Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Torres, Jimenez debut, Soler rehabs at AZ, and 2 potential mid-round steals from 2013 draft

Jorge Soler is back and rehabbing with AZ, it would be nice to get a full 2nd half of ABs with him and plenty of Cubs made their stateside debut, including star IFA signings, Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez,  but it was a different middle infielder who impressed today.

I'm heading off Kane County where I hope it doesn't rain and I can see Kyle Schwarber for the first time since turning pro.

Albuquerque 4 - Iowa 0

  • Chris Rusin has had a tough luck season.  He may not be as sharp as he has been in the past, but 4-10 is a misleading record for a guy with a 4.14 ERA (4.34 FIP), in a hitter's league.  He allowed 4 runs today, walking just 2 hitters but allowing 9 hits in 6.1 innings.
  • Zach Rosscup continues to pitch well and wait for an opportunity, perhaps one comes after the trade deadline.  The lefty reliever pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.  He's still missing bats with regularity (11.25 K/9IP) but still walks more batters than you would like at just over 4 per 9 IP.  It's the latter number that has kept him in the minors as Rosscup obviously has the stuff and the production (2.96 ERA, 2.36 FIP) to warrant a promotion.
  • If you're squeamish, don't read the next 2 sentences.  Javier Baez and Kris Bryant went a combined 1 for 9 with 6 Ks, with a Baez single being the only knock.  Bryant is 1 for 12 with 7 Ks in his first 3 games.  It's still early for Bryant and even Baez has plenty of development left, so for now, at least we can solace in the fact that we don't have to hear how they should be in the bigs.
  • On the bright side, Welington Castillo went 2 for 3 with 2 walks as he gets closer to re-joining the Cubs.  He even stole a base.
  • Arismendy Alcantara is trying to do what he can to show he can help the big club.  He did not get a hit but he walked and stole 2 bases.  The walk rate is climbing steadily and is now up to 6.6%.  But if we allow him roughly 6 weeks to get adjusted to the more experienced AAA pitchers, then we can see that in a decent sample size of 146 PAs. he has walked in 10.3% of his PAs and has a line of  .300/.370/.569 while cutting down his strikeouts to 20.5% in that span.

Chattanooga 4 - Tennessee 1

  • Corey Black stretched it out to 77 pitches but inefficiency means that he only got through 4.2 innings, walking 2 and striking out 5.  Black seems to be making some progress with the walks but he still battles with his command.  He allowed 2 runs to take the loss and fell to 2-5 with a 3.30 ERA, but I think unless he refines his command, he'll end up in the bullpen where I think he can be very good.
  • Zach Cates gave up his first runs in AA, allowing 2 in 2 innings, putting his ERA at 2.45 at Tennessee.  If there has been a drawback, it has that he has walked 6 in 7.1 innings after showing such improved control at Daytona.  I think once Cates realizes that his stuff is good enough to play at AA, he'll attack the zone more and cut down the walks.
  • I've kind of been skimpy on the Tony Zych updates this year because, well, he wasn't very good but he has pitched very well lately.  He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 4.13 and his FIP to 3.12.  The walk rate is just 2.2 innings and if you have one concern, it is that he doesn't miss a ton of bats (just a shade under 5 per 9 IP).  Zych doesn't hit 99 like he did in college and instead is relying on his good plane and downward movement to produce a very solid 1.68 GO/AO ratio.  He has reinvented himself as a pro and given himself a chance, though he no longer projects as a late inning, high leverage type reliever.
  • Hunter Cervenka's career season continues with a scoreless inning, dropping his ERA to 2.86 (2.51 FIP).  The walk rate is still higher than you would like at 3.81 but he has K'd 11.44 per 9 IP.  It's not hard to picture him battling Rosscup for a lefty specialist role down the road as Cervenka has walked just 2 of his 12 walks vs. southpaws while allowing them to hit just .100.
  • The offense isn't as exciting to talk about.  A couple of guys who have AAA experience did the most damage today with Jae-Hoon Ha going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk while Christian Villanueva went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI.  Villanueva has hit an incredible 60 doubles in his last 200 games since reaching AA.

