Cubs Minors Recap: Sands makes his debut; Bonifacio rehabs; Underwood on the rise; Carhart hits 2 HRs

Cubs Minors Recap: Sands makes his debut; Bonifacio rehabs; Underwood on the rise; Carhart hits 2 HRs
Carson Sands

It's appropriate today that I used a picture of Carson Sands, who made his pro debut last night, in the UA game from last year.  I am going again and still have free tickets to give away if anyone is interested.  The first batch will go out this weekend.  Send me an email with your name, mailing address, and the number of tickets you would like.

Also I will be on The Game 87.7 live and in studio with Jordan Bernfield and Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

I will also be at Kane County tonight so if any of you are there, please stop by and say hello.

Let's do the recap...

Iowa 7 - OKC 4

  • Chris Rusin was one of the odd men out when the Cubs brought in their influx of young talent but it didn't affect his performance today.  Rusin pitched 7 strong innings, walking one and striking out 9.  He has had a solid season at 7-10 with a 3.87 ERA and he has had his usual good control with 2.27 BBs per 9 IP.
  • Logan Watkins did his best Alcantara impression with 2 doubles, a walk, his 13th SB, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored.  Watkins has tailed off a bit but is still having a solid season at .271/.351/.389 while playing every position in the field except for pitcher and catcher.
  • Javier Baez only had one hit but it was a big 2 run double.
  • Kris Bryant walked twice but did not get a hit.  Bryant has hit "only" .306 in the last 10 games but has still managed over a 1.000 OPS.
  • Chris Valaika went 1 for 2 with a 2-run HR with 2 walks.  Valaika is hitting .289/.358/.446  with 9 HRs and like Watkins has played all over the field, though Valaika has only played one (LF) of the 3 OF positions.

Jacksonville 4 - Tennessee 2

  • Corey Black had one of his better starts of the season as he did not walk a batter in 7 innings while striking out 8.  He allowed just 2 runs but it was enough to saddle him with the loss.  Black is 4-6 with a 2.71 ERA.  The walks have been high, however, at 4.77 per 9 IP and it is a big reason why his FIP is a less impressive 3.97.
  • Addison Russell is starting to make his presence felt.  He went 2 for 5 today with an RBI and stole a base.
  • Jorge Soler went 1 for 4 ( a rare single) with a walk.
  • Christian Villanueva went 2 for 4 and hit his 2nd HR at Tennessee.  He's hitting .291/.371/.473 in 14 games for the Smokies.
  • Dustin Geiger went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Jupiter 8 - Daytona 5

  • LHP Austin Kirk had a great 3.1 scoreless inning performance where he allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out 3.  But he was sandwiched between a mediocre start from Yao-Lin Wang (3.2 IP, 3 R) and a disastrous finish by Starling Peralta (1.1 IP, 5 R, 3 ER).  Peralta took the loss.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI.  Vogelbach is hitting .274/.362/.427 with 8 HRs.
  • The steady Bijan Rademacher just seems to do something everyday for Daytona.  Today he was 2 for 5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.
  • Rock Shoulders contributed with a 2 run double in 4 ABs,

Kane County 6 - Beloit 3

  • Duane Underwood has had something of a breakthrough season though he still has plenty of work to do.  But the 19 year old is doing pretty well in the MWL.  He has about the best arm speed I've seen at Kane this year, though Juan Paniagua is right up there with him.  Underwood has improved his control and he did not walk a batter in this 6 inning start, but he still has the propensity to hang pitches up in the zone, allowing 2 HRs.  But they were both solo HRs and the only runs Underwood allowed.  He also struck out 8 hitters.  Underwood is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA and a much improved walk rate of 3.1 per 9 IP,  but a lower K rate of 6.5/9 IP shows why he still needs work.  Underwood still works primarily off his 92-94 mph fastball but the secondaries are still inconsistent.
  • The ball must have been lively today because the Cougars hit 4 HRs of their own, including one by leadoff man Jacob Hannemann, his 6th of the year.  He went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, and his 29th SB.  Hannemann is hitting .270/.338/.405.
  • Ben Carhart doubled his HR output with 2 long balls today, giving him 4 on the year.  He also walked and is now hitting .287/.341/.386 on the year.
  • Kyle Schwarber went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI.
  • Jacob Rogers went 1 for 4 with his team leading 9th HR of the year.  Rogers has had a solid year at 1B, hitting .267/.367/.436 this season.

