Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Johnson extends scoreless streak; newcomers Martinez, Zagunis lead Kane County to win

Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Johnson extends scoreless streak; newcomers Martinez, Zagunis lead Kane County to win
Pierce Johnson

Not much offense today outside of the Kane County Cougars, who bashed 3 HRs today, but there were some solid pitching performances across the board, though a couple of well-regarded arms at the start of the season continued to struggle.

The big 4 of Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, and Albert Almora each went 0 for 4.

A reminder that tomorrow is the Baseball Factory is hosting the Under Armour High School All-American Game.  If you are going to the game and are waiting to pick up your tickets from me, I will be at Mullens from 2-3:30 pm.

On with the recap...

Las Vegas 2 - Iowa 0

  • Eric Jokisch had another solid start allowing 2 runs while walking one and striking out 6 in in 6 innings.  Unfortunately. the I-Cubs offense offered no support.  Jokisch fell to 9-9 with a 3.52 ERA.  He lowered his walk rate to 1.85 per 9 IP to go with 8.17 Ks per 9 IP.
  • Arodys Vizcaino pitched a scoreless inning.  He has whittled down his once astronomical ERA to a slightly less horrifying 6.06.  Of course, it's a misleading stat in this case because he allowed 9 of his 11 runs over a 3 day period in early June.
  • The I-Cubs managed 4 hits, 2 of them by Rafael Lopez, who raised his average to .270.

Tennessee 2 - Huntsville 0

  • Pierce Johnson extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings, a run covering 4 starts.  He was inefficient today, however, needing 89 pitches to get through 4 innings, walking 3 but striking out 7.  In those 4 starts, Johnson has walked 9 but struck out 29, the latter is a rate of 15 batters per 9 IP.  He lowered his ERA to 2.36 on the season.
  • Matt Loosen ate up some much needed innings with 3 scoreless to preserve the shutout and pick up the win.  The former starter is 5-5 with a 5.64 ERA.
  • LHP Andrew McKirahan lowered his ERA to 2.82 with a scoreless frame while the incredibly reliable Frank Batista and his 1.13 ERA pitched a 1-2-3 9th for his 10th  save.
  • Addison Russell did not get a hit but did drive in a run.
  • Stephen Bruno went 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI.  The 23 year old 2B is hitting .274/.345/.400 with 3 HRs on the year.  It's his first full season as a pro and as an undersized player playing the demanding position of 2B, he could just be wearing down a bit.

 Tampa 7 - Daytona 2

  • Tyler Skulina was 85-90 today and lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing 5 runs, 4 earned.  It's been a tough season for Skulina, who was pegged as a possible breakout candidate by one scout I asked, but a knee injury has robbed him of velocity.  Maybe it's a blessing in disguise as Skulina has put up a solid year despite not having his good stuff all year.  If it comes back, maybe he can apply some of that guile and be a more well-rounded pitcher.  Skulina is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA.
  • Stephen Perakslis has really hit his stride in the 2nd half.  He's 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA since the all-star break and 3-0 with a 4.22 ERA overall.  The Cubs have several power arms and Perakslis can throw as hard as any of them, often sitting around the mid 90s and touching as high as 97 this year.
  •  Kyle Schwarber doubled in 4 ABs.
  • Dan Vogelbach was in the middle of all of Daytona's offense today with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored.  He has slumped of late, hitting .162 in his last 10 games as his line has fallen to .266/.356/.423.
  • Bill McKinney is dealing with a minor injury, so he has been the DH over the past few days.  It hasn't stopped him from hitting.  He went 2 for 4 with  a double and an RBI.  He is hitting .320/.409/.451.

Kane County 7 - Wisconsin 2

  • I didn't know what the Cubs would get in the Darwin Barney deal, but a useful pitcher like Jonathan Martinez was probably beyond my expectations.  He's a pitcher who has  a chance to move through the system as a bottom of the rotation type or, more likely, a middle reliever.  That's solid value.   He went 5 innings today without walking a batter while striking out 2.  He gave up 2 runs but improved to 9-5 with a 3.47 ERA between the Cubs and Dodgers organizations, both of which have a team in the MWL.  He lowered his walk rate to 1.59 per 9 IP.
  • Tyler Ihrig effectively piggybacked the start, finishing off the game with 4 scoreless innings to get his first save and lower his ERA at Kane County to 2.93.  He walked one and struck out 3.
  • Danny Lockhart went 3 for 4 with a walk and an RBI.  He's hitting .291/.353/.364.
  • Mark Zagunis make his MWL debut and played RF for the Cougars.  He had a very Zagunis-like game , going 1 for 3 with 2 walks, a run scored, an RBI, and a stolen base.
  • Jacob Rogers went 2 for 5 and hit his 15th HR of the season.  He has been in a slump of late but got back just under the .800 OPS mark with a line of .263/.357/.442.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer hit his 6th HR of the year.  There is no question Brockmeyer can hit, but at 6'5" some question whether he can stick at catcher.  If he can, he will definitely be more of an offensive-minded backstop.  His HR put him at .306/.372/.464.  He doesn't walk a whole lot, that OBP gets a big boost from Brockmeyer getting plunked by pitches.  In fact, he has almost as many HBPs (11) as he does walks.
  • One person who may be said to see the season end is OF Trey Martin.  He seems like he's just getting in a groove and today may have been his best game overall.  Martin went 2 for 3  with a walk, HR (3), and 3 SBs (27).  He's hitting just 247 with an OPS just north of .600.  He's had a solid second half, however, hitting .279.

