Cubs Minors Recap: Great outings from Paniagua, Johnson, Cabrera; Vitters back, Hanneman on the way

Who says the Cubs system lacks pitching?  The Cubs got big performances from 3 of their top pitching prospects today.

We also got a bit of good news today as we found out that 3rd round pick Jacob Hanneman will be back playing on Monday (h/t  John C.)

Full slate today so let’s get right to the recap…

Albuquerque 4 – Iowa 1

  • Barrett Loux had been pitching well of late but that was not the case today.  He was in trouble from inning one, when he gave up 2 runs and also gave up a HR to former Cub Ian Stewart.  Loux was pretty much in trouble all day. walking 4 and allowing 6 hits. In all he went 4.1 innings and allowed all 4 runs.   He fell to 4-4 with a 4.52 ERA on the year.
  • Superb performance by the bullpen as 4 different relievers combined to shut the Isotopes down on just 1 for the rest of the day.  LHP Jeffry Antigua (1.2 IP, 1K), Marcus Hatley (1 IP, 1K), Eduardo Sanchez (1 IP, 1k) and Brian Schlitter (1 IP) were the stars of the game today.  Hatley has been a bit wild this year (14 W in 18 IP) but what’s encouraging for him is that he has figured out a way to miss bats.  He’s always had pretty good stuff — a fastball that reaches 95 and a hard curve, yet he always seemed to get hit more than he should have.  That has not been the case at Iowa, but he does need to tighten up the command.
  • Not much offense again for Iowa.  They scored their lone run on Brad Nelson‘s triple and Junior Lake’s sac fly.  Lake has cooled off considerably, however, and is hitting .289/.335/.458 — which is really closer to what we should expect anyway.

Tennessee 4- Jackson 1

  • Alberto Cabrera‘s great season continues.  He’s been remarkably consistent all year but his results are now starting to match his peripherals.  Cabrera worked at 91-96 mph (h/t @linaresricky, who was at the game today) and went 7 innings allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk.  The one hit was a solo HR which was the only run Cabrera gave up.  He struck out 3.  Cabrera is 9-3 this year with a 3.20 ERA.  He has pitched 112.2 innings, striking out 107 and walking 39.
  • Tony Zych and Zach Rosscup have become a good right-left combo in the Smokies bullpen.  Zych has pitched well except for a bad May (5.06 ERA) and has lowered his ERA to 3.22 but the peripherals have been average.  He’s walked 17 batters in 36.1 innings and while he throws in the 92-94 range and can touch as high as 97, he hasn’t struck out as many batters as you might think (26).  Rosscup’s stuff isn’t quite as good but his numbers have been better all around.  He picked up his 3rd save to go with a 2.08 ERA.   His control has been so-so (3.89 W/9IP) but he continues to miss a ton of bats, striking out an even 14 batters per 9 innings.  Rosscup is usually around 90 mph with his FB but he creates good deception and gets some late swings.  Both pitchers threw a scoreless inning.
  • Arismendy Alcantara had a 3 hit day, all singles, with a walk.   He also score a run, drove in 2 and stole his 22nd base.  Alcantara is hitting .281/.355/.480 on the year.  His 37 walks is more than he had the previous two years combined.
  • That huge sigh of relief you heard came from Javier Baez after he got his first hit since his first AB in AA.  He still went just 1 for 5 for the day and is hitting .087.  He struck out twice but only has 6 overall in 23 ABs — so he doesn’t seem overmatched and should start to turn things around soon.
  • Reader Ricky L. also told us that Rubi Silva showed a cannon from RF, nailing a runner at home.

