Extended Spring Training

The Weekly: Big Time Pitching Fills Up the Week

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By Todd Johnson

Happy Mother’s Day!

It was a good week across the entire organization. The big league club looks like it’s beginning to put things together at the plate. Meanwhile, in the minor leagues, pitching dominated the week as three of the four affiliates had winning weeks.

It was a full week of games so several starters got in two starts. Duane Underwood dazzled in both starts. It seemed like every day someone was going six innings with several strikeouts. As a result, picking the pitcher of the week was a very hard choice.

The big news of the week came in South Bend in three parts.
1. Top 10 prospect Nelson Velazquez popped up in South Bend and immediately flashed his five tools. It is going to be a bit of adjustment for him as he probably has never seen the types of curveballs and offspeed stuff he is going to see in the Midwest League.

2. Pitcher Rollie Lacy made his first start of the year this week after dominating in the bullpen for five weeks. In fact, he made two starts. I really like watching him work as he just seems to pound the zone and keeps hitters off their toes by changing speeds. And he also misses a lot of bats (31 in 27.1 IP).

3. No sooner than I posted an article about Brendon Little did he have his best start of the year. He came out Friday night and just attacked, attacked, and attacked. While he did walk four, he struck out five as the Clinton hitters were stymied by his curve. Little only gave up two hits and looked very impressive doing so. As a result, I am excited to see how he does on Wednesday or Thursday next week – which should be his next start.

This Week’s Records
Iowa 5-2 (11-23)
Tennessee 5-2 (19-16)
Myrtle Beach 2-5 (14-22)
South Bend 4-3 (14-18)

Promotion Commotion

It is also hard to believe that the first half of the MiLB first half is now over on Tuesday the 15th. The minor league season goes by very, very quickly and we should start to see a few pitching promotions soon. I don’t expect anything major, and by major I mean a starting pitcher. It will probably be a reliever.

Dakota Mekkes is the one to watch for and the one that could impact the big league club the most. He’s just dominated the Southern League in six weeks. I don’t know what else he has left to prove. Yes, he could cut down on his walks but he can work on that at Iowa while getting that much closer to Chicago.

I don’t see a lot of player movement happening on the hitting side. 

Extended Spring Training
Cuban pitcher Raidel Orta, 22, is starting to get some more action. A little under the radar signing, he might be a bit of a break out prospect in the second half. I have yet to see him pitch, but I am looking forward to hopefully seeing him in Eugene with that talented roster. He comes in at 5’9″ and 180 lbs. Meanwhile, third baseman Christopher Morel keeps hitting dingers and shortstops Luis Diaz and Luis Vasquez keep impressing Arizona Phil in the daily updates at The Cub Reporter. Another name to keep in mind is catcher Jonathan Soto who seems to be coming up big at the most important times. Another name who could be interesting this summer is Kevn Moreno, a 3B from Cuba who sounds like he could stick in Mesa at 17-years-old.

Mock Drafts Coming In

Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline released full first round mock drafts in the past two weeks. BA had the Cubs taking a HS catcher from Georgia while MLB Pipeline had the Cubs going with Kumar Rocker, an elite athlete and quality HS pitcher. Here is what Jim Callis said of Rocker:

Chicago has pounded college pitching in each of the last two Drafts and still could use more arms, though this time the prep route might be more attractive in the first round. A hamstring injury has slowed Rocker down the stretch, giving the Cubs an unexpected shot at a guy who can bring mid-90s heat and a wipeout slider at his best. Rodriguez and Wilcox are two more comparable options.

While Rocker would be a good selection, the Cubs are most likely to pound college bats with their first four to five picks. In positions slotted behind Rocker were some appealing college bats like Seth Beer and Steele Walker, and Prep bat Connor Scott.

What’s Ahead Next Week at Cubs Central?
On Monday, I will be examining the draft classes of the past few years and re-grading them. I don’t really have much else planned for the week other than to keep an eye on Velazquez transitioning to South Bend. 

