Results tagged ‘ Gioskar Amaya ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: 2014 Minor League Prospectus, Ready to Break Out

Duane-Underwood

Duane Underwood has one of the highest ceilings of all the Cubs arms. (Photo by Scott McDaniel)

For many Chicagoans, February means cold weather. At Vine Line, it’s all about the Cubs minor league prospectus. In the February issue, fans can check out frequent contributor Sahadev Sharma’s player breakdowns for more than 45 of the organization’s top prospects, from teenagers like Eloy Jimenez to elite talents like Javier Baez. This is our final online installment. For more information, pick up the February issue of Vine Line.

Also from the Series:
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – The Elite
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – Close to Big Leagues
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – International Impact
2014 Cubs Minor League Prospectus – Pitching Depth

READY TO BREAK OUT

Not every name in the Cubs system sits atop prospect lists like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. But the best organizations not only have top talent and balance, they also have players not everyone has heard of who have a chance to blossom into very good major leaguers.

Whether they’re lacking the flashy tool that garners headlines or are just a little raw and haven’t yet put everything together, there are definitely names worth watching in the Cubs system. And many of these prospects could become much more familiar to fans over the next nine months.

STEPHEN BRUNO
DOB: 11/17/1990
POSITION: 2B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: .362/.436/.478 (19 GAMES)

There’s no two ways about it, this kid can flat-out hit. With a front-to-back stroke, Bruno uses the whole field, attacks the fastball and has the ability to stay on the breaking ball. Unfortunately, his season ended early with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. If not for that, it wouldn’t have been a surprise for Bruno to hit his way up to Double-A.

He likely won’t be ready by Spring Training, but the hope is he’ll be able to get on the field early in the minor league season. When he does, expect him to once again hit line drives all over the field.

ROCK SHOULDERS
DOB: 9/26/1991
POSITION: 1B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: KANE COUNTY
2013 STATS: .258/.352/.445 (117 GAMES)

The man with the best name in the system mashed at a tough park for hitters in Kane County early on, earning organizational Player of the Month honors in April. A full-figured kid, Shoulders is more athletic than many realize. He played third base as an amateur, and there are those in the Cubs organization who believe he could have some value in the outfield.

With a winning combination of patience and power, the bat will always be enticing. Now it’s a matter of developing versatility on defense or finding one place to play and really focusing on it.

DUANE UNDERWOOD
DOB: 7/20/1994
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: BOISE
2013 STATS: 54.1, 4.97 ERA, 36 K, 27 BB (11 STARTS, 14 APPEARANCES)

Outside of C.J. Edwards and perhaps Pierce Johnson, Underwood may have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the organization. Unfortunately, he came into Spring Training in less-than-ideal shape, which led to inconsistent performance throughout the season. The hope is that he learned his lesson and will prepare appropriately this offseason so he can come into the spring ready to take off.

As far as the stuff is concerned, when he’s on, the fastball is 92-96 mph, and he has a knee-buckling curve. But consistency is an issue, and he didn’t get as many whiffs as you’d expect from a guy with his stuff.

“He’ll come into next season as a 19-year-old, and we’re just waiting for the light to come on,” McLeod said. “His upside is as high as anybody we’ve got.”

CHRISTIAN VILLANUEVA
DOB: 6/19/1991
POSITION: 3B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: .261/.317/469 (133 GAMES)

Already a big league-caliber defender at third, Villanueva showed some pop for the first time in his career in 2013, hitting 41 doubles and 19 home runs. There are some swing mechanics the Cubs will continue to work on with him, and they’d like to see him improve his plate discipline as far as controlling the strike zone. But Villanueva has the profile teams look for at third base, especially if the power output remains at the level he showed this season. Defensively, his hands and feet are as good as anyone’s.

DAN VOGELBACH
DOB: 12/17/1992
POSITION: 1B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: DAYTONA
2013 STATS: .284/.375/.449 (131 GAMES)

Vogelbach grew up playing baseball in the Florida sun, so the cold late spring in Kane County was a shock to his system this past season. Many balls that normally would have cleared the fence or fallen for doubles became easy outs. However, his struggles in a cold and rainy April helped him grow immensely as a player. By the end of the year, his numbers were solid, and he’d done enough to earn a promotion to Daytona.

