Daily Minors Recap: Contreras stays hot; Hudson pitches 3 scorless and other notes, pics from the backfields

 Took the short drive to Scottsdale, so I have a partial recap on an extended ST road game.  Went to see Bryan Hudson pitch and he continued his great spring with another great outing.

Iowa 7, Round Rock 0

  • Five Iowa pitchers combined to shutout a powerful Round Rock lineup that put up 30 runs in a four game sweep of the I-Cubs to open the season. Michael Wagner (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K) got the emergency start with the Iowa rotation shorthanded and pitched effectively for 3.2 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
  • Lefty Scott Barnes (2.1, 1 H, 4 K) earned the win, striking out 4 over 2.1 innings while giving up just one hit.
  • Carl Edwards Jr.Miguel Mejia, and Jean Machi combined to give up one hit over the final three innings.
  • The I-Cubs sent 9 batters to the plate in a five run 4th inning, highlighted by a two run triple by John Andreoli (1-4, 3B, R, 2 RBI, BB, K)
  • Ryan Kalish (3-4, 2B, R, BB) and Dan Vogelbach (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB) each reached base four times. Kalish scored the first run of the game on a sac bunt by Kristopher Negron. Vogelbach doubled in a run in the fourth and singled home another in the sixth.
  • Catcher Willson Contreras continued his torrid start with a three hit game to raise his average to .429.

Birmingham 6, Tennessee 1

  •  The Smokies drew 7 walks and collected 5 hits but could only manage 1 run as they grounded into three double plays. Down by four in the sixth they had a chance to rally. Three straight Smokies reached base with one out, bringing the red hot Bijan Rademacher (0-2, RBI, 2 BB) to the plate with the bases loaded. They only managed to plate one run however as Rademacher grounded out to the first, followed by a Ryan Dent (0-2, BB, HBP, 2 E) line drive that was also snatched by the first baseman.
  • Jacob Hanneman (2-4, 2B) posted his second straight two hit game and also stole two bases.
  • Jen-Ho Tseng (4.0, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) threw 80 pitches over 4 innings of work after being forced out of his last start early after taking a line drive off the leg. He lacked his usual command and suffered his first loss.
  • David Garner gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced, allowing an inherited runner to score, but used his low to mid 90s fastball and curveball in the 80 mph range to hold Birmingham at bay over the next inning and a third. Garner has now struck out nine batters over five total scoreless innings.

Myrtle Beach 6 – Carolina 1

  • Eric Leal is a solid pitcher who has similar stuff in some ways to well-regarded LHP Carson Sands.  Like Sands, FB command is key to set up his good curve and his developing change.  He had it working today, hurling 5 scoreless innings, walking none, and striking  out 7.
  • Ryan McNeil has a full season of good health behind him and has added a few ticks to his FB, often pitching in the 94-95 mph range to go with a high 80s cutter.  He was overpowering today with 5 Ks and no walks in 2.2 innings.
  • The sidearming, always reliable David Berg finished up with 1.1 scoreless innings.
  • The Pelicans spread out 10 hits with every player getting at least one and 3B Jason Vosler getting 2.  Vosler doubled and scored a run.
  • Rashad Crawford singled, walked, and scored twice.
  • Yasiel Balaguert and Jeffery Baez each drove in two runs with their lone hit.
  • The only other extra base hit came off the bat of Gleyber Torres, who doubled, scored, and drove in a run.

Fort Wayne 14 – South Bend 1

  • LHP Kyle Twomey had been pitching so well in multiple  inning relief outings that it made sense to give him a start, especially since he was deep in competition for one of those spots this  spring.  Today, however, the wheels came off.  Twomey  needs to be precise with his location to succeed, so like many so-called finesse pitchers, he doesn’t have much room for error.  He walked 4 batters and allowed 7 hits in just 4 innings.  He gave up 6 (5 earned) runs.
  • The next two bullpen pitchers didn’t fair much better.  A couple of guys with mid 90s FBs, James Norwood (2 IP, 3 runs) and Scott Frazier (1 IP, 5 runs), let the game get away from South Bend.
  • Greyfer Eregua stopped the bleeding, but he finally allowed a baserunner.   He has retired 18 of 19 hitters he has faced this year.
  • The top of the order did their thing.  Sutton Whiting had a pair of hits (double, single) and Donnie Dewees went 1 for 3 with a walk and a SB — but for 8 innings the rest of the lineup combined had just no hits at all.
  • The Cubs finally broke through  in the 9th when Darren Spingola singled and eventually came around to score on a sac fly  by Jose Paniagua.

