MWL All-Star roster full of Cougars

The Kane County Cougars are well represented on the MWL Western Division roster, with a total of six players making it.  Dan Vogelbach, Bijan Rademacher, Rock Shoulders are the position players on the roster, Vogelbach will be starting for the Western Division.  Nathan Dorris, Felix Pena, and Tayler Scott are the pitchers on the roster, quite the impressive showing from Kane County.  The Cougars will set out to make Kane County, and the Cubs proud on June 18th at Fifth Third Field (Dayton Dragons), here’s a look at how each guy has done so far this year.

Vogelbach all star

Shoulders all star

Scott all star

Rademacher all star

Pena all star

Dorris all star

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The Final Four; Massive 2013 First Year Player Draft Preview

There will come a time soon enough where the Cubs are not picking at the top of the draft, this year is not that time as the Cubs pick number two overall.  Picking that high obviously means you suffered through the previous year, but it also means that you should get an impact player and that’s exactly what the Cubs are out to get.  This is an exciting time, not just because of the high pick, but because the Cubs are going to add forty some odd young men to their organization, but let’s focus on what they might do with their first pick.

Over the last few weeks we have read quotes, and stories about what the 2013-MLB-draft1Cubs might do with the number two pick, ultimately only the Cubs really know, but much like last year I think it has a lot to do with what the Astros do with the number one pick.  Now last year the Cubs were picking sixth, but I thought that whole draft changed when the Astros went with Carlos Correa at number one as that was a player that many people thought might be on the Cubs radar at six, he went one.  After the draft the Cubs were steadfast in their response, “Almora was the guy no matter what, we would have taken him number one.”  I like hearing that, the draft should be more about evaluating talent than reacting to what other teams are doing, sure you want to take the best available that high in the draft, but your best available might not be another teams best available.  The general consensus is that the Cubs have narrowed their choice down to four guys, let’s take a look at who the Cubs are looking at as well as my predictions.

Appel Draft

The Cubs want him, that’s my honest opinion, I think if the Cubs had the number one pick in the draft they would take Appel.  Funny thing is, the Cubs had a shot at Appel in last years draft, but Appel slipped, he was once thought of as the number one overall pick last year until his bonus demands scared a number of teams off.  Appel eventually went eighth to the Pirates but could not come to terms on a contract so returned to Stanford for his senior season, and here we are again with Appel atop the draft rankings.  It’s easy to see why the Cubs like him, he has a plus fastball, and three above average pitches that he can throw for strikes, and projects as a top of the rotation guy.  I don’t like saying can’t miss with a pitcher because of arm injuries that are just one pitch away, but he’s as can’t miss as they come.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 5/6 | Changeup: 5/6 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/7

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Houston doesn’t pass on him twice and takes him at number one overall.
Cubs Chances – Fair, there is no clear-cut number one, and I think if the Astros don’t grab Appel then the Cubs will.

Gray Draft

You know, the Cubs need power arms, well here’s a power arm, and then some.  Gray has a plus plus fastball which has been clocked at triple digits, not just at the start of games, but late in games.  He might not be as polished as Appel, but he has two plus pitches and has a chance to keep developing that change-up into a plus pitch as well.  Now the positive adderall test, this has put a seed of doubt into some people’s minds, I wouldn’t say that I am one of them. I don’t think the Cubs are either, if the Cubs want an arm at number two and their best available (Apple, in my opinion) is off the board then they go with Gray.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 7/8 | Slider: 5/6 | Changeup: 4/5 | Control: 4/5 | Overall: 5/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Gray is still on the board at two and the Cubs take him.
Cubs Chances – Great, I think he will be on the board still, and it comes down to if the Cubs think Gray is the best available.

