Archive for the ‘ Vine Line ’ Category

Cubs sign sixth-round pick RHP Dylan Cease

The Cubs have reached an agreement with sixth-round draft pick Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher out of Milton (Ga.) High School.

With this move, the Cubs have now signed their first 22 picks, as well as 26 selections overall, from the 2014 draft.

Cease, 18, was a preseason first-team prep All-American heading into his senior year at Milton High School, but an injury hurt his draft stock. He struck out 20 batters in 12 innings without allowing a run before suffering an elbow injury in March that kept him off the mound for the remainder of the season.

In his 2013 junior season with Milton, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Cease was 9-0 with an 0.81 ERA in 69.1 innings. He struck out 100 batters, good for an average of 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Updated midseason prospect lists praise Cubs’ talent

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Triple-A Iowa’s Kris Bryant has become a top-five prospect. (Photo by Stephen Green)

For a while now, the Cubs system has been widely viewed as one of the best in baseball. After the recent Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade with Oakland, it might now be the best.

On Monday, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both published their updated midseason top 50 prospects lists, and Cubs farmhands were scattered throughout each, with a trio of minor leaguers in the top 10. Below is what the publications said about the Cubs’ prospects. And while Baseball Prospectus’ and Baseball America‘s lists do differ, the quantity and location the Cubs farmhands can only be seen as a huge positive for the organization and its fans.

3B Kris Bryant
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 3
Baseball America Rank: 2

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#17

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: Bryant continues to launch home runs, rack up strikeouts, rake at an eye-popping clip, and show a discerning eye at the plate. Through 371 plate appearances between Double A and Triple A, Bryant is slashing .357/.453/.717 and finds himself knocking on Wrigley’s door. He has proven himself without question to be the loudest bat in the minors and a potential impact mainstay in the middle of the Cubs order for the foreseeable future. –Nick Faleris

Baseball America:
Power has been just as advertised, while his defense has been better than expected.

SS Javier Baez
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 5
Baseball America Rank: 7

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#4

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: Baez has the best bat speed in the minors, and it’s not even close for me; a lethal weapon that could make him the premium power bat in the game. But his approach is below average, and he routinely puts himself in bad hitter’s counts and conditions. With more refinement, the ceiling is cathedral but the risk is still quite high despite the fact that the 21-year-old is more than holding his own at the Triple-A level. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Long-term potential is still as an elite regular, but he has to moderate his swing-from-the-heels approach.

SS Addison Russell
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 6
Baseball America Rank: 5

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#7

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Double-A Tennessee

Developmental Update: From a skill-set perspective, Addison Russell has the most well-rounded profile at the shortstop position in the minors, with above-average chops in the field (including double-plus hands), and impact potential with both the hit and power tools. Russell has lost half a season to injury, but could challenge for the top spot in the minors with a strong second half. The ultimate upside is a perennial all-star at a premium spot, and the future could start as early as 2015. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Missed half the year with a hamstring problem; remains an elite all-around shortstop prospect with his new team.

2B Arismendy Alcantara
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 18
Baseball America Rank: 33

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#83

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: Triple-A Iowa

Developmental Update: I’ve always liked Alcantara, but I was too low on him coming into the season, despite a skill set that has three-way impact potential at the highest level (hit/glove/run). Now that the 22-year-old has taken his talents to Triple-A, and exceeded expectations at the plate and on base, the future first-division player has jumped the list and emerged as a top 20 prospect in the game. –Jason Parks

Baseball America:
Hard not to like an athletic middle infielder who can play short in a pinch and has power and speed.

OF Albert Almora
Baseball Prospectus Rank: 37
Baseball America Rank: NR

Baseball Prospectus:
Placement on preseason 101:
#25

Current MiLB level/Affiliate: High-A Daytona

Developmental Update: Almora’s had a rough start to his season. His lack of production in half a season at High-A as a 20-year-old shouldn’t obfuscate the tools he still has. Almora makes loud, consistent contact and plays a very good center field due to his ability to make early reads off the bat. The baseball IQ is high and it helps the other tools play up. He’s not the sexy name in the Cubs system, but don’t forget about him. –Mauricio Rubio

The recent 2014 draft class was off-limits for consideration on each list. But Baseball Prospectus noted a few prospects from the class, including the Cubs’ first-round pick in Kyle Schwarber.