Extended Spring Training (Box Scores from AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter)

Cubs 15 – Diamondbacks 6

Cubs 3 – Diamondbacks 2

  • I was only able to watch part of one game today as we had kind of a busy day and I tried to sneak in about 6 innings of one game.  Thankfully  AZ Phil somehow saw and scored both of them.  Guess he must have found a nice vantage point to see both fields!
  • I watched the game that was 3-2 and started Bryan Hudson, who once again is showing he is a top 10 quality prospect in this organization.  He was at about 90-91 and had that plus high 70s CB that he commands surprisingly well.  Hudson did  not allow a hit nor a walk in 3 innings while striking out 4 and inducing 4 GB outs.  At this point, I think Hudson is the Cubs 3rd best SP prospect behind Dylan Cease and Duane Underwood — especially given that Oscar De La Cruz’s season is in doubt.  He is still not throwing.  He is certainly among the Cubs top 5 pitching prospects at the very least.
  • This was my  first look at 2015 IFA signee out of Mexico, Jose Albertos.  Albertos has a good arm and a simple, quick delivery that generates 92-93 mph FBs (topped out at 94).  He showed a pretty good CB in warm-ups but  it disappeared during the game.    He had some command issues overall and both his pitching coach and catcher Tyler Payne were both trying to get him back on track.  Still, the stuff is good and this  is an arm to put on your  watch list.  He did escape the jam he created without  getting scored on.
  • The Cubs made a nice signing out of the Indy Leagues.  6’6″ RHP Tommy  Nance throws with good leverage and was 92-94 and topped out at 95 with a FB that has good plane.  He also has an 82-83 mph breaking ball (slurve?) that he uses when ahead in the count.  He can bury that pitch under a LH hitters hands pretty  regularly, which should help minimize split differences.
  • SS Yonathan Perlaza, also part of the 2015 IFA class, won the game with a 2-run single to put the Cubs ahead.  I’m a fan of Perlaza at the plate as he uses his lower half well and really drives through the ball, especially from the left side.  I think this kid is going to hit, but I am less sure he can stick at SS, perhaps 2B long term.
  • It was a good day for middle infielders in general.  SS Andruw Monasterio had 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and 3 RBI.  Monasterio is an interesting player with some athleticism and a good aptitude for the game.
  • SS Aramis Ademan had a pair of singles.  Ademan was the other top SS in that 2015 IFA and while he doesn’t have Perlaza’s pop at the plate, he does have good bat control and can put the ball in play.  Where he really stands out is on defense, but he will have to learn to stay within himself.
  • 2B Yelier Peguero is more of a slap hitting infielder with real quick hands around the bag.  At the plate he had a pair of singles and a SB.  He also scored a run.


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  • It has escaped me that De La Cruz is still not pitching. What is the injury?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Elbow. Don't know the severity.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Elbow injury. Cubs won't talk about injuries (I don't even ask), but safe to say he is not close to returning right now.

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    Did I miss something with De La Cruz? I didn't know that he was hurt.
    Just as I am going to bed you come out with these (great) recaps and I have to read and re-read them and then think about what I read. No wonder I'm tired in the morning.
    But it is worth it. We get the recaps and then the previews, a win, and then you tell us how we did it. Not bad John. Thanks again.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I may have mentioned it but without knowing the severity of it, didn't want to say too much. He should be at South Bend right now --- and he is not throwing down here either.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    And thanks, Jonathan!

  • Good news on Hudson. Again. I like the Ks and GOs!

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Can make the case that Cease and Hudson are the two best pitching prospect when it comes to talent + health. Cease has the great velo and flashes a plus curve. Hudson's curve is even better and he throws it more consistently for strikes, but he is about 7-8 mph slower than Cease on the FB. And Cease has the workings of a change while I haven't seen Hudson throw them except for on the side.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I agree that those two have the highest ceilings of any Cubs pitching prospect at the moment. They and Underwood make a solid group to hang your hopes on. Finally starting to balance out the bats a bit...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    And ever since I read up on Albertos after he signed out of Mexico, I've been intrigued with him, too. Doesn't have the ceiling, but he's got some good stuff to work with at such a young age.

    When I saw your pics of SS Isaac Paredes (another intriguing 2015 IFA signee), I was struck with how thick he is already. He certainly doesn't look 17.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    He is surprisingly agile for his build, goes to his right extremely well and has a strong arm. Sometimes I wonder if he can stick at SS with that build, but hey, Jhonny Peralta did and was a very good defender for many years. He can put a charge into the ball too. Hits hard line drives. The Cubs scout Mexico as well as nay team. Paredes, Albertos, and Carlos Sepulveda (2B) are the best of the bunch right now.

