Archive for the ‘ Vine Line ’ Category

Cubs trade 2B Darwin Barney to Dodgers

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs

The Cubs traded Darwin Barney to the Dodgers Monday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs sent second baseman Darwin Barney and cash consideration to the Dodgers for a player to be named later on Monday.

The 28-year-old Barney was designated for assignment on July 22 after hitting .230 with two homers and 10 doubles in 72 games this season. Since his Cubs debut in 2010, he has hit .244 with 18 homers in 542 games.

Barney earned a Gold Glove in 2012 after tying a major league single-season record with 141 consecutive errorless games at second.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/27/14

In a very full slate of games Sunday, Daytona completed a doubleheader sweep, and Mesa cruised to a win. But Iowa, Tennessee, Kane County and Boise all fell short. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (57-53)
1st Place (+0.5)

GAME 1: Iowa dropped its fourth-straight game in the first half of its second consecutive doubleheader with Memphis, falling at home by a final score of 4-2.

  • RF Jorge Soler (.333) hit his first Triple-A homer, a two run shot in the sixth inning.
  • C Eli Whiteside (.182) recorded the lone multihit game for the I-Cubs, knocking two singles.
  • Iowa failed to record a hit with runners in scoring position, finishing 0-for-4.

GAME 2: Memphis completed its second doubleheader sweep of Iowa in as many days and a five-game series sweep. The Redbirds shut the I-Cubs out 2-0.

  • 1B Mike Olt (.286) recorded two of Iowa’s seven hits, including his third double of the year.
  • Josh Vitters (.205) was used as a pinch hitter for the third time in the last six games, singling in place of RHP Marcus Hatley. He is 2-for-7 (.286) with a homer and two RBI as a pinch hitter this season.
  • CF Matt Szczur (.254) recorded a single and a stolen base (20) in each of yesterday’s games.
  • Hatley (3.26), RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (2.25) and RHP Armando Rivero (1.08) combined for three scoreless innings of relief and three strikeouts.

Tennessee Smokies (19-18)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee entered the bottom of the eighth with a 5-1 lead, but allowed four runs to come across in the eighth and one in the ninth to lose to Birmingham, 6-5, on a walk-off fielding error by 2B Jonathan Mota (4).

  • RHP Corey Black gave up one earned run over six innings.
  • RF Jae-Hoon Ha (.221) finished 2-for-5 from the leadoff spot with a solo shot to drive in his 38th run.
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.429, 2 2B) and 3B Christian Villanueva (.283, 10 2B) each singled and doubled. Villanueva knocked in two runs (18).
  • Mota (.255) hit his first triple of the season as part of a two-hit day. It was his 11th game with multiple hits.
  • LHP Hunter Cervenka (3.57) earned his 10th hold despite allowing two runs over one frame.
  • RHP Lendy Castillo (3.67) blew his second save, allowing two runs in the eighth to tie the game.
  • LHP Andrew McKirahan (0-2, 2.77) allowed the game-winning unearned run for his second loss of the year.

Daytona Cubs (23-12)
1st Place (+3.0)

GAME 1: Daytona surrendered a three-run lead but prevailed 4-3 over visiting St. Lucie in the first half of the club’s second-straight doubleheader.

  • Daytona managed four RBI on just three total bases. 1B Dan Vogelbach (.279, 56 RBI) had an RBI single in the first inning. Later in the frame, 2B Wes Darvill (.276, 12 RBI) knocked a two-run single.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.282, 7 RBI) helped the team regain the lead with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth.
  • RHP Michael Jensen (6-4, 2.51) earned the win in relief, retiring three Mets without allowing a run.
  • RHP Zack Godley (4.03) earned his third save, allowing one hit over 1.2 innings of work.

GAME 2: Daytona completed its second-consecutive doubleheader sweep over visiting St. Lucie with a comeback 6-5 win.

  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.279) extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-run shot in the fifth inning, giving Daytona the 6-5 lead.
  • SS Marco Hernandez (.294) tallied two singles in his 28th multihit game of the year.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.279, 17 RBI) picked up his third and fourth RBI of the day with a double. He also stole a base (4).
  • RHP Starling Peralta (6-3, 3.59) earned the win in relief, providing 2.1 scoreless innings of work.

Kane County Cougars (22-13)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County’s ninth-inning rally fell short, as the Cougars lost at home to West Michigan, 2-1.

