Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Boise offense starting to click on all cylinders

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Boise offense starting to click on all cylinders

The last two days have been outstanding for the Cubs top prospects but today it was the lesser known guys stepping up, especially for Iowa, who is making a nice run for the playoffs.  And with Tennessee fading a bit, perhaps that has some implications for Cubs top prospects Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, each of whom could use as many ABs as possible this year.  Arismendy Alcantara may be going back as well and that would make things really interesting

We always make Cubs lineup, how about an Iowa playoff lineup with Alcantara, Russell, Soler, Baez, and Bryant?  Just a thought but it might make for must watch playoffs on MiLB.com.

And the Boise offense may not be as star-studded at that dream lineup, but they can hit a little too. They are suddenly rolling and have improved their record to 21-15.

Iowa 5 - Round Rock 4

  • LHP Eric Jokisch scuffled a bit today, lasting 4 innings and allowing 4 runs (3 earned) to raise his ERA on the year to 4.04.  He came into the game with an FIP that was pretty much equal to his ERA, so what you see is what you get here with his season.  He is going to be an interesting roster decision but his peripherals, level of advancement, and left-handedness work in his favor, so as of now I think he gets the nod.  It's not to hard to see him getting chosen given the scarcity of solid LHP.
  • Solid bullpen work today by Carlos Pimentel, who pitched 3 scoreless innings to pick up the win.  Pimentel improved to 2-6 with a 4.63 ERA.
  • Marcos Mateo struck out the side in his one inning of work.  The hard-throwing 30 year old has managed to stick around despite injuries.  He may have had his best shot last year, when he pitched well and was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Diamondbacks, but he was sent back and has had a rather pedestrian season.  He has pitched 23.1 innings and put up a 4.07 ERA.
  • Save #20 for Blake Parker, who struck out 2, raising his K rate to 12.8 per 9 IP and lowering his ERA to 1.33.  Parker has been the odd man out this year in the bullpen but he hasn't sulked about it Iowa.  The 29 year old has gone down and pitched well and will likely put himself in a position to make a roster next season, if not here then on another MLB team.
  • The I-Cubs had one offensive explosion and it came in the 2nd inning when they scored all 5 of their runs.  They got a solo HR from Chris Valaika, who hit his 10th of the year.  He also singled and is hitting .290/.354/.445 with 10 HRs, putting him just a shade under the .800 OPS mark on the season.
  • Eli Whiteside and Logan Watkins each added a HR off former Cub Justin Germano.  It was the 4th HR for each player.
  • Javier Baez was 1 for 3 with a 2 run double to cap the 5 run rally.  He was also hit by a pitch.  Baez is hitting .247/.309/.472 on the year.
  • Kris Bryant went 0 for 3 with a walk.

 Huntsville 1 - Tennessee 0

Huntstville 5 - Tennessee 0

  • This was not a good night for Tennessee.  The best performance came from Pierce Johnson, who went 5 innings and allowed just one unearned run, but it was enough for him to take the loss and fall to 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA.  The biggest blemish to Johnson's season is a 41 to 34 K to BB ratio and he has yet to walk less than 2 batters in any one outing.  He has managed to pitch around that so far, so he deserves credit for that.  He has pitched somewhat better in his last 5 starts, walking 4.2 batters per 9 IP.  He waked just 2 batters today in his 5 innings, so he is headed in the right direction.  His stuff is  good enough to be a #3 type, but command may knock him down a peg.
  • Eduardo Figueroa lost the 2nd game with 4 runs allowed in in 3.1 innings.  Figueroa has a solid low 90s fastball that reaches 95, but he has struggled with consistency, especially in terms of his command.  He has a 4.41 ERA in the year.
  • Stephen Bruno just played game 2 and went 2 for 3 in that game, getting his average back up to .281 on the year.  Bruno has tailed off a bit lately, perhaps the long season has taken his toll after missing last year with a torn UCL and TJS.
  • Addison Russell and Jorge Soler played the first game.  Russell went 1 for 3 while Soler went 0 for 2 but did draw another walk.