The bat has always been a plus for Vogelbach, as he shows light-tower power and can drive the ball to all parts of the field. Of course, the biggest question will always be his body and whether it will keep him from sticking at first base. While he’ll never be mistaken for slender, there have been some positive signs of late.
“He was probably the best I’ve ever seen him look [in November for instructs] in Arizona,” McLeod said.

McLeod pointed to next season as being a huge year for Vogelbach. He’ll have to continue to stay in shape and prove his bat can carry him to the bigs.

GIOSKAR AMAYA (2B) – Amaya had an up-and-down 2013, but he has bat speed, power for a second baseman, solid plate discipline and the speed to steal a base here and there. He’s a very hard worker, but he can be too tough on himself from time to time. Still, he’s an intelligent ballplayer with tools and plus-makeup.

SHAWON DUNSTON JR. (OF) – Dunston grew up a lot in 2013 after struggling early in his professional career. He had a strong first half in Boise but fell off toward the end. He has all the tools, drew a lot of walks and can steal bases. The Cubs are working on his bat path, as Dunston tends to get a little pull-happy.

KEVIN ENCARNACION (OF) – Encarnacion hit for average and power, drew walks and stole bases in a strong year at Boise. He’s a switch-hitter with a corner-outfield profile. Though he was a little old for the Northwest League, his confidence improved this season after a strong performance. He shows a fluid swing with a very good idea of the strike zone.

DUSTIN GEIGER (1B) – This streaky, big-bodied power hitter mashes lefties and holds his own against righties. Geiger should move into a hitters’ park in Tennessee next year, so he needs to keep putting up offensive numbers and improving defensively.

JACOB HANNEMANN (OF) – Hannemann was a surprise third-round pick in last summer’s draft. He flew under the radar because he hadn’t played for a few years due to a Mormon mission and commitment to the BYU football team. He has a strong left-handed bat and a good feel for the strike zone. From a tools standpoint, he’s a dynamic guy with tremendous speed, a Jacoby Ellsbury-type body and athleticism. He’s raw because of limited playing time, but the Cubs are betting on his upside.

CARLOS PIMENTEL (RHP) – Recently named the Dominican Winter League Pitcher of the Year, this strong-armed reliever has proven to be a tough match-up. He’s a short-arm guy, and hitters often have a tough time picking up the ball. He has been up to 94 mph with the fastball, which he complements with a slider and a solid change-up. His command and control can waver, but he’s a pitcher who gives opponents an uncomfortable at-bat.

IVAN PINEYRO (RHP) – Acquired in a trade with the Nationals for Scott Hairston, Pineyro is a strike thrower with an impressive change-up. He’s not a stuff guy, but the belief is he can end up at the back end of a good major league rotation.

—Sahadev Sharma

Cubs minor league recap: 4/8/13

Jackson-for-Web

Brett Jackson recorded a team-high two RBI for Iowa Monday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Kane County Cougars picked up their first win of the season Monday, while the Iowa Cubs surrendered their fifth-straight loss. Here are the highlights from Monday’s games:

IOWA CUBS (0-5)
Iowa suffered its fifth-straight loss to open the season, surrendering six first-inning runs in a 13-5 setback at Round Rock.

  • 2B Logan Watkins (.368) went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and a RBI.
  • CF Brett Jackson (.238) was 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high two RBI (2).
  • SS Donnie Murphy (.300) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
  • RF Brian Bogusevic (.389) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an outfield assist.
  • RHP Blake Parker (6.75) walked one and fanned two in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-3)
Tennessee lost its second game in a row, dropping a 2-1 pitchers’ duel at Pensacola.

  • CF Matt Szczur (.409) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • SS Arismendy Alcantara (.261) added two hits, going 2-for-4.
  • LF Rubi Silva (.154) went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
  • LHP Zach Rosscup (0.00) allowed one hit while fanning three in 1.0 scoreless inning of relief.
  • RHP Trey McNutt (0.00) fanned one in a perfect eighth inning.

DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona had the day off. The D-Cubs return to action Tuesday, hosting Clearwater.

KANE COUNTY COUGARS (1-4)
Kane County squandered a 5-1 eighth-inning lead, but plated a run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat visiting Clinton 6-5 in walk-off fashion, snapping a season-opening, four-game skid.