  • All of Kane County’s offense came from the first three hitters. LF Shawon Dunston (.284) went 2-for-4 with two singles while SS Carlos Penalver (.217) and 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) each tallied their 13th doubles of the season.
  • RHP Tyler Skulina suffered the loss in his sixth quality start of the season, going seven innings and giving up one earned run while fanning seven.

Boise Hawks (2-4)
4th Place (-3.0)

After jumping ahead 3-2 in the top of the 10th inning, the Hawks lost to the Hillsboro Hops, 4-3, on a walk-off homer from Hops 2B Pedro Ruiz.

  • CF Charcer Burks (.529) finished 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI (3). He has hit in each of his five games with Boise (9-for-17), including multiple hits in each of his last three games (.636/7-for-11).
  • RF Mark Zagunis (.333) singled twice for the Hawks and walked. He has multiple hits in nine of his 27 games with Boise.
  • RHP Trey Lang (1.74) threw three scoreless frames of relief before RHP Francisco Carrillo (1-2, 2.74) surrendered the two-run shot, suffering his first blown save and second loss.

Mesa Cubs (1-0)
T-2nd Place (-0.5)

Mesa routed the host AZL D-backs, 12-2, on 20 hits.

  • Every Mesa hitter recorded a hit, while seven of the nine recorded multiple knocks.
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.261) was a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs, two doubles (3), two RBI (13) and a stolen base (3).
  • 2B Andrew Ely (.333) homered and finished 3-for-5, with two runs and an RBI (4).
  • 1B Roney Alcala (.255) also went 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI (3).
  • LHP Andin Diaz (2-1, 1.38) tossed 1.1 scoreless frames in relief and struck out two to earn his second win of the season.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/24/14

Iowa earned a big win, pitching powered Tennessee, Kane County took the series, and Boise cruised to victory Thursday. Only Mesa lost, while Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (57-48)
1st Place (+2.5)

Iowa routed New Orleans at home by a final score of 11-2 despite being outhit 14-12 by the Zephyrs.

  • LHP Eric Jokisch gave up two earned runs over 5.1 innings, fanning five in the win.
  • 2B Javier Baez (.255) finished 2-for-5 with a run, a solo homer and three RBI (66).
  • PH Josh Vitters (.205) tallied his eighth homer of the season in his only at-bat.
  • 1B Mike Olt (.400) also notched two hits, including a double (1), and knocked in three (3) in his first game since being sent to Iowa from the Chicago Cubs.

Tennessee Smokies (18-16)
1st Place (+0.5)

RHP Pierce Johnson spun six shutout frames for the Smokies en route to a 4-2 home win over the Braves to take over first place in the division.

  • In his first game with the Smokies, 1B Lars Anderson (.500) went 2-for-4 with a run, a double (1) and an RBI (1).
  • SS Addison Russell (.236) contributed the other Tennessee multihit game—his fifth such contest in 15 games since joining the Cubs organization.
  • Johnson’s effort was his second consecutive outing without allowing an earned run (11.0 IP). He managed a season-high-tying eight punch-outs over six innings, giving up no earned runs.
  • RHP Jeff Lorick (4.53) recorded the first two outs of the eighth for his ninth hold.
  • RHP Frank Batista (0.83) completed the game, earning his sixth save.

Kane County Cougars (21-11)
1st Place (+3.0)

Kane County clinched the home series win over South Bend by taking the middle game, 5-3.

  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.270) paced the offense with three hits, including a solo homer, and two RBI (44).
  • LF Shawon Dunston (.265), 2B Ben Carhart (.282) and CF Trey Martin (.245) tallied two singles apiece. Dunston knocked in one (26) and stole a base (13), while Carhart plated two (37).
  • LHP Michael Heesh (2.42) threw two scoreless innings for his second hold.
  • RHP James Pugliese (1.54) earned his third save with 1.1 scoreless innings.

Boise Hawks (1-1)
4th Place (-1.5)

The Hawks earned their first win of the second half, topping host Everett by a final score of 7-3.

  • 1B Danny Canela (.293) put Boise ahead with a two-run shot in the first (4 HR, 25 RBI).
  • C Justin Marra (.305) provided insurance with a two-run homer of his own in the eighth (6 HR, 26 RBI).
  • 2B David Bote (.375) recorded the lone multihit game for the Hawks, going 2-for-4 with a run.
  • LHP Sam Wilson (3-0, 3.52) offered two scoreless innings of relief for his third win of the year.

