(Photo by Stephen Green)
Jorge Soler might have gotten off to a rocky start this season, but the Cubs outfield prospect has been on a tear of late. On Tuesday, he was named the Florida State League player of the week for the week ending May 12.
In four games from May 6-12, the 21-year-old went 7-for-15 with a pair of homers, three doubles, a triple, four RBI and five runs scored. In addition, the organization’s No. 3 prospect (according to MLB.com) has reached base in 10 straight games. For the season, Soler is hitting .281/.369/542 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with five homers, eight doubles and 14 driven in.
The native of Cuba was suspended five games earlier in the year for an on-field altercation.
Daytona outfielder Jorge Soler was named the FSL’s Player of the Week. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa and Tennessee captured a win after late offensive outbursts Monday while Daytona and Kane County both fell in a shutout losses. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (14-21)
Iowa used a six-run, sixth inning to roll past Reno, 6-4.
- SS Donnie Murphy (.241) went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double (3), a home run and a season-high three RBI (6).
- 1B Brad Nelson (.278) extended his hitting streak to four games, going 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI (24).
- RHP Esmailin Caridad (5.74) secured his first hold of the season, tossing two scoreless innings of relief. He has not allowed a run in his last three appearances (5 IP).
- RHP Zach Putnam (3.52) converted his second save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Tennessee Smokies (18-18)
Tennessee scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning, stunning Jackson, 6-4.
- RF Matt Szczur (.291) recorded his fifth-straight, multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a double (4), a RBI (18) and a stolen base (13). He’s hitting .458 (11-for-24) with four runs and six RBI in his last five contests.
- C Rafael Lopez (.259) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double (8), a home run and one RBI (11).
- CF Rubi Silva (.276) hit his third home run in his last six games, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double (6), the home run and two RBI (20).
- RHP Trey McNutt (2-3, 4.50) walked two and struck out three in a scoreless eighth frame, picking up his second win of the campaign.
- RHP Kevin Rhoderick (6.91) converted his first save of the season, fanning two in a perfect ninth inning.
Daytona Cubs (17-17)
Daytona managed just five singles in a 3-0 loss to visiting Charlotte.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.296) recorded his 12th multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-4.
- DH Zeke DeVoss (.211) went 2-for-4, snapping a three-game hitless skid.
- OF Jorge Soler (0-for-3, BB, SB) was named Florida State League Player of the Week for the week ending May 12. In four games during the week, he went 7-for-15 (.467) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, four RBI and five runs scored. He has reached base in 10 consecutive games.
- LHP Frank Del Valle (1.93) struck out two hitters in a scoreless seventh inning. The southpaw is holding opponents to a .158 batting average (3-for-19) with runners in scoring position.
Kane County Cougars (17-17)
Kane County finished its six-game road trip with a 4-0 loss to Clinton. The Cougars went 3-3 on the trip.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.236) went 2-for-4 with a stolen base (4).
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (.295) went 2-for-4, hitting safely in seven of his last eight games.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.230) recorded one of Kane County’s two extra-base hits, going 1-for-4 with his sixth double.
- LHP Jeffry Antigua (3.57) struck out five in 2.0-scoreless innings of relief.
Brett Jackson posted his first three-hit game of the season Sunday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
While Iowa fell in the ninth inning, Kane County pulled through in extra innings and Tennessee recorded a shutout Sunday. Daytona had the day off and will hit the field tonight, hosting Charlotte. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (13-21)
Reno scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, stunning Iowa, 9-8.
- 1B Brad Nelson (.279) hit his team-leading sixth home run of the campaign. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, the home run and two RBI (22).
- LF Brett Jackson (.259) recorded his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a double (4).
- CF Dave Sappelt (.174) registered his second straight multi-RBI game, going 1-for-5 with a run scored, a triple (1) and a season-high three RBI (6).
- PH Ian Stewart (.100) went 1-for-1 with a triple (1) and two RBI (6).
- RHP Casey Coleman (3.75) tossed two scoreless innings of relief. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .143 batting average (3-for-21).
Tennessee Smokies (17-18)
Tennessee won its second game in a row with a 5-0 shutout at Jackson.
- RF Matt Szczur (.287) recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-5 with a double (3) and a team-high two RBI (17). He’s hitting .474 (9-for-19) with four runs and five RBI in his last four contests.
- SS Arismendy Alcantara (.244) went 2-for-4 with a double (5). He’s hit safely in four of his last five games.