  • The word amongst the outside experts this year was that the Cubs system still had very good depth, but they'd brought up all their impact talent. Those experts may want to take a 2nd look at Willson Contreras.

    I mean after Bryant, Russell, Schwarber, Soler and Baez (heck, throw Hendricks and his 3.46 career ERA and 1.13 WHIP in there as well), adding Contreras to that mix doesn't seem fair, does it?

    In AA last year, he hit .333/.413/.478 in 521 PAs walking 57 times against 62 Ks. A great season for sure, but it was the consistency with which he did it that impressed me most. There were 2 games in April, 5 in May, 4 in June, 3 in July and 3 in August in which he didn't reach base via a hit or walk and his longest hitless streak was 3 games (which happened once).

    It's not like he got really hot for a couple months and then fell off either. In his monthly splits his AVG ranged between .290 - .373 and OBP between .378 - .426. He hit righties to the tune of .323/.398/.466 and lefties even better at .371/.468/.528. Still, this level of performance came out of nowhere. It was just one season. Could he do it again at AAA?

    Well, in his first 9 games he's gotten on base in every one and hit safely in all but one for a line of .429/.474/.543 with 2 BB and Ks in 38 PAs. It's just 9 games, but come on. Really?

    I saw his arm first hand this spring against the Dodgers, gunning down a potential base-stealer at 2nd and picking off Utley at 1B. So far this season he's thrown out 50% of base stealers. Hopefully, with time, the rest of his catching game will match his bat and arm.

    If so, look out...

    (Oh, and he just happens to play a position none of the other impact youngsters really plays, so...yeah. Not fair.)

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Great stuff there on contreras quedub. Really not quite sure why most are (still) so toned down on this guy. Im starting to fully believe hes our catcher long term and will be a pretty darn good one at that

  • In reply to Mevo:

    Thanks, Mevo.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that his timeline perfectly coincides with Ross' impending retirement and Montero being under contract for one season after that.

    I keep pinching myself and wondering when the Cubs good fortune will run out. Then I remember the decades where it was absent and remember how long overdue it is.

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    In reply to Mevo:

    I think some of the lack of excitement is due to a couple facts:
    1. It has taken him MUCH longer to navigate the Cubs minor leagues than their other major talent. Bryant, Schwarber, Soler, rocketed through in a year or two. I think it is possibly "suffers by comparison".
    2. He has not dominated anywhere until last year with the possible exception of rookie ball in 2010.
    3. He is new to catching and rough around the edges (even his biggest supporters admit he is not polished on receiving, calling, game management, etc.

    I don't really care. I like what I have seen and heard and, if he can sneak under-the-radar I am fine with that.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Contreras was amazing consistent last season. Just to add a little on regarding what you mentioned above, Contreras never went three games in a row without reaching base last season and only went two games in a row twice. In fact, he has not gone three games without reaching base since July... of 2014. Remarkable.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That's one of those things where it has to sink in for a moment. That is incredibly consistent. NO true "slumps" in almost 2 years? WOW!

  • I'm in the writing mood tonight, so here goes...

    I'm 46 which means I was born in the miracle summer of '69. The Cubs were in 1st place by 8 games and 20 games over .500 they day I was born. After that day, they only won 2 more than they lost and finished the season 8 games out.

    I survived the collapse of '84. I endured the Will Clark experience in '89 and the unholy triumvirate of Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux (thanks Larry Himes) in '98. I was at the Bartman game in 2003 and was the closest Cubs fan to 1st base at Dodger Stadium the night Derrek Lee had his wrist broken in '06. After all that, I barely flinched through the playoff sweeps in '07 & '08.

    I've lived with more than my fair share of heartbreak from the Cubs. But I'm glad the baseball gods have seen fit to make up for it all at once.

    1. Larry Lucchino drives baseball's best GM out of Boston. Tom Ricketts pounces.

    2. Theo hires Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod formulating the best front office in Cubs history, overhauling the scouting and development staffs, philosophies and technology along the way.

    3. Andrew Cashner is traded for a 1B who is 3 years younger named Anthony Rizzo. Since the trade Cashner has a 3.0 bWAR for the Padres. Rizzo has amassed a 16.2 bWAR for the Cubs.

