Minor Matters – April 13, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Recaps)

iOWA 4-13 LINEFull Box Score

At The Plate Logan Watkins showed off his tremendous skill set once again last night.  Watkins was 1-for-3 with two walks, a home runs, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Watkins now had ten walks in ten games so far this season.  Darwin Barney made his first rehab start and looked decent at the plate going 1-for-4 with a run scored, and two strikeouts.  Brad Nelson was 2-for-4 with an RBI, J.C. Boscan also went 2-for-4 in the loss, he had an RBI and a run scored as well.

On The MoundBarret Loux got the start and was much better this time out.  Loux went five innings giving up one run on six hits while walking two and striking out five to earn his first win of the season.  Yoanner Negrin has been outstanding once again as he went three innings only allowing two hits while striking out eight, eight!  Blake Parker tossed a scoreless ninth inning, striking out one.

Smokies 4-13 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The Smokies jumped out to an 8-1 lead and just barely held on for an 8-6 victory.  Ronald Torreyes made his return to the lineup, his first appearance of 2013 and was solid going 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored from the lead-off spot.  Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBI’s and two runs scored.  Rubi Silva also had a breakout game going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, and two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .320 on the year.  Justin Bour only had one hit, but was productive, he finished the day 1-for-4 with three RBI’s.

On The Mound – The Smokies were good, and not so good late.  Kyle Hendricks got the start and the win, he went six innings giving up one run, unearned, on five hits while walking three and striking out one.  A.J. Morris struggled out of the pen going 1.1 innings giving up five runs on three hits while walking two hits while striking out one.  Frank Batista settled things down to earn the save, he went 1.2 innings giving up no runs on one hit while striking out one.

Daytona 4-13 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The D-Cubs fell behind early and just couldn’t generate enough offense to get back into this one.  Javier Baez is starting to show signs of breaking out as he was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and two runs scored.  John Andreoli was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, he’s now hitting .364 on the season.  Stephen Bruno was 2-for-4 with two RBI’s and a run scored.  Dustin Geiger was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s in the loss.

On The Mound – A rare bad outing from P.J. Francescon, he got the loss going five innings giving up six runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out five.  Eduardo  Figueroa didn’t get much help from his defense as he worked three innings giving up three runs, all unearned, on two hits while walking four and striking out none.

Kane count 4-13 line 1

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At The Plate – The Cougars built a 4-0 lead by the top of the third, by the bottom of the fourth it was gone.  The Cougars mounted a late comeback, but they ran out of time in game one.  Daniel Vogelbach continued his hot start to the season going 1-for-2 with two walks, his first home run, an RBI and two runs scored.  Rock Shoulders is even hotter at the plate right now going 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .455 on the season.  Jeimer Candelario finally had a solid game going 1-for-2 with two walks, a double, and a run scored.

On The MoundIan Dickson hasn’t had the best start to the 2013 season, that continued in this one.  Dickson went five innings giving up seven runs on eights hits while walking none and striking out three.  Brian Smith tossed a scoreless inning in relief only giving up one hit.

Kane County 4-13 line 2

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At The Plate – It took eleven innings but the Cougars were able to split the double-header with the Timer Rattlers.  Jeimer Candelario had a solid second game as well going 2-for-3 with two walks and a run scored.  Willson Contreras was great coming off the bench and ended up with the game winning home run, he was 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBI’s and a run scored.  Wes Darvill was 2-for-4 with a caught stealing, and an error, so a good and bad day for him.

On The MoundFelix Pena was outstanding in this one going six innings giving up one run, unearned, on five hits while walking one and striking out three.  Justin Amlung, who has been roughed up in the early going had an outstanding outing yesterday.  Amlung went four scoreless innings out of the pen giving up only two hits while walking one and striking out one.  Eduardo Orozco earned his first save of the season tossing a scoreless inning giving up one hit and striking out one.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Minor Matters – April 10, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Recaps)

Iowa 4-10 line

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At The Plate – Hey! A Win!  The I-Cubs got their first win of the 2013 season on Wednesday night.  Ryan Sweeney was 2-for-5, the Cubs newcomer is now hitting .438 on the season.  Edwin Maysonet was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.  Luis Flores was 1-for-4 with his first home run of the season.

