The top four levels all won their respective games, including Tennessee’s win in walk-off fashion Thursday. Boise wasn’t able to secure a victory, losing in 11 innings. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (36-35)
3rd Place (-3.5)
3B Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in his Triple-A debut as Iowa beat visiting El Paso, 6-2.
- LHP Tsuyoshi Wada picked up the win, giving up two earned runs over 6.2 innings, striking out seven.
- Bryant (.250) launched a two-run shot in the final at-bat of his debut, finishing 1-for-4.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara (.280, 31 RBI), 2B Chris Valaika (.295, 34 RBI), and 1B Josh Vitters (.232, 24 RBI) tallied two singles and one RBI each.
- In relief of Wada’s ninth quality start, RHP Yoanner Negrin (4.74) earned his first save with four strikeouts over 2.1 scoreless frames.
Tennessee Smokies (1-0)
T-1st Place (–)
After Chattanooga knotted the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth, the Smokies came away with a 4-3 win in their first game of the second half thanks to a walk-off single from 3B Christian Villanueva.
- RHP Dae-Eun Rhee gave up one earned run over six innings, striking out one and walking one.
- RF Rubi Silva (.251) went 3-for-4 with a sixth-inning homer and one stolen base (6).
- Villanueva (.400) finished 2-for-5 with the walk-off RBI base hit in his first game since being transferred from Iowa.
- 2B Stephen Bruno (.297) and C Charlie Cutler (.333) each added two singles.
- LHP Jeff Lorick (5.40, 7 H) and RHPs Zach Cates (0.00, 2 H) and Tony Zych (4.31, 3 H) each earned a hold in a combined two frames of one-run ball before LHP Hunter Cervenka (2.96) blew his second-consecutive save opportunity. In relief of Cervenka, RHP Frank Batista (2.08, 1-0) struck out the final two Lookouts, earning himself his first win.
Daytona Cubs (1-0)
T-1st Place (–)
Daytona began the second half with a 7-4 victory at Brevard County.
- DH Dan Vogelbach (.266) went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double (15), a homer (6) and two RBI (28).
- CF Albert Almora (.244) went 2-for-5 with a run and a double (14).
- C Willson Contreras (.279) and 3B Wes Darvill (.222) each added a double.
- RHP Starling Peralta (4-1, 3.49) earned the win in relief with 4.2 perfect innings. LHP Andrew McKirahan (0.92) spun a scoreless ninth to record his sixth save.
Kane County Cougars (1-0)
T-1st Place (–)
Kane County tallied seven runs on eight-straight hits, including an inside-the-park home run from CF Jacob Hannemann, in the third inning of a rain-shortened 7-0 victory over visiting Cedar Rapids.
- RHP Daury Torrez pitched five scoreless innings, picking up the win.
- CF Jacob Hannemann (.242) went 2-for-3 with a run, the homer and two RBI (27).
- 1B Jacob Rogers (.248) notched his 18th double and his 29th RBI.
- 2B Danny Lockhart went 1-for-2 with two RBI (18).
- In his first game with Kane County, LF Kyle Schwarber went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Boise Hawks (4-3)
2nd Place (-1.0)
- C Justin Marra (.364) ripped his third homer, a two-run shot in the third, and his fourth double, finishing 2-for-6 with three runs and three RBI (10).
- LF Kevin Brown (.320) went 3-for-5 with three runs, a walk, and two doubles (3).
- 3B David Bote (.350) finished 1-for-4 with two walks, a double (3), an RBI (3), and two of Boise’s four stolen bases (4).
- RHP Josh Davis (3.00) blew his second save in as many games, allowing three unearned runs over one inning.
- LHP Alberto Diaz (0-1, 3.86) suffered his first loss, allowing a bases-loaded single to Eugene 2B Jalen Goree in the bottom of the 11th.
The Cubs have come to terms with second-round selection Jake Stinnett, fourth-round selection Carson Sands, fifth-round selection Justin Steele and seventh-round selection James Norwood from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Stinnett, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Maryland, posted an 8-6 record with a 2.67 ERA in 17 games this season. The 22-year-old led the ACC with 132 strikeouts, four complete games and 118.0 innings pitched. He pitched the seventh no-hitter in U of M history on March 1 in a game against UMass.
Sands, 19, was 11-1 with a 0.58 ERA and one complete game in 14 outings, including 12 starts for North Florida Christian High School this past season. In 60.2 innings, he fanned 100 batters, or 14.8 K/9, and walked just 24. The left-hander pitched for Team USA on three occasions, winning a gold medal with the 18U club in 2012.