Daytona 11- Tampa 4

  • Justin Amlung broke through for his first FSL victory though he still quite hasn't found his groove, walking 3 batters and walking one in 5 IP, but it was plenty good enough as he allowed just 2 runs and Daytona's resurgent offense put 11 on the scoreboard.  He is now 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA.
  • Zeke DeVoss and Wes Darvill struggled at AA but they combined for 6 hits at the top of the order (4 by Darvill) for Daytona with each getting a double, scoring a run, and driving in a run.  Both players have solid approaches at the plate, have solid athleticism and versatility, and play good defense, but the hit tool hasn't developed as quickly.
  • Dan Vogelbach went 1 for 5 with 2 RBI.
  • Bijan Rademacher is a player I didn't mention in the non-star prospect piece I wrote the other day but he is another guy we like as a ballplayer -- intelligent approach, strong makeup, with some athleticism and perhaps it's enough to get him to the bigs some day.  He doubled and walked yesterday, scoring 2 runs and upping his slash line to .287/.391/.421 on the year.
  • Rock Shoulders had one of his best games, going 3 for 4 with a HR and 3 RBI.  He also doubled and walked.  Shoulders looks for a big half after having a very slow start in the FSL.
  • No slow start for Jordan Hankins, who continues to look like a nice mid-round find.  Hankins was a good, polished hitter at Austin Peay State but the lack of a defined position and projection in his body plus maybe limited experience vs. top flight competition caused him to slide to the 11th round.   I can't help but wonder if this wasn't one of those kind of sneaky picks we've seen the Cardinals make in recent years.  We'll see, but for now Hankins has passed up some more heralded 3B prospects.  Hankins went 3 for 4 with a walk and his first FSL HR and 3 RBI.  He's 3 for 8 in his first 2 games.
  • Marco Hernandez continues to hold his own against the FSL after struggling the past two seasons -- but in each of those seasons he had strong 2nd halves, so with a 2 for 4 game putting him at a respectable .275 so far, a strong 2nd half could put Hernandez back on the prospect map.

 Spokane 3 - Boise 2

  • One of the pitchers that has me excited at the lower levels is Trevor Clifton, whom the Cubs thought enough of to sign to a $375K overslot in the 12th round.  Clifton is an excellent athlete,  He has superb arm and hand speed, the first of which gives him great natural velo (sits 92-93 hits 97) and the second which can potentially lead to a great breaking ball.  But he lasted until round 12 because of some poor mechanics.  I have to think the Cubs found something they could fix here because after working him with this offseason, the 19 year old skipped the rookie league and jumped into the Boise rotation.  After battling nerves in his first start, we got a better glimpse of what Clifton can do when he walked 2 and struck out 7 in 4.1 innings.  He allowed just one run on 3 hits but earned a no-decision.  Watch this kid.
  • Trey Lang is another good athlete (former OF) with a great arm and a nasty slider.  He had all kinds of command issues last year but as good athletes sometimes do, he has made a big jump in progress at AZ and it appears to be translating to his in game performance at Boise.  Lang pitched 1.2 innings without a walk and one strikeout.  It's tough to make the climb as a lower level reliever, but Lang has the talent to give him a chance.
  • Another pitcher with a low 90s FB and  great slider, David Garner, didn't fare as well, allowing 2 runs in 2 innings to lose the lead and the game.  To be fair, he was a bit unlucky as his defense made a key error and Garner didn't hurt himself by walking anyone while striking out 3 batters.  Tough loss.
  • 2014 pick Alex Tomasovich, a SS, had himself a nice debut, going 2 for 4 with a double.  Another draft pick, Charles White made his debut in LF.  He did not get a hit but he did score a run.
  • Varonex Cuevas is a late bloomer from the Dominican (he'll be 22 next month) and he had gotten off to a slow start, but he HR'd today to go with a single and a walk.