Hillsboro 5 - Boise 4

  • Another discouraging start for Dillon Maples, who walked 5 in 3.1 innings and gave up 3 runs overall.  His ERA is at 11.57.  He has walked 13 batters in 11.2 innings at Boise.
  • Kevin Brown may lead the organization in frequent flier miles.  He is back in Boise and in the 3rd spot where he went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.  He's had his most sustained success at Boise, where he has hit .271/.333/.457.
  • Justin Marra hit his 8th HR.  He also walked.  Marra was off to a hot start but  in his first season with extended playing time, has begun to slow up a bit but is still having a very good season at .280/.354/.518.
  • 3B Jesse Hodges drove in 2 with a double in 4 ABs.  The undrafted free agent out of Canada is hitting .267/.311/.401 with 6 HRs but seems to have a knack for driving in runs.  He has 38 RBI in 58 games.  That;s on pace for over 100 RBI in a 162 game season.  Not that Boise plays that many games, but it illustrates his timely hitting even if his numbers aren't special overall.


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  • fb_avatar

    Hey everybody. Long time reader first time commenter. I'm down in Iowa for a weekend in baseball and just thought I'd share what I noticed tonight.

    Bryant was fed a diet of almost all breaking balls tonight and just looked very off balance and struggled to adjust. That being said, the whole Iowa lineup looked a bit off tonight, but it's worth noting that there's definitely good reason for him to still be down in Iowa right now. On the bright side he made two great plays at third including a diving play on a hard hit ground ball ranging to his left and throwing out the runner at first.

    Soler went 0 for but had a few solid at bats and made good contact in every at bat. I believe every at bat ended in a line out to the outfield with at least two of them at the warning track.

    Finally, Vizcaino had a very split inning. He absolutely sealed to his first two batters, hitting 95 consistently throughout and with good break on his curve, but was a bit wild after the first two. He managed to calm down and bounce back for the scoreless inning though, and if he can channel those first two batters faced consistently he'll be a great weapon out of the pen.

  • In reply to Jeremy Day:

    thanks Jeremy. Sorry this got caught in the spam filter.

  • I got Pierce's BB rate per 9 IP as 3.68. 9 BB in 22 IP. 15 BB per 9 is a lot! :^]. Guessing a little math boo-boo late at night.

    Thanks as always for the recaps, John!

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    He said "the latter" is 15 per 9 - I think he was talking about the strikeouts. But that does work out to only about 4 1/2 innings pitched per start.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Oops didn't see the "latter" - before my morning coffee! My bad.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Similar to the old saying about the British Empire: The sun never sets on the Cubs Den.

  • In reply to Cphil:

    Yup. I know of at least a couple other ex-pat Cubs fans living in Europe who read and comment, and then there is at least Tokyo Craig handling the Far East.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Don't forget me!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Haha! I know Pierce struggles with command at times, but that would have been terrifying.

  • Maples is really going off the deep end since his Rib injury. He ended last year well at KK Call this year The Lost Season

  • In reply to Andrew444:

    All Maples has ever had is lost seasons.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    He had a brief run at Boise last year where he pitched well but yeah, other than that, he has been a disappointment. Never has had that fluid delivery or the command to go with it.

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    In reply to Andrew444:

    He's probably a non-propect now. I suppose we'll have him next year because why not, but doesn't look promising. Looks like a bust.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    At least he's young enough to go back to college and still be able to play football. I think UNC had offered him a scholarship once upon a time. Can't remember what position he played, though.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    We drafted him in the 14th round, gave him a $2.5MM signing bonus to go pro vs going to UNC. Javier Baez selected #9 overall signed for $2.6MM to put that into perspective.

    He was a BA top 50 draft prospect as he was dominate his senior HS season and I remember he was the ACE for the 18U world Championship team that year. In football, he was a field goal kicker...

    Kind of sucks that his development is what it is... he originally graded out wit ha ceiling as a #2 SP. Which I guess he still has... but the odds of that ever happening have to be like winning the powerball...

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    To me, Jokisch should be 40-man rostered this offseason. If we need a spot, we could DFA Rusin, because Jokisch can basically take Rusin's role: AAA Shuttle pitcher. It just looks like Jokisch has passed him, and more importantly will have more options than Rusin. Rusin will be out after next season, at which point he'll be DFA'ed anyway.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Seems like the logical way to play it. It appears quite a few pitchers have passed up Rusin when the Cubs have needed starts.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    The best thing Rusin did was make us forget about Brooks Raley. Their fate appears similar....

    Unfortunately, Jokicsh isn't profiling as anything better, just newer. We'll see, but he should at least help us forget Rusin. Let's hope for the best.

    People do seem to forget that last summer, Rusin started 9 MLB games in July & Aug. He posted a 2.79 ERA during that time, and a 2-3 record with (what felt like) the worst offense in MLB. People were actually calling for him to be a permanent fixture in the rotation and a viable #5 SP going forward.

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    No need to Rush In Rusin who's quite hittable at the MLB level and come to think of it also at Iowa.

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    All of a sudden, Bryant is striking out at a much higher pace, do you think they've found his weak spot and are exploiting it?

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    In reply to Melancubby:

    There's two weeks left and Theo has said that he absolutely will not be called up.

    I think he's just trying to hit everything out of the park at this point. He has no real incentive to play well.

    And the MILB home run leader gets $200 for every honer he hits.

    So he's probably just trying to amuse himself at this point.

  • Got to see PJ last night (for the first time). His FB topped at 92 and sat @ about 90 - was wild high quite a few times, also got squeezed a few times, I thought. Breaking pitches sharp, but again, command.

    I guess I should be there every time Loosen pitches, because both times I've seen him, he has been pretty sharp. He doesn't look like his stats look, IOW.

    Steven Bruno is a keeper, IMO. As has been said, he's probably a bench player in the majors, but he makes hard contact and is at least serviceable at 2nd (not impressed with his arm, though). That triple was crushed, and for a little infielder, that was pretty impressive. His single was a rocket line drive. He also hustles all out.

    Russell was very smooth at SS, but was handled by Huntsville's Ross (who looked pretty good himself), as was Almora. Almora didn't get many chances in center.

    The most exciting play of the game was from one Jae-Hoon Ha. He robbed Huntsville of a 3-run homer in the 8th, leaping and snaring the drive over the right field wall, the game saver.

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    In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks for the recap cubs1969. I always love first hand reports!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Yes! I'll echo BocaBobby's sentiments... thanks so much Cubs1969.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    No problem, guys. Forgot to mention Cutler. Lefty hitting catcher that looks like he'll develop power - he's BIG. He seemed to do pretty well behind the plate, too, but his arm is questionable.

  • To me it's fascinating to watch Vogelbach's numbers. Yes, we've all seen the discussion of his lowered slugging percentage at Daytona, and yes his BA has dropped lately from near .280 to the current .266. What amazes me, however, is that through it all any struggles he's had seem to be reflected primarily in the first part of his slash line: BA. That tells me that he never panics and abandons his solid approach. Seems a promising basis to build on as a hitter. My impression is that umpiring at the plate improves along with the pitching as a player moves to the higher MiLB levels, and that players with good approaches often fare better as they advance.

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    In reply to markw:

    It will be interesting to see how he does at AA next year. Vogelbach is a bat-only prospect though, so he will need to show alot of bat to make it. I could see him traded by us for depth, but I could also see him as a AAAA slugger who ends up in Japan.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I can see Vogelbach as either or both of those. I can also see him as a high average power hitting left fielder in the majors.

    Time will tell.

  • In case you missed it department: in addition to Krist, the Cubs also released Papaccio (a few days before).

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Truly makes sense...when I saw him, he looked overmatched.

    Krist I thought would be a coach.

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    Hey John, have you had any recent conversations with scouts on Matt Szczur? He's had a good 2nd half, and I wonder if he is back in the conversation as a possible 4/5th OF piece. I have read that scouts hate his swing, but just curious if he's ML material. I know he has all the other tools: Great defense, baserunning, makeup, so it would be helpful if he could hit a little too

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I've been puzzled by Szczur's failure to really develop, beyond what you point out. Always the great athlete, great makeup, but why does he remain a singles hitter only--for the most part? With his great makeup he should be coachable, a learner. With his football based athleticism it's hard to believe he lacks the ability to at least be a doubles hitter who can keep defenses a bit more honest. Puzzles me. Everybody talks about his terrible swing--why has he not been able to learn to use his lower body?

  • last winter it seemed like every post was pounding Castro, and how he should be traded. I heard the other day that he had gone some 40 plus games with only one error. How does he compare with other S/S in fielding %...can someone enlighten me?

  • In reply to oneputtjim:

    Apparently, he is 8th.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    2nd worst defensive SS on that list according to their WAR metric. Yikes.

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