Cubs Minor League Recap: Rizzo hits two bombs, Wood and Raley solid but Cates gets shelled

The Cubs are developing a nice little problem.  It appears the “what if” scenario many of us had in our heads is beginning to play out.  Bryan LaHair is hitting the ball well in Chicago and Anthony Rizzo is absolutely raking in Iowa.  He hit his 3rd HR in two days, including two on Monday night.  There was nothing cheap about either HR as the RF didn’t even flinch either time as the ball sailed way over his head.

Here is the rest of the recap from around the Cubs…

Iowa 10 – Albuquerque 6

  • Travis Wood started the game with 3 perfect innings before the Isotopes started getting to him.  They got 4 hits over the next 3 innings, 3 of them doubles to put 3 runs on the board.  He won the game with 6 innings pitched while giving up 3 runs.  He walked one and struck out 6.
  • Manny Corpas did his best imitation of the big league bullpen, which isn’t a good thing.  With Iowa up 9-3, Corpas let the Isotopes back in the game with 3 runs over just 2/3 of an inning.
  • Fortunately, Esmalin Caridad came in and shut the door.  He has pitched very well in the early going, having yet to give up a run.  Perhaps just as importantly, his velocity is back up in the 93-94 mph range and he’s throwing strikes.  He threw 1 1/3 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts.
  • Blake Parker pitched a shutout inning to close the game.
  • Anthony Rizzo was 3 for 3 with a walk.  He had the 2 HRs and 3 RBI on the day.  He’s hitting .474 with 3 HRs so far this season.  It looks like Rizzo intends to test the Cubs patience.
  • Iowa’s other top prospect, Brett Jackson really struggled in going 1 for 5 with a meaningless soft single to LF on his last AB.  He struck out twice.
  • Josh Vitters, the forgotten prospect, has quietly gotten off to a good start.  He had 2 hits today and his first 2 RBI of the year.  He’s at .357.
  • Offensive oriented keystone combo Luis Valbuena and Adrian Cardenas were stinging the ball for the second straight day.  Each had a ringing double while Valbuena added a walk and Cardenas added a single.
  • Even Travis Wood got into the act with a mooonshot HR deep beyond the LF wall.

Tennessee 3 – Chattanooga 2

  • Finesse lefty Brooks Raley bobbed and weaved his way through 6 1/3 innings of 2 run baseball.   He gave up 6 hits but walked just one and struck out 4.  A good 2 way player in college, Raley even contributed a key RBI.
  • Alberto Cabrera is off to a strong start.  He just may be the most talented RP at the upper levels.  If he continues to throw strikes, as he has in his first two outings, that 97 mph with wicked movement is going to make him awfully tough.  I think he’s got a chance to pitch in Chicago before the year is out.  He pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts.  He also stranded a potential go-ahead baserunner when he relieved Raley.  He definitely earned this win.
  • Frank Batista got the save with a scoreless 9th and 2 strikeouts.
  • Logan Watkins and Matt Cerda, who were featured earlier today, each had a hit.  Cerda had a triple and scored a run.
  • Jae Hoon Ha had a 2 hit day.  He’s off to a .333 start.
  • Rebel Ridling, who put up some nice numbers last season in Daytona (though he was a bit old for the league), got a pair of hits as well.
  • Michael Burgess continues his nice start with a hit and a walk.  A third mediocre season in high A ball had lowered his stock a bit, but Burgess is looking to put himself back on the prospect map.  Big power, good discipline, and lots of strikeouts.  He might get a better look with this front office than he did with the last one.

Dunedin 8 – Daytona 7

  • There’s no way to sugar coat this.  Zach Cates was throwing batting practice up there.  His velocity was down and Dunedin teed off on him, getting 7 hits (3 of them for extra bases) and 6 runs.
  • Organizational arms Eduardo Figueroa and Brian Schlitter came in and shut the door with 5 scoreless innings of relief which allowed Daytona to mount a rally.  Figueroa was clutch with 4 innings of one hit ball.
  • AJ Morris, one of the arms the Cubs acquired in the Tom Gorzelanny trade, gave up 2 runs in his one inning of work, although he was victimized by bad defense.  Neither run was earned.  Overall Morris allowed 2 hits and no walks versus one strikeout, so he deserved better.
  • Tyrell Harris, one of two arms acquired for Derrek Lee, took an adventurous route toward 2 scoreless innings.  He walked 4 batters but allowed no hits and struck out two.
  • 3B Greg Rohan, who’s not really considered a prospect, was the offensive hero with a HR and 4 RBI.
  • Top 5 prospect Matt Szczur had a hit and a walk to break out of his slump.  He also stole a base and scored 2 runs.
  • 2B Ronald Torreyes bounced back somewhat with a hit off the bench today.
  •  Daytona’s unlikely top hitters this year have been 2B-OF Rubi Silva (.412), OF  John Andreoli (.500 with 4 walks), and SS Arismendy Alcantara (.467, 1 HR).  Today Alcantara had another solid day with 2 hits (single, double) and 2 runs scored.  Andreoli contributed a hit and his 2nd SB while Silva pitched in with an RBI single.