  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.238) went 3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • C Chadd Krist (.625) was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.214) added three hits, going 3-for-5 with a team-high three RBI and an outfield assist.
  • 1B Rock Shoulders (2-for-5, R) and LF Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5, R) both had multi-hit performances.

Cougars announce Opening Day roster

CASTILLO-L-050512-SG-04

2011 Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo will start 2013 with the Kane County Cougars. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs made their fair share of organizational changes during the offseason, from roster transactions to the proposal to restore Wrigley Field. But one of the bigger moves this winter was partnering with the Kane County Cougars as the club’s new Single-A affiliate. The Cougars play their home games in Geneva, Ill., roughly 40 miles west of Chicago, which gives fans a chance to view the future of the organization up close.

On Tuesday morning, the Cougars announced their Opening Day roster, and it’s full of high-upside talent that Cubs fans should (and now can) keep an eye on.

First baseman Dan Vogelbach headlines the squad’s roster, along with a trio of exciting young infielders in Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya and Marco Hernandez. Vogelbach, a 2011 second-round pick, is viewed by many as the best power hitter in the organization.

Pierce Johnson, a right-hander the Cubs selected in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft, could be one of the organization’s best young arms. Lendy Castillo, a 2011 Rule 5 pick who got into 13 games last year for the Cubs, will also start 2013 with Kane County.

Here is the full roster manager Mark Johnson will have at his disposal when his squad opens up on Thursday:

PITCHERS
Justin Amlung RHP
Jeff Antigua LHP
Jose Arias RHP
Lendy Castillo RHP
Ian Dickson RHP
Nathan Dorris LHP
Michael Heesch LHP
Pierce Johnson RHP
Eddie Orozco RHP
Felix Pena RHP
Stephen Perakslis RHP
Tayler Scott RHP
Brian Smith LHP

CATCHERS
Yaniel Cabezas
Willson Contreras
Chadd Krist

INFIELDERS
Gioskar Amaya
David Bote
Jeimer Candelario
Marco Hernandez
Rock Shoulders
Dan Vogelbach

OUTFIELDERS
Pin-Chieh Chen
Trey Martin
Bijan Rademacher
Oliver Zapata

Farm Report Wrap-Up: Hawks turned talent, youth into postseason run

Albert Almora (Photo Courtesy of Alex Hernandez/USA Baseball)

Today we begin our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. First up, the Short-Season Class-A Boise Hawks.

When Albert Almora took batting practice earlier today at Wrigley Field, Theo Epstein commented to reporters that Boise “had a prospect at every position” by the end of the season.

One of those prospects was Almora, of course, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft. Almora played a strong center field for the Hawks and also hit for a .292/.292/.446 slash line (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) in 65 plate appearances. That included seven doubles and a home run in his 19 hits. Before his mid-August promotion, he had hit for a .347/.363/.480 slash line in 80 plate appearances with the organization’s Rookie-level complex team.

Other names that are well known to watchful Cubs fans are catcher Willson Contreras, first basemen Dan Vogelbach and Rock Shoulders, second baseman Gioskar Amaya, shortstop Marco Hernandez, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and infielder/outfielder Stephen Bruno.

Don’t forget the pitching: Pierce Johnson and Tayler Scott were impressive in the rotation, while Michael Heesch formed a crucial part of the bullpen.

Final Records:

First Half / 13-25, third place, 8.0 GB

Second Half / 24-14, first place, 8.0 GA

Storylines: The Hawks won the Eastern Division’s second-half championship to make the postseason, despite being the Northwest League’s youngest team. They came back from a one-game deficit in their best-of-three series against the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks) but couldn’t do the same against the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) in the championship series. (more…)

Farm Report: Hawks drop Game 1 of the NWL championship, return home Saturday

Photo by Scott McDaniel / BoiseHawks.com

The wheels came off late for the Boise Hawks in Game 1 of the Northwest League championship series, as they squandered a six-run lead. They’ll look to bounce back tomorrow night when the series shifts to Idaho for the next two games, if necessary.