Players of the Week

Things I Wrote for Other Sites
BP Wrigleyville
April Wrap Up

Cubs Insider
Jose Albertos
Nelson Velazquez Debut
Matt Swarmer
Draft Primer
Relievers

Baseball Card of the Week

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The Weekly – Things Warming Up for Cub Affiliates as Well as the Draft

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By Todd Johnson

It warmed up a little this week. There were still some raindrops to play through as all four affiliates got six games in. There were some exciting daily performances from Jeffrey Baez, Cory Abbott, Rollie Lacy, and Bailey Clark. Still, as a whole, it seems most teams can’t get in a groove. It might be the weather, or it might not. It’s also time to see some promotions coming down the pike. Most likely, relievers might be moving around the system.

Iowa (0-6, 4-16)
They are struggling to put runs on the board and to hold leads in the bullpen. Zagunis, Davis, and Rademacher are all hitting well, but that’s it. Duane Underwood has a great start this week and Dillon Maples was just plain deadly on Friday as he struck out all four batters he faced. And they all looked silly trying to hit his slider.

Tennessee (2-4, 10-11)
Jeffrey Baez played like his hair was on fire this week going 8 for 16 with 2 HRs and 7 RBI. Trevor Clifton looked good again on Friday and rebounded nicely to go five strong after a rough first inning. Thomas Hatch continues to get better every start and Daury Torrez should be at Iowa as he is unhittable. The same holds true for Dakota Mekkes who has yet to allow a run all month. Trent Giambrone and Trey Martin were pretty handy with the stick, too, as they pushed their averages over .300. Duncan Robinson also had a very good outing last night, too. He went 6 innings, 0 ER, and struck out 6.`

Myrtle Beach (3-3, 8-15)
They are starting to show some signs of life. Alex Lange, Matt Swarmer, and Keegan Thompson all put together some great starts this week. Lange just overpowered Salem last night.  The Pelicans just need some consistency at the plate. No one seems to be clicking right now in the batter’s box.

South Bend (2-4, 9-10)
At home, they are almost invincible. On the road, not so much. On Wednesday, they put up 17 runs in a hit fest at Bowling Green. However, it is the pitching that is just outstanding. Cory Abbott,  Tyler Thomas, and Javier Assad were all great this week and Rollie Lacy and Bailey Clark were just stupendous out of the pen. Austin Filiere is now over .300 and Brendon Little made it past the third inning in his last outing. I am really digging Little’s improvement from start to start. Kudos go out to him and pitching coach Brian Lawrence for the noticeable differences in pitchability.

Extended Spring Training
Nelson Velazquez is back and he went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI in his return. Cannot wait to see him in Eugene in six weeks. Pitchers Jeremiah Estrada and Brailyn Marquez, who both should anchor Eugene’s rotation, threw 2 scoreless innings apiece this week. In addition, Cuban catcher Alexander Guerra seems to be rounding into shape as he is now hitting with regularity including some power. This week he did go yard. And one of my favorite draft picks from last year, Luis Vazquez, is doing very well with the bat. Yesterday, he went 2 for 3.

Draft News
The MLB draft is 5 weeks from tomorrow. This week, MLB Pipeline released its top 100 draft prospects. At first, I wanted to write a full blown article about the rankings. I decided against that as I am off to the State History Fair in Springfield this week and there’s no time or space to do so. Here is who Pipeline ranked at each of the five spots the Cubs pick in the top 100. That doesn’t mean they will be there when the Cubs pick, but the rankings are interesting for value perception of who could possible be there.

24 – Trevor Lanarch – I like the 6’4” lefty OF from OSU. He has dramatically improved this year.  two or three years down the road, he could be a power bat that hits 20-25 HRs a year.

62  – Zach Watson – OF – LSU -A speedster, he covers good ground at a premium position. At 6’1” and 165 lbs, he has a lot of filling in to do.

77 – Kyle Isbel – OF/2B – UNLV – His versatility is interesting. He can definitely hit. If he’s a 2B, his value skyrockets as he does have some power.

78 – Jeremiah Jackson – SS – A high school player from Alabama, he has good size (and is not done growing) and he could have some power down the road. He already has a good feel for the zone and that bodes well for the MIssissippi State commit.

98 – Grant Lavigne – 1B – He has a big frame that already has big power. The only concern is that New Hampshire is not a baseball hotbed and that he has not faced elite competition.

