So much news today. As you have probably been noticing, the recaps will come in the morning for the most part. With Boise and AZ playing late and me not on an insomnia kick of late, I’ve been preferring to wait until the mornings.
We got lots and lots of info today, so lets get started. Besides, it is our 9th wedding anniversary today, so you probably won’t be hearing much from me today 🙂
- Javier Baez (Puerto Rico) has been selected to play for the World Team while Kris Bryant will play for the U.S. side in the Futures All-Star Game, an exhibition which selects players based on prospect status rather than on the field production. The game will be held on July 13th at 4 pm CT. It will be televised on MLB Network and can also be seen via live stream on MLB.com. You can see the full roster here.
- The Cubs signed 9th round pick RHP James Farris for $3000 and 10th round pick RHP Ryan Williams for just $1000. Neither had a whole lot of leverage here as a college seniors. Farris signed for $148,000 and Williams for $140,000 under slot. That bonus now has the Cubs at $928.700 below their pool allotment for the first 10 rounds with only 6th round pick Dylan Cease still unsigned. If you add Cease’s bonus allotment of $269,500, that gives the Cubs, $1,198,200 to sign Cease pre-tax and a whopping $1,615,810 if they go the allowed 5% overage. Thats should be enough to sign Cease plus Joey Martarano (who has signed but terms still undisclosed) and perhaps another late round flyer or two, such as RHP Brad Depperman.
On with the recap now…
Iowa 6 – Albuquerque 2
- Tsuyoshi Wada, now on the Cubs 40 man roster, is pitching with purpose now. He had one of his better starts this season — and that is saying something. Wada went 6 innings with just 1 walk and 10 Ks while allowing just one run on 4 hits. Wada improved to 8-4 with a 2.73 ERA and his FIP to 3.83. If there is one thing that has hurt him this year it is the long ball. Wada has given up 10 HRs this year, though he did not allow one in this game.
- Iowa now has a pretty lethal bullpen, after middle man Alberto Cabrera allowed a run in his inning, Armando Rivero and Marcus Hatley shut the door with a scoreless inning apiece. Neither walked a batter while Rivero struck out two while Hatley struck out one.
- Arismendy Alcantara has been nothing short of outstanding for the past 6 weeks or so. He went 2 for 3 with a double, walk, SB, 2 runs, and an RBI. He is now hitting .290/.336/.518 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, 8 HRs, and 18 SBs in just 21 attempts. Remember that outstanding season in AA last year? Well, this year may top it if you go by wOBA, where Alcantara now has a career high .367 mark. In his last 39 games (159 PAs), his walk rate is at a very good 10%. See you real soon, Arismendy!!
- Javier Baez showed a great approach yesterday and although he wasn’t making particularly good contact, you hope he learns that having a good approach means you can still help even when you aren’t launching baseballs into Minnesota. Baez did exactly that today, walking twice, and getting a key single on a tough AB. This isn’t as season to judge Baez by his numbers but if today is an indication than we can be excited about him becoming a more mature hitter. And if that is indeed the case, then we will see the dividends later.
- Josh Vitters went 2 for 4 with a double.
- Kris Bryant HR’d again. He has 5 hits, all of them HRs and he has had either a HR, K, or BB in 71% of his PAs this year. He also has a .000 BABIP That is absurd, but then again, should anything Bryant does surprise us anymore? He is a special player and the unique start shows just how well he can adapt and remain productive even when he is adjusting to a new league and isn’t yet hitting on all cylinders.
- I don’t think there has been a more resourceful pitcher in the Cubs system this year than Dae-Eun Rhee. It hasn’t been pretty. The velo is down, the command is off…he still has that great change-up and apparently a whole lot of moxie because he keeps getting the job done. Rhee went 5.2 innings and allowed just 3 hits and a run, walking 3 and striking out 3. He has a 4-3 record now with a 3.23 ERA. It’s bittersweet to me because you can’t help but wonder what kind of pitcher Rhee could have been had he not hurt his shoulder and lost 5 mph off his fastball.
- It’s been a disappointing season for Jae-Hoon Ha, who is hitting just .202 after knocking on the door for a big league call-up last year. He doubled today and drove in a run. Between Rhee and Ha, we see how fickle the baseball gods can be sometimes.