Mesa Cubs (13-12)
3rd Place (-3.0)

Mesa surrendered a 5-1 lead on the road, losing 7-6 on a walk-off single from the AZL Athletics’ Robert Martinez.

  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.313) finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk, a triple (1) and an RBI (3).
  • RF Shamil Ubiera (.250) knocked in two (11), finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.
  • Five Mesa errors contributed to three unearned runs.
  • RHP Jesus Castillo (3.52) earned his first hold despite allowing four runs (two earned) in 1.1 innings pitched.
  • LHP Andin Diaz (1-1, 1.54) suffered his first loss and first blown save, allowing two runs (one earned) in 0.2 frames.

Home Series No. 15 Preview: Cubs vs. Cardinals

MattAdams

Matt Adams has been the lone consistent bat for St. Louis this season. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

St. Louis got off to a slow start this season, but as every Cubs fan knows, you can’t count out the Cards just because of a few rough weeks. The Cubs’ closest NL Central foe put a .500 April behind them thanks to some dominant starting pitching and a resurgent offense that is climbing the ranks after an uncharacteristically sluggish start. First baseman Matt Adams has poured it on, and Jhonny Peralta has added some much-needed pop to a relatively low-power offense. The team suffered a major blow when cornerstone catcher Yadier Molina was put on the DL, potentially for the remainder of the season, after thumb surgery. Third-year manager Mike Matheny often gets criticized for his odd decisions, particularly his bullpen usage. But despite his alleged missteps, the Cardinals never seem to miss a beat, proving once again to be one of the stronger clubs in the game.

PITCHING
(3.6 RA/G, 4TH IN NL)

Outside of a pair of rough starts against the Cubs, Adam Wainwright has been downright unhittable this season. The Cardinals ace and projected Sunday starter has been as impressive as any arm in baseball and anchors a very strong rotation. Friday’s starter Joe Kelly has been tough in limited action, but he’s dealt with hamstring issues. Lance Lynn has been solid as well. Though inconsistent, Shelby Miller, who will start Saturday, has displayed flashes of the talent that made him one of the game’s top prospects. Michael Wacha was continuing to build upon his late-season breakout in 2013, but a stress reaction in his shoulder will keep him sidelined until at least September. The Cardinals do run into some issues in the bullpen, especially in the base on balls department. Trevor Rosenthal is racking up saves, but his walk rate is approaching uncomfortable levels for a closer. However, right-hander Pat Neshek has been one of the better stories of 2014, posting a 0.68 ERA over 40 innings and a 9.0 K/9 ratio in his first All-Star season. If Jason Motte can return to his 2012 form and fellow fireballer Carlos Martinez can lower his walk total, St. Louis has the arms to end games quickly.

HITTING
(3.7 RS/G, 14TH IN NL)

With Molina potentially out for the year, the offense lacks the consistent bat that has driven the Cards for years. Adams is doing what he can offensively, and the always-producing and under-the-radar Matt Holliday has also bounced back from a slow start and is providing some power. But his season totals are hardly what’s to be expected from the six-time All Star. Peralta leads the team with 14 home runs, but is hitting just .256 (only he and Adams have double-digit home run totals). Prospect Oscar Taveras and offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos haven’t lived up to their hype this season, while second baseman Kolten Wong has also struggled to find his footing in the major leagues. It wouldn’t be a shock to see St. Louis add a much-needed bat before the trade deadline to continue their playoff push.

Minor League Recap: 7/23/14

The Cubs farm teams went a perfect 5-0 Wednesday, with Boise unable to play due to rain. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (56-48)
1st Place (+2.5)

The I-Cubs broadened their first-place lead with a 13-4 home victory over New Orleans.

  • Three different I-Cubs hitters notched three RBI in 3B Kris Bryant (.313, 29 RBI), 1B Lars Anderson (.287, 19 RBI), and RF Ryan Kalish (.215, 22 RBI)
  • 2B Javier Baez (.253, 63 RBI) added two of his own.
  • RHP Dae-Eun Rhee pitched six innings, giving up only one unearned run while picking up his first quality start in two starts since joining Iowa. He had nine in 16 starts with Tennessee.
  • RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (4.50) offered a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.