Baseball Prospectus:
C/OF Kyle Schwarber
Where he fits:
Somewhere after Hunter Renfroe (44th)
Schwarber was the most advanced collegiate bat in the draft class, with an ability to hit for plus in-game power without sacrificing average. He puts together professional at bats, shows well against top competition, and has a general knack for finding his pitch and driving it. At present he’s being permitted to feast upon heavily overmatched Low-A arms, and likely won’t face his first real professional challenge until Double-A (or perhaps the Arizona Fall League if he finds a spot on the taxi squad). The BP Prospect Team loves catchers, so his ranking on the Top 101 might be largely dictated by the position at which the Cubs elect to stick him. If it looks like he is destined for first base, he won’t debut on the Top 101 as high as organization mate Kris Bryant (17th last winter), but he could fit comfortably in the Top 60 or so with a solid 2014 pro showing.

 

Castro, Samardzija elected to NL All-Star team; Rizzo needs your votes

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Sunday night, it was announced that Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was elected to the 2014 National League All-Star team. It’s the third All-Star selection of his major league career, and Castro will represent the Cubs at the 85th Major League All-Star Game Tuesday, July 15 at Minnesota’s Target Field.

Like Castro, right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija was also elected to the NL squad by way of the player vote. While Samardzija is eligible to attend and participate in All-Star activities and will receive full NL All-Star honors and recognition, he will be ineligible to play for the NL team due to his recent trade to the Oakland Athletics.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo is one of five players nominated for the NL’s 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote ballot. Fans can now vote to select the final player for each league’s roster via cubs.com, MLB.com and on their mobile phones (fans can text the choice “N4” to 89269 to vote for Rizzo). Voting concludes at 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 10.

The 24-year-old Castro becomes only the third shortstop in franchise history to be selected to at least three All-Star teams, joining Ernie Banks (nine times as a shortstop) and Don Kessinger (six times). He is one of only six shortstops to be named an All-Star in franchise history, joining the aforementioned Banks and Kessinger, Billy Jurges (once), Woody English (once) and Shawon Dunston (twice), who was the most-recent Cubs shortstop to earn All-Star recognition (in 1990) leading up to Castro’s first All-Star season in 2011.

In 2011, Castro became the youngest player in franchise history to be named to an All-Star team at age 22. In 2012, he became the first Cubs shortstop to be named to the All-Star team in consecutive seasons since Don Kessinger’s five-year run from 1968-72.  Castro, Dunston and Kessinger are the only three Cubs shortstops to earn All-Star honors in the last 50 years.

Castro entered play on Sunday batting .290 with 26 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs and 50 RBI while starting every game at shortstop for the Cubs. He entered the day leading all major league shortstops with 38 extra-base hits and was one of only four players in baseball with 12 games of three or more hits.

Samardzija, 29, departed the Cubs with a 2-7 record and a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts this season. This is Samardzija’s first career All-Star honor. He is the first right-handed pitcher to earn All-Star honors for the Cubs since Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano were all named to the NL team in 2008.

The 24-year-old Rizzo entered play on Sunday leading all NL first basemen with 17 home runs and was tied for the NL lead with 14 home runs since April 30. He ranked first among league first basemen in walks (50), was tied for first with 16 go-ahead RBI and was fourth with an .873 OPS. Overall, he was batting .274 with 13 doubles, one triple, 17 home runs and 45 RBI in 84 games.

Besides using the web to vote for the final player for each league’s 34-man roster, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word “VOTE” to 89269.  To vote specifically for Rizzo, text the choice “N4” to 89269. Standard message and data rates may apply.  Text “STOP” to end and “HELP” for information.  Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.

Cubs acquire INF Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney, RHP Dan Straily and a PTBNL from the A’s for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel

Addison-Russell

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty)

The Chicago Cubs today acquired infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and a player to be named from the Oakland Athletics for right-handed pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Russell and McKinney were ranked as the top two players in Oakland’s farm system by Baseball America entering the 2014 season, while Russell was ranked the third-best prospect in baseball by ESPN.com, No. 11 by MLB.com and No. 14 overall by Baseball America.