Fort Myers 5 - Daytona 3

  • Tayler Scott started with 3 scoreless innings, holding on to a precarious 1-0 lead, but the wheels started coming off a bit as he allowed 2 runs in each of the next 2 innings.  Scott is 5-7 with a 4.88 ERA this season.
  • Daytona struggled on offense, managing only 5 hits.  Albert Almora had one of them, his 20th double of the season.
  • Kyle Schwarber singled in the first run of the game for the D-Cubs and it turned out to be his only hit of the day.  Schwarber has primarily played LF at Daytona, though he will catch Rob Zastryzny on a regular basis.  Given how aggressively the Cubs have promoted him, I think they are going to have him focus on the OF, perhaps as soon as next year.
  • Gioskar Amaya doubled and walked twice as the 2B prospect raised his line to .280/.370/.358 on the year.  It's been a solid season for the 21 year old after some ups and downs last year at Kane County.
  • Jordan Hankins doubled and drove in 2 runs.  The 3B has held his own after some initial struggles following his promotion,  He is up to 254/.353/.373 at Daytona after hitting .322/.361/.461 at Kane County.

 Great Lakes 4 - Kane County 2

  • It was a battle for Paul Blackburn, who did his best to keep the Cougars in the game, but ultimately allowed 4 runs in 6 innings, 2 of them on a 2-run shot in the 6th that put the Cougars down 4-1.  Blackburn fell to 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA on the year.
  • Jose Arias looks like he might be a better fit out of the pen, the 6'5" RHP has been able to let loose and forget about his change-up, which he struggled with as a starter.  He has a 2.20 ERA after 2 perfect innings in which he struck out 3.  He has struck out 11.6 batters per 9 IP, though he still needs to improve his control (4.1 walks per 9 IP.
  • Will Remillard singled and walked.
  • Jeimer Candelario singled, walked and drove in a run.  He is hitting .247/.305/.464 with 4 HRs since rejoining the Cougars squad, but he has shown signs of coming around of late.
  • Trey Martin singled twice and drove in a run.  Martin has hit .302 in his last 41 games to raise his overall average to .247 after a horrendous start to the season, though his OBP skills need work and he hasn't hit for much power.  Still, there is some progress so that is encouraging.  We know he can defend as well as anyone this side of Albert Almora.

Boise 12 - SalemKeizer 9

  • Ben Wells pitched 5 innings and allowed 2 runs, walking 3 and striking out 1 to improve to 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA.
  • 7th round pick James Norwood gave up a run in 2 innings.  He walked one and struck out one.  He has pitched 4 innings and allowed one run so far with one walk and 5 Ks.
  • Jeffrey Baez singled, walked, drove in 2 and scored a run in 5 PAs.  He has slipped off his recent torrid pace but the has been cutting down the K rates, getting it in the 22% range while increasing the walk rate to a solid 7.7%.  Baez was a player I considered for the top 20 and will likely slot in the top 30 by season's end if he continues his progrss.
  • Rashad Crawford extended his hitting streak to 19 with a triple.  He has also hit in 23 of his last 24 games.  He is hitting .321 overall and is slugging .438, but his walk rate is just 2.75%, so that is an area he will need to work on.
  • Mark Zagunis doubled twice, scored and drove in a run and is hitting .354/.469/.520 in his first 20 games as a pro.
  • Danny Canela continues to be a steady force in the middle of the lineup.  He doubled, singled, scored 2 and drove in a run.  He is hitting .303 with 3 HRs on the year.
  • Jesse Hodges has also been a consistent performer since getting off to a slow start.  He came a double shy of the cycle, hitting his 5th HR and raising his average to .282.  He scored 3 and drove in one.
  • Justin Marra had another productive day with 2 hits, a walk, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored.  He is approaching a career high in PAs with 119 so far (just 3 off his best in 2012).  Marra is hitting ,324/.395/.561 with 4 HRs.  He has two things working against him.  One is a questionable defensive profile at catcher and the other is that he has some swing and miss in his game, striking out 27% of the time despite repeating short season ball.  Good hitter with a good approach, but there is still some work to do for him.
  • 2B Chesny Young continues to light up the NWL.  2 more hits raised his average to ,436 and another walk raised his OBP to .532 in 12 games and 48 PAs.
  • His DP partner Jason Vosler is also hititng well, a 1 for 3 day put him at .340/.392/.511.  He also walked.
  • A 3rd infielder, Alex Tomasovich, has had to play 1B and DH to help accomodate but he is doing well in his own right.  A 2 for 4 day put him at .283/.338/.333 on the year.