AZL D'Backs 10- AZL Cubs 9

  • Dominican LHP Jose Paulino put up some nice numbers in the DSL and has the good height and projectable frame (6'2", 165 lbs) you want in your pitchers.  I have no scouting info on him at this point but the Cubs thought that the 19 year old made enough progress to get the Opening Day start for AZ. He didn't fare all that well.  Allowing 6 hits and walking 3 while striking out just one hitter in 4 innings, leading to 7 runs (6 earned).  Despite the rough start, the offense gifted him with a no-decision.
  • Carlos Llano didn't pitch poorly, going 2 innings and walking one while striking out 4 -- but he allowed one run and that was the difference in the game last night.
  • Gleyber Torres went 0 for 5 in the game with one strikeout.  There will be better days ahead.  His fellow 2013 IFA bonus baby, Eloy Jimenez, did not start but came into pinch-hit and struck out.
  • Jorge Soler got in this game and resumed his doubles machine ways, getting 2 doubles and 3 hits overall.  He drove in 2 and scored one.  Good to see him back on the field and hopefully the new training regimen will keep him there for the rest of the season.
  • A sleeper prospect I like, Bryant Flete, got off to a nice start with a 3 for 4 day with a walk, a stolen base, and 3 runs scored.  He has room to fill out and already has good bat to ball skills and a solid approach in addition to being a solid defender up the middle.  Another guy to keep an eye on for the future.  He could probably play SS but the Cubs have two excellent defenders there in prospect Torres and recent IFA signing Ho-Young Son.  Flete's hit tool is better than Son's however, and he will get a chance to start at 2B.
  • Albert Mineo is a catching prospect from Italy (how many people can say that?) and he went 3 for 4 with a walk, RBI, and run scored.
  • Adonis Paula, a 3B, went 3 for 5 with a triple, run, and 2 RBI.
  • Charcer Burks went 2 for 5 with a triple and 2 runs scored.



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  • 10th round RHP from East Carolina, Ryan Williams, signed. Not sure what he signed for, but the slot was $141,000 (hopefully we saved about $100,000 on him). Cease, 9th rounder James Farris, 15th rounder Jeremy Null and 17th round John Michael Knighton remain unsigned from first 20 rounds. Gilliam, Zayas, Depperman, Minch and Adams around for possible use of any remaining funds.

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    Was at the Boise Spokane game last night. Clifton was 89-91on a slow gun. His curve was 74-76 with 3 swinging K's in the first 2 innings. Lang has good size. We were sitting right next to the bullpen and he really popped the catcher's mitt on one that made my wife jump. Garner really impressed me. He is maybe 6' and slim. When he was warming up I was thinking he would have to get by with craftiness cause he didn't appear to have much velocity. He gets into the game and it was easy 92-94 gas on the slow gun. He did give up 2 solid hits to start the 8th then the defense let him down. Jeffrey Baez should've been 2 for 4. They gave an error to the 3rd baseman on a high bounce that he backed up on then dropped. He would never have thrown out Baez regardless. White is built for CF. He is maybe 5'8" but he had some really nice AB's working it to 3 balls on 2 of his plate appearances with 1 HBP. Tomasovich had an error at 3rd base on an easy hop when he went to transfer the ball. He had 2 nice hits to RF though. Cuevas hit his HR 310' on a rope to RF. Giuseppe Papaccio is the player that I liked the best. He started at SS and had to leave in the 4th after a short hopped pick off attempt appeared to catch him on the tip of a finger on his throwing hand. He has good size and went 1 for 2 before the injury. Back out to the field tonight, Josh Conway will be pitching.

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    Any word on Almora? He is out of the lineup the second straight day.

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    how the hell did Soler get hurt i the first place again?

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    Byrnes got axed in SD, might they be interested in Hoyer?

  • In reply to Ray:

    I'm sure they would be interested in him, not sure how much though. But I think at this stage He isn't going anywhere unless really overwhelmed with an offer. I can see him wanting to see this through with the Cubs and then wanting to distinguish himself from Epstein but that is at least a few years away. Just my thoughts on this.

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    In reply to Ray:

    It sounds like McLeod is at the top of their list.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Can we give McLeod a raise? Today?

    I realize that it's not always about money, but it can't hurt.

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    In reply to Ray:

    Hopefully not interested in McLeod.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Byrnes Replaced Hoyer in 2011. Jed's not going back to SD.

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    Bryant just hit his second homer.

    of the day.


  • In reply to Giffmo:

    He now has 3. One to left, right and center. So much for his mini-slump.

  • In reply to Zippy2212:

    Sorry I miss read the twitter feed. He has 3 Iowa HR's one to each field.

  • In reply to Zippy2212:

    this is great news for Bryant and the Cubs (long-term).

    My best case scenario is that he can somehow be a positive influence on Baez' approach, and that what ever he does well will eventually rub off on him.

    It's been 60 years since the Mantle and Maris combo. Wouldn't it be great if the Cubs could get a little luck and create their own version of that combo for the 21st century?

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    It was a monster shot too... cleared a flag pole that was probably 25-30 ft tall. in dead center at the 400 mark. It was impressive.

  • Wow, not many posters today. Everybody must be out on the lake or enjoying the backyard.

    did anyone see that Wada got added to the 40-man roster? Wonder who got dropped off for him?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    E. Whiteside

  • Wada had to be so Cubs didn't lose him makes sense with Whiteside being dfa.

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