“It’s not a secret that we now have an extremely talented, extremely deep group of potential impact position players age 20-22, who are moving very quickly through our system” said Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. “And these are real prospects. Not all of them work out, but we like these players quite a bit, and they have a chance to play together for long time at Wrigley Field. When you put that together with a couple of 24-year-old All-Star-caliber performers like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, we can’t help but be excited about the future.”

Russell was Oakland’s first-round pick in the 2012 Draft (11th overall out of high school), and McKinney was the club’s first-round pick in the 2013 Draft (24th overall out of high school). Straily began the 2013 campaign ranked second by MLB.com and sixth by Baseball America in the Athletics system (with the organization’s best slider and change-up) before going 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA (67 ER/152.1 IP) in 27 starts in the major leagues last season.

With the acquisition of Russell, a shortstop, the Cubs now have in their organization three of the top 14, six of the top 41, and eight players overall listed on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list entering the 2014 campaign.

The 20-year-old Russell entered 2014 as Oakland’s top prospect as ranked by Baseball America for the second year in a row. He was a 2012 Arizona League postseason All-Star, a 2013 Futures Game selection, the 2013 Single-A California League Rookie of the Year, a 2013 California League postseason All-Star and was named to the 2013 Arizona Fall League’s All Prospects Team, where he played for the Mesa Solar Sox and was a starter in the AFL All-Star Game.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Russell began his pro career by hitting .369 (80-for-217) with a 1.027 OPS in 55 games covering three levels in Oakland’s farm system before spending nearly all of 2013 at advanced Single-A Stockton. He was just one of 12 minor league players to reach double digits in doubles (29), triples (10) and home runs (17) last year en route to an .885 OPS with Stockton before a three-game promotion to Triple-A Sacramento at the end of the season.

Russell was with Oakland’s Double-A Midland affiliate at the time of the trade, where he hit .333 (16-for-48) with a .439 on-base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage and a .939 OPS in just 13 games this year due to a hamstring injury. He joined the Midland line-up in mid-June and finished his time there riding an eight-game hitting streak.

“We put a lot of work into understanding the [trade] landscape, and I’ll just say it was a no-brainer process,” Epstein said. “If we had a chance to get Addison Russell, that was the deal we had to make. We didn’t think twice about it. Certainly we made attempts to craft packages that gave us enough pitching to feel like it was worthwhile to part with a Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel or both in the same deal, and we felt this was by far the best deal for the Chicago Cubs.”

The 19-year-old McKinney last year played across two levels in Oakland’s system in his first pro campaign and combined to bat .326 (70-for-215) with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs, 26 RBI and a .387 on-base percentage in 55 games between the Rookie League Athletics and Single-A Vermont.

At the time of the trade, the left-handed hitting McKinney was batting .241 (70-for-290) with 12 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 33 RBI in 75 games for Single-A Stockton this season. He has appeared at all three outfield positions, predominantly in center field (67 games). He batted .292 (28-for-96) with 12 runs, five doubles, one triple, three home runs and 15 RBI in 24 games in June. All told, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has batted .277 (140-for-505) with 21 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 59 RBI in 130 career minor league games.

Straily, 25, has pitched parts of the last three years with Oakland, going 13-11 with a 4.11 ERA (105 ER/230.0 IP) in 41 starts. He made his big league debut on August 3, 2012, and made seven starts with Oakland that season, going 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA (17 ER/39.1 IP) before spending nearly the entire campaign in the majors in 2013. Straily has split the 2014 season between the big leagues (1-2, 4.93 ERA in seven starts) and Triple-A Sacramento (4-3, 4.71 ERA in 10 starts).

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Straily was originally selected by Oakland in the 24th round of the 2009 Draft and was named the organization’s 2012 co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year after combining to go 9-7 with a 2.78 ERA (47 ER/152.0 IP) and an organization-best 190 strikeouts in 25 starts between Sacramento and Midland, where he was named to the Texas League All-Star team.

