Daily Cubs Minors Recap: Albertos impresses crowd in Scottsdale

If you haven’t already, please check out Stephanie’s interview with top prospect Ian Happ.

Just a reminder to check the Cubs Draft Tracker for updates on draft signings.  With the all-star break ending, we may get some announcements tomorrow, though it will not involved top pick Thomas Hatch.

The Cubs added a lot of pitching in that draft but it was a 17 year old they  signed last year from Mexico who wowed the crowd last night, but more on that in the recap…

Iowa 3 – Nashville 2

  • It has been a tough year for but Jack Buchanan has pitched well at times.  That was more or less the case today as the veteran limited the damage from 4 walks by striking out 7 hitters and allowing just 3 hits. Despite the so-so command, Buchanan allowed just one run and lowered his ERA to 4.67.
  • Felix Pena surrendered a solo HR to make things interesting but that was the only blemish in 2 innings.  Pena did not walk a batter and struck out two to put his ERA at 2.86.  The peripherals are even better.  Entering this game, Pena’s FIP was 2.66, in large part the result of his 11.02 K/9 rate vs. 2.76 BB/9 IP rate.
  • Veteran Joel Peralta picked up the save with a scoreless inning.
  • Mark Zagunis continued his solid AAA play with a walk and a double.  He is hitting .347/.431/.551 on the season.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach anchors Iowa’s strong middle of the order in that clean up spot and he has been incredibly consistent all year.  He doubled and scored a run.  He is hitting .302/.422/.557 with 12 HRs overall this year.
  • Jeimer Candelario makes it a solid middle 3 and he went 2 for 4 with a double to raise his line to .333/.473/.619.
  • It was the unsung part of the lineup that did most of the damage, however.  Dave Frietas doubled, singled, walked, scored, and drove in a run while Matt Murton and Munenori Kawasaki (double) each drove in a run.

Eugene 8 – Hillsboro 1

  • There is a conga line of starting pitchers at Eugene and the latest is 6th starter Pedro Silverio, who throws about 92-93 with a good breaking ball.  He struggled a bit with control today, walking 4, but he did pitch around that with 5 innings of 3 hit, one-run ball.  He struck out two as he earned the win.
  • Alex Santana has a live arm but there is a lot of effort in his delivery and his command suffers for it.  He walked 3 batters in 2 innings but just one hit — and most importantly no runs.
  • Jared Cheek and Tommy Nance each finished up with a scoreless inning.
  • There are a few scouts down here who think 22 year OFer Robert Garcia has a chance to be a big league outfielder.  He’s a polished player with good athleticism and feel for the barrel, can play all 3 OF positions well, and has plus speed.  With DJ Wilson getting the day off, Garcia was the spark at the top of the order He singled, walked twice, stole two bases, and scored 3 times.
  • 19 year old Andruw Monasterio is a solid all-around SS with a good approach and some athleticism to go with a mature makeup.  He tripled and singled today and is hitting .286/.345/.519 in the early going.  He has struck out a bit more but Monasterio is looking to drive the ball more and it may take some adjustment as he showed good feel for contact last year.
  • Matt Rose is finding his stroke again at Eugene.  He doubled, scored, and drove in 2 runs.
  •  Jose Paniagua has some power and is working on being more patient at the plate  He singled twice today and drove in two runs.
  • The Eugene lineup is productive but it features an unusual amount of corner infielders.  First we have the aforementioned Rose and Paniagua, there is also Chris Pieters (1 for 4) and Wladimir Galindo, who went 2 for 4.
  • 23 year old catcher Tyler Payne is a solid receiver and has given Eugene tremendous production from the bottom of the lineup.  He went 3 for 4 and is hitting .455 through the first 6 games.
  • 2B Yelier Peguero singled, scored, and drove in a run.  The 18 year old is off to a .273/.333/.500 start.