- 3B Christian Villanueva (.239) extended his hitting streak to five games, going 1-for-2 with a run, a double (10) and a RBI (18).
- RHP A.J. Morris (6.92) and LHP Zach Rosscup (1.08) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief, preserving the shutout. Opposing hitters are just 1-for-26 (.038) against Rosscup with runners on base.
Kane County Cougars (17-16)
Clinton 3B Patrick Kivlehan ripped a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning, defeating the Cougars, 7-6.
- DH Rock Shoulders (.317) clubbed a grand slam in the sixth inning. He finished 1-for-5 with four RBI (25).
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.229) went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, a home run and one RBI (10).
- C Carlos Escobar (.250) and CF Oliver Zapata (.270) recorded two hits apiece.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (.288) went 1-for-5 with a run and a RBI (21). He’s hit safely in six of his last seven games.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.361) went 0-for-2 with a run scored and a season-high three walks. He’s reached base safely in his last 11 games.
(Photo courtesy Vanderbilt Athletics)
Pitching guru Derek Johnson has spent years working with talented pitchers at various levels of the collegiate game. This offseason, the 41-year-old signed on to be the Cubs’ minor league pitching coordinator, which means he is ultimately in charge of all the arms in the organization from Triple-A on down. For the May issue of Vine Line, we talked to Johnson about coaching the college game, adapting to the professional ranks and cutting through communication issues with international prospects.
It’s no secret there has been some serious turnover in the Cubs organization since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer left the Red Sox and Padres, respectively. A year into the Chicago job, one of their most important—though unheralded—new hires is minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson.
Johnson’s experience working with young pitching talent stretches back almost 20 years to the end of his career on the mound as a college pitcher. Johnson, 41, won All-Mid-Continent Conference honors at Eastern Illinois University before moving into coaching at the school in 1994. He followed that up with three seasons at Southern Illinois and four at Stetson before taking over the pitching program at Vanderbilt in 2002. There, he won pitching coach of the year in 2004 and national assistant coach of the year in 2010.
After a long, introductory spring with the Cubs in Arizona, Johnson took a little time off before diving back in with the minor league affiliates.
“The first week after Spring Training, I got to go home and recover,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot of fun now [that the season has started], because I’m going to see some things I didn’t get to see in Spring Training and interact with players some more—and coaches too. That’s probably more my style, and more what I was hoping to do when I took the job.”
His role with the organization is a marked departure from his coaching career at Vanderbilt, where he oversaw the development of Rays ace David Price, Braves lefty Mike Minor and four other eventual first-round picks. As a coach, it was easy to be hands-on, working directly with every pitcher in his care. As the farm system’s pitching coordinator, numbers and geography dictate he doesn’t get to see every hurler every day. Plus, he’s not just working with the players, but also with the coaches at every level.
“I spend a lot of time with video. I’m not used to it yet,” Johnson said. “I spent a really long time having my hands on everything [as a coach], and now I have to adjust to that—trust the pitching coaches that are at the different affiliates, trust their judgment and get an idea of what they’re seeing to put that together with my thoughts to come up with some sort of a plan. It’s a very different kind of challenge.”
He’s also working with a more diverse collection of talent than in college, including pitchers from Asia and Latin America, and communication can be difficult. But Johnson is excited about the challenge.
“There can be a communication gap, so it can be a challenge to get your point across,” he said. “At the same time, it’s easy, because you get great young men from all different walks of life, backgrounds, speaking different languages, with different maturity levels. … I challenge myself to communicate better, to put things more simply to help communicate to players the direction we want to go.”
With so many pitchers under his care, Johnson has to deal with an inevitable bottom-line question: Who is he most excited about in the system? A week into the minor league season, Johnson refused to pick favorites.
“I saw them all in Spring Training, and I saw them all on video before that,” he said. “I like our nucleus. We have some guys who are a little bit under the radar, where things could really happen for them. At the same time, it’s a little bit hard to tell that without first being at the affiliate, watching them play, watching how they go through the season, how they fight through adversity. So it’s early to say, but I think we’ve got a lot of guys in the system who can turn the corner.”
Zach Putnam pitched his fourth straight scoreless game Thursday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa and Tennessee were both defeated Thursday despite offensive success, while Daytona snapped a four-game losing streak. Kane County’s game was postponed due to rain, but will be made up as part of a doubleheader tonight. The rescheduled game marks the Cougars’ 10th postponement this season. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (12-19)
Iowa fell 5-1 at Colorado Springs in the third game of a four-game set.