Tennessee Smokies (17-16)
2nd Place (-0.5)

Tennessee took the middle game of a five-game home series with Mississippi by a final score of 6-3.

  • 2B Stephen Bruno (.278, 30 RBI) and 3B Christian Villanueva (.263, 15 RBI) both went 2-for-5 with two RBI each. Bruno tallied his fourth triple, and Villanueva tacked on his seventh double.
  • RHP Eduardo Figueroa earned his first win in his ninth start, limiting the opponent to fewer than two runs for the sixth time this year He gave up one earned run over five innings.
  • Figueroa was followed by RHP P.J. Francescon (4.00), who tossed two hitless frames to earn his third hold, and RHP Zach Cates (1.80), who recorded his first save with one scoreless inning.

Daytona Cubs (19-12)
1st Place (+2.5)

Daytona jumped ahead with a four-run second and never looked back, besting host Palm Beach, 6-2.

  • LHP Rob Zastryzny pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win.
  • Scoring started with a leadoff homer from 1B Dan Vogelbach (.272), one of his two round-trippers in his third career multi-homer game.
  • CF Billy McKinney (.286) hit in his sixth straight game (and 11th of his last 12) with his first triple since joining the Cubs organization.
  • RHP Justin Amlung (4.86) spun three innings for his first save, allowing two runs and fanning five.

Kane County Cougars (20-11)
1st Place (+3.0)

Kane County scored five runs on 11 hits to defeat South Bend at home, 5-2.

  • RHP Duane Underwood picked up the win, giving up two earned runs over five innings while striking out seven.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.316) recorded his second consecutive three-hit game, finishing with two RBI (6).
  • DH Cael Brockmeyer (.320) doubled twice for the first time this season.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) knocked in his 19th and 20th runs in 29 games since joining the Cougars.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion (3.86) threw three scoreless innings for his second hold.
  • RHP Jose Arias (2.14) earned his third save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Mesa Cubs (13-11)
3rd Place (-2.0)

RHP C.J. Edwards returned from the disabled list to contribute to Mesa’s 10-0 win at the AZL Rangers. The shutout marked Mesa’s second such win of the season.

  • Edwards pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two.
  • Seven Mesa hitters had two hits apiece, including two doubles from C Erick Castillo (.235, 3 2B).
  • SS Gleyber Torres (.231, 1 2B), 1B Roney Alcala (.216, 1 2B), and LF Ricardo Marcano (.229, 5 2B) each knocked a double. With Castillo’s two two-baggers, Mesa had five in total.
  • LHP Jose Paulino (1-2, 7.64) contributed four shutout innings of relief for his first win.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/22/14

Pitching powered Iowa, Tennessee won in walk-off fashion, and Mesa fought back to claim a victory Tuesday. Daytona and Boise both lost, while Kane County had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (55-48)
1st Place (+1.5)

RHP Dallas Beeler spun seven shutout innings in his fifth consecutive quality start, as the I-Cubs blanked visiting New Orleans 1-0.

  • CF Matt Szczur (.246) scored the game’s only run on a bases-loaded walk with SS Chris Valaika (.289, 48 RBI) batting.
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.49) and RHP Blake Parker (1.29) completed the shutout with a perfect inning each. Rosscup earned his eighth hold, and Parker earned his league-leading 21st save.

Tennessee Smokies (16-16)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)

Tennessee beat the Mississippi Braves 8-7 with a walk-off ground-rule double from CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) in the 10th inning.

  • 1B Charles Cutler (.333) had three hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI (34).
  • C Luis Flores (.231) and PH Dustin Geiger (.224) each added homers of their own.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.415) went 2-for-4 with a run and his 22nd RBI before being promoted to Iowa after the game.
  • RHP Frank Batista (2-0, 0.89) tossed two scoreless frames to earn the win in relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-12)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona managed three runs on 10 hits, falling to host Palm Beach, 9-3.

  • RHP Juan Paniagua suffered the loss in his first start since joining Daytona from Kane County.
  • CF Albert Almora (.283) went 2-for-3 with a run, a solo homer (7) and three RBI (50). After the game, he was promoted to Tennessee.
  • 3B Wes Darvill (.278) went 3-for-4 with a run, his ninth double and his third stolen base.
  • RF Billy McKinney (.283) extended his hitting streak to five with his fourth multihit game in his last eight. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double.