On The Mound – Really nice night from a staff that has been beaten up in the early going.  Drew Carpenter got the start and also walked away with the win going five innings giving up two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out four.  Yoanner Negrin was great out of the pen going 2.2 innings giving up no runs on two hits while walking one and striking out two.  Blake Parker was stout as well in earning his first save of the season going 1.1 innings giving up only one hit while walking none and striking out two.

Smokies 4-10 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – Not a whole lot of offense in this one for the Smokies as they could only manage two runs on six hits.  Rubi Silva was 2-for-4 with a double.  Justin Bour was solid tonight going 1-f0r-2 with two walks, a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.  Arismendy Alcantara was 1-for-4 with a double and three strike outs in the loss.

On The MoundDallas Beeler had a really good outing, unfortunately he was still hung with the loss.  Beeler went six innings giving up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three.  The normally reliable Kevin Rhoderick had a rough go of it as he gave up four runs on two hits in 1.1 innings of work, he also walked two.  Frank Batista was solid out of the pen going 1.2 innings giving up no runs on two hits while striking out one.

Daytona 4-10 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – Well, this one will be talked about for one thing, the incident involving Soler, I wrote about it earlier, you can read about it here, just going to recap the game now.  Crazy game not counting fights as Daytona blew a two-run lead in the ninth and ended up losing by 5 in eleven.  Zeke DeVoss had another solid night at the top of the lineup going 2-for-6 with a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.  John Andreoli stayed red-hot going 3-for-6 with a double, he’s now hitting .478 on the season.  Jorge Soler did some good work with the bat…at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored.  Stephen Bruno, Ben Carhart, and Taiwan Easterling all had two hits in this one.  Dustin Geiger and Easterling both went deep for their first home run of the season.

On The Mound – Some good, some really bad for the D-Cubs.  Ben Wells got the start and struggled with his command which cut his outing short.  Wells went four innings giving up four runs, three earned, on seven hits while walking four and not striking out anyone.  Austin Reed didn’t fare much better as he could only go one-third of an inning giving up three runs on two hits while walking two.  Ryan Searle was outstanding again going 3.2 innings giving up no runs on one hit while walking one and striking out four.  Luis Liria not only got the blown save but the loss as well as he went 2.2 innings giving up seven runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out three.

Kane County 4-10 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The Cougars had an awesome approach at the plate today as they walked eight times, unfortunately they were only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Jeimer Candelario didn’t have a hit in this one but he was able to walk three times.  Daniel Vogelbach was 1-for-3 with a walk, and an RBI.  Another day, another two hits for Rock Shoulders, he went 2-for-5 and is now hitting .467 on the season.  Bijan Rademacher was 1-for-2 with two walks, and two runs scored in the loss.  Trey Martin found some production today going 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBI’s.

On The Mound – Remember how I mentioned how great the Cougars approach was because of the eight walks?  Well Cougars pitching issued ten free passes, not good.  Tayler Scott got the start and went two innings giving up four runs on three hits while walking five, he was slapped with the loss.  Nathan Dorris was outstanding in this one going four scoreless innings giving up only one hit and striking out five.  Steve Perakslis couldn’t keep things close as he went two innings giving up five runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three.  I mentioned Bijan Rademacher already, well he got to pitch as well, he worked one inning giving up one run, unearned, on no hits while walking three, it was that kind of day.

What a weird day, thanks for reading,
– George

Minor Matters – April 9, 2013

Iowa 4-9 line

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At The Plate – The Iowa Cubs are scuffling, with the latest loss they fall to 0-6 on the season.  Brett Jackson had a solid game going 2-for-4 with a triple, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .280 on the season.  Darnell McDonald was 1-for-3 with a walk, a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.  Ty Wright was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss.

On The MoundChris Rusin was roughed up early then settled in but couldn’t escape the loss.  Rusin went six innings giving up four runs on seven hits while walking four and striking out two.  Zach Putnam and Rafael Dolis both tossed scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the loss.

Daytona 4-9 line

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At The Plate – The D-Cubs spent the whole night fighting back, but in the end couldn’t catch the Threshers.  Zeke DeVoss showed some power from the lead-off spot going 1-for-5 with a home run, an RBI, and a run scored.  Javier Baez was 1-for-5 with a triple, and a run scored.  Jorge Soler continues his torrid start to the season going 2-for-4 with a walk, and an RBI.  The D-Cubs made four errors, that most definitely cost them in this one.