AZL Cubs 4 - AZL Brewers 2

  • 19th round pick RHP Austyn Willis seems to get a little bit better with each outing after a rather jittery debut.  Willis has great size at 6'6", giving him good natural plane on a fastball that has hit as high as 92, though he doesn't consistently hit that level.  He has pitched just 4.1 innings so far as he gets his feet wet in pro ball.  He has walked 3 and struck out 6 in 4.1 innings, though 2 of those walks were in his debut.
  • Alex Santana struck out 7 in 3.2 innings but he also gave up 2 HRs, including the first pro HR by Jacob Gatewood.  The big K day put him at 16 at 16.1 innings, though he has walked 6.   His ERA is a solid 2.20.
  • Luis Hernandez is a big 6'5" pitcher who made a couple of early season starts but was hit hard in his last two.  He rebounded today in a relief role.  He pitched 2 scoreless innings and walked 4 to lower his ERA to 4.30.
  • 20 year old Yomar Morel picked up his 3rd save but not before there was  major scare as he gave up 2 runs as the Brewers pulled within one.  Morel's ERA remains unblemished in 9.2 innings as both runs were unearned and he has also yet to walk a batter while striking out 10.
  • Eloy Jimenez singled and drove in 2 runs but just as I was lauding his low K rate earlier today in our prospects, he struck out 3 times today.
  • Varonex Cuevas had a pair of hits and walked twice.

 

 

Comments

Leave a comment
  • what's the deal with zagunis? seems he does something every day. old for his league?

  • In reply to cubsker:

    He just got done with a full college season and he will actually stick at catcher, but has been getting reps in the OF too in order to keep him fresh. He'll definitely start moving up, but nobody can move up like Bryant and even Schwabs. We have been spoiled in that regard as most college players don't get a lot of play right after being drafted.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubs Future:

    I think it has to do with him needing reps behind the plate during practice and warm ups as much as anything else. This was the "Jason Kendall v2" that all the draft guru's loved when the 3rd round came around. So give him some time before you start on the when will he be moved discussions (Not saying he won't be promoted).

    Remember what we see in the games is only half of the discussion when talking about catcher prospects. There is work being done in between that really speaks more to why Zagunis spends time in the OF during the games. To keep college catchers fresher after their long season and graduation to the pro ranks having them in another position a few times a week can only help keep some gas in the tank.

  • In reply to Richard Hood:

    Good points Richard. It's interesting that the two catchers drafted early in 2014 (Schwarber & Zagunis) both have advanced bats for the position. The most advanced (Schwarber) they won't hold back for his defense to catch up and that infuriates some people. The other, (Zagunis) is being held back to work on his defense and that infuriates others. Ironically, they both have the same primary weakness (which is a deal breaker for this former catcher) and that is controlling the running game.

    So while both are advanced offensively, there are huge questions/concerns about their ability to stick behind the plate. They appear at least to be giving Zagunis an honest chance back there. I think both go to Fall Instructs and then we'll have a much better sense of how they'll fit in back there. Neither may ever be more than an emergency catcher for the MLB club. We'll see.

    It's the most important position on the field. Having a catcher that can't control the running game is a recipe for disaster and will negate his offensive value. I like Zagunis' ceiling. But his floor is an OF and we have several OF prospects profiling much higher than him. His offensive profile is highest among our Catcher prospects (Schwarber excluded) but we need his defense to catch up. IDK why it matters if he learns those fundamentals in Boise vs KC for July....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    From what I have read, Zagunis grades out better than Schwarber when it comes to mobility around the plate and other receiving skills. It's just the throwing that's a problem. Did I read that right?

    On Schwarber, it seems like scouts don't like him a ton as a receiver, either, so he's not the catcher Zagunis is.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I haven't seen either to have my own opinion, but I'd say thats the jist of the scouting reports I've read on them.

    Neither have much of an arm though. Teams will turn a BB into a triple on them...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree with most of what you said but I was say pitchers control the run game more than catchers. There is plenty a pitcher can do to keep baserunners at bay where the catcher can only do one thing aside from calling pitchouts and doing what Pudge allegedly did and call more fastballs to get himself a bit more time

  • In reply to Alex Good:

    It is definitely a combination of the two. There have been very few teams in history that have the coordination between catchers and pitchers that the Cardinals have. I hate the Cardinals, but I don't think anyone can question the abilities of Yadier Molina.