 Boise 5 - Eugene 3

  • Josh Conway made his 5th start as the 2012 4th round pick is finally healthy and pitching well again, particularly with his control where he did not walk a batter and has a 1.84 BB per 9 IP rate.  He allowed 1 run in 3 innings and lowered his ERA to 1.84, though a low K rate has his FIP at 4.35.  But I don't think anyone should be worried about Conway's K rate.  When he's fully healthy confident and they let him lose, he can hit the mid 90s with a wipeout slider.
  • Ryan McNeil has struggled and gave up a solo HR today, but that was it.  McNeil pitched 2.2 innings, walking just one and striking out 5.  Like Conway, McNeil was drafted early in the 2012 draft (3rd round) but he has also had Tommy John surgery and is making his way back.  This was his most encouraging outing since his return.
  • David Garner allowed a run in 1.1 innings but the hard-throwing RHP managed to pick up the win as the Hawks came from behind to win.  Garner did not walk a batter and struck out 3.  Garner has struck out an impressive 17 hitters while improving his control with 4 walks in 10.1 innings.
  • LHP Sam Wilson, who has a chance to be a power pitching LH RP finished up with 2 scoreless innings walking none and striking out 3.  He is off to a great start at Boise.  He has struck out 10 and walked 2 in 8 IP so far, allowing just one run for a 1.13 ERA.  He picked up his 2nd save.
  • Jeffrey Baez went 1 for 4 with a walk.  It's been an impressive start for the thickly built but speedy outfielder.  His power speed combo (7 HRs, 13 SBs) and evolving plate discipline (8.6% walk rate) has led to .274/.354/.531 start, good for an outstanding .405 wOBA and 146 RC+.  That makes him a well-above average offensive player for his league.  I don't think he sticks at CF but that kind of bat can play in the corners just fine.
  • Rashad Crawford extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single.
  • Mark Zagunis had just one hit but it was a big one -- a 2 run single that put Boise ahead for good in the 7th inning.  Zagunis has hit .348/.474/.413 in his first pro season.  We will definitely see him at Kane County next year.
  • 3B Jesse Hodges had a 3 hit day and raised his average up to .268 after a very slow start.  He also has 4 HRs.

AZL Cubs 2 - AZL Mariners 0

  • 4th round overslot pick LHP Carson Sands made his pro debut and led a brigade of great performances as the rookie Cubs combined to shut out the Mariners while allowing just 3 hits, walking 3 and  striking out 14.  Sands went 1 1-2-3 inning, walked none and struck out 2 and got the other on a ground out.  I think if you were to write an ideal inning for the Cubs that would probably be it.  2Ks, ground out, no walks.  I saw Sands in the high 80s but he has since been sitting more in the 90-92 range with the ability to reach 94 -- and he still has projection left.  A smoothed out delivery bodes for good command over time.  He is a pitcher who made a lot of progress since I last saw him, so the needle is pointing upward here.
  • 8th round pick Tommy Thorpe, another LHP, also pitched a 1-2-3 inning in which he walked none and struck out 2.  Thorpe is more polished and more of a finesse guy.  He didn't wow me when I saw him but it was also not one of his better outings.  He is a high 80s type who has to change speeds and hit spots, much like many of the Cubs lefties we have seen the past few years (Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, Eric Jokisch).
  • Jesus Castillo, the higher upside half of the Tony Campana deal, was essentially the starter in this one but waited for the 2014 draftees to get their scheduled work in.  He went 3 solid innings, allowing 1 hit but walking 2.  He struck out 3.  Castillo lowered his ERA to 3.27 as he picked up his first win of the season,  Castillo is all about projection right now with his change-up being his best pitch and his fastball having the potential to be about average or better (Ben Badler believes it will eventually reach the mid 90s but it is 88-90 now).
  • Pedro Araujo went 3 innings and walked 1 and struck out 5 to lower his ERA to 1.13  Araujo is a big pitcher (6'3", 215 lbs) who was very good in a small sample in the DSL last year and has gotten off to an even better start in AZ, walking 3 and striking out 14 in 8 innings.
  • Yomar Morel finished up the Mariners with a perfect 9th, striking out 2 and earning his 2nd save. The 6'1", 180 lbs. 20 year old RHP has yet to walk a batter or allow a run in 8.2 innings while striking out 9.
  • Emilio Bonifacio is on rehab and he started off with 3 hits in 4 ABs.
  • Eloy Jimenez has cooled off and is hitting .258 but he had a good day at the plate with a double and 2 walks.  He hasn't been as patient early as teammate Gleyber Torres (who went 0 for 4).  All 3 of his walk have come in the last 2 games, however, so perhaps he is headed in the right direction. But hey, he's 17.  He has plenty of time to develop.
  • C Albert Mineo has been a surprise this year, hitting .359/.457/.462.  He was signed as a catcher and he has split time there with other players,  He played 1B and went 1 for 2 with 2 walks.
  • 13th round pick Kevonte Mitchell and 3B Adonis Paula each went 1 for 4 with an RBI.  Those were the only 2 runs of the game.  Mitchell was drafted as a 3B but has been playing more OF of late.  My guess is the Cubs are more interested in developing that power potential right now.