- The Cubs got all kinds of flash and dash at AAA between Alcantara, Baez, and Bryant. Stephen Bruno gets to do his work in the shadows for now which I’m guessing is fine by him. He’ll just keep hitting his way to Wrigley. Bruno went 2 for 3 with a sac fly and 3 runs scored. Bruno is hitting .298/.379/.461 on the season despite playing just 19 games above the short season level prior to this season. In a weird sort of way, he has me excited to see what 3rd pick C Mark Zagunis can do because if the Cubs pick a college hitter in the first 10 rounds, chances are the guy can rake.
- I don’t think we should yet give up on Christian Villanueva. He has off the charts makeup, plus to plus-plus defense at 3B, and he is a doubles machine. Kris Bryant may have passed him on the depth chart but I think Villanueva still has a future in the bigs. He went 3 for 4 with, you guessed it, 3 doubles. That gives him 22 on the season in 70 games, putting him on a pace to at least match last season’s total of 41. When Bryant is in the majors at some point next year, I expect Villanueva to rebound and have a good AAA season.
- You can’t keep these D-Cubs down for long. After a nightmarish first half for the team and it’s best prospects, things are starting to turn around. The D-Cubs are 5-2 to start the second half and it wouldn’t surprise me if they took the 2nd half title in the FSL. Today they rebounded against Jays prospect Matt Boyd, who had completely dominated them last time out. Felix Pena played rope-a-dope with the Dunedin offense, allowing 10 hits in 5 innings but walking just one and keeping the D-Cubs in the game by allowing just 3 of those basrunners to score.
- Starling Peralta went 2.1 innings and allowed 2 runs, but just one was earned. The K to BB ratio continues to impress as he struck out 5 and walked just one. Peralta has averaged 9.12 Ks per 9 IP (25.7%) and just 2.10 walks (5.9%). The Ks are nothing new as Peralta has that mid 90s FB that can reach 97, but the walk rate is by far a career best. It looks like Starling has figured it out and he once again looks to be a potential big league bullpen arm.
- LHP Andrew McKirahan continued his breakout season with 1.2 scoreless innings, though he did allow an inherited runner to score. That means a blown save, but McKirahan ended up getting the victory to move to 2-1 with a 1.11 ERA. McKirahan works with two good pitches, a slider and a fastball which I have seen hit as high as 94, though I have not seen a reading this season.
- Pin-Chieh Chen is one of those players I like because he is simply good at baseball. He has a good approach. He squares up the baseball, he runs, he defends. A small frame is his biggest drawback so what is holding him back is whether he will have enough size/strength not to be overmatched by upper level pitchers. Chen went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. He also stole his 7th base. Chen is hitting .277/.367/.394 on the year.
- Albert Almora went 3 for 5 with a HR with an interesting story behind the HR. It seems the ump asked him if he’d be kind enough to swing and not take so many pitches because the ump was feeling ill. Almora cooperated and hit the ball out of the park. Good karma, I guess. It turns out the ump was suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. He had to leave the game right afterward. You can read @kernansean of the Daytona Beach News-Journal tell the story here. Almora extended his hitting streak to 6 games, a span in which he has hit .370/.393/.519. I’m expecting to see the Albert Almora we all know in the 2nd half.
- We didn’t think Bijan Rademacher was going to hit .375 in the tough FSL all year but he has continued to hit well overall. He went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk to improve to .287/.398/.421 on the season. He has one of the more intelligent approaches of anyone in this system. He studies pitches and combines it with a good awareness of his own abilities.
- Rock Shoulders went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
- Marco Hernandez is beginning to scratch the surface of the type of player he can be now that he is maturing on the field. He doubled and walked today to raise his line to .275/.318/.349. The ability has always been there and now Hernandez is beginning to develop a better approach at the plate and in the field.
- Paul Blackburn is the other half of Kane County’s 1-2 punch in the starting rotation. He doesn’t have that one nasty pitch like Tseng’s curve, but he shares his ability to command the fastball and mix in a solid curve and change. I have a different perception this year of Blackburn. I had high hopes he could develop into a power pitcher when he suddenly hit 95 last year but I think this year I see a lower ceiling but a higher floor. You have to like pitchers who command the fastball because that sets everything else and makes the rest of your repertoire play up. I think he can be a #4 with his current low 88-92 mph fastball simply because of his superior command and pitchability at such a young age. Now that I have talked him up, I will tell you that this was not the Paul Blackburn that took the mound yesterday. He walked 4 batters in 5 innings while striking out just 2 and allowing 3 runs. His team picked him up, however, and he moved to 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA.