Daytona 2 – Lakeland 1

  • If you haven’t done so already, it’s offically okay to start getting giddy about Pierce Johnson.  It was one thing to dominate MWL hitters but he’s doing it now at the adv. Class A level and it’s beginning to look like he could start next season at AA.  6 strong innings in which he walked just one and struck out 4 propelled his to his 2nd victory in 3 decisions.  He has a 2.86 ERA with 18 Ks in 22 innings so far.  Haven’t heard on his stuff in Daytona but in Kane County Johnson was often somewhere between 90 and 96 mph, a pitch that he can also cut for more movement and balances with a power curve and a change.  He’s an aggressive pitcher and goes after hitters — and certainly has the stuff to get away with that approach.  If there’s one thing he can improve on, it’s refining his command.  But he’s a young pitcher in his first full pro season, so that could come with experience.
  • I liked Austin Reed when the Cubs tabbed him in the 12th round of the 2010 draft as an overslot signing.  At the time he was more known as a guy with an advanced change and a projectable fastball.  When I saw him reach Peoria last year, that velo had come to fruition as Reed was pitching in the mid 90s. Despite his good stuff, however, Reed seems to get hit more than he should and can be wildly inconsistent from game to game. That was not the case today as he pitched 3 dominant shutout innings, walking none and striking out 3.  His ERA dropped below 5 (4.87) as he has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings.  He’s averaged almost 3 innings per outing in that streak, somethiing he’s capable of doing because he does have 3 solid pitches.
  • The D-Cubs offense has taken a major blow because of injuries and promotions so they’ve had to rely on different hitters stepping up everyday.  Today it was the bottom of the order as DH Taiwan Easterling and C Taylor Davis each had a pair of hits.  Easterling doubled and scored a run while Davis drove in one of Daytona’s two runs.  Ben Carhart drove in the other.

South Bend 6 – Kane County 1

  • LHP Brian Smith got knocked around for the second straight game.  He showed better control (1 walk) but gave up 11 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings to fall to 2-4 with a 4.53 ERA.  Smith generally works 89-91 with a curve and a change.
  • Another day, another multi-hit game for Albert Almora and while I don’t think the Cubs should be rushing anyone, it seems that Almora has re-adjusted since a short slump last month.  He makes contact extremely easily and I would like to see how he does when he has quality pitching to challenge him.  I would like to see him make the jump to the FSL at some point this season perhaps to start the month of August.
  • Jeimer Candelario had a pair of singles to get himself up to .251 on the year.  The numbers haven’t shown it this year, but will be a good learning experience for Candelario.  His pitch recognition skills continue to improve and he has flashed occasional power, which should come more consistently over time.  For the second straight year he has held his own in a league in which he is one of the youngest players.  And while he’s made a few more errors than he’d like, Candelario has improved at 3B to the point where one evaluator I spoke to said there’s no reason why he can’t stick there.

Vancouver 6 – Boise 0

  • 2nd round pick Rob Zastryzny made his second appearance and per Boise announce Mike Safford, he was 89-92 mph with a 75 mph curve.  We’d heard from Safford last time about Zastryzny’s nasty change-up so we’ve heard of at least 3 pitches in his repertoire despite pitching  just 2 innings so far.  He did not allow a run and struck out one.
  • James Pugliese took the reins from there and was done in by one bad inning in which he gave up 4 runs to take the loss.  Pugliese was partly done in by his own error which led to two of those runs being unearned.  He also walked 2 and struck out 3 as he fell to 2-3 with a 3.30 ERA.
  • 8th round pick LHP Sam Wilson pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.
  • Corbin Hoffner got back on track with 2 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 3.  The 6’5″ Hoffner has pitched 17.2 innings, walking 6 and striking out 18.  his ERA is at 2.04.
  • A short-handed Boise team really struggled on offense today but they did get a pair of 2 hits games.  The first is by 2013 draft pick Cael Brockmeyer and the other was by 2011 overslot pick Trevor Gretzky, who was in LF today.  Gretzky also doubled and raised his average to .257 on the year in 10 games.  It was just his 2nd double of the year as Gretzky hopes to grow into more power as he matures physically.