- RF Darnell McDonald (1-for-1, HR, R, RBI) hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, his second of the season.
- LF Brett Jackson (.235) went 2-for-4 in his first game since April 30.
- 1B Brad Nelson (.270) went 2-for-4 with a double (6). He’s 5-for-9 with three doubles in his last two games.
- RHP Zach Putnam (2 IP, H, K) extended his scoreless streak to four games (5 IP).
Tennessee Smokies (15-17)
Birmingham scored two runs in the ninth inning, defeating Tennessee, 9-7. The Smokies have lost six consecutive games.
- C Rafael Lopez (.257) extended his hitting streak to seven games with a first-inning, two-run homer. He finished 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
- 1B Tim Torres (.368) recorded his first three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-4 with a double (1) and two runs.
- CF Rubi Silva (.288) went 1-for-5 with two stolen bases (6), a triple (4), a run scored and a RBI (17).
- Tennessee has allowed 51 runs in the past five games, all losses.
Daytona Cubs (17-16)
Daytona snapped a four-game skid with a 4-3 win over first place Dunedin.
- SS Javier Baez (.244) extended his hitting streak to three games (.308/4-for-13), going 2-for-4 with a double (8), a triple (3), a run scored, a RBI (22) and a stolen base (3).
- 1B Dustin Geiger (.296) went 2-for-3, recording his team-leading 29th RBI.
- LF John Andreoli (.333) collected his fourth multi-hit effort in the last six games, going 2-for-4 with a triple (5), a run scored and a RBI (14).
- DH Taiwan Easterling (.243) notched two singles in three at-bats.
- LHP Jeffrey Lorick (IP) picked up the win in his first relief appearance of the season with Daytona.
Rafael Lopez continued a six-game hitting streak Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Tennessee, Daytona and Kane County all fell short Wednesday while offensive outbursts led to Iowa’s victory. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (12-18)
Iowa collected 16 hits, defeating host Colorado Spring, 8-6.
- SS Alberto Gonzalez (.267) reached base five times, going 4-for-5 with a walk, a double (1), a run and a RBI (3).
- 1B Brad Nelson (.260) went 3-for-5 with two doubles (5), two runs scored and a RBI (20).
- C J.C. Boscan (.344) reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
- RF Brian Bogusevic (2-for-5, BB, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI) and LF Darnell McDonald (2-for-4, BB, R, 2 RBI, SB) added two hits apiece.
- RHP Esmailin Caridad (3-1, 6.59) earned the win in relief, walking one and fanning one in two scoreless innings.
- RHP Blake Parker (2.19) converted his fourth save, walking one and fanning one in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Tennessee Smokies (15-16)
Tennessee dropped a 12-11, 14-inning slugfest to visiting Birmingham. The teams combined for 23 runs and 30 hits.
- C Rafael Lopez (.257) extended his hitting streak to six games, going 3-for-5 with two walks, a double (6), two runs scored and a RBI (8).
- CF Matt Szczur (.256) went 2-for-7 with a run scored.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.239) reached base four times, going 2-for-5 with two walks, a double (4), two runs scored and a RBI (15).
- RF Rubi Silva (.292) was 2-for-7 with a homer, a run scored and three RBI (16).
- 1B Tim Torres (.267) was 2-for-7 with a homer, two runs scored and two RBI (2).
- RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (0.00) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings of relief (16 pitches, 10 strikes, 6 batters faced).
Daytona Cubs (16-16)
Daytona lost its fourth game in a row, falling at St. Lucie 6-5 in 10 innings.
- RF Jorge Soler (.289) reached base four times, going 3-for-4 with a walk, two doubles (7), a homer, two runs scored and two RBI (13).
- 3B Tim Saunders (.185) went 2-for-5 with a triple (2) and two runs scored.
- 1B Dustin Geiger (.286) reached base twice, going 1-for-4 with a walk, two RBI (28) and a stolen base (2).
- RHP Eduardo Figueroa (2.16) fanned three in 2.0 scoreless innings of relief.
Kane County Cougars (14-15)
Kane County was blanked 4-0 at Burlington.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.371) recorded his fifth straight, multi-hit game, going 2-for-2 with a walk. He has hit safely in six-straight games overall (.565/13-for-23).