The 18-year-old Steele went 5-1 with a 0.98 ERA in eight games for George County High School (Miss.) this past season. He struck out 92 in 43.0 innings, good for an average of 19.3 K/9. He also walked just 12 and threw two no-hitters. His efforts earned him the 5A Player of the Year award in Mississippi.
Norwood, 20, went 8-2 with a 2.68 ERA (28 ER/94.0 IP) in 15 starts this season to cap off a three-year college career at Saint Louis University.
Strong pitching carried Iowa, and Daytona wrapped up the first half with a victory Wednesday. Meanwhile, Boise couldn’t get the bats going, and Tennessee and Kane County both enjoyed time off for the All-Star break. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (35-35)
3rd Place (-4.5)
Iowa snapped its two-game skid with a 3-1 victory over visiting El Paso.
- RHP Dallas Beeler picked up the win with six scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and fanning six.
- 1B Josh Vitters (.226) went 3-for-4 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
- C Rafael Lopez (.278) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and his 10th RBI of the season.
- RHP Marcus Hatley (2.57) and LHP Zac Rosscup (3.21) each recorded holds.
- RHP Blake Parker (1.45) converted his 14th save of the year with a scoreless ninth inning of work.
Daytona Cubs (26-42)
5th Place (-19.5)
Daytona finished its first half of the season with an 11-2 victory over visiting Tampa.
- RHP Tayler Scott gave up two earned runs over six innings and struck out two to pick up the win.
- 1B Rock Shoulders (.201) went 1-for-5 with a first-inning grand slam.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.282) went 3-for-4 with his second homer of the season and three RBI (22).
- RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.268) went 3-for-5 with a run, a triple (6) and one RBI (17).
- DH Dan Vogelbach (.259) and LF Bijan Rademacher (.292) each had two hits apiece.
Boise Hawks (4-2)
T-1st Place (–)
- DH David Bote (.375) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, solo home run.
- 3B Jesse Hodges (.150) went 1-for-3 with his second RBI of the season.
- RHP Trey Masek (0.00) struck out four hitters in two scoreless innings of relief.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
There wasn’t much more third baseman Kris Bryant could do to prove he was the king of the Southern League for the first half of the 2014 season. The Cubs honored his efforts with a promotion to Triple-A Iowa Wednesday.
At the halfway point of the Double-A season, Bryant led the league in most offensive categories, including batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.458), slugging percentage (.702), home runs (22), RBI (58), runs (61), hits (88), total bases (174), bases on balls (43) and OPS (1.160). To cap it all off, he won the league’s Home Run Derby on Monday.
At the moment, it’s unclear where the 2013 first-round pick will be playing—at his natural third base or a corner outfield spot, a position many expect him to play at the major league level.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see the power production between him and Cubs top prospect Javier Baez in the middle of the I-Cubs lineup.
Bryant made his pro debut in July 2013. He played a few games in rookie ball before quickly getting bumped up to Short-Season Boise. After 18 games there, he went to High-A Daytona, where he helped the D-Cubs capture the 2013 Florida State League title. The Cubs No. 2-ranked prospect started the offseason in the Arizona Fall League, where he claimed league MVP honors.
A lot can happen in five games. Just ask Kyle Schwarber.
Last Friday, the Cubs’ 2014 No. 1 pick was making his pro debut with the Short-Season A Boise Hawks shortly after signing his first contract. Not even a week later, the catcher/outfielder already appears to have outgrown the talent pool, as he has been promoted to Single-A Kane County.
In five games with the Hawks, Schwarber amassed a remarkable .600/.625/1.350 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line with four home runs, a double, a triple, 10 RBI and seven runs scored in just 24 plate appearances.
The Cougars open their second half on Thursday.
Schwarber, 21, was the fourth-overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University. He batted .431 and recorded 40 homers, 149 RBI and 41 doubles in three seasons with the Hoosiers (180 games).
The Cubs minor league affiliates went 1-2 Tuesday, with only the Short-Season A Boise Hawks picking up a win, but the real news was two well-deserved call-ups. Last year’s first-round pick Kris Bryant is moving up to Triple-A Iowa after tearing up the Southern League, and 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber is heading to Single-A Kane County after just five games. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (34-35)
3rd Place (-5.5)
After jumping ahead 2-0, Iowa surrendered eight runs to lose at home to El Paso, 8-5.
- SS Javier Baez (.219) hit his 11th homer, a three-run shot with two out in the eighth inning.
- 1B Chris Valaika (.294) recorded his third multihit effort in his last four games, going 2-for-4 with a run, a homer and one RBI (33).