Bryant Draft

Yes I know that I have a Cubs logo with Bryant as well, here’s why.  This front office is very particular with their high first round picks, they prefer bats, specifically college bats.  Kris Bryant has rocketed up the draft charts because of his tremendous Junior season at the University of San Diego.  Third base is a challenge for the Cubs, not just at the  MLB level but at the minor league level as well.  Josh Vitters is the cream of the crop in the organization with whispers about Javier Baez being moved there.  If the Cubs want to grab a power bat at the hot corner this would be their chance.  The only thing that would pull the Cubs away from Bryant would be his swing and miss potential, but some say his power makes up for that.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 4/5 | Power: 5/7 | Run: 4/4 | Arm: 6/6 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – Assuming the Astros don’t take Bryant at number one, which they could, then I think Bryant lands with Colorado.  A word of caution however, if the Astros take Appel the Cubs front office might choose to follow what they have in the past and favor hitting over pitching.  All depends on who they Cubs feel is the best available, I don’t think they take Bryant just because he’s a third baseman.
Cubs Chances – Excellent, odds are Bryant will be there, the Cubs would just have to pull the trigger.Image13

This is where things get interesting in my opinion, here’s why.  Moran profiles as the “Cubs Way” guy, meaning he is a better overall hitter than Bryant, but odds are he won’t reach the power potential that Bryant will.  However, Moran will have professional at bats, do the Cubs trust their scouting and philosophy to take the guy that fits the mold the most?  I’m leaning towards no on that one just because I feel that if they are going to take the best available in their eyes, and they will, that will not be Moran.  Another wrinkle is that Moran is a left-handed hitting third baseman, I already talked about the need at third base, but the need for a solid left-handed hitting third baseman is almost enough to make a team jump, just don’t think the Cubs will.

Via Jonathan Mayo:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 5/6 | Power: 4/5 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 5/5 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/6

*Players are graded on a 2-8 scale for both present and future tools. 2-3 is well below average, 4 is below average, 5 is average, 6 is above average and 7-8 is plus.

Prediction – The Cubs won’t take Moran, and he will go to the Indians at five after Appel, Bryant, and Gray are off the board and the Twins go with Kohl Stewart or Braden Shipley at number four.
Cubs Chances – Great, I don’t think there is any chance the Astros take Moran, if they go bat with the number one pick they will take Bryant, meaning Moran will be there, but so will Gray and Appel, that’s too much to pass up on to take Moran.

In conclusion, there are four viable options for the Cubs to think about, but it all comes down to who the Astros go with.  If the Astros take Appel I think the Cubs will go with Gray.  If the Astros take Gray I think the Cubs will go with Appel.  If the Astros surprise for the second year in a row and take Bryant then the Cubs take Appel.  Bottom line, I don’t think the Cubs pass on one of the college arms that are guaranteed to be there.  Now, if the Cubs feel strongly about their scouting and talent evaluation they could pass on Gray and Appel at number two and take the bat given the chance to take a number of quality arms in the second, third, and fourth rounds because they will be there.

MLB DRAFT COVERAGE

The draft begins on June 6th and runs through June 8th, live coverage begins on MLB Network at 5:00 PM CST with an hour-long preview show with the first round scheduled to start at 6:00 PM CST.  The first 73 picks will be aired on MLB Network and streamed on MLB.com, that’s the first round, and the supplemental round.  Rounds three through ten will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 7th beginning at 11:30 AM CST, and rounds eleven through forty will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 8th beginning at noon CST.

CUBS BONUS POOL

Because of the new collective bargaining agreement teams have to pay attention to how much they can spend over the first ten rounds in the draft.  If you want a full rundown on how the bonus pool works I suggest you take a gander at Carrie Muskat’s article about the draft, she does a fine job of breaking it down.  Bottom line, the Cubs have the second most money to spend on their top ten rounds, that’s nice.

Cubs bonus pool

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Cubs options with the number two pick, and don’t forget to join me for the first round tomorrow as I will be live blogging the first round just like last year.  Can’t wait!

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Minor Matters – June 4, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

Iowa 6-4 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – After four innings the Cubs didn’t have much going, then they erupted for ten runs over the final four innings en route to a 10-2 victory.  Logan Watkins had an outstanding game at the top of the order going 3-for-5 with three singles and two runs scored.  Brian Bogusevic continues to pad his stats as he was 2-for-4 with his sixth home run of the season, a walk, three RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Steve Clevenger is on the comeback trail, he was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, he’s hitting .429 since returning from that horrible oblique injury.  Brad Nelson had a productive day going 2-for-4 with his eighth home run of the season, three RBI’s, and a run scored.  Ian Stewart is still alive, and was decent in this one going 1-for-4 with his first home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored.