Samardzija, 29, went 31-42 with one save and a 3.97 ERA (294 ER/666.0 IP) in 206 games, including 83 starts, with the Cubs over the last seven seasons. He went 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA (34 ER/108.0 IP) in 17 starts with the club this season. He was originally selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft.

Hammel, 31, went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA (36 ER/108.2 IP) in 17 starts with the Cubs this season. He is 57-64 with four saves and a 4.62 ERA (564 ER/1,098.0 IP) in 232 big league outings (175 starts).

“We certainly hope that this is the last year that we’ll be obvious sellers at the trade deadline,” Epstein said. “Nothing would make us happier than being in the position Oakland is in, which is to aggressively add to the big league team and enhance the team’s chances of making the postseason and winning the World Series. As we discussed it, we repeated to ourselves that this type of move, being sellers, is not what we want to do, so if we’re going to do it, we need to make it count. And we need to get a player back who significantly impacts the organization, helps change the landscape, helps make our future a heck of a lot better.”

1000 Words: Happy Fourth of July

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(Photo by Chicago Daily News)

The American flag is raised over Weeghman Park in 1914. Vine Line wishes everybody a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/2/14

Iowa continued its winning streak, Tennessee hurled a shutout, Boise racked up another victory and Mesa rallied for a win Wednesday. Meanwhile, errors cost Daytona, and Kane County couldn’t prevent a few big innings. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (47-38)
1st Place (+3.0)

Iowa won its fifth-straight game, beating visiting Omaha, 4-3.

  • LHP Chris Rusin gave up one earned run over seven innings to secure the win.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.310) went 2-for-4 with a run, a triple (11) and one RBI (40) to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s batting .469 (23-for-49) with four doubles, two triples, two homers, nine RBI and 11 runs scored during his streak.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.345) went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double (5), an RBI (18) and one stolen base (1).
  • RHP Blake Parker (1.44) earned his 18th save of the year.

Tennessee Smokies (10-4)
1st Place (+2.5)

Tennessee held visiting Montgomery to just three hits for a 7-0 victory.

  • C Luis Flores (.261) went 1-for-3 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
  • LF Kevin Brown (.500) went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double (1) and two RBI (4).
  • CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.218) went 2-for-4 with a run, a double (10) and a game-high three RBI (25).
  • RHP Pierce Johnson got the win in his return from the disabled list, pitching 7.1 scoreless innings and striking out five. Johnson hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts, spanning 11.1 innings.

Daytona Cubs (8-5)
3rd Place (-2.0)

Daytona committed three errors in a 4-3 loss at Brevard County.

  • CF Albert Almora (.266) recorded his third multihit game in his last four, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk and his 16th double of the year.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach (.277) went 1-for-3 with a team-high two RBI (41).

Kane County Cougars (9-3)
1st Place (+0.5)

Visiting Peoria scored six times in the first two innings to beat Kane County, 8-5.

  • CF Jacob Hannemann (.262) and DH Yasiel Balaguert (.248) had two hits apiece.
  • LF Kyle Schwarber (.390) went 2-for-4 with a walk.
  • 1B Jacob Rogers (.267) and C Will Remillard (.307) both walked three times.

Boise Hawks (9-11)
T-2nd Place (-4.0)

Boise won its second-straight at Tri-City, beating the Dust Devils, 8-3.

  • RHP Erick Leal gave up no earned runs in six innings to pick up his second win of the year.
  • 3B Jesse Hodges (.229) homered for the third time in his last two games, going 2-for-5 with a third-inning, two-run shot.
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.438), C Mark Malave (.267) and SS Giuseppe Papaccio (.233) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP Brad Markley (0.00) tossed two scoreless innings of relief.

Mesa Cubs (7-3)
1st Place (+1.0)

Mesa tallied two runs in the seventh inning to beat the visiting AZL Padres, 6-4.

  • DH Eloy Jimenez (.444) went 2-for-4 with a sixth-inning, two-run homer.
  • C Alberto Mineo (.360) and LF Ricardo Marcano (.278) recorded two hits apiece.
  • RHP Adbert Alzolay (1-0, 5.25) earned the win, and RHP Carlos Llano (4.50) earned his first save.