  • In reply to Alex Good:

    It's "pop times" Alex... glove to glove. Neither is very impressive there nor does either have more than a 40 grade arm from what I've read.

    Pudge was consistently in the 50%plus CS rate throughout his career with some of his best 60%+. Zagunis barely had a 20% CS rate. Gonna take more than just FB's to get him to be half the catcher Rodriguez was. To be fair, he doesn't have to be perennial GG defender back there. But he does need to get that up around 40%...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    A lot of people, myself included, were talking about using Schwarber as a part-time catcher. I wonder if that is more practical with Zagunis. If he can develop as a batter and a decent catcher he could cover 1/5 of the catching duties, then provided spotted relief on the corners. It would offer some flexibility and save a roster spot.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    This would only work if you had 2 really good defensive Catchers in AAA in case of an emergency. Otherwise, we will need to "legit" catchers on the active roster.

  • Brett Jackson had two hits.. seems to me he has been playing well lately

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    He's been better but he hasn't been able to build on good games and carry it over for a sustained period. I am waiting to see him sustain it for a larger sample size before I get too excited, I always root for Jackson and I hold out hope, but it is really guarded now with Jackson.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    sometimes a light goes on in guy with that much talent and you never know why. Be nice if that was the case. but I'm also guarded . just saying

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Andrew444:

    I hope so Andrew but I think we need to be realistic in our expectation of guys that are very flawed. Jackson needs about a month of monster numbers if for no other reason than to get his confidence back to the level it needs to be.

  • John, thanks a ton for all the news and notes.

    Varonex Cuevas sounds like an exotic tequila.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Haha! You're welcome. It is a great name, unfortunately he is a bit old for the Rookie League.

  • I still don't like the idea of Schwarber being moved into the outfield.

    I know projections projections, but we are still thin at catcher, and he has what it takes to at least be sufficient at it. It's not like he's a bad defensive catcher.

    The outfield is getting clogged as is, and there's no doubt in my mind that the Cubs hope to add veteran outfielders to the team for next year, especially if the likes of Ruggiano are dealt. I would love to see a scenario where we could be looking at a potential lineup of this next year:

    1. Nick Markakis (RF)
    2. Melky Cabrera (LF)
    3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
    4. Kris Bryant (3B)
    5. Javier Baez (2B)
    6. Starlin Castro (SS)
    7. Wellington Castillo (C)
    8. Arismendy Alcantara (CF)

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I think the Cubs think catching is a longshot with him. They may feel the value of him coming up sooner outweighs taking an extra year to see if he beats the odds and stays at catcher.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Long shot huh ? Well that pretty much answers my question. ( reply currently be chewed on by the spamaninator, let's see when it spits it out )

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Haha! I don't know if you need to do that. It's always possible. I think it's a matter of whether they think he has a realistic shot and if so, how much more devrlopment time would it cost. My guess is that they think the cost and risk is too much, but maybe he changes their mind. They are giving him a shot to do that -- at ;east this year and maybe this offseason.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I would love it if they added nick and melky. I am not sure that's the lineup I would use, but having those 2 along w Rizzo and Castro takes all the pressure off Javy and Kris. It sets them up in an environment to succeed, adapt on the fly, and learn how to be a pro from 4 solid pros.

    Shit, I would be happy if they signed one of those two along w an Ace, we would finally be able to call an offseason success under the Ricketts regime.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    For me that lineup makes a LOT of sense.

    Nick and Melky hit 1 and 2 in their lineups respectively. Markakis doesn't fill outt he typical "speedy guy" as lead-off, but he does excel at getting on-base. Both of those guys are amongst the league leaders in hits as well, and you need to put base-runners on for players like Rizzo.

    We desperately need to improve our team OBP (as we are the second worst in the MLB). Those guys are great starts especially at the top.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Average, you seem to be a guy that wants to speed up the rebuild from other comments. If that is true you would like Schwarber to stay in LF, his bat looks awesome but to catch you are going to need him to slow way down his ascent in the minors.

