Yesterday was a whirlwind day in the Cubs organization. The big league club won 5-1 over Miami led by a dominating performance by Jason Hammel and his 11 Ks. The team is now 5 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central and trails the Mets for the second wild card by a half a game. The minor league teams that finished games yesterday all won. Iowa and Tennessee won big, and South Bend swept a double header. It could have been a complete sweep except Myrtle Beach was rained out in the tenth inning.
While things were cooking on the field, off the field events were just as hot. South Bend’s Yasiel Balaguert and Myrtle Beach’s Kevin Brown won Player of the Week honors in their respective leagues. Balaguert hit .650 with 3 HRs in 5 games and Brown hit .425 with an OBP of .500 with 1 HR and 5 RBIs.
Corey Black sent #CubsTwitter into an uproar with this tweet.
Probably the last time I’ll be doing this for awhile. New beginnings. Excited for this! Photo credit:… https://t.co/GAqEMj8pme
— Corey Black (@CblackCHC) June 1, 2015
It was vague and passive enough that #Cubs Twitter extrapolated that he was going to Iowa to be in the bullpen. Smokies Broadcaster put out an announcement later during the game that Black was moving to the pen. This lead to even more speculation that Duane Underwood might be coming to Tennessee. I think it will be Pierce Johnson filling the spot in the rotation, but not this week as Johnson just pitched yesterday in Arizona. So, it is more than likely that the recently promoted Tayler Scott gets a spot start.
Back to Black… The announcement coincides with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer saying yesterday that the Cubs are looking for internal options to fill holes in the bullpen.
“We’re always looking to add,” Epstein said. “We recognize that part of the benefit of having a deep farm system is to make moves to improve your big-league team during any relevant season.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to get better. We know that some answers will come from within through good player development, through young talent acquisition and doing it the way that we’ve done it.
“Some answers — both this year and in the future — will come from outside the organization, converting some of the prospects we have to more mature, more advanced solutions.”
Well, Carl Edwards, Jr. was lit up like a Christmas tree in his first AAA appearance, but he will likely calm down after a few trips to the mound. Black, like Edwards did, could gain several ticks to the fastball moving to the pen. Black already throws 93-95 most days as a starter. In the pen, that could amp up to 95-97 conceivably. While Black’s size has always been a concern as a starter, it would not be as a reliever. Combined, the two young arms could add some much needed depth to a bullpen first beset by injuries, and now stretched thin.
Dylan Cease also got back on the hump yesterday in extended spring training. As soon as he did, all the bench players in Arizona gathered around the radar gun. John Arguello of Cubs Den captured one of the moments on film.
Cease hit 96-97 consistently, got into trouble, and got out of trouble with a strikeout. He did not throw any breaking balls, but rather threw all gas for two innings.
Late last night, CSN’s Patrick Mooney suggested the Cubs might be bringing up Baez during interleague play. He also mentioned bringing up Schwarber, but I don’t think the Cubs are willing to start Schwarber’s clock until next year.
As for Baez, if he comes up on or after June 9, the Cubs gain an extra year of control. And guess when the Cubs travel to Detroit? June 9. In fact, I would like to see Baez start at short and have Castro DH for 3 games. Joe Maddon loves Baez and it would not surprise me to see Maddon lobby hard to keep Baez on the big league club considering the state of the bench. It will be a long time before Mike Olt and Tommy LaStella are back. Chris Denorfia looks like he could be going out on a rehab next week. The only problem in bringing Baez up is that someone has to leave or go down. Likely, that is Johnathan Herrera. Lake could go down, but I think they save his option for Denorfia.
The Cubs will also announce their organizational players of the month today or tomorrow. I picked Javy Baez and Duane Underwood, but it could Gleyber Torres, Kyle Schawrber, Ryan Williams, or Frank Batistsa.
In addition, Addison Russell hit the 130 at bats plateau. He will be removed from the prospect list and the Cubs will have a new #1 prospect. Odds are MLB will install Carl Edwards, Jr. in the top spot, but I think the #1 prospect is easily Schwarber.
As for who joins the list, my money is on Chesny Young, hands down. The youngster out of Mercer is showing he can handle a bat. Already having moved up one level this year, it would not surprise me to see him move up to Tennessee by mid-July. When you are hitting .371, you shouldn’t stay at that level too much longer.
Other names that could sneak on to the list include Ryan Williams, Johnathan Martinez, James Pugliese, or P.J. Francescon.
Keep an eye here for the announcement of you can go to: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=chc to see the top 30 list in full.