    4. The best front office in baseball take a huge leap of faith and sign Jorge Soler to a 9-year, $30 million deal.

    5. Ryan Dempster almost gets traded to the Braves for Randall Delgado (0.6 career bWAR) but it falls through. The Cubs later deal him for a much less heralded prospect in Kyle Hendricks (4.7 career bWAR).

    6. With the 1st pick in the 2012 Rule 5 draft the Houston Astros don't select Hector Rondon from the Cleveland Indians.

    7. With the 1st pick in the 2012 Amateur draft the Houston Astros don't select Kris Bryant from the University of San Diego.

    8. The Cubs trade Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger for Pedro Strop and God.

    9. The Cubs get Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez and Carl Edwards Jr. for a couple months of Matt Garza.

    10. To the surprise of many, the best front office in baseball selects Kyle Schwarber with the 4th pick in the draft. (And Dylan Cease with the 169th.)

    11. The Cubs receive Addison Russell and Billy McKinney for 2 months of a pitcher they didn't want to re-sign and 2 months of one they did re-sign.

    12. Andrew Friedman leaves Tampa Bay for Los Angeles and a little known clause, one Joe Maddon had apparently forgotten about, gives Theo & Jed the opportunity to pounce. They do.

    13. The D-Backs accept Jefferson Mejia and Zack Godley in return for Miguel Montero

    14. The Red Sox low ball Jon Lester, the Cubs don't.

    15. The Astros accept Luis Valbuena & Dan Straily for Dexter Fowler.

    16. Rizzo is magically safe at 3rd, the Cubs win 97 games and stick a dagger into the heart of the Cardinals and their fans by beating them in the playoffs.

    17. Instead of being satisfied and patting themselves on the back, the best front office in baseball twists the recently plunged dagger by signing away John Lackey and Jason Heyward.

    18. Theo & Jed complete their Plan A, dream off-season by signing Ben Zobrist and trading Starlin Castro for Adam Warren.

    19. Just when you think it couldn't be better, Theo waves his magic wand and makes Dexter Fowler appear out of thin air.

    20. After starting the season 5-1, all on the road, the Cubs return to a newly refurbished Wrigley Field with a world class clubhouse and training facilities and proceed to win their home opener in dramatic, come from behind fashion. They're currently 7 games over .500 after just 9 games, a mark that took them 61 games to reach the year before.

    Looking ahead, the Cubs only have 3 positions currently manned by players 30 or older, catcher, 2nd base and center field. The Cubs top prospects (Contreras, Happ or Torres, Almora/Martinez/Dewees) happen to play those positions.

    Theo & Jed are good, but nobody achieves all that in just over 4 years without a lot of help from the baseball gods.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    ...I here by pass my baton as the most voluminous commenter to Quedub.

    Great stuff man.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Wow quedub, that was absolutely tremendous!! Really comprehensive and on target breakdown of where we are now and where and how it all started. Thanx for the great read.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    That was great Quedub and pretty much sums it up. There were a few moves that didn't work but it's remarkable as to how many did.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Quedun, I was born in 60. 1st became a Cub fan in 68. And then 69 came. Oh my. Have I been bit by Cub fever ever since. This blog (thanks John and the team of writers) has only fueled my fandom. This post is amazing. What a chronology of events. As cubbie Karyn says, next year is this year. And we now have a franchise that can deliver sustained success. Great job on this post. Just tremendous.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Great post, Quedub. Should be required reading for all Cubs Denners ( denizens? ) who missed any of the first 5 years of this great blog!

    I would only propose two changes

    1) highlight item 12 in bold and select the biggest font size that you can find.
    2) Add item 21: 2015: John Arguello moves to Arizona, breaking the century old curse

    Go Cubs

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Love the recap! Just shows how many steps there are to building an organization. You forgot to list the signing of Edwin Jackson, though. ;-)

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    In reply to seattlecub:

    Love that Quedub. Your life reads like Forrest Gump, always there for the important games in the last 40 yrs. I hope you'll add a 21 to that list. I also echo Droptgepuck (2pm today btw) on how important Maddon had been.
    Great reading. Thanks.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Great recap! I'd suggest you omitted two key elements:

    1. Business operations: The Cubs have built the best Spring Training facility, the best clubhouse, and the best facility in the DR. They are in the midst of remodeling Wrigley Field, and adding new streams of revenue. The TV ratings are up this year, as they approach a new cable TV contract. Soon they will be able to compete financially with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. So unlike teams like the Royals, the Cubs will likely be able to keep all those prospects you listed and supplement with free agent signings; trades won't be necessary. And current contracts are structured so that the team can add free agents after the 2017 season, when there should be another strong field.