Boise Hawks (0-1)
T-3rd Place (-1.0)

Everett AquaSox pitching shut down Hawks hitters, allowing just three hits, as Boise lost in Everett, 6-0.

  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.267), C Mark Zagunis (.341) and LF Charles White (.200) recorded Boise’s three hits, all singles. Jeffrey Baez was later called up to Daytona.
  • Hawks hitters recorded five walks, including two each from Zagunis and 2B Chesny Young (.354).

Mesa Cubs (12-11)
3rd Place (-2.5)

Mesa returned to action with a 7-6 comeback win over the visiting AZL Dodgers. The Cubs entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 6-1 and won on a walk-off RBI double from RF Eloy Jimenez (.286).

  • Jimenez paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with a solo homer to tie the game in the eighth and the walk-off double, bringing him to eight RBI on the season.
  • CF Kevonte Mitchell (.286), 1B Roney Alcala (.188) and 3B Adonis Paula (.222) each added two hits.
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-1, 6.52) surrendered four earned runs over three frames of relief to earn his second win.

 

From the Pages of Vine Line: Our July Q&A with Ernie Banks and Derek Jeter

JETER_ERNIE_BANKS_JP-9994
(Photo courtesy New York Yankees)

Mr. Cub and Mr. November. When it comes to playing shortstop in the major leagues, it’s hard to do better than Cubs legend Ernie Banks and all-time Yankees great Derek Jeter.

Between them, they have 28 All-Star appearances, two MVP Awards (with 10 top-10 finishes) and six Gold Gloves. They have also amassed nearly 6,000 hits and 800 home runs. Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. Assuming Jeter holds firm on his decision to retire after this season, he just needs the calendar to turn to 2019 for his certain enshrinement.

Both enjoyed long and distinguished careers with one organization; both spawned memorable moments and were the faces of their respective franchises; and both became great ambassadors for the game.

When Derek Jeter made a rare interleague appearance in Chicago this past May, Vine Line and Yankees Magazine couldn’t let the opportunity to get the two iconic players together slip away.

Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III spoke to the man affectionately known as Mr. Cub and the Yankees captain about playing a demanding defensive position, spending their entire careers with a single team, playing at the Friendly Confines and more.

For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Vine Line: First of all, it’s an honor to be here with two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen. Thank you both. Mr. Jeter, how did Mr. Banks, who is over 6 feet tall, impact the future of the position?

Derek Jeter: I’ve had the opportunity to meet Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, who were two of the other great shortstops from Mr. Banks’ era. Those guys epitomized who played that position back then—shorter guys without a lot of power. Mr. Banks redefined the position, and he really paved the way for taller players like me to get the opportunity to play shortstop.

Ernie Banks: Who were the shortstops you watched when you were growing up?

DJ: I was a big Cal Ripken Jr. fan. He’s 6 foot 4, and he played the position as well as anyone I had seen. I also liked watching Barry Larkin, who played his college ball in my home state of Michigan. Alan Trammell played for the Detroit Tigers, and they were on TV a lot in my house when I was growing up, so I got to see him play frequently.

EB: Why didn’t they ever move you to third base?

DJ: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out.

VL: Mr. Banks, what are your thoughts on Mr. Jeter’s ability to play such a demanding position so well for nearly two decades?

EB: Well, he’s a remarkable player, and that’s proven by the fact that he is still playing shortstop. We all slow down a little as we get older. I moved to first base after about 10 seasons at shortstop. But Derek has done what no one else has, and that’s remarkable.

VL: How much does it mean to each of you to have played for one team your entire careers—and to be synonymous with those teams?

DJ: Playing my entire career in New York has always been important to me. I’ve been fortunate because in this day and age, it’s more difficult to stay with one team than when Mr. Banks was playing. With free agency, there is so much player movement, and teams get rid of players when there are younger players available who can play the same position a little better. But I can’t imagine playing anywhere else.

EB: It means the world to me. We played all day games in Chicago back then because they didn’t have lights at Wrigley Field until 1988. That was something I got used to and really enjoyed. The only night games we played were when we were on the road. Like Derek said, I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like to play for another team. If I had played for another team and I had to play most of the games at night, it would have felt like every game was an away game for me.

VL: How would each of you describe your respective fan bases?