I will be back with a full fledged draft post on Monday May 7th with my top 5 players to select at #24.

Players of the Week

Things I Wrote for Other Sites This Week
BP Wrigleyville
Latin Infusion: Part 2 – The Hitters

Cubs Insider
Draft Primer: College Pitchers

Coming Up Next Week
While I will be out of town for a few days in Springfield, I have two posts all ready to go. On Tuesday, the April All-Star team will be released. A few surprises made the list. There are a couple of things that still need to be determined. A couple of starting pitchers could make their way onto the list with good performances today and tomorrow. On Wednesday, the Cards of the Month make their way into the light. I could have easily done a top 15 list without much effort, the pics were so good this month!

Baseball Card of the Week
Check out the monthly album for April on our Facebook account.

*Photo by John Conover

The Weekly: Good Performances Abound in MiLB System

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By Todd Johnson

It is 10 days into the minor league season and I’m not sure what I am looking at it just yet. Starting pitching was supposed to be the strength of the organization and the performances have been a mixed bag. There are a few exceptions, but it’s been the relievers that have dominated on the mound. As for hitting, some familiar names are off to slow starts while some players I thought would break out are doing so. Despite some of the struggles, there is a lot to like about what transpired for several prospects.

Jared Young was hitting .600. He settled back down to earth but he is off to an amazing start to the year hitting just a little under .400. He still needs to work defensively on playing first base as I think he is going to be there more than at second base this year.

The South Bend Relief Corps – To a man, they’ve been lights out. Rollie Lacy, Bailey Clark, Brian Glowicki, Ben Hecht, Brendan King, and Elvis Diaz all have ERAs under 2.25.

Michael Rucker – He has always been a strike throwing machine and he started off that way again this year. In his first start, he went five innings with 6 Ks and allowed 1 run. He makes his second start today.

Alex Lange – He looked alright in his first start as he gave up one run in five innings. They were glimpses of his brilliance. He looks like the first real deal pitching prospect the Cubs drafted in Theo era. He is still working on his changeup and I hope to see more of that today.

Duncan Robinson has been very good as well. His first start was rained out after two innings but he dazzled in his second start going 6 innings with 4 Ks and he allowed just a single run.

PJ Higgins – He has been outstanding in a second go around in the Carolina League. With the large amount of catchers that the Cubs have in the system, he may not be going anywhere for awhile and that might be the best thing for his bat.

At BP Wrigleyville, I said South Bend would be the team to watch in the first half of the year and they are making me look good. They are 6-2 on the year so far including coming back from an 8 run deficit early in the week.

Tyler Thomas changed his name and is stretched out as starter. He was fabulous in two starts. He went five innings in each one while only allowing a run. In his second start on Thursday this week, he no-hit Bowling Green for five innings. He has 10 Ks on the season and a 0.90 ERA.

Andruw Monasterio, Eddy Martinez, Zack Short, Bijan Rademacher, Taylor Davis, Ian Rice, Jesse Hodges, Teddy Payne, Austin Filiere, and Jhonny Perada are all off to good starts at the plate. So far, Jason Vosler of Tennessee is the only player with 2 HRs.

In Extended Spring Training – A whole new set of players arrived from the Dominican this week to fill out a second squad of players who will mostly end up playing on one of the Mesa teams this summer. Some of the more prominent names to come to Mesa include position players Luis Verdugo, Fabian Pertuz, Orian Nunez, Alonso Gaitan, and Carlos Pacheco along with pitchers Didier Vargas (0.99 ERA in 2017) and Riger Fernandez.

And this little nugget of news came in yesterday

Records Around the System
Iowa 2-6 
Tennessee 3-6 
Myrtle Beach 2-8
South Bend 6-2

Players of the Week

Players of the Day are also tallied in their own tab above.

Things I Wrote for Other Sites This Week
BP Wrigleyville
Jose Albertos Debut
Cubs Insider
Jared Young Profile
Brendon Little’s Start

Coming Up Next Week
I have had a bit of a case of writer’s block since the hoopla of opening week passed. I am ready to go now. I will be checking out Alex Lange’s start today to see if I can do a write up on his second start of the year. A prospect stock watch will be coming later in the week along with 10 things I think. The Friday six pack returns after 7 months on its appropriate day.

