By Todd Johnson
The big league team seems to be having some issues this week. They are 16-14 and still in first place, but the starting pitching looks pretty shaky in the first couple of innings of each game. Brett Anderson looks like his time is close to being done. Mike Montgomery will likely take Anderson’s turn in the rotation.
I don’t think the Cubs are at the point where they feel this is a disaster or need to make a trade. The point I do think they are at is it’s starting to become a concern. The Cubs have the prospects to go out and get another starting pitcher, if needed. However, it is way too early in the year. The logical choice is the Cubs will try and find one within for now.
In addition, the Cubs designated outfielder Matt Szczur for assignment. You would hope that the Cubs could get something for him, but he is most likely going to clear waivers and then he could pick where he lands in 10 days. At best, the Cubs could get a class A or Rookie League pitcher for him. Then again, that’s not very likely.
To beef up the bullpen, The Cubs recalled Felix Pena and Rob Zastryzny from Iowa and sent down Justin Grimm. David Rollins, Zac Rosscup, and Pierce Johnson also remain ready if needed.
International Free Agency
According to MLB Pipeline, the Cubs are rumored to be the top team in the pursuit of shortstop Luis Verdugo. The Cubs are limited The Cubs are limited again as to how much they can spend on a player in the next international free-agent signing period. That sum caps out at $300,000. Verdugo is a 5’11” 168 lb. shortstop from Mexico who is a switch hitter and throws right. He is best known for his defense and his hitting is said to be a work in progress. Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say about the #30 ranked international free agent:
The top position prospect from Mexico, Verdugo is best known for his strong arm and defensive prowess in the middle of the diamond.
He’s athletic with good instincts on both sides of the ball, but he is a below average runner right now. Verdugo is a contact hitter, shows a good bat path through the strike zone and puts the ball in play. However, the belief is that he could still improve on his overall hit tool and that he will once he enters a team’s academy.
Verdugo has been praised for his solid defensive actions and footwork. He has quick hands and makes all of the plays. Scouts also like his makeup and maturity level.
Based on the inroads the Cubs have made the past two summers in Mexico, this prediction looks to be on the money. For those of you who read Spanish, here is a nice history of him and it also where I got the picture of him.
Around the System
Iowa: 3-3; 13-15 overall – 2nd place
The pitching rotation appears to be getting better as Aaron Brooks threw a sixth inning start and only gave up one run. Chesny Young appears to be getting back on track. His average creeped across the .270 mark this week. And, Eddie Butler got back on the mound last night and did very well. He went six scoreless with six Ks.
This team is been looking good the last three weeks. Jacob Hannemann and Ian Rice have both been doing very well. I still think it’s the bullpen that is exceptional on this team. This team looks really strong at the plate the past two weeks thanks to Jason Vosler’s power stroke.
Myrtle Beach: 4-3; 17-13 overall – 2nd place
They’ve taken two in a row from 1st place Buies Creek to close within two games. If the starting pitching can hold up, I don’t think there’s any limit to what this team can do. Still no word on when Eloy could or will return.
South Bend: 4-1: 18-10 overall 2nd place
The schedule says they only played five games this week, but a 19 inning affair sapped the bullpen on Friday night. Then on Saturday, Matt Swarmer came in and saved Dylan Cease’s first win with a four inning save. I am really impressed with Swarmer’s curveball. It’s got a lot of movement down and away from righties.
Extended Spring Training
Jose Albertos made his debut this week. It was just 46 pitches. It may not seem much to write about, but it was good he got back out on the mound in a game. Also, Joe Martarano might be the player to watch once short season ball begins. He is showing power and the capability to hit for average in his full-time return to baseball.
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