The Week Ahead in Cubs Minor League Baseball (April 14-20)

The Week Ahead in Cubs Minor League Baseball (April 14-20)
What if Javy Baez tops out as the right-handed Pedro Alvarez?

A second "Big Four" prospect hit the disabled list this weekend, as Javier Baez will receive time off to heal an ankle injury he suffered while taking grounders. Fear not, though - the injury isn't expected to be serious, and missing a few weeks shouldn't affect his timeline all that much.

While the injuries to Baez and Jorge Soler are disappointing, they've made me reflect on what I now think is one of the more underrated parts of cheering for a team with a strong farm system. In the past, an injury of any kind to an elite prospect like Baez would have had all of us a little...on edge. Not outright worried, but more worried than we ought to be.

Closely following a weak system that just lost a top prospect for a few weeks brings up a terrifying reality: if this guy busts/gets injured, there is no one else coming. With this system though, there's still 4 games a day with plenty of very strong prospects to follow.

And they can't all get injured and/or fail. Right?

AAA Iowa - 1 Game @ Memphis, 4 Games vs. New Orleans, 2 Games vs. Round Rock

The Iowa Cubs look to take their third of four games vs. the Memphis Redbirds (StL) before heading back to Iowa for an 8 game homestand. The Cubs are just barely over .500 thanks to strong starts from Josh Vitters, Chris Valaika, and the bullpen.

Storylines to Follow

  • Iowa's starting pitching has been brutal so far this season (outside of Tsuyoshi Wada and Carlos Pimentel), but the next set of games should help their numbers out a bit. Neither New Orleans (MIA) nor Round Rock (TEX) have much firepower in their lineups, so if take this week's worth of SP production with a grain of salt.
  • Iowa's bullpen has kept the Cubs in games where they, by all measures, had no business sticking around. MiLB relief prospects are a bit strange, but if the current crop of Iowa 'pen arms keeps it up fans are going to be clamoring for them to see time in the big league bullpen.
  • Neftali Feliz is rehabbing in Round Rock (as of this writing), so if you have MiLB.tv you may want to catch an inning of his. Feliz is on a long road back from arm injury, but he reportedly still has much of the stuff he dazzled fans with years ago.

AA Tennessee - 5 Games vs. Jackson, 2 Games @ Birmingham

After a 2-5 start to the season, the Smokies find themselves on a 3-game winning streak as they get ready to face the Jackson Generals in a five game home stand.

Storylines to Follow

  • The Smokies corner infielders Kris Bryant and Dustin Geiger are hotter than all get out right now, triple-slashing .276/.432/.621 and .278/.350/.556, respectively. However, both have racked up over 10 strikeouts in 35 or so plate appearances. This isn't something to get too worried about yet, but watching their K-rates this season will be interesting.
  • The Jackson Generals will be throwing Victor Sanchez at the Smokies this week. Sanchez is a big boy, especially for someone who is just 19 years old, but he is quite a polished pitcher for his stature and age. Baseball Prospectus ranked him the Mariners' #4 prospect going into 2014, behind notable pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Sanchez is advanced enough that he may see the majors at 20, and I am very excited to see how the Smokies lineup fares against him.
  • In Birmingham, the Smokies will be facing the White Sox' AA affiliate, which is the current home for many failed dreams of prospects. Nestor Molina, who was acquired for Sergio Santos, will probably pitch in this series. In the Birmingham lineup, you can catch glimpses of former high-round picks Keenyn Walker (.596 OPS in 130 AA games in 2013) and Trayce Thompson (who, admittedly, I still like for his power-speed toolset).
  • There are (gasp!) actually some very interesting prospects on the Barons' roster. Chris Beck will probably pitch in the series, and he represents another decent pitching prospect for Bryant to try and take yard. Micah Johnson is a very fast middle infielder who stole a bunch of bases last season. and first baseman Rangel Revelo will try to build on a strong 2013 campaign.

High-A Daytona - 3 Games @ Dunedin, 3 Games vs. Tampa

The Daytona Cubs are off to a brutal start to the season, going just 2-8 so far. They'll try and right the ship this week against an okay Dunedin (TOR) team and a weak Tampa (NYY) team.

Storylines to Follow

  • The Cubs played Dunedin last week and dropped all three games in the series. Many of the hitters in that lineup are new to the High-A level, so I'm interested to see how they respond to seeing the same pitchers for a second time. My bet is on a pretty strong response from that lineup, which, as I've mentioned before, is stacked.
  • Notre Dame product and first round pick Eric Jagielo is playing third base for Tampa right now. Jagielo has shown both the good and the bad parts of his game so far - he's got three homers but he's only hitting .220 with 13 strikeouts in 44 plate appearances. Jagielo is a polished hitter, and I expect him to tee off against a Daytona rotation that is, in my opinion, pretty weak.

Class-A Kane County - 3 Games @ Bowling Green, 3 Games @ Dayton

THE COUGARS ARE GONNA BE ON MILB.TV THIS WEEK EVERYONE! Mark your calendars - this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, you'll be able to catch what is likely the best starting staff in the Midwest League (Kane County) take on a decent Dayton (CIN) team.

Storylines to Follow

  • The Bowling Green team is not good. It's strange how quickly the Rays system has morphed from incredibly strong to just okay.
  • Dayton has a few interesting prospects to follow. Phil Ervin was a high draft pick in 2013, and he immediately exploded onto prospect lists. Ervin is a strong college hitter, and he presents a formidable challenge for everyone on Kane County's staff.
  • If the Cougars see Ismael Guillon this week, every hitter in their lineup is in for a very interesting day. Guillon has excellent raw stuff (including a changeup that no hitters in the MWL have a chance against), but he also cannot find the plate. I'll be very impressed if the Cougars lineup can wait out the changeup and make him throw them fastballs in the zone.

@TommyECook

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Filed under: Minor League News

Comments

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  • Here I thought your post was going to be about the games with the Yankees and Reds coming up.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Ha, well played.

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