Spring Training 2016; Arms Impress in Opener

cubs 3-3 line score

Full Box Score

It wasn’t the desired result for the Cubs but there were plenty of things to like in the Cubs spring training opener today against the Brewers.  Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Clayton Richard, Rex Brothers, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Spencer Patton combined to four hit the Brewers while walking one, and striking out thirteen.  The bats were slow to get going in this one as the Cubs group of hitters could only push across one run on seven hits.  Javier Baez got the start in center today, and struggled in the early going.  He played an out (maybe a double) into a triple right off the bat, then one hitter later he dropped a fly ball, it’ll get better.

Some of today’s standouts:

Kyle Schwarber:  1-for-3
Kris Bryant: 1-for-2
Miguel Montero: 2-for-2 with a double
Dan Vogelbach: 1-for-3 with a double, and an RBI

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Cubs Top 30 Prospect Rankings Unveiled by MLB Pipeline


Some of my best memories at this blog have been writing and reporting about the Cubs minor league system because of how good it has been.  Leading up to last year it was really the only thing to get excited about as the Major League team was subpar at best.  Now the Cubs are World Series favorites, and the prospect rankings are not as top heavy but the talent is apparent throughout.  That’s part of what makes this year so fun, winning at the major league level and still seeing a tremendous amount of organizational talent in the system.

Here’s how MLB Pipeline breaks it down (link to the list)

  1. Gleyber Torres – SS
  2. Willson Contreras – C
  3. Ian Happ – 2B/OF
  4. Duane Underwood – RHP
  5. Albert Almora – OF
  6. Billy McKinney – OF
  7. Jeimer Candelario – 3B
  8. Dylan Cease – RHP
  9. Oscar de la Cruz – RHP
  10. Eloy Jimenez – OF
  11. Pierce Johnson – RHP
  12. Donnie Dewes – OF
  13. Bryan Hudson – LHP
  14. J. Wilson – OF
  15. Eddy Martinez – OF
  16. Carl Edwards Jr. – RHP
  17. Justin Steele – LHP
  18. Mark Zagunis – OF
  19. Ryan Williams – RHP
  20. Dan Vogelbach – 1B
  21. Trevor Clifton – RHP
  22. Jake Stinnett – RHP
  23. Carson Sands – LHP
  24. Jen-Ho Tseng – RHP
  25. Victor Caratini – C
  26. Christian Villanueva – 3B/1B
  27. Corey Black – RHP
  28. Jacob Hannemann – OF
  29. Brad Markey – RHP
  30. Josh Conway – RHP

I really can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to keep an eye on all the arms that are on this list.  I really feel like there are a number of pitchers on this list that are close to making a major impact in the system, and eventually on the big league roster.  Duane Underwood (#4), Pierce Johnson (#11), Carl Edwards Jr. (#16), and Ryan Williams (#19) all have a great chance to be pitching on the North Side this year.  I mentioned that the prospects near the top of this list might not have the same allure as a Kris Bryant, or Anthony Rizzo but they are players who will be part of the next wave of big league talent.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Willson Contreras (#2) sees time with the Cubs this year as the backup catcher, or splitting time with Montero/Schwarber depending on what day it is.  Please don’t sleep on Albert Almora, a healthy 2016 will go a long way to seeing if he is indeed the CF of the future for the Cubs.

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Cubs @ Rockies – Series Preview (April 10 – April 12, 2015)

Series Preview ROAD Rockies

Two games in five days so far for the Cubs as the descend upon Coors Field for a three game set with the Rockies this weekend.  The Rockies spent their first week in baseball embarrassing the Brewers pitching staff to the tune of twenty(!) runs in three games, good for a sweep.  By comparison the Cubs have scored just twice this season, but they have only given up three while splitting a rain shortened series with the Cardinals.  The weather is actually supposed to be pretty nice in Colorado, and I would expect that translates to a few more runs being scored, hopefully by the Cubs.

Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, April 10, 2015 – 3:10 PM CST – WGN TV (Local 9)
  • Saturday, April 11, 2015 – 7:10 PM CST – CSN+ (Channel Finder)
  • Sunday, April 12, 2015 – 3:10 PM CST – WGN TV (Local 9)

Pitching Matchups:

Who is Hot:

  • Rockies:  All of them?  Seven regulars are hitting over .385 on the season, and they started on the road.  Nolan Arenado is picking up where he left off last year, he’s hitting .462 (6-for-13) with three doubles, a dinger, and five RBI’s.  Corey Dickerson is not impressed, all he has done is hit .417 (5-for-12) with two doubles, two dingers, and has six RBI’s so far this season.
  • Cubs:  I’m not going to talk about anyone that has to use a bat regularly here.  It’s the Cubs pen, they have been brilliant so far, they have yet to allow an earned run in 6.2 innings, and have only allowed three hits.

Who is Not:

  • Rockies:  I found someone!  Justin Morneau is one of just a couple of guys not to join the party so far.  Morneau is hitting .077 (1-for-13) in the early going, he’s only struck out once so he appears to be a victim of BABIP (Batting average on balls in play).
  • Cubs:  The whole offense, the Cubs are hitting .125 (7-for-56) as a team, and have walked just three times while striking out 23 times.  It’s super early, and the conditions were not great for hitting, so I’m not worried, yet.

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Cubs Pursuing Dan Haren?

Let the off-season pitching rumors begin.  According to a cbssports.com report the Cubs and Red Sox have expressed interest in Angles pitcher (for now) Dan Haren.  The Angels have until today to pick up Haren’s option, if they don’t he will be eligible for free agency.  Haren sees the writing on the wall, and he expects to be traded, today, “I’m kind of getting the feeling I’m being traded. I have no specifics on teams, but that’s the vibe I’m getting. It’s a little disappointing that I won’t get to pick up where I want to go, but I’m the one who signed on for the option year.”  As Heyman mentions in the article, the Cubs are an interesting suitor for Haren as they are not expected to compete in 2013.  I’d welcome the addition of Haren to a depleted pitching staff, the 32-year-old right hander would join Samardzija and Garza at the top of an all of  sudden interesting starting five.  Jed Hoyer commented on situations similar to Haren..

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer declined to discuss their interest, but said Thursday that one-year rentals like Haren are a good “alternative option” for teams unwilling to commit to long-term deals for pitchers in a relatively weak marketplace.

The only issue with Haren seems to be health, as he battled back problems for the majority of last season, and that seemed to mess with his results as he finished last year 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA.

Thanks for reading,
– George