The Hawks built a 7-1 lead by the top of the sixth inning thanks to an offense that was taking its walks and getting clutch hits. Up 2-1 in the fifth, they added on three runs thanks to a bases-loaded RBI walk by Dan Vogelbach, an RBI single by Jeimer Candelario and an RBI ground out by Albert Almora. Another potential run was lost when Stephen Bruno thrown out at the plate.

In the sixth, Marco Hernandez plated Willson Contreras and Trey Martin with a single. The shortstop Hernandez went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI in the game.

After Hawks starter Ian Dickson worked his way out of some trouble in three innings of work, allowing just one run and striking out three, the game was turned over to five relievers with mixed results. Justin Amlung (12th round, 2012) struck out the side with the bases loaded in the fourth. Hunter Ackerman (fourth round, 2010) got two strikeouts in a scoreless fifth but then put two runners on in the sixth for James Pugliese (18th round, 2011). Both scored as the game narrowed to 7-3.

But it all fell apart in the seventh. Vancouver plated seven runs off Pugliese, Hayden Simpson and Rafael Diplan, partly thanks to some mistakes in the field. Third baseman Calendario made a fielding error, and second baseman Gioskar Amaya threw the ball into left field on a grounder that would have ended the inning. Simpson (first round, 2010) suffered from that but also walked two of the three batters he faced. With the game tied at seven, Diplan (international, 2010) allowed a two-run single with the bases loaded and then a wild pitch before getting out of the jam.

Game 2 Starting Pitchers: Pierce Johnson takes the hill for the Hawks. He gave up an unearned run in three innings of work in his first-round start—it was his longest appearance of the year. He’ll be on a strict pitch count again, so expect him to pair up with spot starter Jose Arias again. You can read some of our notes about the Cubs’ supplementary-round pick in last week’s preview.

Vancouver pitcher Roberto Osuna will be one to watch. He was born Feb. 7, 1995—I’ll pause as you do the math. (Yes, he’s 17 years old.) The Blue Jays purchased his contract from the Mexican League’s Mexico City franchise, and he’s been on the fast track since. He’s 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and reportedly sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. He has limited opposing batters to a .201 batting average in 12 appearances this year (five in the Northwest League) and has struck out 49 batters while walking 15 in 43.2 innings.

His last appearance was on Aug. 26 against Boise—he gave up a run on three hits and a walk in three innings. Baseball America’s Ben Badler has some more details on Osuna, and Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks posted a scouting report last year.

Listen Live: Once again, you can pick up Mike Safford’s broadcast for the Boise Hawks at BoiseHawks.com.

Time Traveled: Ah, the glories of minor league life. The Hawks won Game 3 of their divisional series in Yakima, Wash., Wednesday night. They then had to make the five-hour drive to Vancouver, Canada, for Thursday night’s game. Today, they made the 12-hour drive back to Boise for a championship series that resumes tomorrow night.

—Sean Ahmed

Farm Report: Boise evens divisional series to set up decisive Game 3

Scott McDaniel / BoiseHawks.com

After a frustrating battle with situational hitting for the first 17 innings of the series, the Boise Hawks poured it on in the ninth last night to force a deciding Game 3 in their first-round playoff series. The Hawks and the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks) will settle it all tonight in a game that you can hear at 7:05 Central Time via BoiseHawks.com.

Boise scored seven runs in the ninth to break a 4-4 deadlock and ultimately went on to win 11-5. Albert Almora, the sixth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, was at the center of several rallies. He hit a two-out triple with the Hawks trailing by a run in the eighth, and scored on a wild pitch. The next inning, he followed up Jeimer Calendario’s two-run triple (which was misplayed in the outfield) with a two-run double to put the game away for good.

Scoring Recap: Boise struck first, taking a two-run lead on Gioskar Amaya’s home run in the third inning. Yakima answered right back in the bottom half, thanks to a double, walk, bunt and then two-run single by Kevin Medrano. Batting ninth, Trey Martin led off the fifth with a double, and he scored on Stephen Bruno’s single for a 3-2 lead. Medrano and Joseph Loftus led off with singles off reliever Michael Heesch in the bottom half. They scored on a one-out single to give Yakima a 4-3 lead. Almora came up big in the eighth with a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch to tie things up. In the top of the ninth, the Hawks took off. After two quick outs, Boise put nine straight men on base and took a commanding 11-4 lead. Tyler Bremer closed out his third inning of work by allowing just a run in the bottom of the ninth for the 11-5 win.