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1930s—Billy Herman

BillyHerman

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the third installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, the 1930s provided a second baseman who saw his fair share of All-Star Games and provided a boost at the plate.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander

1930s – Billy Herman, 37.6

Seasons: 1931-39
AVG/OBP/SLG: .312/.368/.422
PA: 5,505
HR: 32
R: 794
RBI: 520
SB: 52

In 1935, second baseman Billy Herman compiled a 7.3 WAR. To put that into perspective, Miguel Cabrera’s 2012 Triple Crown season was good for a 6.8 WAR. Known for his defense, Herman had 466 putouts at second base in 1933, an NL record that still stands today. But his offensive output from the middle infield was equally impressive. In eight 1930s seasons on the North Side, he hit .300 or better six times, including a .341 average in his most productive season of 1935. The second baseman went to an All-Star Game in each of the last six years of the 1930s and was named a starter from 1935-38. Herman was a part of three Cubs World Series teams in the decade and was top 10 in the NL in WAR three times. In 1975, he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 7/1/14

Iowa racked up a pair of wins Tuesday, and Tennessee, Kane County, Boise and Mesa were also victorious. Only Daytona was on the losing end of the scoreboard. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (46-38)
1st Place (+2.0)

GM 1: Iowa won its third-straight game, beating visiting Omaha, 5-3.

  • RHP Kyle Hendricks gave up three earned runs over six innings, striking out seven and picking up his 10th win of the year.
  • CF Arismendy Alcantara (.305) went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base (19) to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
  • RF Brett Jackson (.205) went 2-for-3 with a game-high three RBI (11) and a triple (3).
  • LHP Zac Rosscup (2.89) tossed a scoreless seventh inning to earn his first save of the year.

GM 2: Brett Jackson hit a walkoff, three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Iowa over Omaha, 7-4.

  • Jackson (.215) finished the doubleheader going 4-for-6 with a homer and six RBI.
  • 3B Kris Bryant (.333) went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double (4) and two RBI (17).
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara (.307) went 2-for-4 with a stolen base (20) to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. He’s batting .467 (21-for-45) with four doubles, a triple, two homers, eight RBI, and 10 runs scored during his streak.
  • RHP Armando Rivero (2-0, 2.84) struck out five and allowed two runs in two innings to earn the win.

Tennessee Smokies (9-4)
1st Place (+2.0)

Tennessee scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally past Montgomery, 6-5.

  • RHP Corey Black pitched 4.2 innings, giving up no runs on four hits and four walks.
  • SS Elliot Soto (.208) batted leadoff and went 3-for-4 with a run, a double (5) and one RBI (7).
  • 3B Jonathan Mota (.220) also recorded three hits, going 3-for-4 with a run and a double (4).
  • LF Kevin Brown (.417) and C Charles Cutler (.335) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP Zach Cates (1-1, 2.61) earned the win, while RHP Frank Batista (0.87) earned his third save.

Daytona Cubs (8-4)
T-2nd Place (-1.0)

Daytona managed just five hits in a 3-0 loss to visiting Brevard County.

  • RF Pin-Chieh Chen (.275) recorded the D-Cubs’ lone multihit game, going 2-for-3.
  • CF Albert Almora (.259) and 3B Wes Darvill (.254) each had a hit.
  • RHP Stephen Perakslis (5.49) struck out two over 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Kane County Cougars (9-2)
1st Place (+1.5)

Kane County scored six runs in the bottom of the third inning to beat visiting Peoria, 6-1.

  • RHP Paul Blackburn pitched six scoreless innings, striking out three and picking up the win.
  • 2B Ben Carhart (.280) went 1-for-4 with a third-inning, three-run homer.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.171) went 1-for-4 with a double (3) and two RBI (6).
  • RHP Jose Arias (2.00) allowed just one hit in two scoreless innings of relief.

Boise Hawks (8-11)
T-2nd Place (-4.0)

Boise used a 19-hit attack to rout host Tri-City, 14-3. The 19 hits by the Hawks were their most since recording 20 hits vs. Yakima in 2009.