AZL Cubs 6 – AZL Padres 2

  • Juan Paniagua made his stateside debut and pitched 3 shutout innings and walked none while striking out 4.  Paniagua is too advanced for this league and was slated to start in Boise this year, but I’m not sure he can’t handle Kane County right now.  Paniagua brings easy heat out of an effortless delivery.  He throws a  slider and a change, though both pitches need work right now.
  • 2013 draft pick Zak Hermans picked up his first pro win by going 2 perfect innings in which he struck out 3.
  • Speedy OF Rashad Crawford got off to a horrendous start but is hitting .308 in his last 8 starts to bring his average up to .216.  He went 2 for 4 today with 2 triples, a walk, and his 8th SB.
  • Another speedster, CF Jeffrey Baez went 1 for 3 with a double and 2 walks.  He stole his 12th base of the year.  Baez is hitting .241 but has shown excellent patience with 10 walks to bring his OBP to .371.
  • Zak Blair had 3 more hits,  a walk, and 2 RBI.  He’s now hitting .367, showing a tremendous ability to make contact (2 strikeouts in 56 PAs), patience (7 walks) and some doubles power.
  • Yasiel Balaguert had 2 doubles and an RBI while 1B Kelvin Freeman added 2 singles.
  • Josh Vitters is finally on the way back and started at 3B, walking once but going 0 for 2 overall.

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  • Alcantara has been amazing all season long. Do you expect him to get bumped to Iowa or do you think he will finish season in Tennessee?
    Next year when the season starts TN looks like it could have Baez, Soler, Johnson, and later in the year possibly Almora and Bryant. I will be stoked to watch
    Thanks for the article!

  • In reply to Tide23:

    Your welcome. The Smokies should be stacked next year -- they'll be worth the price of the subscription alone.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It will be nice to be home in Northern bama, after nearly a year of sand. I can't wait to see the Smokies next year. I thought the '11 offense was great with BJax, Vitters and Flaherty, but it truly pales to the potential of next year's bunch.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    That's definitely worth that relatively short trip.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Better than that, they play in H'ville (20 minute drive), B'ham (90 min), Montgomery, Mobile and Knoxville...all places I have seen them. I am not a huge fan of the south, but the weather sure beats the heck out of Chicago (not to mention the cost of living). I think it is a large variable in why so many athletes do so well from the south. You can easily train 12 months a year outside.

  • In reply to Ray A:

    Oh do have close access to a lot of parks. I've got Kane, of course, and Beloit and South Bend aren't too far. Neither is Peoria (2 1/2 hours). But must be nicer in warm weather! And I agree it does have an impact on how well these athletes do. They can play year round and get so much more experience at the same age as cold weather guys. It's changing a bit as guys are traveling more, but nothing beats being able to stay at home and play all year long.

  • Hopefully I will get a glimpse of what Almora is all about tmrw eve as I am going to try and make the KC game on my way to the NW suburbs.

    From the AZL Cubs, it seems that Zak Blair has all the make-up of the new "Cubs way". High OBP and good approaches to all his ab's. Possibly another nice pick from the FO.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Do you meant at South Bend tonight?

    Blair is a guy we got a chance to talk to earlier in the year. He does sound like a guy who will fit right in....

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yes in South Bend tonite. I live in MI so its on the way.

    Anyone else going to the game?

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    I'm very stoked about Johnson and Paniagua. And I'm coming around on Cabrera. Great news today from the minors. Interesting how Baez has struggled somewhat at each new level. But it shows he can adjust.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Three legit arms and I like that Cabrera has shown better control as the year goes on.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hendricks, Beeler, Jokisch and Wells turning in nice seasons as well. And Loosen showed a sign of life with the no hitter recently. The depth is starting to improve little by little at the upper levels.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    They're all interesting guys with a chance. Too bad Beeler got hurt. Seemed on the verge of bouncing back -- I like those big pitchers who throw heavy two seamers with downward plane and Beeler is one of them. Wells is another.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It may be another sign of improved player development.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Me too. I haven't been a big fan of Cabreras so far, his numbers have never been up to his stuff, but it is beginning to appear hes learning how to pitch. Im hoping he proves me wrong.

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    That would be absolutely crazy if they all ended up at AA at the same time.

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    In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    I meant for that to be in reply to Tide's comment.

