Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Martinez helps South Bend walk one off (again); Almora gets 3 hits

Iowa 4, Nashville 1 (Michael)

  • Pierce Johnson (lat strain) and Matt Murton (oblique strain) were placed on the DL. Stephen Perakslis and Scott Barnes were activated to replace them on the roster and the two piggybacked in this game. Perakslis (3 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K) got the start and kept the ball down and the Sounds off the board for 4 innings. It was the second time this season Perakslis made a solid fill in start for the I-Cubs. The pair of appearances are the first two starts of his pro career.
  • Barnes was not as sharp, allowing 4 baserunners in 1.1 IP, including two in the botom of the sixth before being lifted with one out for Armando Rivero (1.2 IP, 1 BB, 1 K). Arismendy Alcantara dropped a routine fly in shallow right with runners on 1st and 3rd, allowing the Sounds to tie the game at one.
  • Iowa (12-13) had built its 1-0 lead in the 4th on back to back singles by Albert Almora (3-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI) and Willson Contreras (2-4), followed by a groundball to second by Dan Vogelbach that resulted in a double play but allowed Almora to score.
  • They then had a chance to extend the lead an inning later when Kristoper Negron (1-2, 3B, R, 2 BB, SB, CS, E) walked and then stole his 5th bag of the year to put himself in scoring position with no outs, but he would then be picked off by rehabbing Athletics starter Henderson Alvarez.
  • Negron would redeem himself three innings later with a leadoff triple to right. The I-Cubs would keep Sounds RF Matt McBride busy the rest of the inning. Negron would score two batters later on a Munenori Kawasaki (1-1, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB, CS) single to right to put Iowa ahead 2-1. With two out and Kawasaki on second after a stolen base, Almora would triple in front of a diving McBride. The ball would skip by him and roll to the wall. Almora would eventually score on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 4-1. Contreras tried to keep the line moving when he blooped a hit down the right field line, but McBride cut him down at second as he tried to stretch it into a double.
  • Taking over the closer role with the promotion of Spencer Patton to Chicago earlier in the day, Felix Pena extended his impressive streak of striking out multiple batters in every appearance on the season to eight with an 3 K night. He worked two innings, with a two out walk in the 8th the only blemish against him. He's compiled 23 K in 15 innings overall.

Mississippi 3, Tennessee 2 (Michael)

  • Second straight day Mississippi jumped out to a 1st inning lead. Duane Underwood Jr. was able to limit the damage to 2 runs despite surrendering 3 hits, a walk and a wild pitch in the inning. Underwood had issues locating his fastball consistently but managed to settle in somewhat after the rocky 1st. He flashed a very effective changeup in the 86-87 MPH range to lefties. The development of that pitch could be the deciding factor on his ultimate ceiling. He would give up one more run on a lead off home run in the 4th before departing after 5 innings of work.
  • 1B Ryan Dent cut down a runner at the plate in the top of the 5th to keep the score 3-0. The Smokies seemed to use the play as a catalyst in the bottom of the inning. Mark Zagunis (1-1, R, 2 BB) singled to lead off, then three batters later pinch hitter Kelly Dugan blasted a home run to right center.  It was Dugan's second homer in as many days.
  • The Smokies hitters managed just 5 hits on the day, but did walk 7 times.
  • Another 1.1 innings of scoreless ball from lefty Gerardo Concepcion. He has not allowed a run in 14.2 IP on the year and 19.2 dating back to last season (13 appearances overall). After walking 29 batters in 31.2 IP with Tennessee last season, Concepcion has given up just 4 free passes so far on the year.
  • Corey Black had his wipeout slider working in the 9th striking out one. He did allow a two out double that was poked down the right field line, and then Jeimer Candelario saved a run with a nice backhanded play on a hard grounder down the line.
  • Tennessee wouldn't threaten again until the bottom of the 9th. Victor Caratini walked on four pitches to lead it off then reached second on a wild pitch with two outs. Another walk to Carlos Penalver put the winning run on with Bijan Rademacher coming to the plate. Radmacher would get ahead in the count but flew out to LF to end the game.

Wilmington 4 - Myrtle Beach 0

  • Trevor Clifton didn't get particularly hard in the first, but he did give up 2 runs.  He recovered and went on to strike out 8 hitters, though he did walk 3.  Clifton seems on the brink of combining his good stuff with good command and a better understanding of how to pitch, but  we still may see some bumps on the road along the way.  Overall, he is a pitcher to watch, as we have been saying for years -- but it looks like he is getting ever closer to putting all the pieces together.
  • The Pelicans were stymied on offense as they managed just 6 hits and not a single walk, which is unusual for them. No player had more than one hit while Gleyber Torres and  Charcer Burks had the only extra base hits (both doubles)