On The MoundBrooks Raley got the start, and I’m not 100% certain but I think Raley had to leave early in this one as he only threw fifty-one pitches.  Raley worked 3.1 innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out two.  Casey Coleman continues to do tremendous work out of the pen; he worked 3.2 scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out two to earn his first win of the season.  Marcus Hatley scuffled a bit, and has since his promotion to Iowa; he worked one inning giving up one run on two hits.  Alex Burnett, who cleared waivers and was optioned to Iowa got some work in today, he went one scoreless inning giving up one hit.

Daytona 6-4 line

Full Box Score

At the Plate – Not a lot of offense in this one from the D-Cubs but it was enough as they squeaked out a 1-0 victory over Bradenton.  John Andreoli was 2-for-4 with two singles, and his sixteenth stolen base of the season.  Tim Saunders was 2-for-4; he also had two singles, but had a caught stealing in this one.  The only RBI of the game came from Jorge Soler; he finished the day 0-for-2 with said RBI on a sacrifice fly.

On The MoundBen Wells was outstanding to start things off for Daytona; he improved his record to 4-4 on the season with the win.  Wells worked five scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking three and striking out four.  Frank Del Valle was just as good out of the pen and earned the rare four inning save in a one run game.  Del Valle worked four scoreless innings giving up four hits while striking out four.

Smokies 6-4 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Smokies looked like they had control of this one with an early 4-1 lead but had to battle back from a 6-4 deficit which they did; as they scored four runs unanswered to beat Jackson 8-6.  The Smokies were dangerous all night as they pounded out fifteen hits while scoring eight runs; they were 5-for-16 with runners in scoring position.  Matt Szczur is red hot, he was 3-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI’s, a stolen base, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .292 on the season.  Ronald Torreyes was 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Arismendy Alcantara was 3-for-5 with two doubles, and an RBI, he’s now hitting .290 on the season.  Ty Wright also had a solid game going 2-for-5 with his third home run of the season, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Chad Noble had a monster game going 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored in the win.

On The MoundYeiper Castillo was roughed up in this one but was still able to give the Smokies some valuable innings.  Castillo worked six innings giving up six runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four.  Hunter Cervenka was outstanding out of the pen, he worked 1.2 scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out two, he picked up his first AA win of the season.  Frank Batista was solid as usual in picking up his eighth save of the season.  Batista worked 1.1 scoreless innings giving up one hit; he lowered his ERA to 1.78 on the season.

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Daytona well represented on FSL All-Star Team

Love to hear news like this, today the Florida State League announced the all-star game rosters and the North Division is littered with Cubs prospects.  A total of four Daytona Cubs made the club, two infielders, and two outfielders.  Javier Baez, and Dustin Geiger are the infielders that made it, and John Andreoli and Jorge Soler were the outfielders that made it.  All four are deserving for sure, what’s really nice to see is Geiger and Andreoli show up on the team, Baez and Soler you kind of expect to be there, but Geiger and Andreoli have excelled this year and are being rewarded for it.

Andreoli All Star

Baez All Star

Geiger All Star

Soler All Star

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June 4, 2013 – Cubs @ Angels; Lineups!

Time to forget the last two games against the Diamondbacks, honestly, forget them, yuck.  The Cubs start a brief two game series against the Angels tonight in Anaheim.  Typically this would be a tough match up, and probably will, but the Angels have under performed this year, and are coming off a four game sweep at the hands of the Astros……the Astros.  Scott Feldman gets the ball for the Cubs tonight, he will be opposed by Jered Weaver of the Angels, first pitch scheduled for 9:05 PM CST.  Here are the lineups, you’ll notice a change as Castro has been dropped to seventh in the order.