EB: The fans here are loyal. When I was playing, I got to meet a lot of fans, and that was a lot of fun. I signed autographs for as many kids as I could because I thought that one day I might be asking one of those kids for a job. Cubs fans aren’t as loud as Yankees fans though. The first time I met Derek, I asked him what it’s like playing in New York. He looked at me and said, “When you win, it’s loud.”

DJ: That’s a great story. Yankees fans follow the team closely, and there’s a lot of energy in Yankee Stadium every time we take the field. The expectation level is high, but there’s no better place to win than in New York.

VL: The enthusiasm that both of you have for the game is well documented. What makes playing baseball for a living so enjoyable?

DJ: Every day is a new day. It’s kind of like life in that you wake up and you never know what’s going to happen when you get to the ballpark. Regardless of how you played the day before, you come to the ballpark with a clean slate the next day. I like that about baseball. I have enjoyed competing and being around my teammates as well. That’s why I have played the game for as long as I have.

EB: It was fun being out there every day. That’s why I said, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.” I especially enjoyed playing the shortstop position. For me, making adjustments to where I was going to play in the field depending on who was on the mound and who was at the plate was part of the game I relished. I got as much fun out of the strategy of the game and making sure I was in the right place to turn double plays as I got out of hitting the ball out of the park.

VL: Mr. Banks, what were the most challenging aspects of going directly from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues to the Cubs at a time when there were very few African-Americans in the majors?

EB: As far as being discriminated against, that’s all I knew since the time I was growing up. But the hardest thing about leaving the Monarchs for the Cubs was saying goodbye to my teammates in Kansas City. I liked being around those guys, and I didn’t want to leave them. They were like my family.

VL: How did you adjust to life in the big leagues?

EB: I played for [legendary Negro Leagues player and manager] Buck O’Neil in Kansas City, and I played alongside Gene Baker and Tony Taylor, who knew a lot about the game. I learned how to play the game from those guys. They taught me about the intricacies of the game and the shortstop position. That along with some God-given ability made it so I was prepared to play in the big leagues when I arrived in Chicago.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how was your career impacted by what Mr. Banks and others did in breaking the color barrier in the early 1950s?

DJ: It’s unimaginable for me. Mr. Banks is one of the players who paved the way for all African-Americans to play the game. I’m grateful to him for what he did on the field, and I also appreciate the way he has treated me since I was a young player.

VL: Mr. Banks, what stands out about Mr. Jeter’s accomplishments and the way he has represented himself and his team over the years?

EB: I really admire him. He’s accomplished so many great things. He’s knowledgeable about every aspect of playing the game. He studies the opposing pitchers, and he learned how to hit the ball to all fields at a young age. He’s an amazing young player. When he got his 3,000th hit on a home run, that was really special for me to watch. What was that like for you, Derek?

DJ: Well, I appreciate you referring to me as a young player. Hitting that home run felt great. More than anything, I was happy that it happened in front of our fans in New York.

EB: How did you do that?

DJ: I closed my eyes and swung the bat.

VL: Mr. Banks, what makes Wrigley Field such a special baseball destination?

EB: It’s special because it has been here for 100 years, and we’ve had some great teams. It’s a beautiful place, and so much history has taken place on this field. Babe Ruth stood a few feet from where we are sitting, pointed to the seats and then hit the ball out of the park. More than 80 years later, Derek Jeter will come up to the plate in the same place. That’s an amazing thing. Also, the fans are very close to the field, and that makes it an intimate setting for baseball. There’s no better place to watch a game.

VL: Mr. Jeter, how exciting is it to visit Wrigley Field in your final season—and during the stadium’s centennial?

DJ: I like being a part of history and tradition, and I’m thrilled to get one last chance to play here—especially since I was on the disabled list when we played here in 2011. I drove here with my class on my last day of high school, and that is a great memory. If I could have written a script for my career back then, I would have included a trip to Wrigley Field during my final season.

EB: You’re not really going to quit, are you?

DJ: After this season.

EB: You can’t do that.

DJ: Yes, I can.

EB: I wish guys like you never had to quit.

DJ: Well, let’s just say I’m moving on.

—Alfred Santasiere III

ESPN’s Law says the Cubs have baseball’s top farm system

SOLER-J-022113-SG-23

Jorge Soler is one of the many reasons the Cubs have the top farm system in the game, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (Photo by Stephen Green)

ESPN insider Keith Law unveiled his midseason top five farm systems Tuesday, and, based off his prospect rankings from earlier this month, the baseball world shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the list. The organization has three prospects in the top eight of Law’s individual rankings in Kris Bryant (No. 1), Addison Russell (No. 4) and Javier Baez (No. 8). And Cuban import Jorge Soler checks in at No. 38.