    To get a passable MLB catcher he may need at least 15 and 16 in the minors, and that isn't even to get him to an average catcher. His bat is too good for his catching ability if you take my meaning. So the only way to even have a chance at making catcher work is to slow him way down and concentrate on defense. It looks like the FO is saying it isn't worth it at this point in his development.

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    Sure I'd like it to speed up, but who doesn't? I'm not insinuating I want them to go all out next season, but surely there has to be some sort of signs that we are actually improving with our major league roster and not just within the farm system.

    Slowly piece together a contending team by acquiring pieces that could immediately contribute (i.e Markakis and Melky). I'm not suggesting to splurge in free agency, but we can't solely rely on the farm system to become messiahs either.

    In regards to Schwarber, I would GLADLY wait another 2+ years if that meant him playing catcher everyday. No need to rush him, especially with the log-jam we have in the outfield already within our farm system (not including potential/inevitable free agent signings either).

    Of all the major prospects in our system, he's probably going to be here last (about the same time as Almora), so there's no rush for him. He doesn't have to go at the Kris Bryant pace.

    If he turns out to be an OF, that's fine as long as the bat is in the lineup, but it would be an added bonus if it was at the catcher position - even if that meant we had to wait a little longer.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Not saying to splurge in FA. Cabrera and Markakis are both going to cost more than they are worth. One of them maybe, but to add to corner OF's with almost no power is not going to be good moving forward when you have real corner OF power bats coming up but have no where to move these guys.

    I'm assuming all you want is Scherzer and Lester for the rotation as well.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Theo Epstein:

    I used to think the Cubs would target at least one high-quality OF in free agency, but now I'm not so sure. Especially with Soler's recent performance. But also Schwarber and even McKinney. Now I suspect you are right: the Cubs' focus will be SPs. But let's see what happens.

  • fb_avatar

    Let's assume that Kyle Schwarber is in Wrigley at this time next year.....( possible but not probable )

    Does anyone think Kyle Schwarber will be adequate enough behind the plate to be the back up catcher ( catches about 7-8 games a month )which benefits the cubs in ?????????

    1. Keeps Wellington or whomever is the #1 catcher more fresh at the end of the season.

    2. Then we wouldn't need to carry a back up catcher as Kyle would be that guy even though he's an everyday player in the OF. ( assuming some other position player is the emergency catcher )

    3. That extra roster spot could become very helpful to a good manager. Extra bopper on the bench, extra LOOGY in the pen, a speed burner to come PR when we need a base stolen, ect.

    I

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Honestly, I think at best he would be an emergency catcher at this point.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    So an Evan Gattis-type? Possibly. It would make sense.

    I want to see how Castillo bounces back this half, because it is unfair to criticize his play thus far considering he's also been hurt, but a big bounce-back in the second half will re-instill my confidence in him. We know he can be a good defensive catcher, and if he can get on base and provide a little bit of power to be a 3+ WAR player that would be good.

    A consistent 15-HR 65 RBI catcher who gets on base 33-35% of the time while providing top-notch defense then I would be extremely happy and confident enough to have Schwarber no longer catch.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You would still need another catcher on the roster.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Theo Epstein:

    Be patient. After Instructs or AFL we will know more about Schwarber's future than right now. If he goes to Instructs and dedicates himself to being a catcher and makes enough improvement to actually get the front office thinking about it, the conversation is going to be very different. If he goes to the AFL then his promotion is going to be very offense driven and catcher is going to be a thing of the past.

    I still think there is an outside possibility that he gets totally shut down when Daytona's season is over just because of his work load. With Tennessee's playoff hopes fading my idea of Schwarber getting some extra AB's there at the end of the year are fading as well.

  • Also, I have been really curious as to why Travis Wood has been so bad this season, so I looked at his FanGraphs.

    As I was looking at his numbers, his pitches, pitches-types, velocity, etc ... nothing really caught my mind, UNTIL I saw his pitch-percentages.

    His CUTTER is simply awful this season. AWFUL. Last year, his cutter runs above average was at 16.6, which was the highest in the league, and what this signifies was not only was it his best/league's best cutter, but it was the pitch that gave him success. This season, that cutter is sitting at a -8.6. Even though he got a little lucky last year and is a little unlucky this year, he's not too far off from last year in terms of how he is actually pitching, just the result. If that cutter recovers, he'll go back to being the old Travis Wood. He'll never be an elite kind of guy, but if he could perfect his best pitch (which happened to be the best cutter in the league last year), he can go back to being a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm in the long-run. A good #3/#4.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I would settle for a #4. If it is just a matter of tweaking the cutter than I am pretty optimistic he can be that for the long haul.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I was wondering that as well. The World Series dreaming blog has a breakdown with graphs on all the his pitching peripherals.