CUBS

1.  DeJesus – CF
2.  Valbuena – 3B
3.  Rizzo – 1B
4.  Soriano – DH
5.  Schierholtz – RF
6.  Sweeney – LF
7.  Castro – SS
8.  Castillo – C
9.  Barney – 2B

ANGELS

1.  Aybar – SS
2.  Trout – CF
3.  Pujols – 1B
4.  Trumbo – DH
5.  Hamilton – RF
6.  Kendrick – 2B
7.  Callaspo – 3B
8.  Iannetta – C
9.  Shuck – LF

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Jonathan Gray tests positive for adderall per report

Of course the draft would get more interesting just three days before its set to begin.  My draft preview is coming up but this news has to be shared.  The prevailing thought is the Cubs could be deciding between Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray, so the news today of Gray testing positive for an MLB banned substance could alter the Cubs choice.  The substance?  Adderall.  Commonly used to treat AD/HD, it is also a stimulant, which is why it appears on the banned list.  Some people need it, so Major League baseball allows the use of adderall with a prescription, something Gray doesn’t have.  So this calls into question character issues possibly, something the Cubs pay very close attention to, but I caution everyone reading this, let’s get ALL the details first.  If it comes out that he is using it as a recreational drug then sure you can question his choices, but by no means is this a black mark on his yet to begin career.  It is horrible timing for Gray however as the discussion surrounding him and the draft will now include the positive test and not just how promising his career could be, and what a memorable night the draft will be, but I suppose he brought this on himself.  In my opinion if Gray is the guy the Cubs want and he is there at two the Cubs still take him, I don’t think they are, but it is something else to think about.

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Minor Matters – June 2, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

Iowa 6-2 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – After a stretch of some really solid baseball, and wins, the Iowa Cubs have found themselves struggling again.  Iowa couldn’t really put anything together in this one; sure they scored three runs on eight hits but were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Dave Sappelt had a solid day going 2-for-4 with his first stolen base, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .276 at Iowa.  Brent Lillibridge accounted for part of the offense; he was 1-for-4 with his fifth double of the season, and an RBI in the loss.

On The MoundChris Rusin was knocked around a bit in this one, but still managed to get deep into the game, unfortunately he was still hung with his fifth loss of the season.  Rusin worked seven innings giving up five runs on twelve hits while striking out four.  Michael Bowden was solid, as he was with the big league club for the most part, he worked 1.2 scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking one and striking out three.  Casey Coleman worked just one-third of an inning in this one, and did it in a scoreless fashion.

Daytona 6-2 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Thanks to the weather Daytona only needed seven innings to take care of Brevard County 5-0.  The top Cubs prospects are really starting to heat up at the plate; Javier Baez is one of those guys.  After a monster day on Saturday Baez had a solid Sunday, he was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a run scored and is now hitting .281 on the season.  Ben Carhart had a solid game as well going 2-for-3 with a walk, and two runs scored.  Jorge Soler was 1-for-4 with two RBI’s, that gives him thirty on the season, and he is now hitting .294 for the year.

On The MoundAustin Kirk was all that Daytona needed as he went the distance for a “complete game” victory to improve his record to 6-2 on the season.  Kirk worked six scoreless innings giving up five hits while walking three and striking out seven, he lowered his ERA to 4.50 in the victory.

Kane County 6-2 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Really nice win for the Cougars who have been struggling as of late, they needed extra innings but they got the job done.  Big day from the big names in the Kane County order as the two through four hitters were a combined 8-for-13 with two doubles, a home run, and one RBI.  Albert Almora looks to be back to 100% health as he was 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .475 on the season.  Dan Vogelbach had a productive day going 2-for-4 with a double, his eight home run of the season (VIDEO), a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Jeimer Canderlario is really coming around as of late, he was 3-for-5 with three singles, he’s now hitting .259 on the season.

On the Mound – The Cougars pitching was outstanding in this one as they shut down a very good Cedar Rapids lineup.  Michael Heesch got the start and did not factor in the decision, but was solid and kept Kane County in it.  Heesch worked six innings giving up two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four.  Steve Perakslis was brilliant out of the bullpen going three scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out three.  Eddie Orozco worked a scoreless tenth inning to earn his third win of the season as the Cougars walked off in the bottom half.

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