1. The big league club is on pace to win 92+ games.
I didn’t see this coming at all. I thought that the team might win 85-88 games this year. I didn’t think the hitting would be as timely as it is or Jason Hammel as deadly. The bullpen is a work in progress and the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation are starting to come around with Wada now in tow. Kyle Hendricks finally looked like 2014 Kyle Hendricks with his complete game shutout earlier this week. His ERA dropped from 5.15 to 4.14 in one night.
2. Addison Russell has great range as a second baseman but…
This week, about four times Addison Russell ranged to his right of the bag to snag balls clearly headed to the outfield. The problem was he never got off a throw on any of the balls he got. Each time he got to one, I kept thinking, “Why couldn’t Castro make that play on his side of the bag?” Well, if you watch on video, you clearly see where Castro is positioned far to the left of second base, not too far away from Bryant. It is an odd positioning and it makes me wonder why is he is over so far. Is it to cover Bryant? Is it because of Russell’s range? It is it because of how the Cubs are pitching hitters?
3. Addison Russell’s consistency at the plate.
He really doesn’t have any yet. If you look at his last 10 games, the stats are pretty wild. He will have big nights, not so big nights, 3 strikeout nights, 2 strikeout nights, etc. I love watching him play though. What I like most about his hitting is that he is getting deep into counts. The first time through the league can be difficult for any hitter. For Russell, I think how he attacks a pitcher the second time he see them will be an interesting aspect in his development.
4. Javy Baez in knocking on the door.
In 22 games at Iowa, he is batting .313 with a 393 OBP while amassing 3 home runs and 13 RBIs to go along with 6 stolen bases all while playing 11 games at shortstop and 10 at second base. His K rate is 25.5%, which is much lower. He is standing much closer to the plate and has stopped moving his bat around like a gyroscope before the ball is thrown. I do believe our little Javy is growing up. I still see him down in Iowa for at least another month.
5. Friday Night Lights
For the past two Fridays, the Cubs top prospects have shown bright. This week it was Kyle Schwarber with a 3 run bomb, Baez with one homer of his own, Duane Underwood was dealing again for Myrtle Beach, and Ryan Williams got 16 ground ball outs for South Bend to end a six game skid.
6. The Returns from the DL
Saturday night saw two promising prospect pitchers return from the DL in Corey Black and Jake Stinnett. Both had very good outings. Stinnett went three innings in his return and looked sharp with good movement. He gave up one run and struck out three. He looked much more fluid and relaxed than before his injury. Hopefully he can build on that start as his ERA was above 6 before last night’s start. Corey Black from Tennessee was flat out dealing for the Smokies in his return. He went five innings, struck out 6 and only allowed 1 hit. It was easily his best start of the year as he lowered his ERA down to 3.28.
7. Who are these guys down in Iowa?
Outside of Baez and Szczur, the majority of players on the Iowa roster were organizational guys who had struggled throughout the system. Lo and behold, they made their way to Des Moines. And then this year, they put it all together. John Andreoli has put his total package of speed and tenacity and is having an outstanding year. Infielder Johnathon Mota, at 27, is doing the same. Catcher Taylor Davis should be “Ty Davis” at the rate he is hitting the ball. OF Rubi Silva and 3B Christian Villanueva are also having solid years. With yesterday’s win, the team moved one game above .500. But do any of these players have a future with the Cubs? I think Andreoli might as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Davis could be a backup catcher somewhere down the road, but that’s it. Most might not be in the organization next year because of the Rule 5 draft and only Villanueva, Baez, Alcantara, and Szczur are exempt as they are all on the 40 man roster. I don’t see anyone else making it. But for now, let’s enjoy the run they are on this summer as they do put the wood on the ball quite often.
8. Dear Duane Underwood,
You are amazing!
Will you be in Myrtle Beach much longer?
I hear Tennessee is nice in the summer.
9. No Clue about the Draft
I will have a post on this site and Cubs Insider about the draft in the next couple of days. The movement up and down is crazy. For example, Baseball America had Carson Fullmer of Vanderbilt going to the Cubs at #9 one week, the next week #1 to the D’Backs, and then this week, he was back down to #8 for the White Sox. That’s a lot of volatility.
10. Paul Blackburn might be back.
He has gotten off to a rough start. His last two starts have been much improved. Although he lacks a plus out pitch, I have always liked his 12-6 curve. In his last 11 innings, he has only given up 3 ERs for a 2.45 ERA. He is not going to strike out a lot batters, but he will get them out if he uses his pitches correctly.
Minor League Players of the Week
Hitter – Kyle Schwarber – Tennessee – Last 9 games, 4 HRs and 9 RBIs. That’s pretty beastly!
Runner Up – Cael Brockmeyer – hitting .375 with HR and 7 RBIs the last ten days.
Pitcher – Ryan Williams – South Bend – 16 ground ball outs on Friday night, 8 innings, 3 Ks, and no runs
Runner Up – Ivan Pinyero – Tennessee – On Thursday he was just filthy. 7 innings, 6 Ks, 4 hits, no runs.
Posts Coming Soon
I will have plenty of time to cover a lot of subjects this summer as I wrap up school on Thursday this week.
I am looking forward to an exciting summer! I will be cataloging a farm museum during non-baseball hours, watching the big league club, MiLB.TV, and tweeting about it all. In addition, I need to shed about 25 pounds. So, back on the cross country bike I will go for about 12-15 miles a day.
I will be writing for three web sites this summer: this site, my history blog, and my weekly posts at Cubs Insider on the South Bend Cubs and player profiles of the Cubs low A affiliate. I may also do some draft stuff for Cubs Insider, and I may make some draft cards for Cubs Den again. Those deals have not been locked in as of today – just possibilities.
It looks like it will be a fun summer!!!
Upcoming posts on The Cub Junction
Final Draft Preview (Tomorrow)
Looking back at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 drafts (The next two weeks)
Organizational Players of the Month for May (A week from Monday)
June 8-10 – The Draft – the picks and analysis from this year’s draft
Two Nights in Burlington, Iowa, with the South Bend Cubs – June 12
International Free Agency Signings
The Trade Deadline