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    Soler's stats are a little deceptive. He absolutely crushed a ball to straightaway center that the centerfielder caught at the wall. If he didn't take away a home run, it was close. Either way, it was the BABIP gods frowning on him. Soler is seeing the ball extremely well. If he keeps this up, it won't be long before he's back in our conversations about dream lineups.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Thanks, I didn't get a chance to see the game last night. Went out for a drink with a friend.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    We just need the Hammy Gods to smile upon Jorge....

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    I am interested in tickets to the UA game. What is your email John so I can email you my information?

  • John, thanks again for the recaps. I wish the insomnia would stick around though. I like reading the recaps with my coffee before work. Do you have an idea when Bonifacio is expected to be back? I would like to trade him since he only has a 1 year contract.

  • John

    Good morning. I hope you are well.

    Weather permitting, I will be at the game tonight at KC – would be nice to meet you and shake your hand and say thank you for all the knowledge and added enjoyment that your blog has given me and so many Cubs Den readers.



  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Excellent! I hope they get this in. If so, I will be sitting behind home plate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I was in Kane County last night, have a return flight home to Arizona tonight. I had one definite impression. Hanneman is one fast player. Im beginning to think hes going to enter some conversations, and soon.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    He may be the fastest player in the organization. His ability to hit and play better defense will be the key.

  • The volume of pitchers is starting to produce good results in the low levels ie. Sands, Conway, Underwood.

    Russell is 2 of 5 the last two games. Looks like he is settling in well.

    And I can't forget Hannemann, 2 of 4 with a HR and his 29th SB. Looks like an impact player to me.

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    In reply to John57:

    I'd be watching Trevor Clifton as well. The kid is a bulldog out there!

  • Heyman is saying the Mariners might take Lake off our, wouldn't that be a coup.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Huh? Well it can't be just Lake they are interested in. He would just be a secondary piece. Seattle is going for it maybe thats in a deal for a reliever?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I think he was just spitballing possible righty OFers for Seattle to pick-up. Still, a boy can dream can't he?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I saw that. Don't know if its article worthy. I will leave that up to Mike and Dan. I think Lake is going to find himself as the odd man out very soon.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    I'm on my way to a wedding, so for convenience sake alone I'll agree with John that it isn't worthy of an article.

    However, if Theo gets more than "or cash" from the Mariners for Lake he is the greatest deadline wheeler-dealer of all time.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    Not sure why the Mariners would be interested. I have to agree with Keith Law's snark on this one, he's not a major league hitter. Also have to agree with John, that when Bonifacio comes back and Alcantara continues to hit, he is an obvious candidate to head to Iowa. That may happen right after the break actually.

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    Can you please respond to me? I am interested in the under armor game tickets.

  • In reply to Nathan Mausehund:

    Thanks Nathan, just got home. Please send me an email and I will respond there. As Daniel said below, my email is in the About Staff link.

  • fb_avatar

    His email is listed under the "About Staff" link at the top of the page.

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    Condolences to Jean Segura and to his family.

  • John, I agree with you thats its time to keep our veterans, but if
    the right deals comes along can we include some of our
    international pool money to get a very good player(s) in return

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Yes, thought I don't know how much that's worth. I think in order for them to be valuable, you have to be dead set on a player and are short on money, but that doesn't seem to be happening this year.

  • It doesn't look as if IFA slots are very valuable on the open market right now.

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    I would like to say I appreciate being able to come to a website that is filled with people who care and think logically. Yes, some may be different and upsetting, but it's all with the same goal in mind. Bringing home a trophy, so let's not be too harsh on each other.


    Hello all let's get this started, Ricky needs to put his foot down and ask Epstein and Hoyer to allow him to use the talent within the organization the way he sees fit. He's the one in charge of the team expected to win the World Series; not a team still developing players. For that matter, yes development is very important, but I would say it's not the system who develop these prospects. It's the prospects themselves, with the drive to always learn and adjust; therefore, those with considerable talent should learn and adjust at the best level. They should be learning how to win championships in the major leagues, not AAA, and it should be taught by the man in charge of bringing home the ultimate prize. If I were Ricky, which would be awesome and I understand tough, however, if reports are correct we have the same positive mindset, so maybe I could pull it off. This is what I would do.

