard),stole his 4th base, and played very good defense at SS.  Suddenly Javy Baez is approaching an .800 OPS (.725) with a line of .225/.287/.437.  That's incredible when you think of where he was just 11 games ago.  In the past 10 games, Baez has hit .439 with a .927 slugging percentage.  12 of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases, including 4 HRs, and has scored 11 runs and driven in 14 runs.
  • Chris Valaika has hit from day one and it continued with a 4 for 4 day.  The versatile 28 year old infielder is hitting .312/.381/.459.

Huntsville 5 - Tennessee 4

  • Joel Pineiro was better this start, pitching 6.1 solid innings, allowing 3 runs with all 3 runs coming in on 2 HRs.  He walked 1 and struck out 2.
  • PJ Francescon had a great April but has posted a 5.03 ERA in May with a dip in his control numbers being one of the causes.  He has walked 8 batters in 14,1 innings, including one in the 2/3 of an inning he pitched today.  Francescon allowed the winning runs to score after the Smokies had gone into the 9th with a 4-3 lead.  His ERA is up to 3.25.
  • Just because Javy found his groove, we shouldn't forget about Kris Bryant, not that he would allow that to happen. After a rare 0 for 4 day, Bryant went 2 for 3, inlcuding his 14th HR.  He also walked.  We could read you the numbers but you all probably have them somewhat memorized by now, so we'll give you the traditional stats today.  Bryant is hitting ,337 with 14 HRs and 43 RBI in 49 games.

Kane County 5 - Peoria 4

  • Justin Amlung got his 2nd start and once again had an impressive outing.  He allowed just one run (on a solo HR) in 5 innings while walking one and striking out 4.  Amlung (3-0, 1.76 ERA) is filling in for Jen-Ho Tseng but you have to wonder if he'll get a bump to Daytona once Tseng gets back.  I think he has the stuff to start and deserves a chance to keep doing that.
  • LHP Michael Heesch made his 2014 debut and allowed a pair of runs in 1.1 innings.  He walked 2 and struck out 2.  The big-bodied lefty works with an 87-89 mph 2 seamer with good plane and good sink along with some arm side run.
  • Three shutout innings for James Pugliese who lowered his ERA to 0.89.
  • Jose Arias picked up the win despite allowing the go-ahead run in the 11th.  The Cougars rallied for 2 runs in their half, winning the game on a walk-off HR by Jordan Hankins in his only AB of the game.
  • Jacob Rogers had a pair of hits, including his 4th HR, and drove in a pair of runs.  It's not been a great year for the 24 year old 1B when it comes to power  He has hit .243/.355/.402 overall.
  • Cael Brockmeyer only had one hit but it was a big one.  He doubled in the 11th and eventually came around to score the tying run on a David Bote (o for 3, 2 RBI) ground out.

 

 

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  • So at some point in June, bating 2-6 will be...

    Alcantara
    Bryant
    Baez
    Manny

    Damn.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Who's Damn and why is he batting 6th?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    After that, it won't matter who bats sixth. I hope I get to see that 2-5 in Co Springs later next month.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I believe it is Vitters. "Damn" is short for "Damn, with that swing you should be much better."

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    and what makes you think... ANY of them will be up next month?

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I meant Iowa

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    Oh. My bad.

  • John - I am slightly intrigued by Hankins after seeing him yesterday. He had a couple of good ABs that led to some solid contact and then a HR today. He is playing 3B so a lot of bodies in front of him, but what does he project to, if anything.

    Also curious as to Amlung as you mentioned. He is a bit old for KC so would hope he does get the bump to Daytona.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Hankins is a good hitter with a solid approach but the question with him is how much power. Since you've seen him, you know he has a pretty stout, maxed out frame, so he doesn't project physically.

    I think he would have been best off if he could have made the transition to catcher but if he keeps hitting, maybe he can find a utility type role.

  • Need to figure out how to get Valaika in the mlb lineup....

  • In reply to Csanad:

    He has been very good. Could see him coming up and pulling a Donnie Murphy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    IIRC, the new CBA allows veteran players to opt out of a minor league deal if another club is interested in adding them to 40-man. IIRC, we had to add Ryan Sweeney last year, because he was hot at AAA, and he would have been picked up by another ML club if we didn't.

    Does Valaika fall into that "Veteran" rule? If so, will the Cubs have to promote him or lose him, like Sweeney?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I don't know on that.

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    In reply to Csanad:

    Lots of 28-year-olds have raked at Iowa. It doesn't mean much.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    True, but Valaika is a legitimately good hitter. I think he can be an offensively oriented utility player.

  • Today's prospect 'porn':
    Last 10 games-

    Alcantara .324/.425/.706 OPS 1.131
    Baez .439/.444/.927 OPS 1.371
    Bryant .394/.447/.758 OPS 1.231

    What would the Cubs record be if all three of these got in this type of hot streak, at the same time, over ten games? 8-2? 7-3?

  • In reply to djriz:

    If this season (up til yesterday) is any indication, the record would be 8-2.

    Shark: 0-2
    Other four starters: 8-0

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    i worry about Almora. The last 10 games he is .268/.268/.293 and it actually raised his average!