  • In reply to Jason Pellettiere:

    It may only be for about a month where the stars will all align. But that will be one exciting month if it happens.

  • Alberto Cabrera had a perfect game until the 5th inning when he allowed a hr, he was consistently dominant.

    And about Albert Almora... I found it interesting that when Javier Baez was promoted, Jed Hoyer said Almora would've been promoted if it wasn't because he lost a month with an injury, so I'm wondering if that means it'll take Almora another month and he gets promoted in August, for him to get a taste of the next level, it wouldn't be a rare occurrence when it comes to top prospects.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That sounds about right to me on Almora. Cabrera has been a pleasant surprise. I've always liked him but even I'm surprised he has done as well as he has.

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    Matt Garza for Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez?

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Is this a rumor or a suggestion?

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:


  • Actually John, I was the one who said the Cubs system lacks pitching, in a post from earlier today. Your lede seems directed at me, but regardless, I hope there is room here for healthy dissent. I had assumed your blog was open to all valid viewpoints. Maybe I'm wrong?

  • In reply to Larry’s Boa:

    Easy there. Everyone says the Cubs minor league system is short on top pitching prospects, so you're in the majority. John was just commenting that several pitching prospects performed well yesterday.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Thanks Tulane...that's exactly what I meant.

  • In reply to Larry’s Boa:

    I just meant it as a rhetorical question. You aren't the only one that has asked that question -- I've even asked it. A lot of people have questioned whether the Cubs have enough pitching prospects.

    I don't ever write an article directed at any one person -- though sometimes a reader inspires an idea.

  • I think the Cubs should give Cabrera another shot in the bullpen. Call him up in September. Would be nice to have another power arm down there.

    He's behind several guys in the starting pitching pecking order so I think his value is best suited as a reliever for the big league club.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    I think he will get the call in September (or even August) to work out of the bullpen. That will help them keep his innings down, after spending last year as a full time reliever.

    Cabrera is out of options next year, so he is basically guaranteed a spot on the roster next year given both his stuff and performance this season. As far as being behind several guys in the pecking order for a rotation spot, I think that is incorrect. He may be first in line for a full time spot. Arrieta is probably the only guy that might get a crack before him. Rusin/Raley/Loux are just emergency guys, none will ever be more than a 5th starter, Arrieta and Cabrera take precedence over those type of guys. I could definitely see a rotation next season of Shark/Wood/Jackson/Baker and then the winner of Arrieta/Cabrera with the loser going to the pen.

    That said, I think both Cabrera and Arrieta end up in the pen. Their lack of command will lead to high pitch counts and they will struggle to go deep into games at the MLB level. Probably better to just let them air it out from the pen.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    There are a whole lotta people with more knowledge of the minor league prospects than me ... but I can't find a single thing 'wrong' with your points.
    Perhaps the best news of all is the depth that will continue to log innings and get experience without being rushed as the stockpiling continues!!!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Agreed. I think both guys get a long look as starters next spring. They may ultimately end up in the bullpen but I don't think that they plan for that initially.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree about Arrieta , John. His entire career he seems like he does well one time through the order before he loses command. Frankly I also think he tends to rush his delivery and overthrow, the same kind of thing Cabrera was doing when he had his cup of coffee with the Cubs last year.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Really curious to see what Hendricks can do at the major level. If Garza gets traded i was hoping to Hendricks get a spot start or two.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    I still think Hendricks needs to sharpen his command. That sounds crazy, I know, considering he probably has the best command in the Cubs system-- but if he had 95 mph heat it'd be more than enough. With fringe stuff he's going to have to be extra fine against MLB hitters.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    I think he'll be given a shot to start for next season. There's no sense in stretching him out if hey didn't.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't believe how successful moving Cabrera to a starting role has been. I don't see him relieving. One concern I have is that he is so hard on himself when he struggles.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    It's gone better than even I had hoped -- and I'm an optimistic guy by nature ;)

  • Predictions for the top prospects.

    Baez- starts next season in Tennessee, no shock there.