Top Performances: Boise starter Tayler Scott was sitting in the low-90s on the Yakima stadium gun. He didn’t have his best stuff, according to Hawks broadcaster Mike Safford, but he battled out of tough situations throughout his five innings of work. His ability to induce ground balls on all three of his pitches showed again yesterday.

Speaking of ground balls, second baseman Amaya picked a sharp, one-hopper in the first inning to start a double play and keep things scoreless. Amaya did just about everything yesterday: He gave Boise a 2-0 lead in the third when he turned on an inside fastball for a home run. He also added a couple of sacrifice bunts and a walk. Amaya’s natural tools may not match up with some of his teammates’, but he proved himself in myriad ways as a 19-year-old in the Northwest League. He’s one to watch.

Tonight’s Starting Pitchers: Felix Peña is expected to take the hill for the Hawks. The 22-year-old, Dominican born right-hander is now in his second season in the U.S. He throws a fastball, curve, slider and change. His fastball gets some sink when he locates it down, which is always a key for him. The slider can be a strikeout pitch when buried low and away from a right-handed hitter. His curveball is a slow change of pace and can be inconsistent, but he gets good downward break when he gets on top of it. Sometimes it looks like he’s rushing through his delivery, but he’s shown the ability to adjust in games.

Peña’s two starts against Yakima this year were polar opposites. On July 25 at home, he gave up seven hits and four earned runs in four innings. On August 21 at the Bears, Peña allowed just four hits and an unearned run in five innings.

Yakima’s starting pitcher was unknown as of last night, but it looks like they’ve settled on 18-year-old right-hander Jose Martinez. He’s made just two appearances outside of the Dominican in his career (10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA).

The Big 6-0-0: Safford celebrated his 600th Northwest League broadcast last night. It was only his 594th with the Hawks—he also has six games with the Spokane Indians under his belt. Listen to him again tonight at 7:05 Central Time at BoiseHawks.com.

—Sean Ahmed

Farm Report: Boise looks to rebound in Game 2

Photo by Scott McDaniel / BoiseHawks.com

It was a mistake-filled postseason opener for the Boise Hawks, who dropped Game 1 of their best-of-three divisional series to the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks). The Hawks committed four errors (SS Marco Hernandez, 2B Gioskar Amaya, 3B Jeimer Calendario and LF Trey Martin) and had a run-scoring passed ball by catcher Willson Contreras, who was needed behind the plate after Carlos Escobar sprained his ankle a week ago.

Albert Almora, the sixth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single, and advanced to third thanks to a stolen base and a one-out wild pitch. But he was stranded there by Contreras and Martin.

Scoring Recap: Yakima took a 1-0 lead in the first on shortstop Hernandez’s throwing error, which allowed a run to score from second. The Hawks came back with a roar in the fourth inning, when Hernandez hit a leadoff triple, Dan Vogelbach and Calendario drew walks, and Rock Shoulders made it count with a grand slam. Yakima scored three to tie it in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI double, a hit by pitch, two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a run-scoring passed ball. In the ninth, Yakima’s Danny Poma legged out a disputed infield single, was moved over with a bunt and then scored on a liner (and Martin’s missed throw to the cutoff man) to put the Bears up for good.

Top Performers: Starting pitcher Pierce Johnson gave up just one unearned run in three innings of work, his longest appearance of the year. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out two. Unfortunately, the Boise video feed was unavailable while he was on the mound.

After Jose Arias struggled with his control in the middle innings, tall left-hander Nathan Dorris (17th round, 2012) closed things out with three innings of one-run ball. Dorris used a fastball-cutter-curve-change combination and induced a number of easy ground balls with his change against right-handed batters.

Though he struck out three times on the night, Shoulders pulled a 3-2 hanging slider over the right field fence for his third grand slam of the year. He was the Cubs’ 25th-round pick in the 2011 draft and hit for a .250/.342/.447 line in 63 games with Boise.