- RF Matt Szczur (.243) added two more hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double (8).
- Jokisch’s 10 strikeouts were his most since he fanned 11 on May 7, 2012, with Daytona.
Tennessee Smokies (33-36)
2nd Place (-12.5)
Recently called up Tennessee Smokies 3B Kris Bryant, LHP Hunter Cervenka, and RHPs P.J. Francescon and Armando Rivero all made appearances for the North squad in the Southern League All-Star Game. Bryant went 1-for-5 at the plate, and the three Smokies pitchers combined to allow one earned run over 2.2 frames. Tennessee OF John Andreoli, 2B Stephen Bruno and RHP Corey Black, as well as Iowa C Rafael Lopez, had been named to the North Division team, but did not compete. Tennessee will resume regular season play tomorrow, hosting Chattanooga.
Daytona Cubs (25-42)
5th Place (-20.5)
Visiting Tampa scored the game’s only run in the top of the first to beat Daytona, 1-0.
- Daytona managed just four hits in the contest and went 0-for-10 with RISP.
- RF Bijan Rademacher (.289) was the only Cub to reach base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk. Both times, he was retired on the basepaths, getting picked off at first and then thrown out stealing.
- LHP Rob Zastryzny threw his second quality start of the season. His first came in his last start on June 9 at Clearwater. He has lost both efforts, despite allowing just three earned runs over 13.2 innings.
Kane County Cougars (45-25)
1st Place (+6.5)
In the Midwest League All-Star game, the Western Division routed the Eastern squad, holding them to two hits and winning 7-0. 3B Jordan Hankins and RHP Paul Blackburn represented the Cougars. Hankins went 0-for-2 filling in at third, while Blackburn did not make it into the game. Kane County will return to action on Thursday at home against Cedar Rapids.
Boise Hawks (4-1)
T-1st Place (–)
Boise hit five home runs en route to a 12-3 victory over visiting Tri-City.
- 2014 first-round pick LF Kyle Schwarber (.600) extended his hitting streak to five games with his third three-hit game of the season, including his first double and two home runs (4). He is tied for the league lead with a .600 batting average and 12 hits. He was promoted to Kane County after the game.
- C Justin Marra (.417) went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI (7).
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.300) led off the game with a homer, finishing 2-for-6 with two runs and two RBI (5).
- 1B Daniel Canela (.467) went 2-for-4 with three runs and a sixth-inning, solo home run.
It was a tough showing for the Cubs’ minor league affiliates Monday, as Iowa, Daytona and Boise all came out on the wrong side of the ledger. But slugging Tennessee third baseman Kris Bryant did manage to hit 16 home runs to claim the Southern League Home Run Derby crown, and 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber continues to mash. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s action:
Iowa Cubs (34-34)
3rd Place (-4.5)
Iowa managed just five hits in a 5-1 loss at Sacramento.
- DH Ryan Kalish (.207) went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning, solo home run.
- 1B Chris Valaika (.290) went 2-for-4 with two doubles (13).
- RHP Frank Batista (3.86) allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings of relief.
Daytona Cubs (25-41)
5th Place (-20.5)
Daytona lost its seventh-straight game, falling to visiting Tampa, 7-2.
- C Willson Contreras (.287) went 1-for-3 with a sixth-inning, solo home run.
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.275) went 1-for-3 with a walk and his seventh double of the campaign.
- RHP Zack Godley (5.40) struck out the side in a scoreless ninth inning of work.
Boise Hawks (3-1)
T-1st Place (–)
Boise was dealt its first loss of the 2014 campaign, falling to visiting Tri-City, 4-3, in 10 innings.
- RHP Josh Conway started and gave up four hits over three scoreless innings, striking out three and walking none.
- LF Kyle Schwarber (.563) went 2-for-5 with a triple (1). He’s hit safely in all four games this season.
- 1B Daniel Canela (.455) and CF Rashad Crawford (.333) each recorded two hits apiece.
- RF Oliver Zapata (.250) went 1-for-4 with a walk, a double (2) and one RBI (2).
Iowa snapped a lengthy losing streak, Tennessee battled back to capture a walk-off win, and Boise continued its unbeaten run Sunday. Meanwhile, Kane County lost its third straight. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (34-33)
3rd Place (-4.0)
Iowa snapped its five-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory at Sacramento.
- RHP Kyle Hendricks picked up the win, pitching seven innings, fanning six and giving up two earned runs.
- SS Javier Baez (.223) went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth.
- 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.276) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and his 16th double of the season.
- RHP Marcus Hatley (2.67) struck out two in the ninth inning to earn his first save of the campaign.
Tennessee Smokies (33-36)
2nd Place (-12.5)
The Smokies scored four runs in the ninth inning and tallied one more in the bottom of the 11th for a 7-6, walk-off win over Mississippi.
- SS Elliot Soto (.164) went 1-for-3 with a walk-off RBI-single in the 11th inning.
- LF Anthony Giansanti (.261) and 2B Stephen Bruno (.291) each recorded three hits apiece.
- RF Rubi Silva (.243) went 3-for-6 with a run, a team-high two RBI (30) and one stolen base (5).
- RHP Armando Rivero (2-1, 1.56) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn his second win.
Kane County Cougars (45-25)
1st Place (+6.5)
Kane County dropped its third-straight game, falling at Beloit 5-4 in 12 innings.
- 3B Jordan Hankins (.322) and 1B Jacob Rogers (.245) each blasted solo home runs.
- RF Yasiel Balaguert (.235) went 3-for-5 with a fourth-inning, two-run homer.
- LHP Michael Heesch (3.86) allowed just one walk in two scoreless innings of relief.
Boise Hawks (3-0)
1st Place (+1.0)
Boise remained undefeated on the season with an 11-9 victory over visiting Tri-City.
- DH Kyle Schwarber (.636) went 1-for-2 with a third-inning, solo home run.
- C Justin Marra (.500) went 2-for-4 with a sixth-inning, three-run blast.
- CF Rashad Crawford (.286) went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI (1) and one stolen base (1).
- RHP Yomar Morel (1-0, 10.12) allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in 2.2 innings of relief to earn his first win of the year.
Kris Bryant is ripping the cover off the ball in Double-A. (Photo by Stephen Green)
We’re more than two months into the minor league season, so it seemed like a good time to check in on some of the organization’s top prospects. While a few have struggled this year, others are exceeding expectations and could be in line for a promotion in the near future. Here is an update on how MLB.com’s top 10 Cubs minor leaguers have fared thus far in 2014.
1. Javier Baez, SS
Baez entered 2014 as possibly the most talked about prospect in baseball. And a stellar Spring Training left people wondering when the club’s top prospect would make his way to Wrigley Field. But his free-swinging approach looks to have caught up with the 2011 first-round pick at the moment, as nearly 35 percent of his plate appearances have resulted in strikeouts.
There’s no denying his power though, as he still has nine homers and 10 doubles. His .225/.285/.430 (AVG/OBP/SLG) will need to improve, but as he gets better adjusted to Triple-A pitching—the closest replica to what major league arms have to offer—the closer he gets to being a regular on the North Side. Mind you, Baez started last season slowly too, and he has shown signs of breaking out lately. Plus, he doesn’t even turn 22 years old until the offseason.
2. Kris Bryant, 3B
Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot more Bryant can prove in the Southern League at this point. The 2013 first-round pick has destroyed everything Double-A pitchers have to offer, and the stats show he is the best hitter in the league—and maybe in all the minors. He currently is the SL leader in all three slash line categories (.359/.461/.717), home runs (22), RBI (56), hits (85), total bases (170), walks (40) and OPS (1.178).
It’s unclear what the Cubs have in store for Bryant as we reach the halfway point of the season. He could see a position change to the corner outfield, where many believe he’ll see the most time once he reaches the majors. But a promotion of some kind is likely in the works in the near future.
3. Albert Almora, CF
Almora’s season has been up and down, as he’d surely like to improve his .250/.273/.332 line. The defensive standout has been as advertised this year, committing just one error in 152 chances. Though he doesn’t have the power of the first two guys on the list, the 2012 first-round pick benefits from not striking out nearly as much (12.4 K%).
Almora’s batting average on balls in play is down 85 points from last season, and it’s well below his career average. This suggests he might be having some poor luck as well. He has still managed to drive in 29 runs this year, already more than his injury-plagued 2013, which means that his hits have been somewhat timely.
4. C.J. Edwards, RHP
The mid-June report on Edwards could only be summed up as incomplete, as the thin right-hander hasn’t pitched since April 20, following inflammation in his right shoulder. In four starts and 20.2 innings pitched, Edwards has a 2.61 ERA and an 8.7 K/9 total.
Edwards shot up most prospect charts late last season. He dominated at Daytona after coming over in a trade for Matt Garza from Texas.
5. Jorge Soler, OF
Soler has been unable to remain healthy in 2014. He began the season dealing with a stress fracture in his leg and is currently rehabbing his right hamstring. In seven games this year, the Cuban-born outfielder has hit .333 in 27 plate appearances.
Soler’s got the build of a future middle-of-the-order bat, and the Cubs hope he can get back onto the field quickly and remain there. For Soler, it’s all about reps.
6. Arismendy Alcantara, IF
Alcantara is making a nice case for a call-up to the major league level. The middle infielder recently made his first start in the outfield—a likely destination in the bigs—and is hitting .273/.309/.515 with eight homers, 30 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
His ability to play multiple positions definitely bodes well for the future, but he needs to cut down on his 25 percent strikeout rate. He definitely has top-the-order potential.
7. Pierce Johnson, RHP
The 2012 supplemental first-round draft pick enjoyed a ton of success in 2013 as one of the key members of the High-A Daytona Cubs FSL championship team. The 2014 season has been a bit of a struggle for Johnson, as calf injuries have kept him off the field since mid-May. He currently has a 4.39 ERA and a 1-1 record in six appearances (five starts).
Johnson’s 7.43 K/9 rate is still solid for a starter.
8. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Vizcaino was the prize of the Paul Maholm haul in a 2012 deal with the Braves. When he joined the Cubs, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but he had a setback that caused him to miss all of 2013. The right-hander returned this season and after a solid start in High-A Daytona, was promoted to Tennessee. He’s pitched only 11.2 innings in the Southern League, but has been impressive for his new club, posting a 3.09 ERA and a 10.0 K/9 rate. He’s also cut his walk rate in half from his time in Daytona.
Vizcaino still needs to play more regularly, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him coming out of the Cubs bullpen sometime later this season.
9. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Candelario is still a raw prospect with the Cubs, as his .194 average in High-A indicates. But he’s on the younger end of prospects in the FSL, and his ability to draw walks (9.9 BB/9) is just what the organization is looking for. He’s getting a lot of experience in a league notorious for its pitching, which will be nothing but good for the young Candelario.
10. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Vogelbach has had a decent season at Daytona this year, despite a slight drop in his power numbers through the first half. For a middle-order bat, he’s managed to cut down on an already-impressive strikeout rate, while maintaining his walk rate. His five homers are down from last year, but he has 25 RBI and his .267/.352/.406 line is right on par with his career numbers. The 2011 pick managed to drop some weight heading into the season, which will bode well for his long-term prospects.
Every Cubs full-season minor league affiliate was in action Thursday, but only Kane County came away victorious. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (33-31)
3rd Place (-1.5)
Iowa dropped its third-straight game, falling at Fresno, 5-2.
- 1B Chris Valaika (.288) went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning solo home run.
- C Rafael Lopez (.318) and LF Josh Vitters (.222) both recorded two hits apiece.
- RHPs Marcus Hatley (2.77) and Frank Batista (5.40) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
Tennessee Smokies (31-35)
2nd Place (-12.0)
Visiting Mississippi scored two runs in the seventh inning to beat Tennessee, 4-2.
- RHP Dae-Eun Rhee gave up two earned runs over six innings, striking out two.
- 3B Kris Bryant (.359) extended his hitting streak to seven games (.444/12-for-27), going 1-for-3 with two runs scored, one walk and his 19th double of the campaign.
- 1B Charlie Cutler (.328) and CF Rubi Silva (.239) both recorded two hits apiece.
- LHP Hunter Cervenka (2.08) struck out all four batters he faced in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Daytona Cubs (25-40)
5th Place (-20.5)
GM 1: Daytona managed just two hits in a 5-1 loss at Dunedin.
- 2B Wes Darvill (.188) went 1-for-1 with his first homer of the year, a sixth-inning solo shot.
- RHP Michael Jensen (2.83) tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.
GM 2: Daytona was swept in its doubleheader at Dunedin, falling 5-2 in the nightcap.
- LF Zeke DeVoss (.179) went 1-for-2 with a run, a walk, a double (3), an RBI (8) and two stolen bases (5).
- 2B Gioskar Amaya (.274) went 1-for-3 with a run scored and his first triple of the season.
- RHP Jose Rosario (4.87) struck out all five hitters he faced in his 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.
Kane County Cougars (45-22)
1st Place (+8.5)
Kane County limited host Peoria to just four hits in a 4-1 victory.
- 2B Dan Lockhart (.276) and LF Shawon Dunston (.248) each recorded two hits and one RBI.
- RHP Juan Paniagua tossed his fourth-straight quality start, going six innings, giving up no earned runs and striking out six. He has not allowed a run over his last two starts (12.0 IP).
- RHP James Pugliese (1.19) struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his second save of the year.
The Short-Season Boise Hawks’ season begins Friday night against Tri-City.