    Soler- He should be back in a couple weeks. He's going to play in the AFL and barring any set back in spring training should start in Tennessee too.

    Almora- Should be moved up to Daytona any time now. I think he'll start there next year with the chance for an early promotion (middle of may)

    Bryant- He's a wild card to me. He's going to start in Boise but if he absolutely rakes for two/three weeks (shouldn't the best hitting prospect do that?) he moves up to Daytona. I feel he skips Kane County because of Candelario. Bryant is an advanced hitter at this stage so it shouldn't be much concern. Regardless of where he ends this season I say he starts in Daytona next season with a chance for a promotion sometime near the middle of the season.

    Johnson- ends the season in Daytona, starts in Tennessee.

    Alacantra- ends the season in Tennessee, starts in Iowa

    Waktins/Lake- both September call-ups and they will both have a chance to make the major league roster out of spring training. I LOVE Barney's defense but I love Watkin's OBP even more. That should be an open competition come spring training. The loser of the competition could be our utility IF guy. (I'd pick either over Ransom)

    Lake is another wild card. You could have him battle Valbuena for the 3rd base job in the Spring, or possibly the 4th OF spot (assuming Soriano/DeJesus/Schierholtz are back). The Cubs have a lot of back-up OF's but none that I see sticking long term. Worse case he comes back to Iowa for some more seasoning, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:


  • The best scenario I see right now is Lake showing he can take the 3rd base job this fall and Valbueno moving to second next year.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Yeah, that's another option. Spring training battles of...
    2nd- Barney, Valbuena, Watkins
    3rd- Lake, Valbuena

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Sorry, don't see Lake ever being able to handle 3B consistently enough to be a starter there. Maybe a platoon guy if he can hit lefties enough to offset his defensive deficiences. His most likely job will be as a super sub like Jose Hernandez.

    Watkins could be a starting 2B, but again probably not a full time guy because he struggles against lefties, but at least that is the strong side of a platoon. He also will most likely slot in as a utlility guy.

    They wouldn't necessarily be fighting for one roster spot next year either. Since they hit from opposite sides and Watkins is more an up the middle defender and Lake is more of a corner defender. Their versatility make them ideal NL bench players.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree that it appears Lake needs more AAA seasoning on both sides of the ball. The supersub role will be a difficult one.

    Watkins just hasn't handled AAA as well as I had expected.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Both are hearing footsteps from AA guys.

  • If Logan Watkins continues to hit as he rises through the ranks, by next Spring Training he could compete for starter at 2nd or, more likely, make the team as a supersub/spot starter, because he can also play SS or CF.
    It would be good to have a viable backup at SS to give Starlin an occasional rest.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Don't forget that if someone can displace Barney from starting 2nd, he is a decent backup at SS as well. I know Barney is better than he has shown this year and was really looking for that breakthrough that hasn't happened yet. I still think he finds a way to hold onto that starting spot for another year, but obviously needs to step it up.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I think you'll see a platoon at second next year, assuming Barney is still with the team. Barney is somewhat adequate at the plate against lefties and is terrible against righties. Watkins hits righties well but struggles against lefties.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    That's possible if they're going to try and maximize offense but I don' t see them giving up on Barney quite yet. I'm not sure Watkins has done enough to wrest playing time from Barney right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    At this point for Barney, it's been 2.5 years of awful offense, no home run pop and no ability to walk. And looking at his numbers, there's been absolutely no improvement in any of those areas.

    With no evidence that his bat will come around and Watkins showing an ability to hit righties well and walk, I see no reason to continue to bat Barney against righties. .250/.292/.336 career average against righties for Barney just isn't going to cut it and it's been even worse this year (.201/.247/.296).

