Well, in one fell swoop (make that one big trade), the Cubs went from potentially looking at an unprotected pick at #11 to pick #5 and just a game and a half outside the top pick. Not that the trade is solely responsible for that but the Cubs certainly don't want to make a late, meaningless rush at the end of a season unless they do it with their young stars.
One of those stars, Arismendy Alcantara is about to make his Cubs debut as Darwin Barney takes 2 days off for paternity leave. He is expected to return to Iowa afterward, but it is a nice reward for the 2B/CF who has certainly been playing well enough for a promotion. Mauricio wrote about it this last night.
There isn't a whole lot of star power to talk about today. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant had so-so games. Albert Almora's Daytona team rained out, and both Jorge Soler and Addison Russell got planned days off. Speaking of Baez, the Cubs have two pretty good prospects named Baez. One is Jeffrey, who hit his 7th HR to go with 12 sBs in just 24 games.
The other, of course, is Javer Baez. While he didn't have a great game, there was a nice article on him yesterday by Jesse Rogers at ESPN Chicago. One of the underrated things about Javier Baez is his willingness to take instruction to go with the aptitude, work ethic, and skills to make use of that coaching. It has him steadily improving a game that once depended solely on raw bat speed to one where Baez is developing an approach at the plate. That part of his game is still in the embryonic stages but given how much he has improved over the years, it isn't hard to imagine that he will continue to improve that part of his game as well. Baez is driven to be a great player and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there. It's remarkable how far he has come so far.
Baez is even using video.
"I couldn't get to the outside fastball," he said. "I was leaning back. We saw some video and I fixed it. My mind was looking fastballs in, which I don't have to do. I can just react to that."
"I wasn't looking at the ball all the way through the zone," Baez said. "We started working on that with the (pitching) machine. I've been swinging the bat good and to the whole field. Everything is back to normal."
He's also learning from guys like Manny Ramirez and his manager Mary Pevey,
"He's teaching me what to look for ahead of time from a pitcher," Baez said. "He knows how they are going to pitch me."
"He needed to start swinging at strikes," Iowa skipper Marty Pevey said Monday. "Just swing at strikes and keep working. He did that."
As importantly, Baez seems to be able to adapt and simplify all the advice and tailor it to his style,
"I feel really great," Baez said. "I started really slow, and I started listening to everybody and I had a lot of stuff on my mind. Trying to do a lot at the plate. Now I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit."
And what does Manny say about Javier,
"His power is better than mine at that age."
That is a bit frightening, especially since Baez is learning how to become a major league hitter.
With that, let's start the recap...
- With Iowa's rotation being usurped by the big league club, Dae-Eun Rhee got his long awaited for promotion to AAA Iowa. Rhee has been more resourceful than dominant this year at Tennessee and so the PCL figures to be a tough test for him. The first one didn't go well as Rhee was in trouble throughout his start, allowing 9 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings while striking out just one. He got out of all that trouble with 4 runs allowed, so it could have been worse.
- Alberto Cabrera has pitched better of late and he had one of his better performances with 3 no-hit scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 3.83. His command still isn't good enough and he did walk 3 batters but at least he's headed back in the right direction.
- Marcus Hatley has pitched well all year but that didn't carry over for this game. A rare implosion let to 6 hits and 3 runs in just 1.1 innings. It tagged Hatley with a loss and raised his ERA up to 3.09. Such is the life of a reliever, one bad outing can look your stats suddenly look less impressive.
- The big 3 had 3 hits altogether (one apiece) today with Arismendy Alcantra getting the lone extra base hit.
- The production came from two struggling athletic LH hitters at the bottom of the order. Brett Jackson hit a 2-run HR while Ryan Kalish went 2 for 3 with a walk and a 3 run shot. Kalish is 5 for his last 10 with 2 HRs after a prolonged slump, so perhaps he is beginning to turn things around.
- The Smokies climbed back over the .500 mark despite their pitchers walking 9 hitters. 5 of those were by starter Eduardo Figueroa, who lasted just 4 innings despite allowing one run. The best performance was by Tony Zych, who threw 2 scoreless innings with just one walk to earn the victory.
- With it's stars sitting this one out, the Smokies got production from unexpected sources. Backup C Luis Flores had a double, 2 walks and 3 RBI while backup SS Eliot Soto went 2 for 4 and drove in 2 runs.