On The MoundZach Cates made the start and as I just mentioned didn’t get much help from the guys behind him.  Cates went 3.2 innings giving up three runs, one earned, on six hits while walking none and striking out seven.  Eduardo Figueroa went 2.2 innings out of the pen giving up two runs on one hits while walking two and striking out three.  Sheldon McDonald was solid going 2.2 innings giving up no runs on two hits while walking two and striking out one.

Kane County 4-9 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Cougars smacked the ball all over the place in this one as  six different guys had multi-hit games.  Daniel Vogelbach was 3-for-5 bring his season average up to .310, all three hits were singles.  Rock Shoulders might be the hottest hitter in the Cubs system, he went 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run, an RBI, and two runs scored, he’s hitting .480 (12-for-25) on the season.  Gioskar Amaya, Jeimer Candelario, Marco Hernandez, and Bijan Rademacher all had two hits.

On The MoundPierce Johnson had a rough start to this one as he gave up two runs in the first as he struggled with command, but he found it quickly.  Johnson went five innings giving up two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four.  Jeffry Antigua was solid out of the pen going three innings giving up one run on four hits while walking none and striking out one.  Eduardo Orozco had some tough luck in blowing the save, but ended up getting the win.  Orozco gave up two runs, both unearned on NO hits, and one walk in one inning.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Minor Matters – April 6, 2013

Iowa 4-6 line

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At The Plate – The Iowa Cubs scattered nine hits in the loss, and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in suffering their third straight loss.  Newly acquired Ryan Sweeney got things going right away as he was 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a walk, and a run scored.  Brad Nelson was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.

On The MoundBrooks Raley got the start and was rough up in four innings of work.  He gave up four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out three, he was tagged with the loss.  Yoanner Negrin was solid out of the pen going two scoreless innings giving up no hits while walking one and striking out three.  Zach Putnam and Rafael Dolis were both touched up as they gave up a combined four runs over the last two innings.

Smokies 4-6 line

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At The Plate – You wouldn’t know it by the score, this was a pitchers duel up until the top of the 12th when the Smokies scored 8 times to win this one.  Matt Szczur was terrific from the lead-off spot again going 2-for-7 with three RBI’s, and a run scored.  Jae-Hoon Ha continued his hot start going 3-for-5 with two RBI’s, a stolen base, and a run scored.

On The Mound – The Smokies had to use five pitchers to get through this one and all were effective as they totaled 15 strikeouts in twelve innings.  Eric Jokisch got the start and was solid going six innings giving up one run on three hits while walking two and striking out seven.  Kevin Rhoderick, Marcus Hatley, Frank Batista, and Brian Schlitter all had scoreless appearances with Batista getting the win.

Daytona 4-6 line

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At The Plate – It was the Jorge Soler show in this one as he went 2-for-3 with a home run, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Timothy Saunders also had a solid night going 3-for-4.  Stephen Bruno was 2-for-3 with a run scored, Javier Baez had a rough night going 0-for-4 with an error.

On The Mound – The trio of Austin Kirk, Yao-Lin Wang, and Frank Del Valle shut down the Manatees.  Kirk got the start and went three innings giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits while walking two and striking out two.  Yao-Lin Wang was awesome going three innings only giving up a single, while walking one and striking out four.  Frank Del Valle was even better going three innings only allowing one hit while walking one and striking out six to earn the save.

Kane County 4-6 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Fireworks everywhere as the Cougars trailed 7-0 and 8-1 before tying it at ten in the ninth before falling 13-10 in eleven innings.  The Cougars pounded out 19 hits with seven guys having multi-hit nights.  Daniel Vogelbach was 3-for-6 with a double and an RBI.  Rock Shoulders had a huge game going 4-for-6 with two RBI’s and a run scored.  Oliver Zapata was outstanding going 3-for-6 with a triple, a home run, five RBI’s, and a run scored.

On The Mound –  Obviously not much good here.  Cougars pitchers gave up 17 hits in the loss.  Jose Arias got the start and got the brunt of the River Bandits attack.  Arias only went 1.2 innings giving up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits while walking none and struck out two.  Nathan Dorris was the most effective Cougar going 2.1 innings giving up one run on three hits while walking two and striking out three.  Ian Dickson was solid but had no command, he went five innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out four.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Kane County Cougars Release Tentative Roster, Vogelbach Included

Finally a Cubs farm team is close to Chicago!  It will be a fun Spring and Summer getting to go see this team play in person so often.  A guy you don’t see on this list is Albert Almora, odds are once he is healthy he will be patrolling CF for the Cougars and Martin will move to one of the corner spots, making up a very talented defensive outfield.  In the meantime, Daniel Vogelbach probably headlines this roster, but there are some quality prospects on this team for Cubs fans to go see.  Right handed pitcher, and 2012 first round draft pick Pierce Johnson will be in the rotation, Rock Shoulders, and Gioskar Amaya will also be guys to watch.  Another thing I like is that a lot of these guys played together last year in Boise, so there is a lot of familiarity there.