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    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I agree. Barney seems to be what he is. Great utility guy on a really good team.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Maybe so, but Watkins is a utility guy too. Barney has put up starter value WARs at least -- so Watkins has to take it from him. You can't give him the job because he had a mediocre year in AAA and you're sick of the current guy. He has to earn it and I'm not sure he can take it from Barney at this point.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I dont' think the Cubs expect or need Barney to improve his hitting if he hits like his first two years and provides stellar defense. And I'm not sure Watkins can be a better player than Barney was his first two years -- if Barney returns to that. We're talking about a 2.5 WAR player. Watkins isn't a whole lot different than Barney. He's lost speed as he's matured physically, so he's not a burner, his defense is solid, but not Barney-esque. He's not as instinctive as Barney on D, he's athletic but more of a grinder. He struggles to adjust at the plate. I like Watkins as a utility guy but I'm not convinced he's a starter yet. Barney has already shown he can give you starter value his first two years. Watkins has to pry it away from him -- can't be handed the long side of the platoon after a so-so year in AAA because the incumbent had an off year. I'm not sure Watkins can take that job until midseason next year at best and by then it may be time for Alcantara

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I don't see Watkins displacing Barney. Watkins will be a backup. Alcantara would be the guy to push Barney out in late 2014/early 2015. By that time Barney will be into arbitration and his production vs cost will not be as significant as it is now, while Alcantara will be cheap and provide greater upside.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    That's the way I look at it. I never want to rule out anybody being able to become a starter but I just don't see Watkins in that role on a 1st division team as it stands right now. As always, I hope I'm proven wrong on this, of course.

    And I do see Alcantara as the guy to really watch at 2B in the near future.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, Barney is more value to the team than he is given credit for. When he was out early in the season, we were all worried about how the defense was so bad. Once Barney got back, Castro stopped trying to do everything and settled down. I know this is light years ago, but the great Oakland teams of the 70s had a second baseman (Dick Green) that was a lot like what we have seen out of Barney this year. I remember the World Series announcers saying that Green should have probably been the MVP, but couldn't be because he went 0 for the series. I do believe that the FO will not throw Barney away simply to get a better bat at 2nd. The eventual replacement will have to be an above average defender as well.

  • In reply to les561:

    I think the guy who beats Barney out has to be substantially better offensively and right now the closest guy with a chance to do that is Alcantara.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree and lets not forget how bad our defense was at the beginning of the season until Darwin returned from the DL.

    His offense frustrates me too. I understand everyone's desire to relegate him to a sub role. But we need average+ Defensive with the increased Offensive production to boot in order to replace him and maybe Watkins will do that, but he hasn't as of yet.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You and I both know that those WAR numbers are likely inflated by defensive shifts that the Cubs put on.

    Has Watkins had a so-so year at AAA? Sure, if you're bringing in his ABs against lefties. If you're just looking at his ABs against righties, he's at .268/.363/.439. I'd say that's pretty solid, especially given his start. Compared to Barney's career average against righties? .250/.292/.336?

    Yeah, I'm giving Logan a shot. Honestly, if Barney's value really is as high as you're discussing, I'd love to see them trade him this offseason (or at the deadline).

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I'm not sure Watkins is anymore viable at SS than Barney or Valbuena. I think Watkins has a chance as a sub next year and maybe he gradually takes time from Barney. He starts slow every year, though, so it wouldn't surprise me to see it take awhile to take Barney's job (if he takes it at all)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The Cubs may let Alcantara play SS and Watkins have 2B at Iowa to start the season...let Watkins get plenty of ABs for a month, then push him into a platoon with Barney. If the Cubs are lucky, maybe Barney flashes enough offense to get dealt, or they just stick with the pair until AA is ready in the fall (if not sooner). AA may make them both expendable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, all this talk about 2nd base got me thinking, and the main thought I came away with is that the cubs are trading Castro or Beaz by 2015. I think they try to get a haul like the Ari deal with Beaz, but I sure hope I'm wrong

  • I haven't seen Pitcher Dallas Beeler's name on the Smokies' write-ups for a long while. Does anyone know his status?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    He's hurt but I haven't heard any timetable.

  • Arizona is still looking at Samardzija......but unwilling to trade their two top prospect pitchers.....then their GM can watch the Dodgers go by them in their division........

    Az. would trade for Jake Peavy and give up Delgado..........

    Cubs bullpen is looking more stable these days........

