First off congrats to Chicago's Jackie Robinson West for their victory last night. They have reached the U.S. title game of the Little League World Series. They have a tough challenge ahead in juggernaut Nevada, who has blown through the field, so they're going to have to pull off an upset of Hoosiers-like proportions. I wouldn't put anything past these kids right now.
In what should not be a surprise to anyone, the Red Sox signed Rusney Castillo. They had the biggest positional need, the need for immediate impact, the big market money, and it helped that they had Yoenis Cespedes on the roster. The price was even more exorbitant than even the highest rumors suggested...$72M over 6 years. The deal is back-loaded and structured to look like 7 years for luxury tax purposes. I think we see a hidden strength of a good farm system here in that the Cubs didn't have to overbid for Castillo knowing they have up and coming hitters that are either in the bigs or just a level or two away. I'd much rather see that $72M go toward pitching.
As for the minors, it's not an exciting day if you're looking for big days from the big 4, but the system is pretty deep so there are plenty of guys to follow. The regular season is coming to a close. We should expect to see Kane County in the playoffs while the Tennessee Smokies (3 games) and Daytona Cubs (2 games) hang on to late season leads. Boise looks like they're on the outside in as is the team most Cubs fans care about heading into September -- the Iowa Cubs. Iowa's late season slide has dropped them into 3rd place, 3 games out
Sorry for the late recap. Juggling a lot of things right now... things will get back to normal now.
- It was a solid start for Dan Straily but poor offensive support dropped him to 7-7 despite allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings. Straily did lower his ERA to an even 4.00 and has pitched very well since being acquired by the Cubs. In 8 minor league starts, Straily has an even 3.00 ERA with a walk rate of 2.9 Ks/9 IP while striking out 8.6/9 IP.
- Armando Rivero had a rare bad performance in that he allowed a 2-run HR in his one inning of work, On the bright side he didn't walk anyone.
- Junior Lake hit a HR but it was his only hit in 5 ABs as he tries to get back into a rhythm. He has hit .316 since his demotion. It's hard to envision a role for Lake on the Cubs in 2015 given that he does not fare well on the bench. He needs to play everyday but the big club may not have that available for him.
- The I-Cubs relied on infielders Jonathan Mota and Elliot Soto for offense. Each had two hits with Soto driving in one of the runs.
- Ivan Pineyro has hit a wall in AA in an injury shortened season. He hasn't pitched particularly well and with his somewhat fringy stuff, particularly his breaking ball, it is something of a concern. AA can be a big step up for prospects and it's difficult to know how much is due to injuries and how much is due to the step up in competition. Pineyro fell to 0-3 with a 5.44 ERA after a 2.1 inning stint in which he gave up 7 runs. His usually good control has deserted him this year. He has walked 4.6 batters per 9 IP and he doesn't have the stuff to get away with that.
- The Smokies got scoreless relief innings from hard-throwing Tony Zych (2.2 IP) and Zach Cates (2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). Both pitchers can pitch in the 96 mph range but neither has been that effective at AA this year. Like Pineyro, their weak spot is their breaking pitch, though Cates has a solid change.
- The Smokies got a combined 0 for 10 from Albert Almora and Addison Russell, so the offense had to come from elsewhere. Minor league veterans Lars Anderson and Charles Cutler each had 2 hits and scored a run.
- Stephen Bruno picked up some of the slack, going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Bruno has slowed down in his first full season as a pro but has steadied the ship again of late. He has hit in 9 of his last 10 games, hitting .333 in that span and has a line of .277/.346/.398 on the year.
- Rob Zastryzny resurgence continued with a solid 7 inning effort in which he allowed one unearned run. He did not walk a batter and struck out 5. He improved his record to 4-6 and his ERA to 4.54. Those numbers are deceiving, however, when you look at his 8.66 Ks per 9 IP, 2.74 BBs per 9 IP, and his 3.54 FIP. I have heard reports of Zastryzny's fastball being anywhere from 89-93 mph this season.
- Zach Godley picked up his 5th save with a one out appearance. His ERA is beginning to look more respectable as well at 3.75. Godley projects as a 7th inning type reliever in the majors -- quite a bonus considering he was signed as an underslot. He has shown better stuff in relief with a fastball in the 92-94 range and a high 80s cutter or slider.
- Jacob Hannemann has been solid at Daytona. He went 2 for 3 with a HR, walk, and 2 RBI. He is hitting .267/.325/.390 at Daytona with 2 HRs. He has shown some speed and a little power, especially since the FSL and MWL aren't conducive to big HR numbers. He has 36 steals and 8 HRs overall this year. I like him as a fall league candidate to speed up his development and get him to AA next year.
- Remember when we thought maybe Kyle Schwarber was wearing down after a long season? That doesn't appear to be the case anymore. He went 1 for 2 with 2 walk and hit his 5th HR at Daytona, improving his numbers to .281/.400/.479. He also stole his 3rd base. Overall this season he has hit .339/.437/.603 with 13 HRs and a 1.040 OPS. I'm beginning to think he can just go to AA next year, but that may depend on his defense. I also think I'd rather see him work on his defense than go to the Fall League next year. He is going to hit there and probably won't get the needed work to get him ready to play on a defensive level. Get him with Mike Borzello this offseason and mix in some OF instruction. Beginning to like the idea of an Evan Gattis role for him.