Kane County RosterThanks for reading,
– George

Updated: Cubs Top 20 Prospects

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has done an updated top 100 prospects lists as well as each organizations top 20.  Mayo will probably come out with a list prior to the 2013 season, but here is where Cubs prospects stand as of now according to Mayo.  To check out the entire top 100 list and to read a little more on these Cubs prospects.

1. Javier Baez – SS (#24)
When the Cubs picked Almora they new his bat was going to play and that is exactly what happened.  The Cubs top pick from 2011 was outstanding in his time with Peoria this year hitting .333/.383/.596 with 12 home runs, 33 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.  He struggled a bit when moving to Daytona, but overall it was very successful season for the young shortstop.
2. Albert Almora – OF (#52)
The Cubs top pick in this years draft didn’t sign right away, but when he did he didn’t disappoint.  He started with the AZL Cubs and moved to Boise shortly after.  Combined he played in 33 games hitting .321/.331/.464 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.  He also hit 12 doubles.
3. Brett Jackson – OF (#74)
It has been an interesting year for Brett Jackson who has dropped a bit in the prospect watch.  The good news first he has made it to the show and when he makes contact does some damage as he left Iowa with 22 doubles, 12 triples, and 15 home runs, to go along with 27 stolen bases.  He also plays great defense, the bad news is he has really struggled making contact striking out over 200 times between his two stops.
4. Arodys Vizcaino – RHP (#76)
Vizcaino was considered one the Braves best young pitchers and was deemed untouchable last year.  Things changed a bit this year as he missed the entire season after elbow surgery in March.  The Cubs are very pleased to have acquired Vizcaino, but it remains to be seen how he will recover from surgery.  Lets hope it is as a starter, but at the least he is a power arm out of the pen which the Cubs need badly as well.
5. Jorge Soler – OF (#77)
Jorge Soler did quite well in getting accustomed to baseball in America.  He is still very raw, but at 20 the Cubs feel very strongly he will be a big contributor to the big club in the future.  He spent time with the AZL Cubs and moved to Peoria where he finished the year.  He combined to hit .299/.398/.463 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in just 34 games.
6. Matt Szczur – OF
The speedy outfielder had a nice season in Daytona hitting .295/.394/.407 with 38 stolen bases, but struggled a bit in 35 games with Tennessee.
7. Trey McNutt – RHP
McNutt did not have the year he was looking to have going 9-8 with 4.26 ERA.  He struggled a bit and was moved to the bullpen, but maybe it will be better for him and the Cubs.
8. Junior Lake -SS
Lake played the entire year in Tennessee and did a pretty good job going .279/.341/.432 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases.  He is still very raw and will continue to work on his game.
9. Pierce Johnson – RHP
The Cubs took Johnson with the 43rd overall pick in this years draft and he did quite well making six starts, two with the AZL Cubs and four with Boise.
10. Josh Vitters – 3B
The former first round pick, number 3 overall finally put it all together this year in Iowa hitting .304/.356/.513 with 17 home runs and 68 RBIs.  The PCL All Star got the call up, but has struggled so far with the Cubs, but at only 23 the future is still very bright for Vitters.
11. Dillon Maples – RHP
It took a while for Maples to make his first appearance, but when he did he showed signs of what he could be.  He was a bit inconsistent in his six appearances, but he will have more opportunities next season to show what he has.  He has tremendous upside.
12. Robert Whitenack – RHP
Coming off of Tommy John surgery Whitenack struggled pitching for Daytona going 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA.  Although the numbers don’t look good, remember he is coming off of major surgery and has good upside.
13. Dan Vogelbach – 1B
Not many Cubs prospects did as much damage as Vogelbach did this year.  The big first baseman played in 61 games this season between the AZL Cubs and Boise Hawks.  He hit .322/.410/.641 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.
14. Ben Wells – RHP
A 2010 draft pick the 19-year-old Wells missed most of the season with a right elbow strain.  He made a few appearances at the end of the year, but will look to stay healthy in 2013.
 15. Paul Blackburn – RHP
Another 2012 draft pick Paul Blackburn was chosen 56th overall out of high school.  He made nine appearances for the AZL Cubs going 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA.
16. Jeimer Candelario – 3B
Candelario played the entire season at Boise and at only 18 the corner infielder showed he can hit a little bit.  The switch hitting Candelario hit .281/.345/.396 with six home runs and 47 RBIs.
17. Gioskar Amaya – 2B/SS
Amaya played his season in Boise and put up some good numbers.  He his .298/.381/.496.  The 19-year old filled up the stat sheet with six doubles, 12 triples, and eight home runs.  He also drove in 33 and stole 15 bases.
18. Tony Zych – RHP
Zych shared time between Daytona and Tennessee out of the bullpen.  He combined to going 5-4 with a 3.67 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 61.1 innings.
19. Alberto Cabrera – RHP
Cabrera, who moved to the bullpen this year started in Double-A, but quickly moved to Triple-A before finally ending up with the big club.  His minor league numbers were really good going 4-1 with 3.11 ERA with 74 strikeouts to only 14 walks.  He has struggled since coming to the Cubs, but we’ll see where he factors in going forward.
20. Marcus Hatley – RHP
Hatley pitched well in Tennessee out of the bullpen going 3-1 with a 3.40 with 46 strikeouts in 45 innings.  He then got the call to Iowa where he struggled in his time there.

