Results tagged ‘ Eric Jokisch ’
As evidenced by the additions of players like Jon Lester and Miguel Montero, the Cubs front office is transitioning from a period in which it focused primarily on bringing in assets to help improve the future of the franchise to an extended period in which they expect to compete every year at the big league level. However, if you were to suggest to baseball president Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer that this transition means they are now less inclined to build through their farm system, they would be quick to correct you.
Just because Cubs fans may finally start seeing wins accumulate at Wrigley Field doesn’t mean the minor league pipeline is suddenly going to go overlooked. In fact, for the second year in a row, the North Siders will have arguably the best system in all of baseball. Boasting the top prospect in the game, an overabundance of high-profile shortstops and a suddenly large group of interesting arms at the lower levels, the Cubs have built the scouting and player development monster they promised to deliver more than three years ago.
In our annual minor league prospectus, Baseball Prospectus’ Sahadev Sharma helps us break down the names to know at all levels of the system. As the month progresses, we’ll unveil player bios on a section-by-section basis. Here is Part 3 of the Cubs minor league prospectus:
A Phone Call Away
While prospects are always fun to follow, no player dreams of a long career in the minor leagues. The ultimate goal for each is to help out at the big league level. Most everyone is aware that guys like Bryant and Russell will be making an impact at Wrigley Field in the near future, but there are other, less-heralded players who could contribute this year as well in a variety of roles.
Dallas Beeler – RHP
Beeler isn’t the kind of prospect who wows you with his stuff, but he still made his major league debut last season after missing much of 2013 with a finger injury. His ability to work down in the zone, primarily with his sinker and splitter, means he has a chance to induce a significant number of ground balls, which could offset the fact that he’ll likely never be a big strikeout guy. And that’s where Beeler must live—down in the zone—if he’s going to carve out a career in the back end of a major league rotation. His modus operandi is relying on his defense while coaxing weak contact from hitters. The big righty is well aware of this fact and does his best to always work to his strengths. He’ll likely enter Spring Training contending for a spot in the big league bullpen.
Eric Jokisch – LHP
Jokisch is often called a left-handed version of Kyle Hendricks, and the comparison works for multiple reasons. Both pitchers are highly intelligent and attended acclaimed colleges (Jokisch went to Northwestern, Hendricks to Dartmouth), both rely more on command than stuff, and both soak up knowledge, using every bit of information they can get their hands on to try and make themselves better at their craft. Jokisch works hard on scouting the opposition, learning hitters’ tendencies and working to expose their weaknesses. While he could find success at the back of the rotation, he has the advantage of being a southpaw, which many believe will allow him to be most effective out of the bullpen. The Cubs, like most teams, could certainly use more left-handed help in the late innings.
Armando Rivero – RHP
Rivero has a solid chance to join a big league bullpen that rapidly improved throughout the 2014 season. He has an explosive fastball that hitters have difficulty picking up, especially when it’s down in the zone. It’s a special pitch with late cutting life, and he combines it with a power slider that’s one of the best breaking balls in the organization. No matter where he ends up, Rivero will likely rack up strikeouts (as evidenced by his 38 percent K rate last season). He also has a change-up that grades out as average or better, leading some to believe he could be a starter. However, he rarely uses it out of the bullpen, and the Cubs have determined that his best role right now is as a reliever. After missing some time following his defection from Cuba, Rivero has moved quickly through the Cubs system. It’s not unreasonable to think he could have a significant impact at the major league level this summer.
Christian Villanueva – 3B
After Villanueva enjoyed an impressive 2013 campaign that had many projecting a bright future, the 23-year-old struggled in his first taste of Triple-A action in 2014 and was eventually sent back to Tennessee when Bryant earned his promotion to Iowa. One thing that will never be in doubt is his glove. He offers plus defense at the hot corner—the type that could garner a Gold Glove or two if the bat ever comes around to the point where he’s getting regular playing time.
However, the bat does leave major question marks, as Villanueva struggled even when sent back to Double-A. He needs to stop giving away at-bats if he’s ever going to live up to the potential some saw after his breakout 2013 season. Either way, his glove makes him a valuable piece, and he could provide some versatility, as he did see time at second base last season and in the outfield in the Mexican Winter League.
It was Cub on Cub today at Cubs Park in Mesa, Ariz., as the team test drove the new facility with an intrasquad matchup in preparation for tomorrow’s home opener. Last year’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hendricks, who put up a 13-4 record and a 2.00 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last season, got things off to a fast start, retiring all eight batters he faced. Hendricks doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he knows how to pitch and was able to keep the ball on the ground.
“He has got a tremendous amount of poise on the hill, and obviously has a mix of pitches,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria.”He’s probably put himself on everybody’s radar by the way he went about his business last year. It doesn’t hurt anybody to come out and do well.”
Opposing starter Eric Jokisch, who threw a no-hitter last season with Double-A Tennessee, was also effective, giving up no runs over two innings and striking out four.