    I was kind of thinking 16.6 is a little fluky as I find it hard to believe you can go from basically being the master w a pitch to losing complete control over for 4 months.

    It it possible that the book is out, and the hitters are prepared to hit that cutter, ESP the right handed hitters who are just crushing him rt now . ( too bad montero, a left handed had the key hit tonight )

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Before the following totally ridiculous wall of text, let me give a disclaimer that analyzing pitches in a vacuum is somewhat silly, since all pitchers mix up their pitches and use them differently, and sequencing is crucially important.

    However, you made a really interesting point, perhaps made more interesting by the associated peripherals. His cutter has lost a tick on average, and granted, he didn't have a lot of velocity to lose, but just 1 mph shouldn't probably make that much of a difference. Also, it's possible that he traded a bit of velocity for movement, since he's actually getting a lot more movement on the pitch than he has in years past. His cutter has traditionally had a lot of vertical movement and nothing horizontal but if I'm reading the charts right it looks like he's added a bit of glove-side run (which could perhaps explain some of his troubles against righties).

    It also looks like he's pitching out of the zone a lot more with the cutter now, so even though he's getting more swings out of the zone and fewer swings in it (which is generally good), he's getting fewer strikes overall. I doubt this is intentional; I think he's probably just missing his spots, since Wood relies on his cutter to get weak contact, not whiffs (more on this later).

    He's also seen a significant shift in the types of contact allowed. Travis has been one of the most extreme fly-ball pitchers in the league since he came up, and a big part of his success, when he's had it, has been an ability to manage contact on balls in the air. That's why it's a bit worrisome that his cutter has allowed a huge upswing in the number of ground balls since last year and a correspondingly higher BABIP. Batters still aren't generally hitting it for a lot of power, but they're making a lot of hard contact and finding holes, which obviously isn't good. It's not clear how much of this is bad luck and how much actually comes from a problem with the pitch, but since he doesn't miss a lot of bats, he's going to have to find a way to manage contact a lot better, or at the very least, get a more effective good-luck charm.

    I compared Wood to a couple other prominent cutter throwers. Wainwright, who by far has the best cutter in the game so far this year, and Lester, who is a bit more of a power pitcher than Wood but is also sort of a finesse lefty who has lost a bit of velocity this year. Both Wainwright and Lester are allowing way more fly balls than they have in the past, and neither are allowing a huge amount of home runs, which is exactly the combination Wood used last year to such great success. Other than that, the only major difference has been their swinging strike percentage. Batters whiff a lot on cutters from Wainwright and Lester, especially on pitches out of the zone, and when they do make contact, they generally hit it in the air, but not too hard. It is really hard to get hits with this ball distribution.

    Wood on the other had, barely gets any whiffs on his cutter, which is OK when people aren't hitting it very hard. However, unlike the other guys, who presumably use their cutter as a put-away pitch, it seems that Wood uses his more to get ahead in the count. Unfortunately, Wood seems to be having trouble locating and batters are having no trouble laying off. As long as Wood can't throw strikes and/or get weak fly balls, he's going to be in big trouble.

    Overall, it seems that Wood definitely needs to make a few adjustments to get back to last year (maybe sacrifice some movement for velocity again?), although his drastic departures from his career numbers could very well normalize and do a lot of the fixing for him. And, apart from the nitty gritty on his cutter, Wood has an unusually low strand percentage and unusually high BABIP allowed, which are probably the two main numbers you expect to regress on any pitcher. But since Wood's velocity and control both seem to be trending in the wrong direction, I am a bit worried about him going forward, and I think that unless something significantly changes, the real Travis Wood might be closer to what we've seen this year than last.

    On the bright side, even though Wood has been a disappointment on the mound, his bat and his glove combined with his bad-but-not-miserable pitching, actually make him overall a bit above average as a pitcher. He's not a superstar, but with a positive regression he might make it close to +3fWAR, which is not too shabby.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    Good stuff!