    Barney is a nice guy.....good glove......but will not be our long term solution for second base..........I feel that Ryan Theroit had more to offer than Barney.......

    Don't expect any Cubs trades during the All Star break......Bud Selig discourage GM's on making trades during the if Garza is not traded by Sunday, then it will come down to a deadline deal.

  • Awesome news on our Minor League pitchers, John.

    I remember about this time last year you wrote 2 articles : one on our Top 10 Minor League offensive players and one on our Top 10 Minor League pitchers. The first article was a piece of cake. But, at the end of the second articles, you still had not used up all 10 of your fingers.

    What a difference a year makes!

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Haha! I had to really stretch for that. I think you just gave me an idea for a wrinkle in the next top 20 (after trade deadline). 10 top pitchers and top 10 hitters and then top 20 overall.

  • Just got back home from enjoying my first Minor league game watching the KC Cougars at South Bend.

    John has these guys pegged dead on. Almora just looks smooth and effortless out there (both in the field and at the plate. Candaleiro looks impressive for his eye at the plate and the ability to hit. He looks like he real deal (and he is only 20)!

    VBomb didn't have a good hitting game, but he is a very patient hitter and when he connects, they are really squared up and hit hard. He doesn't look heavy at all, but compared to the other 19 and 20 yr. old guys who are typically "High School skinny", he kinda looks like a big guy!

    Had fun getting a few autographs (particularly Almora and Vogelbach), but it is funny that you can't read anybody's name at all. Interesting that the players are very patient in signing everything (compared to Major Leaguers who will rarely sign anything). One guy had a stack of 12-15 baseball cards of Almora, of which he signed every one without complaint. Almora was the first guy out of the dugout to sign. He seems like a classy high-character guy.

    All in all a fun evening and even got to meet a fellow Cubs Den follower who sat next to us.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    That is fantastic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the kind words.

    Almora and Vogelbach are both great guys, no question. Can't wait to go to another game!

  • Great site. Especially the attention to the affiliates/prospects. Any chance a feature being added that shows comments as already being viewed? Sorry if this has been discussed here, I just haven't seen it...

  • In reply to ptp23:

    Thanks ptp23. I'll look into that but I don't think we have that feature here.

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    Great work, as always, John.

    In a CSN Chicago article, Dale Sveum said he generally expects a MiLB position player to reach full minor league development when they amass somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 at bats. And I would imagine this opinion is at least approximately shared by the front office.

    Question: how many innings do you think a MiLB pitcher needs before he has reached full minor league development?

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I think it's less certain with a pitcher because if a pitcher has command and good stuff, he can pretty much pitch in the majors. But the trouble is you don't want to risk injury by putting him through the demands of an MLB rotation early in his career. I'm not sure innings has as much to do with a pitcher as physical maturity and mental makeup -- -and that can vary from pitcher to pitcher.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    ...and thanks!

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    Great answer. My instinct also suggested there wasn't a general innings amount for pitchers, like there is at bats for position players.

    The reason I ask, naturally, is because I'm trying to calculate the expected MLB arrival times for our top prospects.

    If the front office followed that doctrine strictly (which, of course, may be an overestimate for someone like Bryant), then we're looking at Baez being considered in late 2015 early 2016, and Almora, Soler, and Bryant all mid 2016. And, of course, that doesn't even account for their major league adjustment period (e.g., the ones currently being experienced by both Castro and Rizzo).

    Ahhh, the Rebuilding Project formerly known as the Cubs...

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    What's your take on Rubi Silva? Is he a prospect or a AAAA player? He could be bring something back in a trade or even as a 4th or 5th outfielder off the bench with late inning thunder if he's for real.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    I think he's got a chance to be a 4th or 5th OF'er because of his speed and added power. He's hacktastic, though -- can't play him full time or he'll be terribly exposed by MLB pitchers, but he can play all 3 OF positions well with a very good arm. Can even play 2B in a pinch. Great, great athlete. Exciting player that may make your head hurt sometimes -- not much trade value, though.

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