Though players have said the park plays big, you wouldn’t have known it Wednesday, as Welington Castillo, Justin Ruggiano and Christian Villanueva all hit long solo home runs. Junior Lake and Ryan Kalish singled in runs, and 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan drove one in on a squeeze bunt. Brett Jackson and Jorge Soler each stole a base.
Strong-armed pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino, who hasn’t seen game action since 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, pitched one inning. He gave up no runs, but walked two and gave up a hit.
“His arm is live,” Renteria said. “It comes out of there pretty easy. It looks like he’s using his secondary pitches … the way he wants to. If he wants to bury a pitch, he does it. If he wants to go off the corners, he can.”
The white “home” team won the game 5-3.
The inaugural Cactus League game at Cubs Park will be tomorrow, Feb. 27, against the Arizona Diamondbacks. First pitch is at 2 p.m. CST, and the game will be televised on WGN-TV.
Here’s the early lineup:
1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
2. Luis Valbuena, 3B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Junior Lake, CF
6. Welington Castillo, C
7. Justin Ruggiano, LF
8. Mike Olt, DH
9. Darnell McDonald, RF
SP Jeff Samardzija
Other pitchers expected to see action: LHP Wesley Wright; RHPs Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Hector Rondon, Jose Veras
When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took the Cubs’ reins in 2011, they talked about building the system the right way from the ground up and rejuvenating the franchise with young, cost-controlled talent. In the years since, the Cubs have gathered some of the best minor league players in the game, including top 10 prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. ESPN prospect guru Keith Law had the Cubs ranked as the fourth-best farm system in baseball, and Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks put the club second behind only the Astros.
Vine Line sat down with some of the best young talent in baseball this week to talk about their experience in big league camp, goals for the upcoming season and creating momentum in the minor leagues.
We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park all week long, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:
Cubs prospect Jorge Soler takes a swing at Cubs Park Tuesday.
The day kicked off Tuesday with Cubs legend Fergie Jenkins addressing the 66 players in major league camp and about 50 others from the minor league mini camp. The Hall of Famer talked about his time as a player and what it takes to survive in the major leagues.
In 10 years with the Cubs, Jenkins posted six consecutive 20-win seasons (1967-72) and four consecutive seasons with more than 300 innings (1968-71). During his Cy Young season in 1971, Jenkins went 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA and threw 325.0 innings with 263 strikeouts versus only 37 walks. Jenkins was joined by fellow Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe, who is in camp all spring as an instructor.
“I thought Fergie was good,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. “I don’t know that he’s ever spoken to the group like that, so it was nice to have him out there to talk to everybody. Here’s a guy who’s a Hall of Famer, who’s worked from a different era and brings in a different perspective … gives them a perspective of the things we should all appreciate about where we’re at.”
After about two weeks of practice, the Cubs will finally crank things up to game speed for the first time Wednesday in a six-inning exhibition game at Cubs Park. The contest will start at 1 p.m. local time, with Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch facing off against one another.
“It’s a whole different atmosphere here,” Jokisch said. “You get to meet all the big league guys and the big league coaches and learn from them. I’m excited to get the games started.”
Other pitchers slated to see action are Marcus Hatley, Chang-Yong Lim, Neil Ramirez, Armando Rivero, Brian Schlitter, Arodys Vizcaino and Tsuyoshi Wada. Renteria has not yet decided on the lineups, but he said he plans to mix it up so both veteran players and prospects can see some live pitching before the Cactus League campaign kicks off Thursday.
“We’re looking forward to playing the game. We’re excited. They’ve been working hard, and they want to put their work to use. We’re looking forward to letting them play and finding out what things we’re going to have to continue to improve on,” Renteria said. “It’s going to be good for me and for the staff to see the guys just put themselves out there between the lines with a little bit more of a competitive aspect to the game. [They can see] where they’re at as far as timing, and pitchers obviously [will see] where they’re at with hitters in game-type situations, which is what we’re building up to do.”
Renteria also mentioned that Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, threw a side session off the mound Monday. He threw some long toss and about 20-25 pitches off the mound, and it went very well.
“He gave me the thumbs up that it came out well,” Renteria said. “Like all our guys that are improving their health, we’re just going to take it one day at a time and continue to be patient and hope that they continue to progress.”
Last week, Double-A Tennessee Smokies starter Eric Jokisch was put on the seven-day disabled list for arm fatigue. It’s safe he’s feeling better after his return on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old southpaw became the first Smokies pitcher to toss a nine-inning no-hitter in 28 seasons, throwing 108 pitches and striking out eight. The Virginia, Ill., native’s four walks were the only blemishes on his record.
Third baseman Christian Villanueva snared a line drive in the ninth and shortstop Javier Baez made a diving catch on a looping fly ball a batter later to keep the effort intact.
Jokisch is 9-10 on the year with a 3.57 ERA and 114 strikeouts over 128.2 innings. He was the Cubs’ 11th-round pick in 2011 from Northwestern University.