    How did he do so great in the Fall League but he has struggled so much in FSL. Someone please tell me he will turn it around.

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    In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    He was 19 when the season started and has only 180 plate appearances. Pump the brakes, man.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Also, in a pitcher's league, and one of the youngest guys in it.

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    ^^^what he said^^^

    Also, .266 (current AVG) isn't that bad, at all.

    Baez was hitting .140 ten days ago and has brought up his average 70 points in that time.
    So, at .268, Al really wouldn't need much of a hot streak to be over .300.

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    He'll turn it around.

    I just want Almora to play 120+ games. That is all that matters for me in his season.

  • In reply to Daniel Rosenberg:

    His real struggles were when his dad was ill. As others have said he is young in a pitchers league. He will be fine.

  • With all the good prospect news, it makes me wonder what the ETA for Soler returning is... Anyone know? Is the hammy strain as bad as the last one?

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Nothing concrete, but I've read speculation that it would be mid-June before he came back.

  • John--just a head's up... the KC link goes to the Tennessee box score.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Thanks!

  • Let's just say the regulars in 2015 are

    Castillo C
    Riz 1B
    Alcantara 2B
    Castro SS

    Then we add Bryant and Baez. Then we have Lake and Olt plus prob Sweeney plus whoever else they keep around from Valbuena to all the other random OFs we have. If Olt does stick, he prob is going to stay at 3rd. That means Baez and Bryant need to play corner OF. Shouldn't Lake be playing CF every day right now?

  • In reply to cubsker:

    i am guessing Olt doesnt stick

  • In reply to cubsker:

    There is no way that Olt plays 3B over Javy or Bryant, let alone both. Olt is a bench player, trade bait, or he learns the OF. You figure out what is best for Baez and Bryant and work everyone else in around them. You don't accommodate Olt or Alcantara at the expense of better players. Bryant may be best off in the OF, but there is no reason Baez should ever step foot in an MLB OF (even though he would be a good one).

  • In reply to cubsker:

    I see our 2015 infield of:
    Rizzo,Alcantera,Castro,Baez (Olt I think will be more of a Mark Reynolds type, so I can see him at 1B,3B corner OF which isnt bad for a super-sub). If Olt does make it that could move Alcantera to CF.

    2015 OF?:
    Find that lefty leftfielder (if not it will be Lake which I am OK with)
    CF Bonafacio (if he sticks around) and Bryant in RF.

    Bench of: Valbuena,Olt,Lake,Bruno or MLB veteran & Lopez

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Bench may have Logan Watkins, a LH guy who can play multiple postions. His AAA stats this year are: .310/.394/.414/.808

  • Thank you Javy and Arismendy for restoring the faith. I've been high on Bryant since Day 1 and he is still the #1 prospect as far as I'm concerned.

    Really liking what I'm seeing from trade imports Grimm and N Ramirez.

    Starting to feel very "Cardinal like", at the back of that bullpen when you include high velo guys like Rondon and Strop. If we must have a closer, I like Ramirez, but I'm always a much bigger fan of a closer by situation.

    Good to see some better play lately, but I'm very much looking forward to this trade deadline to see what we can possibly pick up for the near future.

  • Never doubted Javy for a minute, let alone a day. The Cubs have simply never had a position player prospect with his talent in my lifetime. Well, Bryant may qualify, but he got here after.

  • MiLB.com ‏@MiLB 3m
    MUST-SEE MiLB.TV: There's lots of talk about the @javy23baez bat. Here's his glove for @iowacubs. http://atmilb.com/SI6EeU #Cubs

    Too bad Twitter decided last week that he was a bust...

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Here's another nice defensive play by Baez from today's game.

    http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=33207867&sid=t451

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    So, we can we count yesterday's 0-4 as Bryant's AA slump? Or does it have to be a couple of games?

  • In reply to brober34:

    That's about all the slump he is giving Southern League pitchers these days, LOL!

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    In his entire pro career, Bryant has gone hitless in back-to-back games only once and it happened in the same day. A doubleheader in April of this year. Of course, he got on base three times in those two games, an HBP in game 1 and two walks in the nightcap, so...

  • At 22 and with the tool box full, Alcantara is becoming more and more interesting. He can help a team in so many ways and he has so much more potential to tap into. What a prospect to have 5th or 6th by most rankings.

  • I don't know who plays where, but Alcantara and Valbuena will be hard to keep out of the lineup somewhere. Gives balance against a tough rhp.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Yeah, if Alcantara can keep developing, and at 22 he's got plenty of time left on his learning curve, he can be a really nice player, but he's still got to achieve that improvement. I'd love for him to force Valbuena into a utility infielder role where he can play 3B against tougher RHP like you said.

    But Valbuena might be too good of a player for that limited of a role. If he cools off, as he is likely to do, then yes. But if he keeps hitting like this, the Cubs may be best served by trading high at this year's deadline to a team in need of a starting 3B or 2B.

    Toronto has a need at both of those positions. Pairing Hammel and Valbuena might bring back a nice piece or pieces without trading Samardzija.