 AZL Cubs 5 – AZL D’Backs 4

  • The star of the day was Jose Albertos, who started in the 94-95 range, then sat at 96 in his second inning, before touching 97 twice and topping out at 98 in the 3rd.  He’s being stretched out so he tired a bit in the 4th, dropping back into that mid 90s range.  He does it with a simple, repeatable delivery and without max effort, so while he isn’t physically imposing, there is a good chance he can stick as a starter.  He relied heavily on a change-up with some sink (81-82 mph) as his secondary  pitch as he did not have a feel for his curveball (77-78 mph), which I have seen flash plus in previous outings.  He is about as far down the chain as you can be, so there is  a lot road ahead — and therefore a lot of risk, but when it comes to high ceiling Cubs pitching prospects, Albertos has to be in the conversation.  Great scouting find for the Cubs as he was relatively unheralded as an amateur.  Oh yeah, the game.  He pitched 4 innings, allowed a broken bat single, struck out 7 and did not walk a batter until he started to tire in the 4th.
  • Rehabbing lefty Jack Leathersitch showed a 91-92 mph FB and a sweeping curveball that showed two plane break.  He has a 3/4 arm slot and looks like he has the potential to be tough on LH hitters.
  • LHP Eugenio Palma throws 91-92 mph but does so with a lot of effort.  I think he can get better balance and line toward the plate as he seems to drift toward the 3B side in his motion and ends up a little open and having to come across his body.  There is some arm strength there, but wondering if they can clean it up a bit.  He pitched 2 scoreless innings.
  • This one got a little close as the D’Backs rallied for 4 runs in the 9th of Tanner Griggs, but veteran Luis Aquino came in to get the last out and the save.
  • The AZL offense is more scrappy than brawny or even speedy.  There is some pop in the middle of the lineup as Gustavo Polanco is a strong kid with power.  He singled, scored a run, and drove in another but his hardest hit was a line drive to deep CF.
  • Kevin Zamudio is another strong kid and he drove one deep to LF-CF for a double and scoring the first two runs.  He tends to chase, expecially up in the zone, but makes hard contact when he squares up.  His HR yeserday and the double today are probably the two hardest hits for the AZL Cubs this year.
  • The only draftee to officially sign, 7th round catcher Michael Cruz showed some polish behind the plate but had a rough day as a hitter as he fouled a pitch or two off his leg early — but he connected in the 8th for a double and an RBI, the first of his pro career
  • 3B Rafael Mejia is in the interesting but very raw category that you don’t rank or hype, but just sort of take note and hope he develops.  He has the best athleticism and frame among their middle of the order hitters but he is the furthest behind and really struggled making contact in extended spring training as well as Opening Day when he struck out 4 times.  He made some kind of adjustment today as he displayed some ability on a single in which he got his hands in nicely to fight it off.  Later, he drove a double to LF-CF that rivaled Zamudios doubles in terms of sound, distance, and I’ll guess, exit velocity.  Hopefully he has figured it out at the plate.
  • Edgar Rondon played well in the field and went 1 for 3 with an RBI.  He and double play partner Jhonny Bethencourt are real grinders with some athleticism.  Bethencourt has the better bat and has been getting the reps at SS, but Rondon is a guy that’s fun to watch because he gives it full effort on every play.
  • Ruben Reyes went 1 for 3 with an RBI.

DSL Cubs 1

DSL Cubs 2

  • SS Rafael Narea singled twice and walked.  The Cubs brought Narea to AZ this spring and he is a good defender with some speed and contact oriented approach.
  • OF Jonathan Sierra singled, walked, and scored a run.  There is more raw power than game power right now, but Sierra’s approach has his OBP at .407, much of that on the strength  of 10 walks (17% rate) and 3 HBPs — but his bat has come around of late.  He has hit .344 in his last 9 games.
  • 20 year old 1B Luis Hidalgo continues to do the heavy lifting for DSL 1.  He hit his 4th HR in 9 games.
  • The DSL 2 team got a solid start from Carlos Ocampo, who pitched 5 innings, walked one and struck out 5 in allowing just one run.  Ocampo is 17 yrs old with a 6’2″ projectable frame.
  • Aramis Ademan may not be tearing it up at the plate, but he continues to find ways to contribute.  We’ve talked a lot about his defense, which has plus potential, but Ademan has the chance to be solid across the board in other areas.  The hit tool will play despite the .212 start and he has an advanced approach with 12 walks vs. 8 Ks and a .379 OBP.  He has also stolen 5 bases in 6 attempts.
  • Catcher Miguel Amaya played 1B today, both because he needed a break and because he has been hitting like a 1B.  He got two more hits, including a double, scored, and drove in 2.  Amaya is hitting .311/.426/.467 with a HR in the first 13 games.
  • The relatively unheralded 17 year old 2B Fidel Mejia has been among the team’s best players.  A single, double, and walk has his line at .415/.467/.491, though  he is not a player I have had the chance to observe personally.
  • Speedy  CF Fernando Kelli, 17, gave the DSL 2 team a spark from the 9th hole.  He singled, walked twice, stole his 7th base and scored twice.




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  • Was Albertos an under the radar IFA? Does anyone recall the bonus he signed for?

  • In reply to dbone:

    Nevermind, should have used the google machine first. Is 1.5 million correct?