Baseball Card of the Week
Dylan Heuer of the Iowa Cubs snagged this dandy of outfielder Bijan Rademacher. Don’t forget to keep up with the cards as they are stored in albums on our Facebook account. There are almost 90 cards so far in the April folder.

The Weekly: Tight Playoff Races and the Draft Schedule

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By Todd Johnson

It is all about the draft over the next three days. Here is my plan.

Monday – Rounds 1-2
On Monday night I will be blogging live. The keyword for you will be “refresh.” That way, you can follow along as I make changes and other teams make their selections. Once the Cubs make their first pick, I will begin frantically putting together a new post for pick #27 while awaiting pick #30. Once a second round pick is made at #67, I will do my due diligence on that new prospect as well. So, there will be four posts altogether and three draft cards. I will be on Twitter most of the evening and begin blogging somewhere around 7:30 pm Central.

Tuesday – Rounds 3-10 begins at noon
I tend to like covering day number two a lot. With just 8 picks, there’s a lot less stress in between picks. That leaves me plenty of time to find information, write a brief profile, and make a card. Coverage begins at noon Central. This will be one post for the entire day. Just hit refresh to get caught up on each selection and profile, plus seeing their draft card is always a kick.

Wednesday – Rounds 11-40 begins at 11 AM
This day is a lot of fun just for the research and the cards. I tend not to do too big a blurb about each prospect. It usually starts out bigger at number 11 and by the time I get into the 30s there’s only a sentence or two about the player. For me, this is the most challenging and sometimes fun part of the draft as there’s just not a lot out there on some guys. Think about it, there are 1200 players going to be drafted over three days. My knowledge only goes to about 200-250 tops.

Top 21 List Redux
After the draft is complete, I will have a new top 21 list by the end of the week I don’t know how many draft picks will make it onto the list, but right now I’m guessing three. The Cubs pick at number 27, 30, 67, and 105 in the first three rounds. I am pretty sure the top three picks will make the cut. I think the third round pick has a chance to be in the top 21. As for the fourth round pick, I am not so sure. I think that player will definitely be in the Ala Carte portion of the list.

The Playoff Chase in the Minors
Exactly one week from today is the end of the first half of the minor league season. I cannot believe how fast it went. Three of the affiliates are still in position to earn a playoff spot.

Iowa: 2-6;  26-36
I feel bad for this team right now. They are basically down to three startIng pitchers and two relievers making spot starts. I am pretty positive this will be remedied once the first half ends for Tennessee.

Tennessee: 5-2; 35-26
The pitching is there to finish off the first half championship. They just need the bats to keep it up for one more week. Trey Martin is back patrolling centerfield and Dillon Maples will be joining the team from Myrtle Beach. Yasiel Balaguert seems to be turning it on and Charcer Burks is a model of consistency this year.

Myrtle Beach: 6-1; 36-26
Image may contain: 1 person, playing a sport and baseballWinning seven and a row has them in the first place. It’s going to come down to their offense. Their starting pitching has been outstanding and the bullpen can shut it down. Thomas Hatch and Ryan Kellogg seem to be peaking at the right time. Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to the last day, but I think it might.

South Bend: 3-3; 37-24
Last year it came down to the last day and I think the same thing is going to happen this year. I don’t think they have a shot at winning the division, but they are now tied for a wild-card spot. For that to happen their offense needs to get clicking. And with Dakota Mekkes now in Myrtle Beach, someone in the pen needs to step up as well. Isaac Paredes is hitting over .300 this month.

DSL 1: 3-3: 3-4
DSL 2: 2-4; 2-5
After another two weeks of play I will begin to take a look at some of the players who are standing out. It’s hard to get a grasp on what is happening in the DSL, but usually time wins out when looking at their statistics.  

Extended Spring Training per “The Cub Reporter”
It’s almost over! The players had to Mesa in Eugene and begin their seasons on Thursday. I’ll see if I can have the profile of each team on Thursday. I am not promising anything with the draft. It might be an afternoon post or Saturday at the latest.

Players of the Week

Card of the Week

My Posts on Other Sites This Week

Cubs Insider
Tennessee Update
Eloy
Iowa Cubs Update
Michael Rucker

BP Wrigleyville
Adbert Alzolay

The Weekly: A Sweet Two Days and It Is MiLB Playoff Crunch Time

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By Todd Johnson

There are 108 games left in the Cubs’ season. They are currently 1 game out of first place. That’s a lot of time to make up 1 game. Even if this was July 1 or August 1, I still would be OK with where they are at. Even being 1 GB on September 1st would still be fine. For me, the ultimate goal is to get back to October by October.

The past two days have been pretty sweet, though. With two victories against the Cardinals, the atmosphere is beginning to feel a lot like last year and 2015. The Cubs have a chance to sweep tonight and I like those chances with Kyle Hendricks on the mound.

More Mock Drafts
Yesterday, I read a two round mock draft from John Sickels who had a community of baseball executives select picks. The person representing the Cubs selected #27 Alex Lange – LSU Pitcher; #30 Logan Warmoth – SS North Carolina; and #67 high school pitcher Steven Jennings. I liked the pic of Lange a lot. He has a bit higher floor than other pitchers and I think with some professional coaching he could be a quick riser in the system. I would slide him in the top 10 prospects almost immediately. Like Hatch, Lange would not pitch until next year as he has already pitched a full season for LSU.

No heavy hitting Chad Spanberger of Arkansas was anywhere to be seen in the two rounds. I will have more information tomorrow about six players rising and falling.

Minor League Happenings
There are now exactly two weeks left in the first half of the minor league season. Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, and South Bend are all in the hunt for a spot. It’s hard to believe that half the season is almost over. For Tennessee, they are the only team that holds their destiny in their own hands as the only 1st place Cubs affiliate.

Iowa: 2-4; 24-30
Seth Frankoff is starting to make a name for himself at Iowa. After two solid starts this week, his ERA has dropped all the way down to 2.79. Should there be a need for a spot starter, he would get the call. Also, Stephen Bruno and Taylor Davis are two of the hottest hitters in the Cubs’ system. While Davis did make last month’s All-Star team, I wonder how long he and Bruno will stay much past this year. Both are 26 and have not gotten a shot in Chicago.

Tennessee: 1-5; 30-25
Despite losing five of six this week, they are still in first place by ½ a game over Chattanooga and Montgomery. They ran into some bad luck this week and had some bad pitching themselves. To finish the first half, they have three five-game sets against Jackson, who are a game and a half out, Chattanooga who are one-half a games out, and Birmingham, who are not in contention in the other division. The only good news this week was Trevor Clifton’s six inning start. On the other hand Zack Hedges, Preston Morrison, and Duane Underwood all gave up more than seven runs apiece. I think they’re happy to forget about last week.

Myrtle Beach: 4-2;  31-25
Thomas Hatch looks like he has finally arrived. He had two starts in the past week. In the first one he went 5 and 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 13. Last night he went 6 and 1/3 while striking out 5. He has put together three really good starts in a row. Matt Rose hit two home runs this week, and Eloy finished the week strong after and 0-9 skump.

South Bend: 4-3; 32-21
Duncan Robinson head two seven-innings starts and struck out a combined 15 batters. Luis Ayala continues to terrorize baseballs had over a .400 to clip the past two weeks. Along with new South Bend Cub Roberto Caro, the two have made a formidable bottom of the order. The problem for the Cubs is getting some consistent starting pitching from Tyson Miller, Jose Paulino, and Manny Rondon. They are four games out of first place and one behind Dayton for the wild-card position. Last year the playoff race came down to the final game of the first half before the Cubs clinched a playoff spot. It’s déjà vu all over again.

DSL 1:

DSL 2: 0-1; 0-1

Extended Spring Training per “The Cub Reporter”
Trey Martin’s rehab is going exceedingly well as he has been bashing the ball around a lot. Two names are emerging as possible breakout candidates, too. Shortstop Rafael Narea is putting himself into the SS competition with his daily hitting performance. His glove may not be as good as Aramis Ademan’s, but Narea’s hitting sure is. Rafael Mejia is another hitter who has been hitting well lately. The catcher/first baseman also has a bit of power.