 South Bend 3 - Beloit 2

  • LHP Kyle Twomey was outstanding today.  Mixing and matching all his pitches with good command.  A triple followed by a wild pitch was the only blemish on a day when he went 6 innings, walked just one hitter and struck out 6.  He had a couple of rough starts but has otherwise been very good for South Bend.  The 4.85 ERA is skewed by those two bad starts but Twomey has struck out 30 while walking just 7 in 26.
  • John Williamson loaded the bases with nobody out 2 singles and a walk and then was saved when Daniel Spingola raced into the gap and caught a sinking liner just before it hit the turf.  It still resulted in a sac fly and a tie game, but he wriggled out of the rest of the jam without further damage.  And as an aside, Williamson is known as a pretty good rapper (forgive me if that is not the correct term anymore.  I'm tragically unhip).  He goes by the name J-Willy and you can find him on You Tube.  Here is one video.
  • PJ Higgins was the catalyst for South Bend today.  He started the scoring in the 4th when he doubled to RF, scored on a single and then eventually scored the winning run in the with a single and then some heads up baserunning, moving to 3B on a fly ball and then scoring when Eddy Julio Martinez hit a second sac fly to drive him in and win the game.  Higgins went 2 for 4 with the 2 runs scored.  He's hitting .280 with a .429 OBP while playing good defense at catcher, though he was the DH today.
  • If Higgins was the catalyst, it was Eloy Jimenez who kept the offense going.  It was Jimenez who knocked in Higgins for the first run of the game with a single and then later came around to score from 2B on a single by Bryant Flete (1 for 3).  Jimenez also hit the sac fly that moved Higgins to 3B to set up Martinez's game winner.  Jimenez went 2 for 4 overall on the day and is hitting .299.  What is more encouraging is the consistency.  He has hit in 9 of his last 10 games, a span in which he is hitting .357.  The raw power is there and it will come, but for now Jimenez is becoming a more mature, consistent hitter.
  • Eddy Julio Martinez also factored in both scoring rallies.  As we mentioned he hit the game winning sac fly in the bottom of the 9th for the walk off, but he also hit the single to move Jimenez to 2B to set up Flete's RBI single.  Martinez went 1 for 3 overall.

Ext ST Cubs 12 - D'Backs 7 (Box score from AZ Phil)'

  • Erling Moreno was in the 89-91 mph range with his FB, flashed a good change, and got a good feel for his CB in the 3rd inning, which was the best of his 3 inning scoreless stint.  The 6'3", 200 lbs. 19 yr old RHP, walked 1 and struck out 3.
  • Aaron Crow continued his rehab with 1 inning of one run ball.  He left the ball up a little again and gave up a hard double, but he managed to limit the damage.  He was 90-92 on the FB and also threw a slider, curve, and change up.
  • 17 year old Jose Albertos was the most impressive pitcher on the day, sitting at 94 and flashing a plus curve.  Albertos has been tough to hit but what made the difference today was exceptional command as he struck out the side in order.
  • The Cubs got 3 HRs -- one by the rehabbing Shane Victorino, who also walked.  It was Victorino's first HR of the extended spring season.
  • The other HRs were hit by Jose Paniagua, who hit a 3 run shot and Alex Bautista, who crushed his HR deep over the LF-CF wall.  Bautista also knocked in 3 runs (single, sac fly).
  • Wladimir Galindo had a big day.  After struggling with some offspeed away, Galindo got some FBs on the inner half and crushed them for 2 doubles and almost getting a 3rd but was cut down at 2B.  Galindo has quick hands and good bat speed.  He can turn on good FBs, but he struggles with breaking stuff, especially on the outer half of the plate.
  • Yelier Peguero continues to surprise after a strong season in the DSL last year.  He tripled into the RF-CF gap and also legged out an infield single.
  • DJ Wilson didn't play but he took some extra BP, working on hitting balls the other way.


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  • Albertos is looking like the crown jewel of this IFA class. How big is he?

  • In reply to ericccs:

    Ericccs, same question I wanted to ask. A lot of 17-year-olds are projectable to get faster and stronger as they fill out. Does he have any of that physical projection? Or is he more on the stocky, shorter side, kind of like Tsen, without much velocity projection left?

    Not that sitting at 94 with a plus curve needs much projection, if the command and velocity was consistent....

  • nice summary..but the link to the video of J-Willy simply takes you to the MilB box score of the game.

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    Jose Albertos, IIRC, is a recent IFA sign out of Mexiico, one of the $1 mil+ signings we had this IFA period. Am I right?