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (.297) extended his hitting streak to three games, going 1-for-4 with a double (4).
- RHP Justin Amlung (3.86) and LHP Matt Iannazzo (3.68) combined for four scoreless innings of relief (1 H, 2 BB).
Dave Sappelt singled in his first game with Iowa Tuesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa, Tennessee and Daytona all struggled to get the bats going Tuesday night, all resulting in losses while Kane County had the night off. Despite the defeats, here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (11-18)
Iowa mustered only four singles in a 5-0 setback at Colorado Springs in the first game of a four-game series.
- RF Dave Sappelt (1-for-3) singled in his first game with Iowa.
- 2B-LF Edwin Maysonet (.254) went 1-for-1, extending his hitting streak to four games (.500/5-for-10).
- C Luis Flores (.200) singled, snapping a five-game hitless skid.
- RHP Zach Putnam tossed 1.1 shutout innings of relief, allowing no hits and striking out one.
Tennessee Smokies (15-15)
Tennessee allowed back-to-back, six-run frames (third and fourth innings), falling 16-0 to Birmingham in a rain-shortened, five-inning game.
- LF Ty Wright (.257) recorded a hit for the fourth time in five games, going 1-for-2 with a single.
- DH Ronald Torreyes (.317) walked twice in two plate appearances. He has reached base in five-consecutive games.
- C Rafael Lopez (.231) extended his hitting streak to five games with a fifth-inning single.
- Tennessee has been shut out in three-consecutive games and five times in the last eight outings.
Daytona Cubs (16-15)
- SS Javier Baez (.238) went 1-for-4 with a solo home run, his sixth of the season.
- LF Taiwan Easterling (.224) recorded his first multi-RBI game since April 12, knocking in two runs as part of a 1-for-3 outing.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.310) extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games (.422/19-for-45) with a fifth-inning single.
- LHP Sheldon McDonald (IP) tossed his third-consecutive scoreless outing (4.0 IP).
LHP Chris Rusin earned a win Monday after five scoreless innings of relief for Iowa. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Iowa collected a win Monday while Kane County had its six-game win streak snapped and Daytona picked up its second-straight loss. Tennessee had the day off and will host Birmingham tonight. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (11-17)
Iowa recorded six extra-base hits in a 6-2 victory against visiting Oklahoma City.
- 3B Josh Vitters (.353 AVG.) clubbed his second home run in three games, going 1-for-2 with the homer and two RBI (4).
- 1B Edwin Maysonet (.242) went 2-for-4 with a double (2), a home run and a team-high three RBI (11).
- RF Brian Bogusevic (.419) reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with two runs scored, two walks, a triple (2) and one RBI (12). He’s hit safely in 14 of his last 15 contests.
- RHP Matt Garza (2.70 ERA) allowed one run on three hits in 3.1 innings in his second rehabilitation start (first with Iowa); 37 of Garza’s 54 pitches were strikes.
- LHP Chris Rusin (2-3, 3.79) scattered three hits in five scoreless innings of relief to pick up his second win of the campaign. The southpaw is holding right-handed hitters to a .230 batting average (26-for-113).
Daytona Cubs (16-14)
Daytona dropped its second-straight contest, falling at St. Lucie, 6-2.
- RF Jorge Soler (.268) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a triple (1), a home run and one RBI (11).
- LF John Andreoli (.343) extended his hitting streak to eight games, going 2-for-4 with a double (3) and a stolen base (10). He’s hitting .394 (13-for-33) during the streak.
- LHP Frank Del Valle (2.08) and RHP Austin Reed (8.31) each tossed two scoreless innings of relief. Left-handed hitters are just 3-for-15 (.200) against Del Valle this season.
Kane County Cougars (14-14)
Kane County had its six-game winning streak snapped in an 11-8 loss to visiting Dayton. The Cougars scored the final seven runs of the game after falling behind, 11-1.
- RF-P Bijan Rademacher (.353) recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-5 with a run scored, a RBI (11) and a stolen base (3). He made his second appearance of the season on the mound, tossing a perfect ninth inning.
- LF-RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.259) went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two walks and two RBI (8).
- 1B Daniel Vogelbach (.299) went 1-for-4 with a walk, a double (3) and two RBI (20). He has drawn a free pass in three straight games.
- RHP Eddie Orozco (4.82) tossed a season-high, two scoreless innings of relief.