Quad Cities 8 – Peoria 3

  • Ben Wells started and got touched up a bit, although his defense didn’t lend much support.  A throwing error by 3B Wes Darvill resulted in 2 unearned runs.  Wells line was 4 innings, 7 hits, no walks and 3 Ks.  He was charged with one run.
  • Converted strong armed RF’er and now LHP Kyler Burke came in and pitched 4 scoreless innings of two hit baseball.  He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 3.  The performance was important because Peoria rallied to tie the game, but…
  • 23 year old RHP Bryce Shafer was all over the place today. He walked one batter and hit 2 others.  Combined with the 3 hits he gave up, Shafer wound up allowing 5 runs to not only lose the lead, but put the game completely out of reach.
  • Rafael Lopez is a 24 year old catcher who has the catch and throw skills plus enough bat to make the majors as a backup one day.  The trouble is, he’s old for his league and probably needs to move up a level or two.  He made his case today with 3 hits, including a double, to bring his average to .400.
  • Wes Darvill had a couple of knocks and is off to a .313 start.  His bat shows some potential and he has some athleticism. The Cubs liked this kid a lot when they drafted him, but he’s been slow to adjust to pro ball.  Perhaps things are starting to click.
  • Top 20 prospects 2B Zeke DeVoss, SS Marco Hernandez, and RF Reggie Golden all pitched in with a hit apiece.  All three of them also scored a run.
  • Speedy CF prospect Pin-Chieh Chen had a single.

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I'm getting just as excited about the Minors recaps than the majors report. Rizzo is gonna make it tough but lahair is smoking the ball too. People seem leaning toward having Lahair in left field when Soriano is gone but the new regime seems to want good defense at every position so I dont think he'll be a fit there. what do you think john? if he's still racking by midseason is it left field or do they trade him for prospects. I think the latter is the best move because if he has another big year he becomes a good trade chip on a team looking to squeeze every drop of value out of guys who wont be here 2-5 years from now.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think LaHair is going to be a long term solution in LF because of that lack of range. LaHair does catch what he gets too, but that isn't a whole lot. But I can see them trotting him out there short term this year until they can figure something out. It's going to be one of the things worth keeping an eye on.

    They may eventually trade him if they need to but he needs to build some more value. He has changed some scouts minds about his ability, now he has to prove it on the field. He could be a cheap 1B solution for somebody and that may be worth giving up a prospect for some team.

  • A trade to the AL, with 1b/DH written all over him, it's a shame he's not fast enough for LF..Soriano is fast enough but doesn't cover shite and he usually drops most things he gets to..LOL

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I really like LaHair, wish there was a way to keep both he and Rizzo in the short term. Maybe the Cubs will decide to live with the below average D in LF. At any rate, not much competition for that LF spot in next couple of years: Sappelt, Campana, maybe Szczur, Ha...Vitters?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that is one of the things that makes this new organization so exciting; who knows what "Threeo" will have crafted by mid-summer; let alone the next couple years. I love Garza's spirit-but if a guy like Marisnick is acquired to go along with a Soler signing; how would those guys look as bookends to Jackson in the OF(and paired in the lineup with Rizzo)? Looks like we are also likely to see a great deal of INF competition over the next several years as well; as we seem to be loaded with guys who have the potential to take the next step(Baez, Amaya, Acosta, Candelario, Hernandez, DeVoss, Watkins, Torreyes, and Lake); and who knows; maybe guys like Cardenas, Valbuena, Cerda and Soto get in on the conversation. As many have stated on this site-it is an exciting time for the Cubs Minor League organization.

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    Except for that Samardzija gem, I find it more exciting to recap the minor league games so far. I do see some promising stuff with the major league club but no doubt this team's time is a couple years down the road.

    And it's about time we hear something about Soler, isn't it?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Vitters next Alex Gordon maybe? I really dont see any long term guys there. maybe LF is where we get out big FA signing

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'd be thrilled if he turned out that good. Looks more like Jeff Franceour with not as good of defense right now.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Alex Gordon isn't a good comparison for Vitters. Gordon actually will take a walk.

    Vitters is very similar to Jeff Francoeur. He has power, but will strike out a ton, and because he refuses to walk, once the league's pitchers learn how to pitch to him his batting average should plummet unless he suddenly changes his approach, which neither Vitters nor Francoeur has done.