    How does the organization determine whether an IFA guy heads to the Dominican Republic to play in the Rookie league there, or Arizona? It seems like Asian and US players all go to Arizona, and Carribean players go to the DR. How does it work exactly?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    From my limited knowledge, the most advanced Latin American players can skip ahead to AZ and hit the true minors by 18 (Gleyber Torres), while the kids who need to develop skills and/or physically spend a year or two in the Dominican league. Recently, John stated that even recently signed kids who will play in the Dominican league this summer have been in AZ to get coached up before their league starts play. Just a few of the 500k and up bonus babies aren't in AZ right now.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Language has a lot to do with it I'm sure. The DR academies can obviously communicate with Spanish speaking players and also have classes set up to teach the players English. They also have been around for a long time and have established methods for transitioning players from those cultures to America.

    Sending an Asian player to the DR where everything is Spanish/English doesn't help their transition. The Asian players need to adapt to the US and since there are no established academies in Asia that transition best occurs here.

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    Rademacher hasn't played much recently....is he hurt? Or is it too crowded in the Tennessee OF between McKinney, Zagunis, and Hannemann? It's also curious that Bijan wasn't bumped to Iowa when Kalish was called up; he's had over 600 ABs in AA now, so you would think it's time.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Not hurt. Just crowded in that OF. Remember, at the AA and AAA level the DH is not used in NL parks. So they have to rotate four guys through that OF quite often and the other three are the higher profile guys that will get priority.

    They did not call him up presumably because the Iowa OF will be just as crowded once Kalish and Murton return in short order and with Victorino potentially on the horizon they were able to activate utility guy Ben Carhart to fill the hole in the meantime. Probably wouldn't do any good to have him come up and get PT for two weeks then have to send him back down because the Iowa OF would then become even more crowded then Tenn.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I would guess something is wrong. He has pinch hit for his last 5 games. For a player of his skill you would want to use him more than one AB per game.

  • If we are looking to add at the deadline, I would not consider including Eloy in any packages (along with Almora and Contreras). His upside is tremendous.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Contreras is the only untouchable in my mind. The Cubs are looking to win the WS. Pretty much everything else takes a back seat at this point. There are a few guys like Cease, Hudson and Almora that I would be reluctant to part with, but if the right deal comes along, they have to consider it.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I don't see the need to make a deal. We are kicking butt in just about every category and have the best record in MLB. Let us not forget, WE ARE GOOD!

  • In reply to John57:

    We are good... now. In two months that may not be the case. Injuries, slumps happen. And a lefty to augment the pen would be nice.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Right...but we aren't trading Dylan Cease to get a relief pitcher.

  • In reply to springs:

    Obviously. But what if Arrieta or Lester go down...

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Andrew Miller would be so perfect, I've been saying it since the Winter Meetings. Almora, Contreras, Cease are the only 3 I probably wouldn't consider including.

  • In reply to Nick Perry:

    Very true. Though with the ridiculous trades for Kimbrel and Giles I can't see this FO pulling the trigger on that deal

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    In reply to John57:

    I agree we don't "need" to make a deal. However, it is always wise to keep our ear to the ground.

    Besides, making these lists is fun!

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yes of course you keep your ear to the ground in case there is a good trade out there that makes you better.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:


  • In reply to 44slug:

    What? That eventually somebody we like will be dealt? Hey, I'm as attached to these guys as anybody. But its going to happen eventually. While the team has done an amazing job of filling needs internally, and appear to have a good amount of coverage in the upper minors for plugging future gaps, the odds that everything will work out perfectly timing wise in all situations is unlikely.

    And there simply may come a time when a young player becomes available on the trade market that the team would be foolish not to explore.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'd almost add Almora to the untouchable list. Like Contreras he is nearly MLB ready and plays a premium position that the Cubs don't have a cost controlled option for next year and are basically an injury away from being called up as is.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree Contreras is really the only option going forward at a position that's extremely difficult to fill. Almora might be almost untouchable, but only almost as you can fill CF, if not in house certainly through FA or trade.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The only thing that keeps Almora off the list for me is that the Cubs like Fowler and the team has other long term CF options behind Almora in the system, so again, if a deal for say a young ace came along, I would consider moving Almora in such a scenario.

    With Contreras we have a need for next year, and require him for depth this season since Montero and Ross are aging and have both missed time in recent seasons. Plus, with the exception of a potential backup in Caratini, the rest of the Cubs catching pipeline is years away.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Plus the Cubs could go back to the pre-Dexter plan and have Heyward plays CF. I still think he would be above average in CF and if he Javy pushes KB to the OF then the defense as a whole would not suffer.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    "The only thing that keeps Almora off the list for me is that the Cubs like Fowler and the team has other long term CF options behind Almora in the system"

    I think I'd keep Almora off the trade-list for this season.