The Cubs selected outfielder Ryan Sweeney from Triple-A Iowa Monday. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
They might only be minor league numbers, but Cubs fans should still be impressed with what outfielder Ryan Sweeney accomplished in the Pacific Coast League this season.
The 28-year-old outfielder spent the first month of 2013 ripping the cover off the ball to the tune of .337/.396/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG). In 83 at-bats, the lefty had six home runs, 16 RBI and an OPS of 1.022, good for eighth in the league. Now he’ll get a chance to see if he can keep that up at the major league level, as the Cubs selected him today from Triple-A Iowa.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native is a career .280 hitter (481-for-1,719) with 102 doubles, 12 triples, 14 home runs and 185 RBI in 535 games covering all or part of seven big league seasons with the White Sox (2006-07), Athletics (2008-11) and Red Sox (2012). He has a .338 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage, good for a .715 OPS. Sweeney has spent time at all three outfield positions, and his .994 fielding percentage ranks third-best among all major league outfielders since the start of the 2006 season.
Sweeney’s best season came in 2009, when he hit .293/.348/.407 in 134 games for Oakland. He was originally drafted by the White Sox in the second round of the 2003 draft.
The Cubs also recalled right-handed reliever Rafael Dolis to help the struggling bullpen. This will be Dolis’ second call-up to the major league level this season. He also threw 1/3 of an inning on April 14. The 25-year-old was on the major league roster for most of 2012, recording a 6.39 ERA over 38 innings and fanning 24. He had a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings in Iowa this season.
To make room for the pair, reliever Kameron Loe was designated for assignment, while outfielder Dave Sappelt was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Josh Vitters recorded two multi-hit games Sunday with the I-Cubs. (Photo by Stephen Green)
While Daytona and Tennessee both tallied a loss Sunday, Iowa split its doubleheader while Kane County captured a six-game win streak. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (10-17)
Game 1: Iowa used a three-run fourth inning to beat visiting Oklahoma City, 5-2.
- DH Josh Vitters (.250 AVG) clubbed his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, the home run and two RBI (2).
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.414) recorded his 12th multi-hit game of the campaign, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a run scored, two doubles (9) and one stolen base (6).
- RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (0.00 ERA) tossed 1.0 scoreless inning of relief in his first game with Iowa as part of a rehabilitation assignment. He struck out two and walked one while throwing 21 pitches (11 strikes).
- RHP Esmailin Caridad (2-1, 7.71) picked up his second win of the season, tossing 1.0 scoreless inning of relief while fanning one.
Game 2: Iowa couldn’t complete the doubleheader sweep, dropping a 4-3, 10-inning decision to Oklahoma City.
- 3B Josh Vitters (.385) registered his second multi-hit game of the day, going 3-for-5.
- CF Brian Bogusevic (.418) reached base three times, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a RBI (11). He’s hit safely in 13 of his last 14 contests.
- RHP Yoanner Negrin (2.70) struck out three batters in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Tennessee Smokies (15-14)
Tennessee suffered its second-straight shutout and the fourth in its last seven games, falling 6-0 at Mississippi.
- LF Matt Szczur (.259) reached base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base (9).
- LHP Zach Rosscup (1.46) worked a spotless seventh inning while fanning one. He owns a 1.23 ERA (ER/7.1 IP) in his last six appearances.
- RHP Marcus Hatley (2.31) struck out two in 1.0 scoreless inning of relief. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .150 batting average (3-for-20).
Daytona Cubs (16-13)
St. Lucie pinch-hitter Matt Reynolds delivered a walk-off infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Daytona, 1-0.
- 3B Ben Carhart (.314) extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 1-for-3 with a stolen base (2). He’s hitting .459 (17-for-37) with eight RBI during the streak.
- LF John Andreoli (.337) went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to seven games. He owns a .369 batting average (31-for-84) against right-handed pitchers this season.
- RHP Yeiper Castillo extended his scoreless-innings streak to 15. The righty has fanned 21 hitters during the streak.
Kane County Cougars (14-13)
Kane County extended its winning streak to six games with a 2-0 shutout of visiting Dayton.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.263) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double (7).
- CF Oliver Zapata (.280) extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 2-for-3 with a RBI (14). He’s hitting .391 (9-for-23) during the streak.
- DH Dan Vogelbach (.301) recorded his second-straight, multi-walk game, going 1-for-2 with a double (2), a RBI (18) and two walks.
- LHP Nathan Dorris (2.19) tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief, converting his second save of the campaign.