It was a crazy day for us here, the website went down and stayed down for hours, but things are back to normal now and we have some catching up to do. Some interesting news, though it should not be surprise if you have been following -- Carson Sands appears to be signed, sealed, and delivered and while we don't have a formal announcement, I think you would agree that a clubhouse space in AZ along with an assigned number (#59), is a pretty good clue...
No other draft signings to report but I will say I am not ready to give up on Isiah Gilliam just yet.
And here's a better video on Kyle Schwarber's HR yesterday...
I got to thinking after watching this and I decided to compare it to video on Dan Vogelbach's swing. Both are large-framed guys who hit left-handed, but their swings are more different than I expected.
Vogelbach depends heavily on his tremendous upper body strength while you will see that Schwarber has a more fluid, athletic swing that utilizes the lower half of his body more. He collapses his back leg and drives more with his lower half. He shows some quick hands, loading up but then quickly lowers the bat head and then explodes through the zone with quick hands and a direct path to the baseball. It isn't elite Javy Baez type bat speed, of course, but it's pretty good -- and possibly better bat speed than Kris Bryant, but while Bryant has good bat speed in his own right, he does his damage differently, and that is with tremendous leverage and strength.
They have all been effective early in their careers, they just do it differently. There is more than one path to MLB success so it will be fun to watch all 3 progress through the system.
Side note: FSL All-Star Bijan Rademacher finished second in the HR derby today.
Now...let's get on with the recap...
- Tsuyoshi Wada has been coming back to earth of late and today it was 4 walks and 7 hits in 4.1 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) to fall to a still solid 6-4 with a 2.82 ERA.
- 27 year old catcher Luis Flores has had a lot of ups and downs to a career which once saw him as a promising catcher in the system. You have to give him credit for perseverance and he has made the most of his opportunities this year, hitting .270 but walking an incredible 25 times in 101 PAs to put his OBP at .465.
- Chris Valaika singled twice and drove in a run. He's hitting .294 in what has been a solid year for him.
- Arismendy Alcantara singled, walked, stole his 12th base, and scored a run.
- Matt Szczur had a 3 hit day, driving in a run and scoring another. He bumped his average up to .237 on the year.
- Joe Gardner remains a groundball maching, getting 12 of his 17 outs via the ground out, but he came up short today, going 5.2 innings and allowing 3 runs. I like him better than the other kid the Cubs picked up to fill space in the rotation, as I think Gardner can find a niche with his unique skill, but I don't see him as a "legit" prospect, more of a guy with a shot to earn some kind of role if he keeps at it.
- Hunter Cervenka, who has been very good all year, got tagged with the loss this year after allowing 2 runs in the 8th after coming into the game to protect a 4-3 lead. Cervenka has still been solid overall, however, as he fell to 2-2 with a 2.67 ERA.
- Stephen Bruno returned (again) and went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Stay on the field, Bruno, we enjoy watching you hit.
- We also enjoy Kris Bryant and he continues to remind us everyday about why he is such a good ballplayer. Even the bad days aren't so bad as Kris Bryant went 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored.
- Veteran catcher Taylor Davis hit a big, pinch-hit 2 run HR to give the Smokies that 4-3 lead, but it was short-lived.
- The Cougars got involved in a slug fest today when they really would prefer to bob and weave. Still, they had a 10-7 lead going into the bottom of the 8th but the normally reliable Corbin Hoffner and Tyler Bremer combined to allow 5 runs. Hoffner allowed 3 in 2.2 innings and then Bremer came in, gave up the go-ahead run, then allowed the winning run in the 9th after the Cougars came back to tie. Tough day from a pitcher who has been rock solid all year.
- As tough as that game was, it was even worse for Alberto Diaz, who was given the modest task of protetcting a 9-0 lead. He did -- in a way. He left the lead, but did not get a single hitter out, allowing 7 runs to help turn a laugher into a heartbreaker.
- All of this ruined another outstanding performance from Jen-Ho Tseng, who pitched 5 innings of one-hit baseball while walking 2 and striking out 8. Tseng has started where he left off from a great season where he has put himself in serious top 10 consideration. He has walked just 7 batters all year while striking out 43 en route to a 3-0 record with a 2.48 ERA.
- Lots of offense to talk about starting with leadoff hitter Jacob Hannemann who had 4 hits, including a double while scoring 2 and driving in 2. Still has been an inconsistent year for the relatively inexperienced OF'er, who is hitting .243/.316/.343. Hannemann was also ejected after pushing an umpire after being called out. I'm sure there will be a suspension coming here.
- Carlos Penalver had 3 hits and a walk in 6 PAs, doubling, scoring a run, and driving in 2. Penalver raised his average to .252 and his OBP to an even .300. I like Penalver as a ballplayer, though I am not sure how much projection is left in that small-framed body. He may never hit for much power, so he is going to have to get on base more often, steal a few bases (he stole his 15th) and continue to play stellar defense. But I think he has a realistic shot at being at least a utility infielder and if he can add some strength, perhaps an old-school type defense-first SS.
- Ben Carhart went 2 for 6 with 2 runs scored. He's hitting .295/.344/.379 on the year.
- Jordan Hankins has been the best and most consistent hitter on this team all season. I have to admit that I wasn't impressed with his rather stocky body and average athleticism, but the kid can hit. He had 4 more hits, including 2 doubles, while driving in 5 runs, He's hitting .318/.354/.444, leaving him just shy of the .800 OPS mark.
- Trey Martin has slowly been finding his groove. The Cougars have stuck him at the bottom of the lineup and have stuck him in LF (though to me he is the best CF on this team). He is starting to come around after a lost season in 2013 and a slow start this season. He had 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and a walk, and he is now hitting .222/.274/.290 -- not very impressive to say the least, but he has hit .314/.324/.400 in 12 games this month.
- Eric Leal is one of the guys to watch on this team as a 19 year old with a clean delivery and an advanced feel for pitching. He has a chance to fill out and gain some velo, which would make him even more interesting, but for now he is pretty solid. He got off to a good start with 5 innings of 3 hit baseball, allowing just one earned run while walking one batter and striking out 4.
- There has to be some concern for Scott Frazier, who could not find the strike zone in Kane County, got sent to AZ, re-started in Boise and now walked 4 of the 5 batters he faced, and allowed a hit to the other. He also threw 4 wild pitches and allowed 4 runs. Hoping this isn't a Steve Blass thing and that this is something the Cubs can fix.
- Very happy to see Trey Lang come in and throw strikes as the big RHP with the mid 90s FB and wipeout slider pitched 2 scoreless, walkless innings, striking out 4.
- CF Jeffrey Baez is a guy to watch on this team and he played the type of game which makes him an interesting player -- getting a walk, single and triple, scoring 3 and driving in 2 -- and he also stole 2 bases. As I said in the preview, he is perhaps the most exciting player on this team.
- C Kyle Schwarber may not have the same eye-catching kind of athleticism as Baez, but you don't want to miss any of his at-bats either. He had 3 more hits in 5 ABs, driving in 3.
- 1B Danny Canela, LF Kevin Brown, and 2B Zak Blair each added 2 hits with Brown and Blair also adding a walk.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap