Jeffrey Passantino

MiLB Playoff Update: Mesa Advances to AZL Finals

Posted on

By Todd Johnson

Falling behind 5-0 would be the death knell for most teams. However, when you have a potent offense, no lead is insurmountable. Such was the case last night as the Mesa Cubs rallied to win 7-6 over the Dodgers in the Arizona Rookie League semi-finals.

Card made from a Photo by John Arguello

The Cubs used home runs by Jonathan Sierra, 2017 draft pick Cam Balego (his second in the playoffs), and 2016 draftee Delvin Zinn to tie it up. Carlos Sepulveda, on a rehab assignment, drove in Kwang-Min Kwon as the winning run in the eighth.

Another key to victory was that the bullpen pitched great in relief. Eugenio Palma, Jeffrey Passantino, and Ivan Medina scattered 8 hits and allowed 2 runs in 9 innings after Stephen Ridings was chased in the first after giving up four runs without getting an out.

The Cubs now move to the finals where they will face the Giants in a best of three series. 2017 Draft Pick, Brendan King from Holy Cross, probably gets the ball tonight and Brailyn Marquez could take the bump tomorrow.

The series starts tonight and runs through Thursday, if necessary. The Cubs went 5-3 against the Giants this year. I like the Cubs’ chances.

Advertisements

Cubs’ August MiLB All-Star Team Has 16 New Faces

Posted on

By Todd Johnson

What a difference the last two months had on the look of the Cubs’ system. A lot of familiar names are gone and new ones have taken their place. You would think that this month’s All-Star team would be pitching centric but it’s not. Instead, there are a plethora of hitters who rose to the occasion in August.

Surprisingly, the position of catcher saw the greatest highlights out of all Cubs prospects. Five years ago that was a huge pit of emptiness and now has become a position of strength at every level. Outfield play was also outstanding along with the reliever corps.

While there were several hitters over .300, only a few displayed any kind of power and only one power prospect made the team. The great thing about that is he’s only 18 years old.

As for starting pitching, most MiLB pitchers tend to get run down in August but several arms had a very good month with four outstanding hurlers putting up ERAs under 2.00. This month’s team is structured a little different as it has more than one player at a few everyday positions.

Team Breakdown
Myrtle Beach, South Bend, and Eugene each have 6 reps.
Tennessee, Iowa, and Mesa each have 5. The DSL has 1.

Upcoming posts
Saturday – Cards of the Month
Sunday – The Weekly
Monday – Prospect Profile: Jared Young

Cubs 2017 Draft Update: 19 Pitchers Taking Over the Lower Part of the System

Posted on

By Todd Johnson

It is easy to get a sneak peek at pitchers that have recently been drafted. However, their roles are not really going to be laid out for another year or two. Adjustments will be made at instructs this fall and again in spring training. The pitchers they are now will not resemble the pitchers they are next year or the year after

The thing I like to remember is that they have already pitched a full season of baseball. Some, like Alex Lange, have already thrown over 120 innings. Then again, there are relievers who fit right in when it comes to workloads this season. Of the 19 pitchers signed via the 2017 draft, only four have been given an opportunity to start in some capacity. In addition, two of the arms selected and signed have not thrown a pitch in game action.

Here is an update on how the young pitchers are doing.

Impressive

Alex Lange – The first round pick dominated in his two inning debut. While it was at Eugene, I felt that he should not be there much longer in that it really wasn’t a challenge for him. Hopefully, he can go up to South Bend and make it a start of two innings  and the Cubs can reevaluate from there. I tend to think he’ll begin next year at Myrtle Beach with an outside shot of Tennessee. However, Tennessee might be too aggressive.

Ricky Tyler Thomas – I love, love, love, love, love his changeup. Going forward, I tend to see him as a reliever. But don’t be surprised to see him get a shot at starting next year at South Bend.

Rollie Lacy – He is pitching only in relief in Mesa and he hasn’t allowed a lot of baserunners with a WHIP of 0.66. As a 22-year-old, he should dominate rookie ball and he is. I think there is a pretty good chance he’s in northern Indiana to begin the year.

Ben Hecht – He has been a most impressive reliever as he has swing and miss stuff. At Eugene, he has pitched 6.1 innings and struck out an amazing 15 batters. With that kind of firepower, I think long term that he is a reliever with closer or setup potential.

Jake Steffens – To date he’s pitched up 10.2 innings and is look good doing so. He had one bad outing in his eight appearances and opponents are only hitting .108 against him. It’s pretty good for a 29th round pick.

Brendan King – He is just getting going and he is making short starts. Right now, his ERA is 1.59 and he’s struck out 13 and 11.1 innings while only giving up two earned runs. Depending on how he does this fall and next spring, I think he has an outside shot at making it to Indiana for the summer.

Pretty Good

Erich Uelmen – He has only made three appearances. His first outing was a bit rough, but his second  saw him strikeout five in two innings. He is currently at Eugene and I expect him to be in South Bend starting in 2018.

Mitch Stophel – Currently, he is in rookie ball in Mesa. He has pitched nine innings in a relief it is struck out 13. He walked five, but for a 25 round pick, I’m not gonna complain. He could be in South Bend next year.

Cory Abbott – He debuted Monday night. He flashed a four pitch mix and struck out three in two innings but did give up a homer, his only hit. His fastball sat in the low 90s topping out at 93.

Depends on the Day

Kegan Thompson – After missing all of 2016, I was surprised the Cubs let him pitch after he threw 98 innings for Auburn this spring. He’s being used in relief and he has only made two appearances so far. I see him starting next summer in the rotation for South Bend.

Brian Glowicki – The closer from the University of Minnesota has had some ups and downs in that role for the Emeralds. He has shown the ability to miss bats and I think he will get better as the season goes on.

Casey Ryan – Take away one outing where he gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning, and he’s been really good. He is a reliever in a starter’s body.

Jeffrey Passantino – I am not sure what his role is going to be. In Mesa, he hass been relieving. I don’t know if they’re going to try and turn him into a starter as a pro or leave him in the bullpen with his bulldog mentality. I guess we’ll find out next year.

It’s Early

Brendon Little – He has been lit up in his two outings. After only pitching four innings in college plus the cape cod league in 2016, he threw 80+ innings this year. I thought we might see him out of the pen to begin with, but he is taking the bump to begin the game twice. I would not be too alarmed that his performance so far. You still have to remember he’s only 20 years old and has been basically shut down for two months.

Sean Barry – He’s only made three appearances so far in Mesa. All were in relief. I don’t have a good read on him yet.

Peyton Remy – He made his first appearance on Sunday night when he threw a scoreless one third of an inning.

Crickets…They have not pitched yet and might not.

Jeremy Estrada – He has not been rostered yet. I think Estrada will more than likely be in Mesa at worst and Eugene at best.

Brady Miller – No roster has been assigned for Miller yet, either.

Braxton Light – He has been assigned to Arizona but has yet to see any action.

19 arms is a lot about pitching to accommodate in an organization at one time. We will know more next year at this time than we do now about these arms. I think this summer’s performances have kind of given us a sneak peek and there’s a lot to be encouraged by past month, and even the last week. And I think once the starters are stretched out next year, it will be even more impressive. With a lot of the young arms at Eugene and South Bend, this collection of arms will create quite the competition for spots next spring. So far, I find their performances encouraging for the organization.

 

Day 3: Cubs Get More and More Pitching and Some High Risk Picks in the 30s

Posted on Updated on

By Todd Johnson

30 picks in a little over six hours is a bit much to cover. It seemed as soon as I started learning about one selection, there was another one stacked. At pick 29, the Internet went down (thanks Mediacom!). I kept up on my phone as best I could until it was done. And guess what? As soon as the Cubs made the final selection, the Internet popped back on. Go figure.

As for the Cubs Picks…

They loaded up on pitching with 17 picks. Most of them are relievers, but a few were starters. The Cubs also popped a few HS prep arms in the 30s, although those players are unlikely to sign. With 13 position players today, college players were the order of the day. By the early 30s, the Cubs started picking prep players as backups in case someone in the top 10 does not sign, which is clearly a possibility.

What Picks Did I Like Most Today?

14. Luis Vazquez, a high school SS from Puerto Rico, is definitely intriguing. He has a big frame to grow into and his video, although staged, shows him to be a very athletic young man.

27. Darius Vines is a two sport athlete who I think comes across as maybe the best our athlete the Cubs picked this year.

24. Andrew Karp – The Cubs might be not be able to sign him. But if they do,  they get a player on the rise who is only 20 with 2 years of big time college experience.

I also think the college picks  of Brandon Hughes, Jared Young, and Ramsey Romano ar excellent. They all could be quality players in the low minors the next year or two.

Here’s today’s brief synopsis of each pick along with their draft card.


Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and textImage may contain: one or more peopleImage may contain: 1 person

Round 11
Rollie Lacy – RHP – Creighton
6’3″ 195 – Friday night starter
Bats Right
Throws Right
2.54 ERA, 88.2 IP, 83 Ks, 18 BBs

Round 12
Ben Hecht
– P – Wichita State
6’3″ 185 – Closer/Reliever
Bats Right
Throws Right
Struggled this year. 41 Ks in 30.1 IP

Round 13
Austin Upshaw – IF – Kennesaw State
6’0″ 195
Bats Left
Throws Right
He hit 8 HRs in 200 ABs this year. He batted .327 and slugged .516. He is a draft eligible sophomore. He could go back to school.

Image may contain: one or more people No automatic alt text available.Image may contain: 1 person

Round 14
Luis Vazquez – SS – Alberto Melendez Torres School, Puerto Rico
6’1″ 165
Bats Right
Throws Right
He was a challenger to find info quickly on. However, I did find this video. He looks pretty lean and has a lot of physical projection left.

Round 15
Jared Young
– 2B – Old Dominion
6’1″ 180
Bats Left
Third Team All-American this year
He hit .347 with 7 HRs and 34 RBIs as a Junior. His OBP looks good at .441.

Round 16
Brandon Hughes
– CF – Michigan State
6’2″ 215
Switch hitter
Speed demon
He has a nice frame. Stole 30 bases this year and was named 2nd Team All-Big Ten. He hit .330 with 5 HRs in 200 ABs.

Image may contain: one or more people and people playing sportsImage may contain: 1 personImage may contain: one or more people

Round 17
Peyton Remy
– RHP – Central Arizona College
6’2″ 170
Bats Left
Throws Right
He threw 59.1 innings striking out 58. He’s just 19.

Round 18
Casey Ryan
– RHP – Hawaii
6’4″ 200
Throws Right
He was the closer for Hawaii. He threw in 23.1 IP and K’d 20 while putting up a 1.52 ERA. Opponents only hit .188 against him. I like the frame.

Round 19
Chris Singleton – OF – Charleston Southern
6’1″ 178
Bats and Throws Right
He hit .278 as a junior with 18 stolen bases.

Image may contain: 1 person, baseballImage may contain: 1 personImage may contain: one or more people, people playing sports, people standing and outdoor

Round 20
Brendan King – P – Holy Cross
6’1″ 200
Four pitch mix
He threw 80.2 IP with 60.2 and a 4.35 ERA. As a junior, he had a 2.84 ERA with 74 Ks in 82.1 IP.
FB: 90-92, CB: 73-76, CUT: 86, CH: 84-85

Round 21
Sean Barr
y – RHP – San Diego
6’2″ 190
Reliever
He did start twice this year but mostly came out of the pen. He struck out 54 in 42.2 IP.

Round 22
Skyler Messinger
– SS – Niwot HS, Colorado
6’3″ 195
MLB.com listed him at 6’3″ 295 pounds. I know it’s a typo, but I found it funny.
6’3″ 195
Bats and Throws Right

Image may contain: 1 person Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and textImage may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and text

Round 23
Brady Miller
– RHP – Western Oregon
6’2″ 185
Throws Right
Struck 57 in 54 IP. He had an ERA of 3.50 in 10 starts.

Round 24
Braxton Light
– RHP – Wallace State
Throws Right
He struck out 50 in 38.2 in relief. He had a 1.86 ERA and 9 saves.

Round 25
Mitch Stophel
– RHP -King University
6’2″ 185
Reliever
45 Ks in 38 IP. He had a 4.74 ERA.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a sport, baseball and textNo automatic alt text available.No automatic alt text available.

Round 26
Bryce Bonnin
– RHP – Barbers Hill HS, Texas
6’0″ 180 lbs.
Committed to Arkansas
According to Baseball America, they like ehim better as a pitcher.
MLB.com has him at #74 in their top 200. He could be a tough sign, MLB.com said this of the young SS/P:

Entering his high school senior season, there was some question as to whether Bonnin was better as a position player or a pitcher. Arkansas lists him as a shortstop among its incoming recruits, and he does display arm strength, athleticism and offensive potential. But he might not make it to the Razorbacks because he came out firing fastballs up to 95 early in the year and could go in the top three rounds as a pitcher.

Bonnin’s heater settled at 90-92 mph at times later in the spring, though he should have consistent plus velocity once he focuses on pitching and gets a little stronger. His slider has similar upside, usually arriving in the low 80s with sharp, late action and looking like a wipeout pitch when he runs it into the upper 80s. He rarely throws a changeup because he hasn’t needed it against high school competition.

Bonnin throws across his body and with effort and a long arm. He has no problems finding the strike zone, but his mechanics and relatively small stature lead some scouts to project him as a reliever. Others think his athleticism gives him a chance to refine his delivery and make it as a starter.

Round 27
Darius Vines
– RHP – Oxnard
6’1″ 180
2 Sport Athlete
Throws Right
He struck out 95 in 83.2 IP. He had a 1.94 ERA and is only 19. He might be my favorite pick today.

Round 28
Kier Meredith
– OF – Robert B Glenn HS, North Carolina
5’9″ 165
Speed to burn
Ranked 215 on BA’s top 500
Bats and throws Left
Committed to Clemson

Image may contain: 1 person, beard and textImage may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and baseballImage may contain: people playing sports and baseball

Round 29
Jacob Steffens – RHP – Santa Clara
6’3″
Big Body and Frame
Missed most of 2 years
Pitched 102.2 innings this year and struck out 101.

Round 30
Cam Balego
– IF – Mercyhurst
5’11” 205
He resembles a few picks the Cubs have taken today. He’s an infielder with the potential for power.

Round 31
Ramsay Romano
-IF – Cal State Long Beach
6’2″ 200
He will be playing in the College World Series and Cub fans should be able get a good look at him. He led the team in hitting this year at .313.

Image may contain: 1 person, textImage may contain: 1 person, outdoor Image may contain: one or more people

Round 32
Hunter Ruth
– RHP – Bucholz HS, Texas
6’2″ 205
Funky Delivery
He is ranked number 151 on MLB’s top 20. He is going to be a tough sign. MLB Pipeline said the following about the big high school right-hander:

There’s a ton of arm strength, with Ruth getting the heater up to 95-96 mph at times. He’ll often live off of his fastball, but he’ll show a really good breaking ball and a feel for a changeup as well. There is some effort in his delivery, which is a bit unorthodox. That arm action along with elbow injury, does leave some wondering if he’s more of a reliever in the future. It’s hard to figure out where good talent that has gone down with TJ surgery in high school should go in the Draft. Based on ability, Ruth definitely belongs in the top five rounds, with some scouts thinking he could have snuck into the conversation of high-upside high school players being discussed at the back end of the first round. If a team doesn’t want to sign and rehab him, Ruth can stay home and head to Florida to get healthy there.

Round 33
Joe Donovan
– Catcher – Westmont HS
5’11” 177
I was a little surprised the Cubs went this long before taking a catcher.

Round 34
Andrew Karp
– RHP – Florida State
6″1″ 204
The Cubs are taking a gamble here as Karp will more than likely go back to school as a draft eligible sophomore. I like this pick as he is an ascending player.
MLB.com said the following:

Karp pitched midweek for Florida State this season as a redshirt sophomore. Injuries limited him a bit early, but he eventually got his fastball up to 94 mph, and he mixes in three different off-speed pitches. Karp put himself on the map with an 11-strikeout performance against No.5 Florida in March, but his late-season struggles muddle his Draft standing a bit.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a sport, baseball and text Image may contain: 1 person, playing a sport and text Image may contain: one or more people

Round 35
Ben Ramirez
– SS – Eastlake High School
6’2″ 180
He is ranked number 199 on MLB.com stop 200. here is what they had to say about him:
Chances of signing him up are slim.

Ramirez has considerable upside and potential at the plate that teams might be interested in adding to their system. When he’s right, he’s nice and short to the ball, allowing him to drive from the left side of the plate. He tends to fiddle with his stance and listen to too many people, with his swing lengthening as a result. He does have power potential, but he’ll need to find a more consistent swing path and use his lower half better […] Signability might be an issue for Ramirez, who has a commitment to attend Southern Cal should the Draft not go his way. But a team willing to roll the dice early enough and be patient with his development could get a solid all-around third baseman when all is said and done.

Round 36
Tanner Allen
– CF – Prep School
Bats Left
MLB.com said the following:

A former LSU commit who is now set to attend Mississippi State, Allen was a 4A First Team All-State performer in Alabama back in 2015. The second baseman followed up his sensational 2015 season by helping lead his high school team to a state championship last year. He was then selected as a member of the 40-man roster for the U18 National Team as an outfielder. In addition to his baseball accolades and skills on the diamond, Allen started at quarterback for the UMS-Wright football team for three straight seasons. Allen has drawn comparisons to Keith Lockhart, who played in the Majors for a decade and was known for his consistent bat and infield play. While he could use more time to develop in college, Allen has adequate arm strength and a smooth, simple approach at the plate, often resulting in line drives and quick, hard contact. Allen attended MLB’s Prospect Development Pipeline premier event in Atlanta this January.

Round 37
Alex Cornwell – LHP – Maranatha HS
6’1″ 175
USC commit

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and text Image may contain: one or more people and people playing sportsImage may contain: 1 person, playing a sport, baseball and text

Round 38
Russell Smith – LHP – Midlithian HS
At 6’9″ tall, there’s a lot to work with.
230 pounds

Round 39
Cooper Coldiron – IF – Houston

Round 40
Jeffrey Passantino – RHP – Lipscomb
I profiled him back in the winter

Draft Profiles – Lipscomb Provides 3 Prospects for 1 Stop Scouting

Posted on

By Todd Johnson

In Nashville, there is more than one top collegiate baseball team. Over the past few years, Vanderbilt produced a national champion and two number one picks in the draft. However, there is another school in town. Last year, Lipscomb University defeated Vanderbilt 1-0 in the first game of their series and begin garnering national attention for some of their top players. Three of them went to the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2016 and became all-stars. Two of them are now entrenched in the top 100 in a couple of prospect lists for the draft.

fal16_michael-gigliotti

Speedy outfielder Outfielder Michael Gigliotti is ranked number 23 on MLB Pipeline’s top draft prospects. Last summer he was named the top prospect in the Cape Cod League. Early rankings often fluctuate by the time the draft gets here. For the Cubs, Gigliotti could be sitting right there at number 27 staring Chicago in the face. The 6’1” and 177 lb outfielder still has room to fill out on his frame.

Here is what Jim Callis had to say about Gigliotti’s talent.

In a lean year for college position players, Gigliotti offers the best combination of hitting ability and athleticism. He makes contact from the left side of the plate, uses the entire field and can bunt for base hits. His bat speed is fairly ordinary, though he shows some ability to drive balls into the gaps.

At just 20 years old, he is an intriguing talent, some would say an ascending talent. There’s a lot of projection left as he could still put on 10 to 15 pounds to gain some power. I think the only drawback to his game is his lack of power. However, when you hit over .400 with an OBP over .500, I think you can look past his lack of power.

Here’s an interview where Gigliotti discusses his speed and swing. He’s pretty savvy for playing for such a somewhat small, unknown school.

 

Brady Puckett is a box checker as he fits the mode of what the Cubs are looking for in a pitcher. He could easily be sitting there in the second round waiting for the Cubs to pick him. At 6’9″ tall, Puckett physically resembles several Cubs pics of the last three years under Jason McLeod. Here is a snippet of his bio from the Lipscomb website:

1508lThe 6-foot-9 hurler anchored the rotation for Lipscomb with a 9-2 record and a 2.93 ERA. Not only did the Murfreesboro native lead the league in wins, he was also tops in strikeouts (101) and pitcher of the week honors (4). His 107.2 innings logged paced the conference and ranks as the second most frames thrown in a single season in program history.

Despite playing in a small Atlantic Sun Conference, Lipscomb actually faced off against some of the best baseball schools in the country including Vanderbilt and Georgia. It’s not like Lipscomb is coming out of nowhere; it’s a real program playing real D1 schools.

Pitcher Jeffrey Passantino might not be as highly ranked as the other two, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that physically he pretty much is what he is. Gigliotti still has room to grow and develop just as Puckett’s pitching skills could improve. Passantino has already maxed out physically. On the other hand, Passantino is known for his bulldog mentality on the mound and could be an excellent relief arm.

One trend Cubs have shown the past few years is that they tend to double up when scouting. They’re not just there to check out one player. They check out everyone. And with three prospects from one school, the Cubs could build relationships with all three the next six months.