  • Jim Bowden wrote an article about what it would take to acquire Cole Hamels, and it got me thinking how perfect of a match he is for the Cubs (what big-name, top of the rotation guy isn't, right?)

    He said that the cost should be similar to what the Shark/Shields deals were (elite prospect, top-five org prospect, and one or two mid-level prospects. However, he also said that the Phillies could take a package similar to the Garza deal, where they get two organizational top-5 prospects and two top-10 prospects.

    Meaning, for the Cubs it could cost Alcantara (even though he's just top-5 with the Cubs, he's still considered "elite" in baseball-standards, right?), McKinney, and an Underwood.

    Or, a package of, say Almora, McKinney, Underwood, and Candelario?

    He's under contract for four more years after this one at a clip of $22.5 mil annually, and the Cubs are also on his no-trade list, but would anyone be opposed to making such a deal if he's truly available?

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    I am most certainly against it. Let me see where we stand this off season and I would reevaluate, but I may be able to get Lester for similar dollars (probably more years but the same yearly avg) and not give up really nice prospects.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Cole Hamels would be, that is why he listed the Cubs on his no trade list.

    If we are going to overpay for TOR pitching, let's use cash.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    He will be 31 next year and signed through his 31-35 years. Potentially he will be good for those years, but will certainly but on the downturn. Meanwhile, the players you would be giving up would be (in the Almora package) would be 24, 23, 24 and 24 at the end of those years and, if any of the 4 reach their ceiling (particularly Underwood), they will be more valuable than Hamels is during the Cubs run.

    The Cubs core is young. When Hamels contract us up, Rizzo and Castro will be in their prime and the youngsters will be nearing their prime. If we are going to go for a pitcher who will not be in the age range of the core players, I'd rather do so through free agency than trades, at least until it is evident (from our on the field performance, not hope and projection) that the one pitcher/player we trade for is key for post-season contention.

  • Was at the Daytona game last night. Scott sat at 90-91 with his fastball in the first two innings, then switched to all off speed stuff after that. I think he could have benefited from mixing in the FB more in the middle innings. That said, Ft. Myers hitters were hitting a lot of fly balls. Our outfield really got a workout! McKinney was in center, Rademacher in right, Schwarber left. Researcher saved one HR with a grab over wall. Impressive. Scott is really thin. Maybe he fills out and can add some speed as he does.

    Despite the score, the team seemed to threaten most innings. McKinney showed off his youth with an AB in the 6th. He was 0-2 after two pretty good cuts resulted in fouls. I think everyone in the ballpark knew he'd get something off speed out of the zone next. Sure enough, he couldn't lay off and struck out badly. Lots to learn, but I liked what I saw.

    Also, Contraras really impressed me behind the plate. He is an incredibly athletic catcher who has the arm to make a snap throw to second on a rope. Almost got the runner out too! His demeanor was aggressive the whole game. Leave Schwarber in left, Contraras could develop into something special.

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    I like what I've seen from Willson defensively too. Was hoping he'd develop a little more offensively though.

  • In reply to Jayhawk81:

    Attended the game as well. I thought Scott was supposed to be a guy that induced weak ground balls. Boy was I wrong. He was also facing a diminished line up with Buxton and one other other decent bat sitting out. It looks like the BABIP gods demanded their tribute from Scott after the first three innings.

    Was surprised to see Peralta featuring a 94-96 mph fastball in relief. First time I saw him pitch. Seemed to be using a fastball-slider mix, but the slider wasn't very effective.

  • fb_avatar

    Interesting article on BA as a recap of top bonuses in draft:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/2014-draft-top-bonuses-lined/

    A good picture of the Cubs' draft strategy. We were the only team with $1 mil+ bonuses after round 3, and we had 3 of them, Steele, Sands, and Cease. Schwarber was the largest "savings" in the draft. Once we couldn't get Rodon, the strategy was to get 4 high-end talents for the price of one....and that's exactly what we did. Bravo!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I love the way it unfolded. Rodon, Aiken, Kolek, etc may have been the "blue chip" TOR prospects (Rodon's ETA would have lined up nicely with our timeline). You can't be upset with getting another middle of the order impact bat (from the LH side) who's timeline also lines up nicely and 4 potential impact arms in Stinnett (I really like what I've read on him), two first round talents in Cease & Sands (I've seen Sands in person and he looked like a man among boys in that HS tournament), Justin Steele is really raw and inconsistent, and appears to be a bit of a project for DJ so who knows...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    What's interesting is that the ways things have worked out we may get another bite at the apple on Aiken. Figure Matuella goes first. Then the Astros pick #2, but they can't pick Aiken. So if the Cubs are sitting at #3 or #4, there's a decent chance Aiken will fall into their laps.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That, of course, assumes Aiken doesn't honor his commitment to UCLA (assuming he isn't barred for having used an "advisor"/agent.