  • In reply to dbone:

    From the sounds of it this was not a guy that was on everyone's radar. He was not considered a top 30 prospect last year, but the Cubs must have felt like they knew what they were getting. Here is what the scouting report from Michael Cerami from Bleachnation says about Albertos:

    Scouting Report: For a guy that signed for over $1 million, we haven’t heard a whole lot about Albertos, but, according to Badler, he is the top pitcher signed by the Cubs last year. With a polished combination of stuff and a feel for pitching, Albertos throws strikes and profiles well, as a future starting pitcher. He is already capable of hitting 94 MPH with his fastball and pairs that with a potentially plus slider and a changeup. Even though he is just 17, Albertos is already stateside (which is quite the compliment and challenge).

  • In reply to CubsFaninNC:

    Mexico is likely scouted far less than other countries and the national writers and prospect reporters have fewer contacts for scouts in that area so their lack of information is not unsurprising. Up to this point there has been little reason to pay much attention to Mexico as very few notable prospect have emerged from there. It seems there has been a recent trend emerging trend, with the Cubs seemingly leading the way, of signing players from the country. It may be an emerging market that the Cubs got their fingers into early.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    On the day his signing was announced, I did a google search and there was an article in Spanish that said some scouts had him in their top 3 IFA pitchers with the likes of Yadier Alvarez and Vladimir Gutierrez so I was excited about him. I got even more excited when AZ Phil's and John's reports from Mesa this spring supported that article.

    As Michael and John have mentioned, Mexico is more lighted scouted so the national guys like Badler didn't have him listed, but he wasn't lost on everybody and thankfully the Cubs jumped on him.

  • In reply to dbone:

    He got a big bonus, which was 1.5M, but much of that goes to his team as they have a posting system. There were not a lot of teams on him and wasn't even mentioned by guys like Ben Badler of BA, who is now saying the Cubs may have gotten a steal.

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    All the minor league teams won last night. I really like the inclusion of the DSL teams so we can really be informed of our youngest players and follow them for years before they get up here, or if we trade some we know exactly who they are and what they can do.
    Thanks for all the research John, and thanks to Stephanie too.

  • Glad to see Michael Cruz in camp and playing. I believe he is the only Top 10 Round pick to have signed, correct?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    The 8th 19th and 21st have also signed.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Looking at the link this morning, Stephen Ridings (8th round) has signed and is in camp. The draft signage link also has two senior signees, 19th round pitcher Matt Swarmer and 21st round catcher Sam Tidaback.

    Putting aside top late picks I don't expect to sign (DJ Roberts, Jake Slaughter, Davis Daniel, Brandon Heiss), there still is a great combination of expected steady contributors and upside wildcards. I think Hatch and Tyson Miller are a bit of both. We drafted some decent reliever prospects that could be ready much sooner than normally expected from a draft.

    On upside, most will never come close to reaching it, but I like we took chances on some high ceilings. If Bailey Clark can be the pitcher he was last summer and early spring, he is (at least) one of our top 3 pitching prospects. Ridings is 6'8, I believe (twin towers with Hudson!), and has touched 95 mph. Others with great projectable frames...Block, Bassett, Moore. I don't think we sign most of the high upside picks, particularly after round 30 (Heiss, Daniel, Kriedler, Slaughter and Roberts would collectively make this an incredible draft, but I doubt any sign), but the chance of getting one or more of them was worth it at that stage, IMO.

    Michael Cruz showed a good bat at catcher, could be a great sign if he could stay there. Zack Short looked like a top 10 round pick as a sophomore and has shown power at SS. Rey Rivera has huge power and decent athlete with strong arm....could be a huge surprise.

    Of course, this is the baseball draft and the most likely result (particularly after the first two rounds) is that these players will never make the majors. But it is exciting to use some picks to grab potential difference makers, particularly when you don't have a 1st round pick.

  • In reply to springs:

    Yes, I am here in AZ and many of those guys will probably be announced soon, but Cruz is the only official signing and rostered player right now.

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    As the trade deadline approaches, is it possible to get a breakdown of potential trade targets, the needs of that organization and possible cubs prospects to complete that trade?

    Also, as trade rumors swirl, is there any way to grade the mlb players like prospects, aside from stats?

  • In reply to Tommy2toes:

    Still over a month away on that. Cubs will mostly be targeting RPs. We can do something like that, think Tom was working on something along those lines.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks! You all are by far the best with all things cubs!!

    With Theo being so big on value, I wouldn't be surprised if he made another early deal, like the one that got Russell and McKinney. Although, with the extra wild card team, fewer teams are in sell mode...