Along with that quartet, Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson have all generated buzz and graced various prospect lists in the past year. But the farm system goes even deeper than that.

Here’s some of what Law had to say about the Cubs system:

I know Cubs fans have heard this before, but just wait ’til next year, because this club is going to get good in a hurry, at least on the run-scoring side of the ledger. The system already had the minors’ best collection of high-end bats, and it added several more during the past seven weeks, including the fourth-best prospect in the minors in shortstop Addison Russell, who came over with promising left fielder Billy McKinney in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Athletics.

The Cubs also added catcher/left fielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a pick I think was an overdraft in part due to doubts he will stick at either position, but he has raked so far in limited at-bats, mostly against younger competition. They used the savings on Schwarber’s bonus to grab several high-upside high school arms later in the draft, including right-hander Dylan Cease, whose elbow ligament injury might require Tommy John surgery but who was seen as a top-15 pick talent before his injury. Cease has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and at times a plus breaking ball.

Most of the successful arms in the system this year have been pitchers at low-Class A Kane County, particularly undersized Taiwanese right-hander Tseng Jen-Ho and 2012 draftee Paul Blackburn, which means the Cubs probably won’t get the starting pitching help they need from their system in the next year or two. Fortunately for them and their fans, they have the bats to trade to acquire pitching from outside the organization.

Rounding out Law’s top five were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Pirates.

Now Playing: Stretching Out with Jeneane Lesko of the AAGPBL

Some say throwing a baseball “like a girl” is a bad thing; Jeneane Lesko begs to differ. Vine Line caught up with the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League president and former left-handed pitcher when the AAGPBL was being honored during the 1940s celebration at Wrigley Field in early June. It’s worth noting the 79-year-old southpaw toed the major league rubber for her ceremonial first pitch and fired a heater right into the catcher’s mitt.

To read the complete interview with Lesko, pick up the August issue of Vine Line.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/21/14

Daytona’s offense was dominant Monday, while Boise won despite only four hits. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County couldn’t get it done, and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (54-48)
1st Place (+0.5)

Iowa couldn’t overcome an early four-run deficit, falling at home against New Orleans, 5-4.

  • 2B Javier Baez (.251) extended his hitting streak to 15 games (.306/19-for-62), going 1-for-4.
  • 1B Lars Anderson (.277) went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
  • In his first Triple-A rehab appearance, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (9.00) allowed a run on two hits in the eighth inning.

Tennessee Smokies (15-16)
3rd Place (-2.0)

Tennessee’s three runs in the bottom of the ninth weren’t enough, as they fell to Mississippi, 4-3.

  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) went 1-for-5 with a three-run homer in the ninth inning.
  • LF/RF Jonathan Mota (.243) posted his second-straight three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a run.
  • RF Jorge Soler (.410) recorded his seventh multihit game, going 2-for-3.
  • RHP Tony Zych (4.63) struck out three hitters in two scoreless innings of relief.

Daytona Cubs (18-11)
1st Place (+1.5)

Daytona recorded 11 hits in a 9-6 victory over host Palm Beach.

  • 3B Jordan Hankins (.254) went 1-for-3 with a fourth-inning, three-run blast.
  • LF Rock Shoulders (.222) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI (51).
  • RHP Michael Jensen (5-4, 2.56) earned the win, and RHP Starling Peralta (3.72) picked up the save.

Kane County Cougars (19-11)
1st Place (+2.0)

Kane County managed just five hits in a 3-1 loss at Great Lakes.

  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) went 1-for-4 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
  • RF Kevin Brown (.265) went 3-for-4 with his second double of the campaign.
  • RHPs Zak Hermans (3.60) and Michael Wagner (3.19) combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (22-16)
T-1st Place (–)

Boise defeated visiting Salem-Keizer, 7-6, despite being outhit, 13-4.

  • DH Justin Marra (.318) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, solo blast.
  • PH/C Dan Canela (.304) went 1-for-3 with a double (9) and a game-high three RBI (23).
  • LHP Sam Wilson (2-0, 4.05) earned the win, and RHP David Garner (4.15) picked up the save.
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