    Ring!!! Ring!!!!

    "Good morning Mr. Epstein, it's your best pal Ricky. How are you doing?" Nervous sitting there wondering if my job is at stake.
    "Good, everything looks like it's turning a corner.

    What's going on?" Epstein get's straight to the point, obviously he had a late night, probably dreaming about Barry Larkin, i mean Addison Russell, oh and his World Series ring, of course.

    "I've been thinking. The Cub Way is about finding the right way to win multiple championships, and I believe that is what I was brought here to do. So, I think it's time I'm allowed to work with all the talent within the organization I see ready to begin the march to that first championship, on the start to many."

    Wait, did I just tell the boss what to do? Now I'm really sweating, plus the long pause is killing me. His reply was music to my ears.

    "Give me what you got."
    I couldn't believe it, I was flabbergasted to say the least, so I pulled out my notebook took a deep breathe and shared my vision.

    "OK, this is what we do, today. We currently have young talent hungry to win, and we have two recent victories that were primarily cause of our brought up young prospect."

    I can tell I'm starting to catch moment, I just put down the notebook.

    "We need to keep this momentum flowing some how, some way, and I think it starts now." "First, its time to slowly move Jackson into Villanueva's role and hope to find something for Villanueva."

    Darn, did I just tell the boss what to do again? Oh well, he said he would hear me out.

    "Start Wada if available or a youngster who really gives us a chance. We lose were still where were at now, but if we win, it keeps the good karma and vibe of them proving themselves. Alright! Now, it's suddenly christmas and it's time to open the gifts. Allow me to develop and work with Baez, Bryant, Mendy."

    Epstein cut's me off for a quick second. "Mendy?"

    "Oh I'm sorry it's a new nickname for Arismendy Alcantara given by this great group at a place called Cubs Den. They all really work hard and I appreciate that we have fans like we do. Really sir, from the article writers to the posters. That's why I love this city and this job."

    "Ok, continue," he said, convinced I knew I was talking about what mattered most.

    "Ok thank you sir, allow me to develop and work with Baez, Bryant, Mendy, Wada, Hendricks,and Beeler. Allow Bosio to do wonders with the pitching and and bring Manny up as a hitting instructor. Manny already is building a relationship with those guys so he mightiest well keep it going. Those simple moves right there allow us to get this team filled with young talent with a group that half can lead the way with their league experience in, Ruggiano, Rizzo, Castro, Valbuena, Arrieta, and I'd even place Coghlan in that list. I'm telling you sir we can contend with that group. Not only does it make us better as a team it also makes us better as an organization. Ticket sales increase, because you know that all of Cub nation has been dying for all these prospects to get there chance; which, would be perfect timing with the start of the rebuild. I'm pretty sure Mr. Ricketts can use the extra cash. The best part is the farm still stays in the top 5. How? By sending Lake down, bringing up Soler to AAA, which could really help Lake, bring up Addison Russel, and Stephen Bruno. Our talent is deep enough to fill the voids we'd cause. You've always said think bigger picture, and it's time for us to put the painting up and admire it for a bit until it's time for another picture. The rotation is young being led by Arrieta, also Castro and Rizzo would be so excited to actually be surrounded by real talent. They may actually be excited enough to make the prospects believe this team is special and could really make that push and compete every year cause their young. Allow me to work with the best and you'll get the best results."

    What a spiel. I don't even remember taking a breath, but I can tell Epstein was really processing my ideas.
    Why? Cause of what he said next. "I'll think about it."

    And that is that. What does Ricky accomplish? He gets his team young filled with talent with a couple of guys who have experience that are All-Stars and tired of losing. He get's the best talent; to work with, to teach, to show it's ok if you falter it's how you respond and learn as a team. Thank you all if you spent the time to read this. I don't write a lot, but when I do I guess I have a lot on my mind. Below is a list of the things I mentioned if you want another look at the idea.
    And, remember, Were Closer Than We Look.
    Have a great day.


    CF Bonafacio
    2B Mendy
    SS Castro (SEE RIZZO!!!!)
    3B Baez
    RF Bryant
    LF Coghlan/Ruggiano
    C Castillo

    Valbuena, Scheirholtz, Barney, and Olt (power off the bench is always nice)


    SP Arrieta
    SP Wood
    SP Wada
    SP Hendricks
    SP Beeler

    In good shape

  • John, could you put me down for a ticket to the Futures Game too?

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    I meant UA game.

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