    It would be great if the Cubs had the #1 pick and had a choice of Aiken, Matuella and Cameron (and any others arising). We could easily get a great player and have $1mm+ undercap signing to use elsewhere (Aiken had planned to sign for $1.1mm under cap, for example).

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to springs:

    It seems likely that UCLA is not an option, for him or Nix. You really have to feel for Nix here. He just got clobbered.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No question. The interesting thing is that he will likely have a grievance through MLBPA with the Astros, but I am not sure he would want them to honor his contract -- I can't imagine he wants to be an Astro right now. Perhaps if he wins he will get damages in the form of the difference (if any) between $1.5mm and whatever he signs for next year (including interest).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Not sure if Aiken will be eligible next year and is anyone concerned that he actually may be an accident waiting to happen. He might not be a top 5 pick anymore. With that premium of a pick teams want to reduce their risk as much as possible. Maybe most other teams think the Astros overreacted and don't see a risk, but I'm not so sure. Too bad for Aiken as he seemed like a good kid who was excited to begin the next chapter in profession baseball on draft night. I hope he has a great year somewhere and gets his chance soon.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Totally agree with your analysis. On Sands, I would be interested in hearing more about your impression of him -- he sounds like a great pick I don't know much more than the short blurbs on MLB and BA.

  • In reply to springs:

    I've been around his team a few times. I didn't know who he was. In the FHSSA 3A state championship semi-final game, He pitched a complete game and won 1-0. The thing that stood out to me was his CB was devastating as an out pitch. I wasn't behind the plate so I didn't get a good look at it. But LHH were bailing on it and he regularly buckled their knees with it. But RHH couldn't hit it either. He was also getting swings and misses on his FB too. I'm friends with a couple of scouts in the area and one told me he had him in the mid nineties. But he seemed to be most optimistic about his projectability. I knew he was really high on Sean Reid-Foley and I asked him who he preferred and he indicated it was close. At that time, there was plenty of chatter about Foley being a 1st round, possibly top 15 pick, so that stood out to me. Seeing the Cubs get him in the 4th round brought a smile to my face. When I asked about him post draft, that same scout told me he only fell out of the 1st round due to signability issues, as he has strong times to Mike Martin at FSU. So it appears our FO is just as magical in the Living Room with the parents as they are in the field.

    I didn't take any notes, etc. and had a 5yo with me so there were plenty of distractions for sure. But I honestly don't remember anyone squaring him up or hitting anything hard at all.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Wow, that is great to hear! Thank you for the insight.

  • In reply to springs:

    NP, you're welcome.

  • I liked the Schwarber pick because of his left side power bat potential. He projects as our future(near future) left fielder. The one that the Cubs were looking to move stud prospects for. If Kyle shows over the winter that he can catch, that's even better. One or two of Russell, Baez, Castro, Bryant, or Sole might be moved for TOR.

  • John, don't bail out on the Smokies yet. Even after being swept yesterday, they are only 2 games out of the playoffs. And they have CJ Edwards coming back. Team has been in a bit of a hitting slump, to many good hitters to stay down the rest of the season.

  • I know cubs will have to make
    Some decisions soon. I would like to see AA stay with the big club and play cf. Since Baez is playing 2nd, doesn't that make sense?
    Also I would like to see Olt and
    Lake get sent to AAA, not only to work things out but to build up trade value. Any thoughts???

  • Kane County coach says he believes that Tseng could be pitching in majors by 2016. That would be amazing if true as he is only 19 now, but would be difficult to fathom unless the jump was made to Tennessee to start next season.

    The strategy has worked so well with taking the best college hitter the last two seasons that the Cubs might consider a guy like DJ Stewart but it would be difficult to see them pass on Aiken or Matuella if they were available.

Leave a comment