  • In reply to Tommy2toes:

    Thank you Tommy. And good point, it is a tough buyer's market right now and the Cubs may not get the kind of deal they feel comfortable with until closer to the deadline.

  • Besides Underwood in AA the arms in High A down are very intriguing. I love the strategy of stacking as many quality arms as possible. Most won't pan out but I'd say the odds of getting at least 1 major league pitcher are good. These young arms along with Eloy and DJ Wilson are the players I will be watching closely.

  • In reply to Ozzie24:

    The A ball and down arms are exciting: Clifton, Cease, Hudson, Albertos and hopefully we see Steele bounce back soon. The entire Eugene rotation is interesting.

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    I was anxiously awaiting your report on Jose Albertos. It's really hard to believe this kid can generate that kind of velocity a age 17. The whole plan seems like the Cubs are going to rely on their scouting and volume to address their pitching.

    I must admit that I was one of the many being to panic about the future of the Cubs pitching of the future. That is no longer the case. Even if we can produce a few #3 type of guys in the rotation, if affords the Cubs the luxury to sign a #1 when needed.

    On the other hand if a prospect just happens to show up out of nowhere like Wilson Contreras seemingly did, the big league squad is that much better off. This whole depth thing is just not a positional thing for Chicago.

    I think by next Summer many of us are going to hear more and more about a few of these pitchers in the system...

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    *begining to panic* - still getting used to this Mac and it's auto correct. grrrrr

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It feels like there's a race to get some young gun starters prepared before the possibility of losing Arrieta, Lackey, and Hammel after 2017.
    The secondary concern is that even if we have three arms ready to take their places, chances are that none of them will be ready to pitch 200 innings in the regular season and another 30 in the playoffs.
    I'm sure there's a contingency plan in place. Maybe moving one or two of the young vets for pitching when Torres and Happ are ready for the show?

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    In reply to ericccs:

    We just have so much depth. Guys like Chesny Young and Mark Zagunis are something like "after thoughts" in this system. This are some really fine prospects that would rank near the top of most systems.

    The saying "in Theo we trust" was like the rally cry of the masses a few years ago. But now that we are we are, I hear some say, "we'll take it from here Theo." This included myself. LOL

    The more I just sit back and look at this whole thing the more I am willing to just enjoy this year and fret absolutely nothing! I still think a blockbuster deal might go down over the next 12 months. We just have to much talent to fill a 25 man roster. I'm just saying that whatever the move might be, I'm more than ok with it.

  • What's it like to play baseball in 112 degree weather and how many shirts did you go through yesterday, John?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Haha! I did change when I got home. The worst part was that it was unusually humid and the usual breeze in Scottsdale was completely absent. That was worse than the 112, I think :)

  • Not sure how Pena can lower his ERA from 2.86 by allowing one
    run in 2 innings.

  • In reply to Peder:

    I give you more information on prospects than any other Cubs site by far....and this is what you take out of it? And you do it with a snarky response too? If it was that important to you, pointing it out respectfully is how we do things around here.

    I am happy to fix that minor detail, but try not to lose the forest for the trees.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Respectfully, there's only supposed to be three periods in an ellipsis. :)
    Thanks for the forest, John. I routinely parrot your articles in conversations about Cubs minor leaguers and now people think I'm not just a pretty face anymore, which has been a struggle for me. :)

  • In reply to supertecmo:

    I might be too old, but the :) thing means I'm kidding in case I'm doing that wrong.

  • In reply to supertecmo:

    Ha ha :) I can fix. My older eyes sometimes miss the extra period these days.

  • In reply to supertecmo:

    Did you happen to see any of the interview on ESPN during the Dodgers/Nationals game last night with Jaime Jarrin, the Dodgers long time Spanish Language broadcaster? I turned it on mid interview. However, it seems that the conversation centered around how difficult it is for MLB teams to scout and sign players from Mexico because of interference from the Mexican government.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    There is some kind of posting system and the player has to give up most of his bonus. Not exactly sure how it works Wish I would have seen the interview. If someone has a link, would love to see it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry you took that the wrong way. I've been following here for a long
    time and really appreciate your work. This was the first time I've
    commented and I guess it didn't come out right.

  • In reply to Peder:

    It's cool. I'm more than happy to make corrections. I do this late at night and cover a lot of games. Mistakes like that happen and I will fix them when I am made aware -- which I do appreciate. Just ask that you point them out with the same respect that I extend to you and all the readers and the way the respect all the writers and fellow readers. Nothing personal, I just don't do snark, especially with those with whom I haven't established that respect first. Just the way we do things here and it works for us.

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