    Just a reminder, Francoeur looked like a superstar his first year or so in the majors - until the pitchers adjusted and he quickly looked like just another recycled journeyman. Since Vitters is so similar to Francoeur I preach caution to not get over excited if/when he comes up and if he has early success. His refusal or inability to work the strike zone and take walks is going to kill him in the major leagues. His OBP will be barely above his batting average.

    Name the few guys in major league history who almost never walked, but who were more than just average hitters, you can count them on one or two hands. Ichiro is the latest, but even he walks more than twice as much as Vitters has so far - around 45-50 walks per year for Ichiro and 10-22 for Vitters.

  • John: Pretty shocked when I caught the Daytona box score after two innings(I see my guy Marisnick was 2-2 to start the game-if Garza is traded I hope Marisnick is part of a Blue Jay package including a couple top pitching prospects such as Hutchison/Norris/Nicolino). Any word on how Cates looked coming out of spring training? To me, he is one of the more intriguing pitching prospects to watch this summer. I realize it's only one game-but pretty tough way to open for your new organization.

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    No word on how he did in the spring but his velocity was reportedly down in that start, which is a bit concerning. He certainly wasn't fooling anyone.

  • fb_avatar

    John,
    were heraring alot about Ben Wells but how is Dillon Maples doing? is he even in full season ball? Usually they are paired by the sides when we talk about our younger pitching prospects.

  • Not to play the role of John Arguello ( I don't drink that much Scotch).

    But Jason Macleod was on Hit & Run Sunday ( Great baseball show, eve though Rozner's out to lunch.....) and he talked about Maples. First off, he hd s light injury setback in his arm. Nothing major, they're not worried. Butmaples is on a very slow track. he's not even scheduled to get on a mound until June. And then I think he's scheduled to play in either Arizona or Boise after that. But while they like his arm. he's just starting out. Monitor his progress....sure. But as for being on the Radar as far as the Cubs roster- 2014, 2015 at the earliest was the impression that I ( and the mighty mighty Bosstones) got....

  • In reply to felzz:

    Great update. I did see he was not yet assigned (had him on my rehab list) That is a great show. Missed that one, though. Family doing the Easter thing and all.

    Birthday comin' hope my wife buys me a nice bottle of scotch...

  • John - Random (and overly dramatic) question but, in terms of where he ends up, is Ryan Braun a fair comparison for Josh Vitters? Braun started out playing 3rd ... Obviously his hitting ability is well understood and he is a threat to steal ... Any chance Vitters comes close to his level of production?

  • In reply to Phaedrus:

    Almost no chance on that one. Vitters isn't the athlete that Braun is. Doesn't have that kind of power either. The ceiling looks like an avg. 3rd baseman and it may be tougher for him to produce at the level of most LF'ers.

    Unless Vitters really improves his approach and defense, we should temper our expectations for him.

  • fb_avatar

    I agree with you almost no chance vitters comes close to braun. Then again who knew Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson would combine for 70+ homeruns last year. Correct me if im wrong but I dont think they flashed that kind of high octane power in the minor leagues if any at all. but overall I see Vitters ceiling as having Micheal Young type of production. .300avg 10-15hrs 85-100rbi great contact hitter like young not as much plate discipline though. Like I said thats the high end of the stick for me. I dont see 25-30 homers out of Vits, just doesnt fit his swing.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Michael Young is a more realistic expectation if things work out for Vitters. Good contact hitter, average power, sub par defense, few walks...

    But you're right, you never know what can happen. Ellsbury a bigger surprise than Granderson, who some thought would have some power -- though maybe not as much as he showed last year.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    A guy can't really have great plate discipline if he never takes a ball, like Vitters.

    Michael Young walks 47-58 times per year over the last 7 years. He has a 6.7% career walk rate in the majors, and a 9.6% career walk rate in the minors.

    Compare that to Josh Vitters 4.3% career walk rate in the minors. It sends up a ton of red flags about a hitter's approach and his inability or refusal to work the count.

    Another good comparison for Vitters is Shawon Dunston, who walked at a 3.2% clip in the majors. I liked Dunston, he was a fun player, but not very productive at the plate.

    Unless Vitters gets some heavy duty hypnosis, he's likely never going to be anything special in the majors.

    Besides his strike zone problems, he can't play very good defense at 3b, doesn't hit for enough power to be a regular MLB 1b, and nobody is raving about his few appearances in LF/RF. Where is he going to play is just another of the problems for him. If he adds muscle and starts cranking out 30 hr's regularly, someone will find him a spot. But projecting as a mediocre to bad fielder who hits .260 with 15 hr's isn't going to get anyone hyped up about him.

    That's one thing that's annoying about being a fan of a large market team with such a passionate fan base. Prospects are over-hyped from day 1. Everyone is expecting Vitters to be a superstar. He's far more likely to have a mediocre career, with a lot of games sitting on the bench.

  • Vitters today with another walk and 2 hits... He now leads the team in BA.

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