    I'd be really cautious to trade Almora, because I'm pretty hesitant on the CF options behind him.
    *Hannemann is a career .244 hitter, and he's hitting .240 thus far this year.
    *Dewees has little arm; not sure how good he'll hit up the ladder, not very safe.
    *Crawford's gotten off to a nice start, so maybe he's a new man, and I know John's been impressed. But as a guy who's always K'd a lot, and is continuing to do so this year, while hitting almost no HR's, it's hard. Hard to maintain a good OBP or average when you're K'ing a quarter of your AB, and don't hit any HR's. (You need a BABIP of .360 to hit .270, if you're K'ing 1/4 of your AB with no HR's.)
    *DJ Wilson won't turn 20 till the playoffs, so he's got time, but he can't hit anything but fastballs even in Mesa, where his XST OPS is below .400.

    So I'd keep Almora until/unless one of these guys shows a lot more.

  • In reply to craigJ:

    Almora really was more of a hitting hope before this season and even now doesn't have a ceiling that is irreplaceable by any stretch. Further, assuming Heyward plays CF (as was projected), we can replace Almora with a corner OF pretty readily. If the Yankees wanted Almora as centerpiece of an Andrew Miller deal, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    While I agree, the "right deal" depends on a team gaining surplus value in a deal, which by nature depends on the exact valuation. In the absence of a significant injury to Arrieta or Lester, I would be surprised if they traded Cease or Hudson or, depending how he looks, De La Cruz; we are limited in top pitching prospects and don't have much young pitching at the major league level, so their subjective value is higher than would be for a contending team. Further, assuming we stay anywhere near the current pace, it doesn't appear we need to add a significant piece to be a contender.

    If we get offered Jose Fernandez (who still is somehow only 23!), Sale, Taijuan, Archer or one of the young Indians or Mets pitchers, then make the deal as we are adding cost controlled pitching. Otherwise, again in the absence of an Arrieta or Lester injury, I think Cease, Hudson, De La Cruz and possibly Underwood are untouchable (along with Contreras, as you mentioned) -- the combination of their scarcity and value to the Cubs and the team's broad strengths and performance combine to mean that any trade of those players would be unlikely to create surplus value for the Cubs unless we get a star cost-controlled pitcher.

  • In reply to springs:

    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I would probably only consider trading the top young starters in a deal that brought back a young ace.

  • In reply to springs:

    I could be wrong and I hope I am but I doubt that the Cubs will get surplus value at the trade deadline. I don't want to underestimate the voo doo of Theo but contending teams making a deal at the deadline for anyone of significance usually have to overpay.

    This team as it stands without a doubt is good enough to reach the playoffs, I believe without any problems. However, getting through the playoffs and getting a Championship is another story. Even the Mariners who set the wins record got bumped from the playoffs pretty quickly. Another TOR type at the deadline could probably do the trick. Sonny Gray anybody?

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    In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Sometimes the trick is finding another team that needs what we have as much as we need what they have. Not every trade has to be a Feldmann for Arrieta rip off.

  • OK, puzzled at the lineup today. Javy is giving Russell a break. Heyward is back in right. But, they have Lastella at third, Zo at second and Bryant in left. I understand wanting to keep Lastella's bat in the lineup, but I do not like him at third. I would prefer putting KB at third, Lastella at second and giving Zo a day out in the grass. Just me I guess.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    La Stella is fine at 3B, Zobrist prefers 2B at this point and with Bryant targeted to play mostly in the OF this season I don't know why you put him at 3B without a compelling reason.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Eh, at this point in his career limiting the amount of time Zobrist has to roam around in the OF is probably a good thing. And getting La Stella more comfortable at 3B has more long term value.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    But in my mind the issue with La Stella is not comfort level it is arm strength.

  • In reply to CubsFanMich:

    I agree with you on the arm strength but despite the scouting reports from when he was with the Braves, LaStella has looked exceptionally good at 3B during his Cub career. He isn't Javy (is there a position you wouldn't be comfortable with Javy playing other than C or P?) or Bryant, but is better than serviceable IMO.

  • I'll be attending the Iowa game tomorrow in Omaha. The Iowa website isn't listing the starting pitcher yet. With the recent injuries, I'm not exactly sure who will fall in to pitch tomorrow's game. Anybody have and idea of who will be pitching for Iowa tomorrow?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    It honestly could be a bullpen day. Barnes pitched yesterday, but he may well get the start or at least go a couple of innings.

    Last time they needed an emergency starts they called up Tyler Ihrig and Michael Wagner. Ihrig has worked 2 of the last 3 days in MB so he is out, but Wagner has been chilling in EXST so my money would be on him. Also from EXST they could potentially bring up Antigua or maybe give Jeremy Null a start in Iowa before sending him to SB or MB. Not sure what schedule he is on right now.

    Other options:
    Markey might get brought up from Tenn. They now have 6 starters and Markey hasn't worked since 5/2.

    Or maybe Beeler or Fife are closer to returning then I was aware.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    ME you are on top of it

  • I do not know why I take great pleasure in the statement "DJ Wilson didn't play but took extra BP, working on hitting balls the other way." It could be because DJ Wilson is working on the mechanisms that could make him a legitimate leadoff hitter of the future.

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