Players of the Week

Card of the Week

Coming Up

I am pretty sure the next week will be consumed with two things: the draft and pitching prospects. While the draft is eight days away, there is a lot of volatility as players move up and down the list, some based on performance, some based on projections, and some based on signability. I am sure there will be a profile of a prospect and maybe an update on a pitcher or two.

My Posts on Other Sites This Week

Cubs Insider
Draft Review
Myrtle Beach Update
South Bend Update
Thomas Hatch
Preston Morrison

BP Wrigleyville
Oscar de la Cruz

The Weekly: A Few Thoughts on Pitching as June Inches Closer

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By Todd Johnson

Over the past five years, Theo and Jed have always struck early in the trade market. I don’t know if I see that happening this year. I think the Cubs will wait to see how much things cost before they go all in the water. A new and improved fourth starter could lengthen the rotation quite a bit and make them more formidable in the postseason. Eddie Butler did well this week in his bid to stay in Chicago. I don’t know if the Cubs are going to  rely on Butler to be that player. I wouldn’t think so. However, it’s a long wait between now and the end of July when the trade deadline ends.

Down in Des Moines, the Cubs DFA’d Jake Buchanan. He was promptly picked up on the waiver wire by the Reds. The I-Cubs have been hit by pitching injuries again this year. Juan Paniagua made two short starts in the past week. I don’t know how much longer they’re going to continue doing that with relievers as Steve Perakslis also made a start. With Tennessee in first place, I don’t think anybody’s going to be coming up soon from AA.

670 the Score’s Bruce Levine got everybody talking this weekend about the possibility of bringing back Jeff Samardzija as a fifth starter. Jeff is owed $66 million over the next three years and his ERA has been near five since he left the Cubs in the trade for Addison Russell. Although Samardzija did do his best work with pitching coach Chris Bosio, I don’t think he is the best pitcher the Cubs could get on the market this summer. I like that Jeff wants to win, I just don’t think his stuff is good enough to do so. You don’t get a 5+ ERA by accident.

While I trust Theo to go out and make the best deal, I think the deal to get a new pitcher is going to be balanced between winning in the present and not giving up too much for the future.

Coming up at Cubs Central
I think June is my favorite month to write and to cover the Cubs’ system. There is the covering of the major league draft over three days. Three of the four affiliates finish the first half on June 18 and have their All-Star game on the 20th. I publish the first half All-Star team and break out players of the first half and do predictions of both for the second half. Four New affiliates start playing in Mesa, Eugene, and the Dominican Republic. And, as always, there is player development.

Around the System This Week
Iowa: 3-4; 22-26 – They seem to be running out of starters. Then again, Jeimer came back and began hitting as soon as he touched down in Iowa.

Tennessee: 5-1; 29-19 – Zoomed into first place behind excellent starting pitching and Jeffrey Baez who has been on a tear this month. Both Trevor Clifton and Preston Morrison have ERAs under two for the month of May.

Myrtle Beach: 5-2;  27-23 – Daniel Spingola and Justin Steele are playing great! This Eloy guy is doing OK when he is healthy. Oscar de la Cruz struck out ten on Thursday night and Adbert Alzolay keeps rolling along.

South Bend: 4-3; 28 -18  – They need some consistent starting pitchers. Jose Paulino and Manny Rondon struggled most of May. Duncan Robinson is ray of hope and it looks like Dylan Cease will be back very shortly. Tyler Peyton got his first start of the year last night and gave up 2 in 4 IP. 

Extended Spring Training – Joe Martarano got on base five times on Friday. He seems to be picking up the hitting thing after missing all of 2016. There are only three weeks until spring training ends and the players get divided up between Mesa and Eugene.Remember the name Miguel Amaya. He will be a fast riser on the Prospect Lists this summer. He’s an 18 year catcher who can do it defensively and offensively. Javier Assad is a pitcher who has been near dominant in the box scores this spring as well.