- Paul Blackburn didn't have a dominant outing or his usual great command, but he did manage to go 5 innings and allow just a 2-run HR despite 3 walks. He also managed to strikeout 6 hitters and moved to 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA. The K rate is creeping upward and is at 6.81 per 9 IP right now.
- Zach Hermans also allowed a HR and like Blackburn, it accounted for the only damage he allowed on the scoreboard. In 3 innings he walked 2 and struck out 5.
- Corbin Hoffner struck out 2 batters in a scoreless 9th to complete a 13 strikeout day for the Cougars.
- Is it time to turn on the Shawon-O-Meter again? Every since Shawon Dunston, Jr has been getting regular playing time, the average has steadily increased and a 2 for 5 day left him at .260. He has hit .455 in the first week of July.
- The Schwarb-O-Meter on the other hand, seems to be a perpetual motion machine. It may have had an o for 4 or two, but it keeps on ticking with steady performance. Today Kyle Schwarber went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. Schwarber has been overshadowed by recent acquisitions and the play of the elite and fast approaching upper level prospects, but he continues to do his thing in the MWL with a .379/.471/.707. Half of Schwarber's hits have gone for extra bases (7 doubles, 4 HRs).
- Kevin Brown can add Kane County to his MiLB passport stamps. Have bat, will travel. After stints in Boise and as a fill-in for Tennessee, Brown is at Kane County to help fill in for the injured Jacob Hannemann and Yasiel Balaguert. It doesn't seem to affect his stroke as Brown went 2 for 4 with a double and a HR. In 22 games at the 3 levels, Brown is hitting .314/.374/.535 with 2 HRs.
- Jeimer Candelario continues to try to work out of what has been a nightmare season for him. He went 2 for 4 but is hitting just .182 at Kane County, a level which he handled well last year.
- Tyler Ihrig moved to 3-0 with 6 innings of 2 run baseball in which he walked one and struck out 6. His ERA is at 3.30 for the year.
- Jeffrey Baez is emerging as a legit power/speed prospect. He went 2 for 4 with a walk, double, and his 7th HR. He is hitting .250/.330/.540 with a walk rate of 8% to go with a rather high K rate of 25.7%.
- Another big day for Rashad Crawford. The Hawks have noticed and have moved him up to the 2nd spot recently where he is continue to get on base and then be an asset with his speed. He went 3 for 5 with a double, 2 runs, and 3 RBI today. The 20 year old Crawford is now hitting .307 on the year. Crawford has good speed by hasn't mastered the art of stealing bases yet, stealing 6 but getting caught 5 times.
- The Hawks now have a more experienced DP combo as 13th round pick 2B Chesney Young and 16th round pick SS Jason Vosler were both productive college bats and are taking it to the pro level. Young went 2 for 4, stole his first base, scored and is now 6 for his first 8 at Boise. Vosler went 2 for 4 with a triple, 2 RBI, and 2 runs and is 4 for his first 13 at Boise.
- OF Charles White is another experienced college bat and he pitched in with a single, 2 walks, and 3 runs scored. He also stole his 2nd base.
- Alberto Alzolay started and walked just one batter and struck out 4 but got hit pretty hard and didn't get much help from his defense. He allowed 5 hits and 6 runs (3 earned) to take the loss and fall to 1-1 with a 5.51 ERA.
- 26th round pick Zach Hedges struck out 4 in 1.2 scoreless innings.
- 8th round pick LHP Tommy Thorpe made his debut and pitched a scoreless inning while RHP Yomar Morel finished with 2 scoreless innings but the Rookie Cubs were unable to take advantage of the great bullpen work.
- Bryant Flete got the start at SS today and walked twice to go with a double. Flete has been filling in for Gleyber Torres, who has missed the past few games but he is a prospect in his own right. Good hitter and solid approach with middle infield skills.
- Andrew Ely is the latest round pick signed by the Cubs (32) to date and he made his presence known with a 3 for 4 day that included his first pro HR. Ely is a 2B.
- Shamil Ubiera is an athletic OF who was productive in the DSL last season. He has struggled so far at AZ but had himself a nice day with 2 hits, a run, an RBI, and 2 SBs.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap