Archive for the ‘ Minor Leagues ’ Category

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/13/16

Offenses carried Iowa and Tennessee, while South Bend continued on its winning ways Wednesday. Myrtle Beach came up short, allowing two runs in the ninth. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action.

Iowa Cubs (2-5)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-3.0 games back)

Iowa tallied 13 hits in a 9-5 victory over New Orleans.

  • RHP Stephen Fife (4.91 ERA) tossed 4.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits while striking out one.
  • SS Javier Baez went 1 for 4 with a run scored in his third rehab appearance. He has gone 2 for 11 with a solo homer in his first three games.
  • 3B Logan Watkins (.278) finished 4 for 4 with a double (1), a run scored, three RBI (3) and a stolen base (1).
  • CF Juan Perez (.267) went 3 for 3 with two doubles (2), one run scored and three RBI (4).
  • LF Albert Almora (.222) reached base twice, going 1 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.250) went 1 for 4 with a walk and a solo homer, his first of the season.

Tennessee Smokies (3-4)
Southern League (Double-A)
Third Place (-1.5)

Tennessee scored three runs in the fourth and sixth innings, cruising to a 7-3 victory over Birmingham.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn (0.82 ERA) tossed six scoreless innings, striking out six while scattering four hits in the win. He has allowed one run in 11 innings to begin the season.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.529) went 3 for 5 with a three-run homer (2), two runs scored and four RBI (5). He has hit safely in all six games this season (9 for 17).
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.231) tallied his first multi-hit game of the season, going 3 for 4 with a walk and run scored.
  • 1B Taylor Davis (.333), LF Anthony Giansanti (.286) and SS Carlos Penalver (.174) all recorded two-hit games.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-4)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-Second Place (-1.0)

Myrtle Beach allowed two runs in the ninth inning and lost 4-2 at home to Winston-Salem.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.381) and DH Shawon Dunston Jr. (.294) each went 1 for 4 with a double, a walk and run scored.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.296) went 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI (6).
  • RHP Jonathan Martinez (2.25 ERA) surrendered two earned runs in seven innings, striking out three. He has allowed three earned runs in 12 innings this season has allowed just four runs in his last 43 innings pitched, dating back to last season.

South Bend Cubs (4-2)
Midwest League (Single-A)
Third Place (-0.5)

South Bend won its fourth straight game, topping Bowling Green, 6-5.

  • LF Donnie Dewees (.440) recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game, going 3 for 4 with a double (2), a run scored and three RBI (6).
  • 2B Sutton Whiting (.500) finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI (1) in his first game with South Bend.
  • 1B Tyler Alamo (.375) went 2 for 3 with a run scored and RBI (2).
  • RHP Greyfer Eregua (1.1 IP, SO) picked up his first save of the season, retiring all four batters he faced.

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/12/16

South Bend won in walk-off fashion for the second straight night, but Tennessee and Myrtle Beach both fell in one-run games on Tuesday. Iowa couldn’t hang on either. Here are some notes from yesterday’s minor league action.

Iowa Cubs (1-5)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-4.0 games back)

Iowa fell for the fifth time in its first six games, dropping a 4-2 decision at home to New Orleans.

  • RHP Ryan Williams (7.88 ERA) gave up one earned run in 5 innings of work, striking out three in the no-decision.
  • LF Javier Baez went 0 for 4 in his second rehab appearance but recorded an outfield assist, throwing out a runner at home on a single. He played six innings in left field before moving to second base.
  • C Willson Contreras (.478) extended his season-opening hitting streak to six games (11 for 23), going 2 for 4 with a double (3) and a run scored.
  • SS Kristopher Negron (.381) went 1 for 3 with a solo homer (1) in the third inning. He’s 5 for 10 in his last three games.

Tennessee Smokies (2-4)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-Third Place (-2.5)

Tennessee surrendered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, falling 5-4 at Birmingham.

  • 2B Ryan Dent (.333) collected his first three hits of the season, going 3 for 4 with a run scored.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.150) drove in two runs (2), going 1 for 4 with a walk and a double (1).
  • 1B Taylor Davis (.294) went 1 for 4 with a triple (1), a run scored and an RBI (3).
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (3 IP, BB, SO) tossed 3 scoreless innings of relief.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-3)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-First Place (–)

Myrtle Beach fell 4-3 at home to Winston-Salem. The Pelicans allowed all four runs in the third inning.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.412) finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3 for 5 with a double (1), homer (1), two runs scored and one RBI (1). He has a four-game hitting streak to begin his season.
  • 2B Ian Happ (.292) also recorded a three-hit game, going 3 for 5 with a double (3) and two RBI (5).
  • RHP James Farris (3 IP, 4 SO) fanned four batters in 3 perfect innings.

South Bend Cubs (3-2)
Midwest League (Single-A)
Fourth Place (-0.5)

South Bend won in walk-off fashion for the second-straight day as Eddy Martinez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, lifting the Cubs to a 3-2 victory.

  • LHP Carson Sands (3.60 ERA) fanned four while giving up two earned runs in 5 innings.
  • LF Eloy Jimenez (.333) went 4 for 5 with a double (1), an RBI (3) and two stolen bases (2).
  • DH Donnie Dewees (.381) went 2 for 4 with a triple (2), a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base (2). It marked his third-straight multi-hit game.
  • LHP Kyle Twomey (2 IP, H, 2 SO) and RHP Casey Bloomquist (2 IP, 3 H, SO) each tossed 2 scoreless innings of relief.

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/11/16

Iowa picked up its first win of the season while Myrtle Beach and South Bend each claimed victories in walk-off fashion Monday. Tennessee’s offense was there, but it couldn’t secure the win. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action.

Iowa Cubs (1-4)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-3.0 games back)

Iowa claimed its first victory of the season, cruising past visiting New Orleans, 9-1.

  • RHP Pierce Johnson (0.00) pitched three scoreless innings, striking out five and giving up two hits.
  • In his first rehab appearance, 3B Javier Baez (.333) went 1 for 3 with a solo homer (1) in the fifth inning.
  • C Willson Contreras (.474) went 4 for 5 with a double (2) and four RBI (4). He has hit safely in all five games this season (9-for-19).
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.421) finished 3 for 4 with a walk, a double (2), a run scored and an RBI (5).
  • RF John Andreoli (.263) reached base three times and scored three times, going 1 for 3 with two walks, an RBI and a stolen base (1).
  • RHP Felix Pena (2 IP, 2 H, 3 SO) and RHP Brandon Gomes (2 IP, 2 SO) each tossed two scoreless frames.

Tennessee Smokies (2-3)
Southern League (Double-A)
Second Place (-1.5)

Tennessee out-hit Mobile 15-7 but dropped the rubber game of the five-game set, 5-4.

  • RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (0.00) pitched three scoreless innings, fanning four. He had to exit the game early after getting hit with a line drive.
  • 2B Chesny Young went 2 for 4 with a walk and his second homer of the season, a solo shot.
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.333) went 3 for 4 with a double (2).
  • CF Bijan Rademacher (.500), RF Billy McKinney (.235) and 1B Victor Caratini (.214) all tallied multi-hit efforts. Rademacher has started the season 6 for 12.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-2)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-First Place (–)

Myrtle Beach rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, highlighted by an Ian Happ two-run, walk-off double, to defeat Winston-Salem, 5-4.

  • 2B Ian Happ (.211) went 1 for 5 with the walk-off two-RBI double in the ninth inning.
  • 1B Yasiel Balaguert (.389) reached three times, going 1 for 2 with two walks.
  • The Pelicans collected 11 walks, but just six hits.
  • RHP Dave Berg (1 IP) collected the win, tossing a scoreless top of the ninth inning.

South Bend Cubs (2-2)
Midwest League (Single-A)
T-Fourth Place (-0.5)

RF Eloy Jimenez hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift South Bend to a 7-6 victory.

  • CF Eddy Martinez (.375) went 2 for 4 with a solo homer (1) in the fourth inning, his first professional home run. He has three multi-hit efforts in four games this season.
  • LF Donnie Dewees (.353) went 2 for 5 with a double (1) and two RBI (3).
  • SS Bryant Flete (.625) went 2 for 3 with a double (1) and two runs scored. He has gone 5 for 8 in his first three games.
  • All nine starters either reached base or scored a run.

Cubs acquire LHP Giovanni Soto from Cleveland

The Cubs today acquired left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto from the Cleveland Indians for a cash consideration. Soto has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, catcher Kyle Schwarber has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Soto, 24, made his major-league debut with the Indians last season and turned in six scoreless relief appearances, covering 3.1 innings pitched. He limited opponents to a .231 batting average (3-for-13) and a .462 OPS, and tallied a 0.90 WHIP.

With Triple-A Columbus last year, Soto went 2-1 with two saves and a 2.68 ERA (16 ER/53.2 IP) in 46 appearances, all but one in relief.  He limited opponents to a .187 batting average and allowed only one home run while striking out 51 batters in 53.2 innings pitched.

Soto was originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 21st round of the 2009 Draft and was acquired by the Indians for Jhonny Peralta a year later. In seven minor-league seasons, Soto is 25-25 with four saves and a 3.10 ERA (160 ER/465.0 IP) in 167 minor-league appearances, including 64 starts.

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/10/16

Myrtle Beach edged out its opponent Saturday, but Iowa and Tennessee couldn’t do enough to secure victories. South Bend’s game was snowed out and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 4. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:

Iowa Cubs (0-4)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
Fourth Place (-3.0 games back)

Iowa surrendered seven runs in the eighth inning to fall 10-4 to Round Rock. Iowa was swept in its season-opening four-game set.

  • SS Kristopher Negron (.333) had the team’s only multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
  • CF John Andreoli (.250) and 1B Dan Vogelbach (.333) each went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Andreoli also recorded a walk.
  • RHP Spencer Patton (1 IP, 3 SO) struck out three batters in a perfect ninth frame.

Tennessee Smokies (2-2)
Southern Division (Double-A)
Second Place (-1.0)

The Smokies mustered just four hits in a 4-1 setback against Mobile.

  • C David Freitas (.600) went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
  • RHP Tyler Skulina (1.50 ERA) allowed just one run in 6 innings in his season debut but took the loss. He struck out three and walked one while surrendering just four hits.
  • RHP David Garner (1 IP, H, BB, 3 SO) fanned three batters in a scoreless inning of relief.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (2-2)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-First Place (–)

The Pelicans evened up their record at 2-2, defeating visiting Frederick, 7-5.

  • 1B Yasiel Balaguert (.375) went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI (2).
  • LF Shawon Dunston Jr. (.300) hit a go-ahead bases-clearing triple in the fourth inning. He finished 2-for-4 with three RBI (3).
  • 2B Ian Happ (.214) went 1-for-4 with a triple (1), a run scored and an RBI (1).
  • LHP Jordan Minch (2 IP, H, 2 BB, 2 SO) did not allow a run in two scoreless innings.

Cubs Minor League Report: 4/8/16

Tennessee claimed a season-opening win behind a boost from the offense, while starting pitching gave Myrtle Beach a lead it wouldn’t surrender Thursday. Iowa and South Bend were both on the losing end. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.

Iowa Cubs (0-1)
Pacific Coast League (Triple-A)
T-3rd Place (-1.0 games back)

Iowa allowed five runs in the third inning as it dropped the season opener to Round Rock, 7-3.

  • 3B Kristopher Negron (.750) led the team with three hits, going 3-for-4.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.667) went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI (1).
  • C Willson Contreras (.500) added a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4.
  • LHP Scott Barnes (2 IP, H, 2 BB, SO) and RHP Brandon Gomes (2 IP, 2 BB, SO) each tossed 2 scoreless frames in relief.

Tennessee Smokies (1-0)
Southern League (Double-A)
T-1st Place (–)

The Smokies blasted three homers as they rolled to a 7-3 Opening Day victory against Mobile.

  • LHP Rob Zastryzny (3.00 ERA) picked up the win, giving up two earned runs in 6 innings and striking out five.
  • 2B Chesny Young (1.000) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with a first-inning solo homer (1) and two walks. He scored two runs and swiped a base.
  • C Victor Caratini (.250) went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer (1) in the first inning.
  • PH Bijan Rademacher (1.000) hit a pinch-hit solo homer (1) in the sixth inning.
  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.500) finished 2-for-4 with two stolen bases (2).
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.333) recorded a hit with a walk and two runs scored.
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.333) went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and two RBI (2).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1-0)
Carolina League (High-A)
T-1st Place (–)

Myrtle Beach opened its 2016 campaign with a 5-2 home victory over Frederick.

  • RHP Jonathan Martinez (1.80) surrendered one earned run in 5 innings to pick up the win.
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.250) went 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI (1) and two runs scored.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.333) added a double, going 1-for-3 with a run scored.
  • RHP Daury Torrez (2 IP, H, R, SO) did not allow an earned run in 2 innings, and RHP Dave Berg (IP, H, 2 SO) earned his first save of the season.

South Bend Cubs (0-1)
Midwest League (Single-A)
T-6th Place (-1.0)

South Bend fell behind 8-0 after three frames and could not come back, losing 9-4 to West Michigan.

  • LF Eloy Jimenez (.500) went 2-for-4 with a triple (1), a run scored and an RBI (1).
  • RF Eddy Martinez (.500) also went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
  • CF Donnie Dewees (.400), C P.J. Higgins (.400) and SS Andrew Ely (.667) all added two-hit games. South Bend combined for 12 hits, including 11 singles.
  • LHP Kyle Twomey (4 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 7 SO) fanned seven batters in relief, allowing just one run on three hits.

Cubs reduce Spring Training roster to 56 players

The Cubs have assigned seven players to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 63 to 56 players.

Right-handed pitcher Andury Acevedo, left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch and infielder Dan Vogelbach have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Four non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: Right-handed pitchers Jonathan Pettibone, Duane Underwood Jr. and Armando Rivero; and left-handed pitcher Jack Leathersich.

Chicago’s spring roster of 56 players consists of 29 pitchers (nine non-roster invitees and one DL), six catchers (two non-roster invitees), 12 infielders (three non-roster invitees) and nine outfielders (five non-roster invitees).

Cubs place six among top 100 MLB prospects, according to ESPN’s Law

Contreras,-Willson-5.11_Blog(Photo by Roger Hoover)

Spring baseball is just one week away, with pitchers and catchers slated to report next week. This also kicks off one of the best times of the year for prospect watching. On Thursday, ESPN senior writer Keith Law unveiled his Top 100 prospects list, which includes six Cubs. Though the team graduated one of the greatest crops of young talent in organizational history to the majors last year, the quantity of players still on Law’s list demonstrates the waves of talent in the system.

Here is a small portion of what Law had to say on each Cubs prospect:

15. Gleyber Torres, SS

Torres looked much older than 18 in terms of his plate skills during the 2015 season; he stayed behind the ball really well, with great hand-eye coordination and the ability to shoot a ball to the outfield the way Derek Jeter would do with two strikes. It’s a very easy swing, and Torres keeps his head steady throughout in a way many major league hitters couldn’t emulate. He’s very smooth at shortstop already, with plus hands and a plus arm, showing me in Myrtle Beach’s playoff series against Wilmington that he could come across the bag well on a difficult double play. He needs to continue to get stronger, as well as work on some of his reads in the field and on the bases, where his physical tools have exceeded his acumen. He has a good chance to jump into the top 5 by next year.

Torres burst onto the scene in the Low-A Midwest League in 2015, hitting .293/.353/.386 with 24 doubles for South Bend. Despite his age, he was named the league’s prospect of the year for both his offense and his smooth defense at shortstop.

27. Willson Contreras, C

Contreras is a strong, coordinated, athletic kid with great body control, but none of that had manifested in his performances prior to 2015, except in his generally good contact rates. His bat speed seemed to pick up in ’15, and with a clean, direct path to the ball, he’s going to make a lot of hard contact, though mostly singles and doubles. There isn’t big loft in the swing, although he’s physically strong enough to hit for power, especially if he had a little more rotation in his path. Behind the plate, he has an easy 70 arm and good energy and actions but needs work on the mechanics of receiving and framing, as well as the finer points, like calling a game.

Contreras’ eye-opening 2015 season,  during which he won the batting title in the Double-A Southern League, earned him organizational player of the year honors. He finished with eight home runs, 46 extra-base hits and a .413 on-base percentage in 521 plate appearances.

47. Ian Happ, 2B

Happ is a switch-hitter, smoother and shorter from the left side, less consistent and longer right-handed, although the latter could improve with coaching help and more reps. He has 15-20 homer potential, driven more by his contact rate than any need to get stronger or change a swing.

A 2015 first-round pick, Happ spent all of his debut season in the outfield, where he played a large portion of his college career. Offensively, the 21-year-old demonstrated both his power and on-base abilities, hitting nine homers and reaching base via walk in 13.5 percent of his 295 plate appearances between Short-Season Eugene and South Bend.

69. Billy McKinney, OF

McKinney has a beautiful, fluid, left-handed swing, very easy to repeat, geared toward line-drive contact but without a ton of leverage in it, so he projects as a high-OBP, high-doubles guy, but his ultimate power ceiling might be south of 20 homers as a result. McKinney played center in the lower minors, but that was a pipe dream, especially since he’s a below-average runner. He should settle in as an average defender in left, which will be fine given his offensive profile but limits his potential to be a star unless he starts hitting .320, which isn’t out of the question given his swing and eye.

In 2015, McKinney continued to do what he does best: hit. Between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, the Athletics’ 2013 first-round pick hit .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles. This season could be a big one for the outfielder, who is one of the toughest outs in the Cubs’ system.

88. Albert Almora, OF

Almora is a 70 defender in center with outstanding reads on balls off the bat, which makes up for his below-average running speed, and the defense will get him to the big leagues even if he doesn’t hit. He boosted his stat line with a huge August at Double-A, but the real difference was that he started making better quality contact as the season went on, squaring up the ball more frequently and thus improving his BABIP and hitting for more power, mostly doubles power.

Though he may be known for his defensive prowess, Almora’s offense in 2015 was strong as well. As mentioned above, the 2012 first-round pick started making better contact and improved his plate discipline, drawing 32 walks—that’s more than his previous two campaigns combined. He spent the entire season in Double-A, hitting .272/.327/.400 with six homers and 26 doubles.

91. Dylan Cease, RHP

Cease was a potential top-10 pick in 2014 after his fastball hit 99 mph and he showed a plus curveball that spring, but he suffered a partial tear of his elbow ligament that didn’t respond to treatment, requiring Tommy John surgery after he signed an overslot deal as a sixth-round pick of the Cubs that June. Cease returned this summer and was back up to 99, easier than ever with a cleaner delivery.

The sample size is limited (24 innings pitched), but the Cubs front office raves about Cease’s potential whenever there’s an opportunity. During Theo Eptstein’s postseason recap, he mentioned the right-hander as a player who could really break out in 2016.

Gleyber Torres ranked a top 10 shortstop talent

Torres2(Photo courtesy Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

With Javier Baez now in more of a utility role, Starlin Castro wearing a different shade of blue pinstripes, and Addison Russell settled in as the club’s regular shortstop, the organizational middle-infield morass seems to have sorted itself out. But it might pop up again in the not-too-distant future. On Wednesday, MLB.com unveiled its top 10 shortstop prospects, with 2013 international signee Gleyber Torres coming in at No. 9. Here’s what they had to say:

Chicago’s logjam of talented infielders is only going to get worse when Torres is ready in a couple of years. He has solid-or-better tools across the board, and he ranked as the Class A Midwest League’s top prospect and helped Myrtle Beach win the Class A Advanced Carolina League championship last year as an 18-year-old.

The Venezuela native hit .287/.346/.376 last year between Low-A South Bend and High-A Myrtle Beach. In 487 at-bats, he recorded 24 doubles and swiped 22 bases while playing solid defense. His age likely means he’s farther away from the major leagues than many of the other players on the list, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With a majority of the Cubs’ former high-upside farmhands now at the big league level, Torres could spearhead another wave of players set to arrive in a few years.

Candelario ranks among top 10 third base prospects

Candelario_MB1(Photo courtesy Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

The 2014 season was not a great one for high-upside infielder Jeimer Candelario. But after some positive reinforcement from the front office and an altered mindset, Candelario drastically improved his performance in 2015. Among those to take notice was MLB.com, which on Tuesday rated the Cubs farmhand the seventh-best third base prospect in baseball. Here’s some of what they had to say:

Signed for $500,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Candelario more than held his own last season in his first taste of the Double-A level and then opened eyes in the Arizona Fall League, where he ranked among the league leaders in several offensive categories. The 22-year-old switch-hitter makes consistent contact from both sides of the plate, leading scouts to project him to hit for average and power. He has all the necessary tools to stick at third base, including soft hands and above-average arm strength.

In 525 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A, Candelario hit .277/.339/.431 with 49 extra-base hits. His batting average was a 54-point improvement over his 2014 numbers. The third baseman had such a productive season in 2015, he was invited to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .329 in 89 plate appearances against some of the top prospects in all of baseball. It will be interesting to see which level Candelario starts at in 2016, but it appears he’ll stick at third base for the time being.

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