- Few players have been as consistent as Bill McKinney has been since joining the Cubs org. He went 1 for 3 with a triple, walk, and an RBI.
- Bijan Rademacher hit his 8th HR of the season and is hitting .271/.362/.427 overall.
- Jonathan Martinez looks like a pretty good pickup so far. The RHP with the good change, feel for pitching and a fastball in the 90-94 range had a brilliant 5 inning performance. He did not walk a batter and struck out 7 while allowing just 3 hits. He's 10-5, earning a win despite a rare shaky bullpen performance, and improved his ERA to 2.50. His walk rate is a cartoonishly low 1.4% (or 0.5 batters per 9 IP) . He has struck out 5.5 batters per 9 IP thought that may improve if he can refine his breaking pitch.
- Mark Zagunis is looking like a nice top of the order presence. He went 1 for 3 with a double and walk to go with his 3rd SB. He is hitting .250 at Kane though he has a .500 OBP because of his 7 walks in 6 games.
- Jeimer Candelario went 2 for 4 with a walk and 2 RBI. He is hitting .240 at Kane.
- Jacob Rogers went 4 for 5, all singles with a run scored and an RBI, He is hitting .269/.360/.446 with 15 HRs.
- Chesny Young, hitting .338, went 1 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI.
- The Dillon Maples struggles continued with 5 walks in 2.1 innings as he gave up all 5 runs allowed by Boise on this day. I know that Maples had similar issues last year and the Cubs simplified his repertoire and approach and he pitched well. I wonder if the Cubs tried to reintroduce some of the concepts he struggled with the previous season or if he has some rust from missing most of the season. Maples has a great arm and good athleticism but injuries and an ironically non-athletic delivery has stunted his growth as a pitcher.
- The Hawks got outstanding relief -- 10.2 scoreless innings in all -- beginning with 9th round pick James Farris. Farris went 2.2 innings, walking one and struck out 3. Farris has put up a 2.45 ERA in relief at Boise.
- LHP Tommy Thorpe was a well-regarded finesse pitcher type prospect going into the draft last year, but an offseason dropped him to the Cubs in round 8. He could turn out in that Chris Rusin/Eric Jokisch mold, which would give the Cubs nice value in the 8th round. Like those pitchers, Thorpe has a high 80s FB and a good change with a good feel for how to change speeds and location. At the short-season level, that can be enough for a pitcher to dominate, and that is pretty much what Thorpe has done.
- Daniel Lewis is a great story but he is also having real success as a relief pitcher at Boise. It will be interesting to see how he adapts at more age appropriate levels but the results are encouraging so far. Lewis isn't doing it with smoke and mirrors. He is missing bats. His command still needs to improve, which is unsurprising for any young pitcher and especially for one who has had as much time off as he has but so far he looks good in a very small sample size. He struck out 4 and walked one in his 2 innings of work, lowering his ERA to an even 1.00 with 5 walks and 12 Ks in 9 innings.
- Corbin Hoffner pitched the final 3 innings to pick up the win. He is 1-1 with a 1.69 at Boise.
- Alex Santana isn't a guy I know a lot about other than he has put up good numbers in the DSL. He pitched 6 scoreless innings without walking a batter and striking out 4. The 20 year old RHP is 3-1 with a 2.58 ERA. He has an average build at 6'1", 170 lbs but has shown good control throughout his young pro career. He has walked 2.8 batters per 9 IP and is beginning to show an increased ability to miss bats (7.8 Ks per 9 IP). Someone worth keeping an eye on and if I can dig up some info on him I will share it next time he pitches.
- Brian Schlitter is on rehab and preserved the rain-shortened shutout wth a scoreless inning.
- Gleyber Torres doubled and scored a pair of runs. Torres is hitting .273/.365/.373 on the year.
- Signed for a slightly overslot bonus in the 11th round, Kevonte Mitchell is looking like a good investment so far. The tall, athletic CF'er went 1 for 3 with 1 walk and 2 runs scored. Mitchell shows raw power in batting practice but he has been more of an on-base guy in games so far, hitting .297/.383/.332 with 15 steals in 16 tries. If that power ever shows up in games, the Cubs might have themselves a real sleeper.
- Rubi Silva is on rehab and went 2 for 3 with a walk.
- Eloy Jimenez did not get a hit but drove in 2 runs, one of them with a sac fly. Jimenez is hitting .240 and has flashed occasional plate discipline and occasional power (3 HRs, 10 extra base hits). A work in progress but I think I'm pretty happy with what he has done so far.
- Albert Mineo has cooled off from his torrid start, hitting .262 now, but he did go 1 for 3 with a walk and 2 RBI.
- SS-2B Ho-Young Son went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored. Another great scouting find, Son is hitting .321/.377/.393 -- especially impressive because Son is known more for his speed and his glove. Questions about his bat and makeup caused him to slip through the IFA period and the Cubs pounced on the opportunity to sign him at good value. Definitely someone I will keep a close eye on.
Filed under: Daily Cubs Minors Recap