- Michael Wagner has been outstanding in middle relief this year and I am beginning to think he should get a shot at starting along with James Pugliese when and if Blackburn and Tseng get moved up to Daytona. He has a full repertoire with a low 90s sinker, good slider, and a solid change to which he adds a feel for pitching. I think he can be a back end starter but some scouts like him better in relief. He pitched 3 solid innings in this game allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 4. He lowered his ERA to 3.33. Since a poor start in his first 3 appearances, Wagner has a 1.10 in his last 7 outings covering 16.1 innings. He has 8 walks and 19 Ks in that streak.
- LHP Michael Heesch might end up being quite a load in relief. I haven’t seen him in short stints but I imagine he could add a couple ticks to his FB, a pitch that already has good movement and thrown with excellent plane. He struck out the side in his one inning of work and lowered his ERA to 3.48.
- In a fine Arismendy Alcantara impression, Jacob Hannemann went 3 for 4 with a walk, double, and 2 SBs. The fleet outfielder is now hitting .250/.327/.373 with 21 SBs as Hannemann reached the .700 OPS mark, though I don’t think he will stop there. We figured Hannemann would be rusty to start the year — and he was, but since mid-May he has turned it on. He is hitting .304/.361/.458 with 2 HRs and 9 SBs in 10 attempts.
- Carlos Penalver went 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI. I think he is one of the better ballplayers for a .244 singles hitter you will ever see and I think he can be much more than that as he matures physically.
- Will Remillard returned and was his usual self, going 1 for 3 with 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored.
- Kyle Schwarber went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, He is 6 for his first 15 at Kane County.
- Trey Martin had himself quite a day, going 2 for 3 with a walk and 5 SBs. He is one of our favorite sleepers around here because he oozes so much talent. If he can get that hit tool going, he’s going to play in the big leagues. Martin is hitting .235 on the year but has hit .327 in 18 games in June.
- For great pictures and more info on the game, check out Midwest Traveler’s recap.
- Ben Wells went 4 innings in which he walked 3, struck out 4 and allowed 2 runs.
- Trey Lang‘s encouraging start continued with 1.1 hitless, walkless innings. He struck out one. Lang has a very good slider and it seems he has much better command of it early this year. Last year he seemed to bounce many of them in the dirt and it lost effectiveness because a slider needs to look like it can at least possibly be a strike when it leaves his hand. This year he seems to have tightened it up, walking just one batter and striking out 8 in 6.1 innings.
- Not much offense to speak of. Jesse Hodges, 3B, did the heavy lifting with a HR and 2 RBI. He went 2 for 4 overall and his hitting .143 to start the season.
- RHP Luis Hernandez, 19, has intriguing size at 6’5″, 210 lbs. He didn’t strike out a lot of hitters, 2 in 5 IP, but he did hold the walks down and kept the ball on the ground with 7 ground ball outs. He did not allow a run. Hmmm…I will have to find out a bit more here.
- 2014 draft pick RHP Brad Markey (19) made his debut and pitched 1 inning, allowing one run, and striking out 1.
- Jose Arias is rehabbing in AZ and pitched a scoreless inning. He had gotten off to a great start as a bullpen arm but can’t seem to stay on the mound.
- Pedro Araujo pitched the last 2 innings to earn his 1st save. He allowed a run but did not walk a batter and struck out 3.
- Your average 17 year old has no business skipping the DSL and then getting off to a .333/.381/.611 start in his first 4 games, but Gleyber Torres isn’t your average 17 year old. He’s talented and he’s polished — and he could move up the ladder quickly. Torres went 2 for 4 with a run scored in this game.
- Albert Mineo is off to a good start with the bat. He is hitting .462 after a double in 4 ABs. He scored a run and drove in another.
- Tyler Alamo saw his first action behind the plate and went 2 for 4 with an RBI.
- And what gives, Charcer Burks? Just one hit today? Based on his start I think we can call that a slump. Burks went 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored. He is hitting .556 (10 for 18) to start the year with 4 doubles, a triple, and 2 SBs.
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