  • Wow, so many things to think about when it comes to shaping our near future roster. We now have pitchers in the minors (Jokisch and Edwards come immediately to mind) that could land a spot in the rotation and hold up their ends, especially once the offense becomes something to be feared, rather than pedestrian as it is now. Will Theo/Jed improve the rotation with trades of Shark and Hammel? Boy, I don't know. They may be forced to trade Shark, and that's unfortunate unless they can get someone as good or better, but who's that going to be? I could see keeping both of them to go along with some combination of Wood, Arrieta, and one or both of the two mentioned above (or whoever else breaks out).

    We have a plethora of right handed hitters coming, so I might be inclined to find a team that has the same "problem" with left handed hitters and make that kind of trade instead. Of course, I don't know if there's anyone out there like that. Maybe someone else does.

  • When do the Cubs decide where Baez will play when he gets to the Friendly Confines? When does Iowa move him there so he gets a few reps BEFORE he arrives in Chicago?

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I'm guessing he spends the whole year at AAA as SS and gets a cup of coffee playing 2B.

    Then I think he starts 2015 in AAA at 2B and they wait until mid June to call him up.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    This is the path I have long believed would take place Giffmo. I must admit though that with Alcantara's play it may be third base for Baez.

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    In reply to bleedblue:

    I'm not sold on Alcantara being productive enough to start in the Majors. That's just me.

    I still see Baez at 2B.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Alcantara could eventually do what Bonafacio is doing, with much more power. That is significantly productive enough to start at 2nd or CF.

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    In reply to djriz:

    He...could. Or he could struggle to hit in the majors. He could have a hard time maintaining a strong approach.

    The assumption that he will succeed has no proof.

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    What else does Bryant have to learn? Strikeout rate? Defense? Do they want him to hang out and give private hitting lessons to my boys here in Des Moines?

  • A random thought: What if the previous regime were still in place? Baez would probably have been on the Cubs roster for a couple of years now. How much would his development been adversely affected by that?

    As it is, he has the chance to be something spectacular.

  • If Bryant and Baez both tear it up at AAA this year, I wonder if it convinces Ricketts to splash a little cash next year in FA to augment the line up. If they are the real deal and Castro/Rizzo/Castillo continue to hit, the Cubs are 1 or 2 bats from having an excellent line up.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Seth Smith to play LF and add some OBP and a lefthanded bat.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I think I'd rather have any one of Cabrera, Markakis, or even Rasmus. I don't really love any of the LH OF options out there, though.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    we do have Alcantara and Watkins in house if we really want some LH hitters to play the OF to make due.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I don't think cash is the issue it has been made out to be and Theo said as much this off season. We took a major run at Tanaka, the bigger issue is the right FA's. To that end if the team is getting close to opening the window of opportunity I think the FO will invest in players that help now. Because most FA's have diminishing returns as soon as 2-3 years into long term deals it is poor business (baseball, economic could be debated) to sign guys that are not producing as well when your window opens, only for them to be taking up a large part of the budget for their diminishing returns.

  • If one goes by what's going on right now and just taking what is already in the system, the Cubs could be very competitive next year. Maybe we should just move a few stable ponies and stand pat.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think we must get that left handed bat to play outfield. As much as i like Junior if we are going to be a true competitor we need one more left handed middle of the lineup guy and a veteran pinch hitter.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I agree with needing one more big bat. The problem is that teams will want a ton for that in return, just like we will want a ton for Shark.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Joc!
    Joc!
    Joc!

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Pederson could certainly be an option if the Dodgers make a play for Samardzija.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    True, but if the Cubs trade Samardzija, then how do they fill out their rotation well enough to compete. Pitchers like Jeff are increasingly rare and hard to acquire. Unless the Cubs get clear pitching surplus back, trading Samardzija seems like a bad idea to me.

  • I don't think we are going to see either of Bryant or Baez at the major league level until next season for a variety of reasons. The first being neither of them are currently on the 40 man roster and are not currently eligible for the rule 5 draft. I would imagine with the number of maturing prospects we have in the system the front office will need as many 40 man roster spots available as possible to protect our crop of blooming minor leaguers. Why add two players who don't need the protection until you have too?

    Secondly, Bryant won't be 23 until January and Baez won't be 22 until December. What's the rush?

    And thirdly, and this ties into my 2nd point. Service clock. These two guys are going to cost a fortune down the road, why would we rush them to the majors only to have them eligible for free agency when they're 26 and 27 years old respectively. We need to maintain control of their fates as long as possible and promoting them for a cup of coffee in September and giving up a year of control is dumb when these guys could costs us upwards of $20 million per year if they hit their ceilings. They shouldn't be promoted until we are past the super 2 eligibility date.

    End of line.

  • John,

    Would you comment on this thought.

    I believe Sarge has had 11 starts., with 1 win. With that ESPECIALLY LOW ERA, if he just would have gone 6-5 , the Cubs would be at .500, and if a few of those wins would have come against Milw. and SL, we would be in contention.

    Am I correct???

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    That is really an interesting point of view, hadn't thought of it that way.

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