Tonight’s Starting Pitchers: Taken in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, right-hander Tayler Scott takes the hill for the Hawks. When scouting director Tim Wilken (now a special assistant to the GM) selected the pitcher last summer, he noted Scott’s exceptionally quick arm, athleticism and coordinated delivery. Those attributes could play a big part in his development as he fills out his growing 6-foot-3 frame. Scott was born in South Africa, where he was a promising soccer player. Though he didn’t start pitching until high school, he isn’t as raw as you might expect. He competed well against older guys in the fall instructional league last October, posting a 2.52 ERA in 71.1 innings of work.

He keeps the ball on the ground thanks to a low-to-mid-90s fastball that has some sink. His curveball is developing quickly—he snapped some great ones with Boise this year and has shown good feel for the pitch—and rounds out his arsenal with a change-up.

Yakima’s Daniel Watts was Arizona’s 32nd-round pick in the 2012 draft. The left-hander has a 2.23 ERA in 15 starts this year.

Listen Live: Yakima doesn’t have a video feed, but you can listen to Boise’s Mike Safford on MiLB.com.

Watchful Eyes: If you want an idea of how important these youngsters are to the future of the Chicago Cubs, you don’t have to look much further than the crowd. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, SVP of Player Development and Scouting Jason McLeod and Chairman Tom Ricketts were all in attendance.

In an interview with the Idaho Statesman’s Chris Langrill, Ricketts emphasized that there’s daily excitement for this Hawks team.

“I read the scouting reports every morning,” he said. “We’re very excited. There’s a lot of guys from this year’s draft and last year’s draft and international players that have all stepped up.”

—Sean Ahmed

Northwest League Playoffs Preview: Boise hosts Yakima in Game 1

Albert Amora, Gioskar Amaya, Jeimer Calendario, Dan Vogelbach and Pierce Johnson—if you’re a Vine Line reader, you know these are some of the Cubs organization’s newest and most promising players. They may be years away from the big leagues, but they’ve already earned a playoff appearance on their developmental path to Chicago.

The Boise Hawks host the Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks) in Game 1 of the Northwest League Division Playoffs, beginning at 7:45 p.m. Central Time tonight. The game will be shown on MiLB.tv thanks to the excellent production work out in Boise, and we’ll recap the games this week. Here are some notes to get you ready for tonight’s matchup, the first of a best-of-three series.

Season Recap: The Hawks rebounded from a poor first half (13-25) to take the Northwest League East Division with a 24-14 second half.

Roster Breakdown: The Hawks dugout currently features 11 players from the 2012 draft, seven from 2011, three from 2010 and 10 international signings.

Tonight’s Starting Pitchers: Pierce Johnson starts for the Hawks, though it will effectively be a bullpen-by-committee night. The 43rd overall pick of the 2012 draft, Johnson was selected out of Missouri State and battled some minor injury issues earlier in the spring. The Cubs have been keeping him on a strict pitch count, which has resulted in just two-inning starts each time out.

Watching video of his two home starts for Boise (August 11 and 28), Johnson features a hard fastball with good run, a power curveball that moves away from right-handed hitters thanks to his three-quarters arm slot, and an occasional straight change. His fastball sits in the 93-96 mph range, and he was able to locate his curveball well for strikes. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, he’s tall and lean and looks very projectable. As the second player drafted in the Theo Epstein/Jason McLeod era, he’ll definitely be one to watch.

Last time around, Johnson was followed by Jose Arias, who had previously started all 13 of his appearances. He throws a fastball with some sink, a slider-type breaking ball that he can bury and a change-up. We’ll see if those two form a tandem again in the postseason.

Blake Perry, Arizona’s sixth-round pick in 2010, takes the hill for Yakima. He threw four shutout innings against Boise earlier this season.

Hitters to Watch: First baseman Dan Vogelbach was Boise’s best hitter for the season, powering his way to a .324/.427/.619 line with 10 home runs in 36 games. He was Chicago’s supplemental-round pick in 2012 and is just 19 years old.

There is no shortage of positional talent on this squad, so it’s quite impressive that infielder Stephen Bruno has been able to stand out as much as he has. He led the Northwest League with a .361 average and rides a 22-game hitting streak into tonight’s game. A product of the University of Virginia, Bruno was the Cubs’ seventh-round pick this June. Not only has he shown a mature approach at the plate, but he’s also made several nice defensive plays around the diamond.

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