It is good to see the Cubs have five players who are inside the top 80 in MLB.  You can also see the emphasis the Cubs placed on pitching, drafting Pierce Johnson and Paul Blackburn in this years draft as well as bringing in Arodys Vizcaino in the Paul Maholm deal.  Looking a little further into things is the talent Theo Epstein and company brought in this year.  They obviously brought in the three pitchers above as well as Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.  three of those five are inside the Cubs top five and Pierce Johnson makes it four in the top 10.  The exciting thing is there are more who they brought in who I would guess are close to cracking this top 20 and who may even show up in the top 20 before the 2013 season gets underway.  Keep checking back this offseason as we will talk more in-depth about these prospects as well as many more.

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Felix Pena Pitches Boise Into The Championship Series!

FULL BOX SCORE

Boise beat Yakima on Wednesday night 3-2 in a thrilling winner take all game three.  Felix Pena was the story in this one pitching seven scoreless innings allowing five hits and striking out two.  The Hawks got the scoring started as they scored three in the third inning.  Wilson Contreras started the inning with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch.  Trey Martin followed with a single and runners were on at the corners with Gioskar Amaya at the plate.  Contreras scored the first Boise run on a wild pitch and after an Amaya walk, Stephen Bruno flew out for the first out of the inning.  Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases for Dan Vogelbach who hit a towering fly ball to left.  It appeared the left fielder Michael Lang was under it, but he lost it in the lights and the ball fell for a single driving in two more runs.  Marco Hernandez grounded into a double play and the third inning ended with Boise up 3-0.  Felix Pena continued throwing up zeros and the game went to the bottom of the eighth with the Hawks leading 3-0.  Brian Smith relieved Pena and got in trouble right away giving up a single to the first batter and walking the second.  The next batter hit a slow ground ball to Gioskar Amaya who attempted to get the force out at second base, but threw it away and the Bears now had one run in and runners on second and third.  Yakima added a run and moved the tying run to third base after a ground out to Amaya.  Eduardo Orozco relieved Smith and got a big strike out for the second out of the inning.  With the tying run on third base Jacob House hit a ball up the middle that Gioskar Amaya made a diving stop on and threw House out from his knees for the third out of the eighth.  Boise threatened in the ninth, but came up empty and it was onto the bottom half with Boise up 3-2.  Orozco stayed in the game and quickly got the first out via the strikeout.  The next batter grounded out to Amaya and Boise was now one out away from the series.  The last chance for Yakima, the speedy Michael Lang hit a slow roller to shortstop Marco Hernandez who came up with a great play to give Boise the win and NWL East Division Championship.  Orozco was great in relief recording the last five outs, notching his first save of the postseason and giving Felix Pena the win.  Albert Almora had another hit on Wednesday, bringing his average to .417 in the three game series.  Boise will travel to Vancouver to play game one on Thursday night, with game two and game three if necessary to be held in Boise on Saturday and Sunday.

Graphics by George and thanks for reading,
-Mark