  • LHP Tyler Ihrig gave up two earned runs over six innings, striking out five and walking none to secure the win.
  • Jesse Hodges (.215) went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two home runs and a career-high six RBI (12). The six RBI are the most by a Boise player since Kyler Burke had six vs. Vancouver during the 2008 season.
  • 1B Daniel Canela (.323) reached base five times, going a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored, a walk and one RBI (8).
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.216) batted leadoff and went 3-for-5 with an eighth-inning two-run homer.
  • CF Rashad Crawford (.271), LF Mark Zagunis (.385), DH Mark Malave (.244) and 2B Zak Blair (.250) all had multihit games.

Mesa Cubs (6-3)
1st Place (+0.5)

Mesa scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat the visiting AZL Reds, 6-4.

  • SS Gleyber Torres (.313) reached base four times, going 3-for-3 with a run, a walk and one RBI (7).
  • LF Eloy Jimenez (.400) and 1B Ricardo Marcano (.250) had two hits apiece.
  • RHP Ryan Williams (1-0, 0.00) earned the win, while RHP Yomar Morel (0.00) picked up his first save.

10 Decades, 10 Legends: 1920s—Grover Cleveland Alexander

Alexander

For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the best Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.

Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.

In the second installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, the 1920s saw one of the game’s greatest arms spend most of the decade on Chicago’s North Side.

Previous Decades:
1910s – Hippo Vaughn

1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander, 28.8 WAR

Seasons: 1920-26
Win-Loss: 110-71
Games-Games Started: 209-193
IP: 1623.1
K: 478
K/9: 2.65
ERA: 3.02

Grover Cleveland Alexander’s best days were already behind him by the 1920s. From his debut in 1911 through 1919, he averaged more than 300 innings per season and went 208-100 with a 2.09 ERA. Still, the Cubs got a pretty solid arm when they acquired Alexander from the Phillies in 1918. He won 27 games, put up a 1.91 ERA, made 40 starts, threw 33 complete games, logged 363.1 innings and fanned 173 batters in 1920. All of those numbers led the league for the year. In his seven 1920s seasons with the team, Old Pete’s ERA was never higher than 3.63, and he won 15 games or more five times. In 1938, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, receiving more than 80 percent of the vote on his third attempt.

Cubs Minor League Recap: 6/30/14

Iowa brought the big bats and came away with a walk-off win, but Tennessee lost in walk-off fashion while Boise’s opponents scored some big runs late on Monday. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:

Iowa Cubs (44-38)
1st Place (+0.5)

Josh Vitters hit a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to lift Iowa over Omaha, 7-6.

  • 3B Kris Bryant (.333) went 2-for-4 with an eighth inning grand slam.
  • DH Manny Ramirez (.375) went 3-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
  • 2B Arismendy Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He’s batting .474 (18-for-38) with four doubles, a triple, two homers, eight RBI, and 10 runs scored during his streak. He was named the PCL Player of the Week for June 23-29, batting a league-best .517 last week with six multi-hit games.
  • RHP Marcus Hatley (2-1, 2.27) earned the win after tossing a scoreless top of the 10th inning.

Tennessee Smokies (8-4)
1st Place (+1.0)

Montgomery tallied a run in the top of the 10th inning to beat Tennessee, 3-2.

  • SS Elliot Soto (.185) recorded Tennessee’s lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double (4) and one RBI (6).
  • LHP Jeff Lorick (5.21) and RHP Lendy Castillo (2.74) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
  • RHP Matt Loosen was dealt a no-decision despite tossing his fifth quality start of the campaign.
  • Right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee has been named the league’s Pitcher of the Week for the time period between June 23-29. Rhee posted a 2-0 record and 1.42 ERA (2 ER in 12.2 IP), adding 13 strikeouts while only walking three.

Boise Hawks (7-11)
4th Place (-4.0)

Host Tri-City scored nine runs over the final two innings to beat Boise, 11-5.

  • CF Rashad Crawford (.259) went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a team-high three RBI (8).
  • LF Mark Zagunis (.333) and 3B Jesse Hodges (.183) each recorded two hits apiece.
  • RF Jeffrey Baez (.188) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and his eighth stolen base of the year.
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