Players of the Week

Card of the Week

My Posts on Other Sites This Week
Cubs Insider
Duncan Robinson
Bryan Hudson
Alex Scherff

BP Wrigleyville
Grading the 2016 Draft

The Weekly: Debuts Galore and Some Underrated Prospects

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By Todd Johnson

What I thought would be the most exciting part of the week was the Friday night debut of Eddie Butler for Chicago. He went six innings, gave up two hits and three walks, but struck out five and did not allow a run as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 3 to 2. Butler displayed a nice collection of pitches that included a fastball with some nice arm side run. He should get one more start before the Cubs decide on whether to keep him as the fifth starter.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, Ian Happ made his MLB debut against the Cardinals. His first at-bat was not very auspicious as he struck out on four pitches. He later homered in the game – Not a bad first game. On the other hand, he will likely be back in Iowa in ten days.

We were not done yet.

Eloy Jimenez finally was scheduled to play in a game that mattered on Saturday night for Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, the game was called because of rain. So, Myrtle Beach will play two today. I doubt if Eloy does.

Finally, Wladimir Galindo returned from the DL for South Bend. In his first at-bat, he drove in two. For the night, he went 1-4 with 3 Ks. His average is now .321.

Nice Seasons
While some prospects have made a lot of noise with their bats and arms this season, there are several other prospects who are quietly going about their business and putting together some very nice seasons.

  • Duncan Robinson has gone back and forth between starting and piggybacking. He now looks like a starter after a 7 IP, 5 K performance where he lowered his ERA down to 1.52.
  • Michael Rucker has been very hard to score on out of the bullpen for South Bend. Currently, his ERA is 1.42.
  • Bryant Flete has been a go to guy for the pelicans. He is one of the team leaders in RBIs while playing a very good shortstop.
  • Both David Bote and Charcer Burks go about their business quietly and have been essential cogs at the top of the lineup for Tennessee.
  • Matt Rose missed two weeks but it has not stopped him from being one of the team leaders in homers and RBIs for Myrtle Beach. Since returning from his injury, his average is slowly creeping up towards .250. I think he could go on a tear once the weather warms up a little bit more. Last August, he hit seven dinners in August at South Bend.

Here at Cubs Central
The Facebook page is beginning to take off with the Players of the Day segment. Every day we select the best hitter, starting pitcher, and reliever in the minors and give them some props and put their baseball card on the Internet. There is also a page on this site that keeps a record of who we selected. AND another new page on this site keeps track of each monthly All-Star team. If you are on your phone, you can click the drop-down menu in the header. If you have a computer, there should be a tab at the top of the page to select.

Around the System This Week
Iowa: 1-6; 14-20 – 8.5 GB
The Cubs can score 11 runs in a game, but then they give up 12. With Butler now in Chicago, I think there will be a mostly new rotation the second half. Alec Mills could be the only remaining starter come July.

Tennessee: 5-3; 22-14- First Place
The Smokies moved into first place in the Southern League’s Northern Division. Using a combination of excellent starting pitching, a shutdown bullpen, and some ascending hitters, the Smokies are a team to watch this year. Hopefully, they can clinch a playoff spot for the first half next month.

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and baseballMyrtle Beach: 2-3; 19-16 – 2.5 GB
They have not really gone on a winning streak this year. Starting pitching doesn’t seem to be in a groove just yet. Right now, they seem to be susceptible to the big inning. Adbert Alzolay looks like he could be the real deal this year.

South Bend: 5-2; 23-12 – 1.5 GB
This team does not have a lot of power at the plate. Nevertheless, they can put up some crooked numbers in a hurry. From 1 to 9, they might have the best lineup in the system. Pitcher of Bryan Hudson also had an encouraging start this week. If Manny Rondon can get straightened out like he was last night (6IP, 0 Runs), this team could be unstoppable with some consistent starting pitching.

Extended Spring Training
There is less than a month left and some of the pitchers are starting to get stretched out a bit. Jose Albertos had a very good scoreless three inning start this week and I expect to see him hit four innings this next week.

Players of the Week

Card of the Week

Upcoming Posts
POWER! in the System
Friday Six Pack
Saturday Prospect Profile
The Weekly
Grading the Drafts

My Posts on Other Sites This Week
Cubs Insider
Ian Rice

BP Wrigleyville
Kevonte Mitchell
Joe Martarano