    2. And the single most important element of all...Tom Ricketts buys the team. It all starts at the top.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Boy are you ever right with number 2. Ricketts has been criticized so much that people didn't even see the forest through the trees and realize he was the right guy to own this team. It was only a year ago that Steve Rosenbloom was still calling him the "fanboy owner". He's not doing that anymore. He made a few mistakes along the way, he probably should have lowered the boom on the rooftop owners sooner than he did, but this guy hired the right people, has consistently struck the right tone when interviewed and trusted his guys and their skills. In terms of hiring and trusting skills who would have thought that retaining Crane Kenney was the right thing to do and yet he's been the bad cop to Ricketts good cop to get things done. The whole thing has been a remarkable journey. I can't wait til we get to the promised land.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Steve who?

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Thanks for the kind words, Cubs Win 009!

    I had to edit out some. It was already too long, but I definitely agree with you. It all starts with the sale. Who knows if a different owner goes aggressively after Theo like Tom did.

    And the facilities improvements (as well as the technological advancements like closed circuit TV in all the Cubs minor league parks so Theo and company can watch any minor league game they want without have to travel) are a big part of the incredible improvement to this franchise.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Outstanding post Quedub.

    7. I wasn't surprised that the Astros didn't take Bryant in the 2012 draft. The Cubs didn't either. They waited until 2013. And the Astros passed on him...again.

    8. The Cubs trade Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger for Pedro Strop and God.
    *That's the Spirit!* (sorry, couldn't help it)

    11/15 As a bridge between these two we can include Strailly. Not a bad sequence.

    I think the Cubs wanted Samardzija, I believe they offered him 5/$75M or something like that and he didn't sign. So they traded him. But I may have faulty memory on that and it is kind of a quibbling point. Great stuff, Quedub.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Ha! Good catch, Joel! It was 5 in the morning when I posted it after writing for over an hour, so I'll give myself that caveat...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Quedub . . . this made my day. Excellent overview. Here's to you adding a few WS Titles to it in the not-too-distant future.

  • In reply to AJinLA:

    Thanks all for the kind feedback. John has done a great job of keeping the Cubs Den comment section the best in the business. I appreciate all the great Denizens that post here.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Re: 1969: You B#@*+^d! And we have always been told it was a black cat.

  • Made it to the South Bend game last night. Was not happy Jiminez had the night off. One thing that I really noticed with him was what you mentioned John about him in the spring, his leadership skills are very noticeable and he was keeping everybody loose in warmups. Everybody he was around had a smile on their face.
    EJM had a very nice throw from deep center on a line shot, one hopper to him that stopped the runner on second from scoring. You can tell he's raw, but you see glimpses of a very good prospect in spurts. Looks like he could add even more weight, seemed really lean IMO.
    Man Donnie Dewees can hit, and he put up good ABs. Also, he swiped a bag that he got a very good read and jump off the Tincaps pitcher. I must be honest, I think he is a liability in the OF for this SB team. His reads and jumps on the ball in the OF are porous. Three times a ball was hit down the line and made it to the corner because he took a route towards the bullpen to try to cut it off and missed multiple times. He would have limited a couple extra bases if he would have just taken a straight line right to the wall. His arm is noticeably weak to the other players. But all in all, don't want to dock him all that much because I love "Double D", as they were calling him, bat and discipline at the plate.

  • This post should go into the Cubs Den HOF!

    Tip of the cap Quedub!

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    Thanks for the kind words, bleedblue!

  • Hey, without the LeMahieu trade we never would have had those high draft picks. Ian Stewart, we thank you.

  • John,

    I was looking for the Cubs extended spring training schedule and can't seem to find it anywhere. Can anyone direct me to a schedule? Thanks

  • In reply to AzChris:

    There is none available to the public. Generally the Cubs play at home on Mondays and Fridays at 10:40 AM, but that is not always true. They do play at Sloan tomorrow. I go to Sloan every weekday and see what happens. Even if there isn't a game, there should be something going on (i.e. an intrasquad or BP). Games also on Saturday a half hour earlier at 10 AM, but not Sunday. If there is a particular day or venue you'd like to go, I can find out when and where they will play.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That should read 10:30, not 10:40. Don't want you to miss the first.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John Friday the 22nd if you can find out if at Sloan. THanks

  • Last year at AA we had 3 guys next to each other in the line up raking. (Contreras, Schwarber and Vogelbach) This year we just have 2 guys hitting next to each other raking at AAA. (Contreras and Vogelbach) unless Almora take off and makes it three again. We have a good farm.

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